pardon the small disruption in service

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)


( a little seaweed / Julie Cook / Rosemary Beach, FL / 2019)

Apologies abound for the slight disruption recently in blogging…
But our family packed up two cars late last week and headed southward
toward the emerald waters and those sugar-white sands of Florida’s northern Gulf coast.

But more about all of that later…

So yes, a family vacation.

And so what do we know about vacations?
What do we know vacations to be?

In part, a vacation is intended for those who opt to head off to parts known or unknown,
in order to unplug, to unwind, to relax and perhaps actually reconnect with those
closest to the heart.

Our own little personal family’s jaunt included two under two,
so there wasn’t a whole lot of relaxing…
however there was a delightful shift in focus.

We were together.

And we were isolated from the rest of the world…or so it seemed.

The television, while seldomly turned on, was never turned to the news.

Computers were not turned on, let alone even touched.

Phones were used to take pictures not to check emails or alerts.

There was a much-welcomed 5 days of sheltered isolation.
We were simply left savoring the magic that happens between children and the seashore.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Yet yesterday, as we reluctantly and sadly loaded the cars in order to head back
to our real worlds, we were reminded in very quiet, yet very powerful ways,
that news had happened in our absence.

In small out of the way towns to tiny outpost post offices, as we journeyed northward,
flags were all flying at half-mast.

A US flag at half-mast is a very visceral and sobering gut check.
It reminds us that we are indeed a united Nation…no more so than in our
collective sorrow.

The half-mast flag is a significant sign of unification for a nation that has smugly
forgotten the very fact that it is united rather than divided.

It seems that there were more mass shootings taking place almost simultaneously around
the country.

31 lives lost
while many more hang in the balance from their sustained wounds.

And once again, the people cry out to their government, “What will you now do?!”

And it is in that cry that I am once again perplexed…

The people cry out to their government, their legislators, their president…
“what will you do to stop all of this???”

This oh-so divided Nation that tends to draw within herself when her flags are lowered,
now demands its government do something to stop the madness.

The evil madness of mass murders.

The real help, however, the real answers, will not be found in the voices of our
presidential pundits or of our local or national legislators…or even
in the words of our much-maligned president…

No…the answers will not be found in what man can do for man…
simply because man is too busy killing man…

The answer is simple really and is found in the tiny fact that we are a nation
that has abandoned our God.

There will be those, many in number, who will argue that God matters not when
a madman takes a gun…

And yet the evil remains does it not?

And so, therefore, where lies our hope, our help, our solutions, our redemption,
our salvation…?

In our government?
In our leaders?
In the words of man?

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face,

Isaiah 65:1-3

Signs of the times…

*****First a small disclaimer… if you find foul language offensive, of which I do…
then don’t study the picture too closely.

However, I’m thinking that my disclaimer will probably make you a bit curious and
you will study it…so just know I told you so…


(a lovely tagged utility box near 10th St in downtown Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2019)

The other evening, I was driving in downtown Atlanta, with my daughter-n-law
along with the Mayor and New Sheriff, on our way to try a very talked-about
trendy seafood restaurant.

And you should know that good seafood in Atlanta is not easily come by despite
what many restaurants may claim, so we were excited.

The restaurant is actually located in an area of the city that is attempting a revitalization.
Atlanta is noted as one of many cities across the nation that is attempting to re-claim
its heavily neglected urban areas…sprucing them up while encouraging folks to move back,
shop and visit.

It is in an area that, as a kid growing up, we would never have graced but rather
have driven down to look at the flower children calling the area home.
They lived on the streets, communally, and would occasionally, mass together
while protesting the war.
And driving down to see such was something we’d do during sleepovers—
Parents looking for easy entertainment for a bunch of young kids figured that
driving downtown to see the hippies during that summer of love would be it…
but I digress…

This particular area is now being touted as an up and coming area…
yet it is still rife with dereliction, crime, drugs and many,
many homeless folks despite the opening of high-end apartments, boutiques,
bars, and restaurants.

We passed by many an abandoned building with broken windows,
lots of trash and some empty lots, while a side street was full of vagrants
and homeless folks sheltering in boxes and tents.

And so when we stopped at a red light and I glanced over at a utility box
wearing derogatory graffiti regarding the President,
should I then be surprised given the area?

Probably not.

But such an observation will naturally draw the wrath and the ire of others for my
having associated the area, an area filled with its fair share of rift raft,
with what I find to be foul graffiti regarding the President.
Would it matter if I said I’ve not seen the same foul graffiti when driving in other
family-oriented areas north of the city?

Ok.
Fair enough.

So on a different day, in a different area of the city, in an area that was once home
to many of my mother’s and aunt’s friends when they were growing up—
an early 20th-century family neighborhood that was popular in the 1930s and 1940s…
just as it is popular today but with the houses having been brought up to
chic speed. Really cute older neighborhoods made uber-trendy and most desirable.

We were driving up one of the streets as I was admiring the charm of these once modest
homes that now fetch upwards to $1,000,000. when a homemade sign perched in
one yard caught my eye.

It was a handpainted sign with large black letters scrawled on a neon yellow piece
of poster board. The sign read:
‘Only Nazis and Fascists separate children from their mothers!’

I did a double-take.

“Really?!” I heard myself groaning or was it more like moaning?

Back in the day when my mother and aunt roamed these same streets,
WWII was in full swing.
Flags were flown from every home’s front stoop while the victory gardens were
sprouting out back. Patriotism was part and parcel of the nation’s pain and suffering
in the midst of war and rationing.

During the summer of love, when I was huddled in the back of a family station wagon
with 6 or my closest little friends, as we peered out the window at what was then the
flower children of the late ’60s…peace signs were flashed and posters held high
which read make love, not war.
A nice enough sentiment when our young minds only thought love meant just that…
simply to love one’s neighbor.

Now, as I drive down these very same streets—streets very much the same
and yet very different…
I actually fret over what our young children are reading sprayed on electrical boxes.
Do we want to have to suddenly explain what a Nazi or a Fascist has to do with
the fate of mothers and children to our own impressionable kids who have no idea
what a Nazi or Fascist is?

I think I’d prefer to do so when I thought my wee ones were old enough to comprehend
the complexity of our culture.

And at this rate, I doubt I’ll ever be old enough to understand.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Romans 13:1

the royal Mayor is in residence

“A King will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

I suppose we should raise the royal standard announcing to all the local constituents
that their Mayor, her royal highness, is now in residence in the
satellite office of Woobooville…

However, since the constituents consist of her grandfather, her grandmother and the two cats…
one of whom is not happy at all to see her, I think the standard shall remain unfurled.

The Mayor, however, did set about business immediately by meeting with a disgruntled neighbor.
It seems this “neighbor” is very opposed to one of the cats sitting on the front porch and
made a very vocal opposition of such—all the while the Mayor listened to the complaints
very intently and naturally full of curiosity and compassion…


(the mockingbird mere feet from the Mayor complaining about the proxiemity of the 13 year old car/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(the Mayor listening to the mockingbird’s complaints / Julie Cook / 2019)

And then there was the important task of watering—of which the Mayor takes very seriously…
that was until a wasp was unpleased and let the Mayor know in a most painful manner.

The Mayor’s first bee sting.

A slight hiccup to duty, but after about a 10-minute meltdown, and some chief aide’s offering of TLC,
it was business as usual.


(the Mayor before the wasp found her / Julie Cook / 2019)

Now the Mayor is in the midst of a transition—that would be a transition of hairstyles.

As her hair is now growing out and covering her eyes,
there is the matter of how to best remove it from said vision.

For the time being she is opting for a throw-back of the 60’s headband…hoping to bring back
an old stylish trend.

Stay tuned for the latest headlines from this field reporter regarding the Mayor’s official
visit to the satellite office of Woobooville…

Standards…all kinds of standards– all equally powerful.

“When depravity and immorality appear more prevalent in society,
one of the main causes can be traced to silent or inactive Christians”

David Fiorazo


(The Queen’s Royal Standard flying over Windosr Castle courtesy the web)

The Royal Standard, otherwise known as the Royal flag, is flown only when the Queen of
England and that of the British Commonwealth is physically in a particular residence—
The flag is her very visible calling card.

According to Wikipedia,
“the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom is flown when the Queen
is in residence in one of the royal palaces and on her car, ship or aeroplane.
It may be flown on any building, official or private, during a visit by the Queen,
if the owner or proprietor so requests.
It famously replaces the Union Flag over the Palace of Westminster when the Queen visits
during the State Opening of Parliament.
The Royal Standard was flown aboard the royal yacht when it was in service and the
Queen was on board.
The only church that may fly a Royal Standard, even without the presence of the Sovereign,
is Westminster Abbey, a Royal Peculiar”

So whether the Queen is in Scotland at Balmoral, in London at Buckingham Palace,
in Berkshire at Windsor Castle or simply riding in her limousine–etc…
a flag bearing the royal colors and emblems denoting the House of Windsor
is flown allowing all who see the flag to know that the Queen is indeed present.

It’s how a tourist visiting London, wishing to see the changing of the Gaurd,
knows whether or not the Queen is at “home.”
However, it matters not to said tourist whether the Queen is home or not…
as chances are the Queen won’t be receiving visitors…
yet the flag remains… a powerful symbol of a powerful yet diminutive woman.

Yet the flag actually represents much more than a 92-year-old monarch…
despite her reign being the longest in British history…surpassing even that of her
great great grandmother Victoria, the British Standard is so very much more than simply
the Queen.

Flags, and or standards, are powerful symbols representing powerful ideals.
Think of battlefields…be they ancient or current…as long as troops have marched, rode
or even flown into the face of conflict, a flag has most always been leading the charge.


(Lady Liberty leading the People by Eugene Delacroix 1830 from the July Revolution /The Louvre)

Think of every coffin of any US serviceman or woman that is brought home from a foreign field
of battle—that casket is covered in the American flag.
It is a tremendously powerful and very moving image.


(a 2009 image of Amercian servicemen returning home after offering the ultimate sacrifice)

And so when our favorite rouge bishop, Bishop Gavin Ashenden wrote his day’s post regarding
the soon to be flying of a certain flag high over the tower of Ely Cathedral,
a powerful and most dangerous message is to be sent…
A message that has our friend sounding a grave warning to not only Christians but more
importantly to the Chruch herself.

I’ve actually cut the entire post and added it as simply listing the link does not
do enough to help echo Bishop Ashenden’s alarm.

For you see, I’m slowly making my way into the book The Cost of Our Silence by David
Fiorazo. And this post and this alarm being offered to us by Bishop Ashenden is
exactly what David Fiorazo is talking about.

Will we as Christians simply fade into the woodwork pretending this has nothing to do with
us, or will be willing to speak up and out?

My prayer is that we will find the courage to speak

Ely cathedral has promised to fly the gay rainbow flag this weekend.

Mark Bonney, the Dean of Ely explained.

“This weekend we will be proudly flying the rainbow flag in support of the first ever
‘Pride in Ely’ event.

I am very pleased that Chapter agreed to my request to fly the ‘Pride’ flag from the
Cathedral tower on 11 August when Pride in Ely holds its first festival.
I am pleased first of all to lend my backing to this community event because it
celebrates the breadth and diversity of the community in which we all live.
I am also very conscious that Christians have not always been perceived as being as
supportive and inclusive as some of us would wish, and so I am pleased to fly this
flag as a sign of the kind of inclusion that I wish to promote at the Cathedral”

The Dean of Ely has adopted the secular values of a culture that has set its face against
Christianity, and is waging a war against Judaeo-Christian culture.

Sexual ethics have always been at the heart of the Christian’s struggle with sin,
the world and the devil. But it seems the Dean of Ely is not overly concerned with either
sin, or the distinction between the Church and the world, or the struggle with evil.

But then more and more cathedrals see themselves as civic centres of spirituality,
wanting to embrace the secular.

Jesus warned that you could not more serve God and mammon than you could submit to
the temptations of the devil and still work for the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the case of Ely, the Dean is choosing the Leftist values of so-called
‘breadth and diversity’ (values found nowhere in the Christian Gospels) and wants to make
reparation for the fact that Christians have been insufficiently supportive of
non-monogamous and heterosexual sexual adventure
(code word ‘inclusivity’- another term found nowhere in the teaching of Jesus.)

In brief, why is this an act of apostasy and worse?

The flying of a gay pride flag above a cathedral is more than a
contradiction, it constitutes a blasphemy.

Distorted sexual identity and practice is diagnosed by St Paul as a symptom of idolatry
(in Romans 1).

He warns that the more a society turns its back on the living God,
the more people experience dis-ease and disintegration.
This expresses itself partially in a confusion of sexual identity and equally by an
absence of continence. By contrast, the Judaeo-Christian tradition is a journey into
a deeper sexual and psychological purity, set within the parameters of God’s created order.

The present cultural and ideological assault on the Church takes the form of an attack
on the conceptual integrity of both marriage and the family.

It particularly sets out to undermine the integrity of the given-ness of the ‘binary’
categories of man and woman coming together to co-create, as God’s agents.

Instead of resisting this assault, parts of the church have welcomed it.
By ripping a piece of St Paul out context they have made him say the opposite of
what he intended.

In Galatians 3 Paul explored the basic categories of mutual antagonisms embedded in
his culture. Jews against gentiles, men against women and the free against the enslaved.
Once anyone defined by these categories of adversity entered the new life in Christ,
this baptised life washed these antipathies away into a new identity.
“In Christ, there is no slave or free…”. This can best be summarised by saying that
no Christian can truly be a Christian if they place a defining categorising adjective
in front of their identity in Christ.

So there can be no black, tall, rich, old, feeble, or any other category to define ‘Christian’,
or it becomes a contradiction in terms.

And particularly, of all adjectives, the least desirable would be an adjective
denoting perversion of God-given identity, or a disorder of behaviour whose effect was
the sullying of sexual purity as enabled experienced and understood in the Holy Spirit.

But this is exactly what the gay pride movement has set out to achieve in the
redefining and undermining of Christian sexual ethics and theological identity.

It would be ludicrous to describe people as ‘straight’ Christians.
It is just as ludicrous to define people as ‘gay’ Christians.
Our new anthropology of the Kingdom bestows an identity that is ‘in Christ’.
How can a Christian withdraw that identity and relocate it in a spectrum of sexual
and genital attraction?
What kind of Christian, what kind of church would replace the ‘imago Christi’
with the romanticised stimuli of genitalia?
What kind of Church would replace the call to die to yourself with the psycho-sexual
narcissism of a call to sexual and romantic adventure with a same sexual partner?

The matter is not made any clearer by the observation that the very term gay is
too clumsy to act as a descriptor of the horizon of sexual incoherence that stretches
through the spectrum of LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA etc…

In flying the flag of gay pride from a Christian Cathedral,
the clergy have indicated their allegiance to an ideology of sexual identity that is at
complete odds with the faith that the Cathedral was built to teach and embody.

They have instead adopted the categories, language, and ethics of the enemies of Christ
and his kingdom.
They have betrayed Christ by raising the standard of surrender and offering their
allegiance instead to an over-sexualized, disordered and decaying secularism.

A church built on such a foundation, of ideological sand, is both under judgment
and built upon such shifting sand, that it will inevitably soon collapse.

Ely cathedral and the great apostasy

Out of the darkness, has come a great Light

“…the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:16

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(entrence to the 9/11 memorial in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The sound is almost overwhelming as the sickening thud of felled trees, one right after another, causes the entire earth to shake beneath my feet. The maddening buzz of saws fills the air as progress marches sadly forward on the property across the street. Once beautiful woods are now giving way to a muddy stubby mess as blue sky abruptly punctuates what was once a shadowy lush green canopy, all the while as worrisome thoughts of what is soon to be hangs heavy in the air.

Disconcerted and rattled with each crashing tree, my thoughts thankfully drift away, thousands of miles away across an expansive ocean, to a very different forest of trees.

Perched high on a hill overlooking the serene harbor of Kinsale, a colorful fishing town found on the southeastern coast of County Cork, Ireland, is an unassuming park. This park isn’t the sort of destination topping the list of must see places for those visiting Kinsale. Far from the shops, restaurants and fishing piers that make Kinsale a favorite stopping point for those visiting Ireland, rests a serene respite I was fortunate to visit.

We had spent the day driving around much of County Cork. We had visited the seaport town of Cobh which is steeped in history. It was in the city of Cobh which was most often the last piece of Ireland that many an Irish immigrant savored before setting sail for America during the infamous Irish potato famine. It is also in Cobh that the few remaining survivors, as well as the recovered bodies from the ill fated Lusitania, the passenger ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915, were received following the sinking of the ship. Cobh is also the town in which the Titanic set sail on its tragic maiden voyage.

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(a memorial to the victims of the Lusitania rests in the city center of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Having spent the day stepping in and out of history as we enjoyed the idyllic coastal fishing villages around Ireland’s south easterly coast, we were ready to head on back to our hotel in Kinsale, to dinner and to calling it one more day rich in sights and wonders. But our driver and friend Paul had one more stop this day that he knew we needed to see and experience–this stop was to be much more current and personal in our lives as Americans then the sad exodus of immigrants or the tragic losses at sea.

Kathleen Cait Murphy was a local girl from Kinsale who spent forty years of her life living in New York working as a nurse. It was from her time working in New York that she both admired and befriended many a New York firefighter.

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(remembrance to Kathleen Cait Murphy/ Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Kathleen was a personal friend of firefighter chaplain Father Mychal Judge, who along with 343 fellow firefighters, lost his life on that fateful 11th day of September 2001.

Before her death in 2011, Kathleen envisioned a memorial to not only her friend Father Judge but to all the firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice that ill-fated beautiful blue sky September day in 2001.

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(a small view of Kathleen’s memorial park / Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland /Julie Cook/ 2015)

Kathleen, with the help of family and friends, planted 343 trees, one for each fallen firefighter. The trees have now grown creating a forest of gratitude and love.
Each tree has a small marker with the name of a firefighter, his fire house and rank as well as an individual American Flag.

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I stood in silence overwhelmed, as tears flowed freely down my cheeks, amazed and humbled by the image of the 343 American flags gently waving in the Irish breeze underneath a tiny forest of beautiful trees.

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So often, as a traveler, I am on guard as I know that Americans are not alway looked upon favorably by others. Even our own Government has us feeling almost ashamed as to who we are as a Nation. Yet here on “foreign soil” as I stood awestruck, I was a tiny spectator of a poignant tribute to the very Country I call home as well as a tribute to a portion of her very brave and selfless sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice. I imagine those who visit Normandy feel very much the same, albeit on a grander scale than this, but humbling none the less.

It is because of such a tribute and memorial that we are allowed to turn our hearts…as we are gently reminded that we mustn’t hold on to the anger and hate, the rage and righteous indignation which so often fills our minds and hearts as we recall such a fateful day. Rather it must be to the hope and to the light cast from the sacred bond we share as human beings—It is because of these very humanistic qualities which make us more alike than different–those shared emotions of both joy and sorrow which bind us, unconditionally in love and to the shared respect we have for one another as human beings.

No, we will never forget that tragic September day which remains still very fresh in our minds and hearts, yet it is to the selflessness and compassion of Kathleen Cait Murphy that we may recall such sadness with a ray of hope, the bond of kindred spirits and a wellspring of gratitude that others share not only in our grief but in our hope as well…
Thank you Paul…

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The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isaiah 9:2