the various degrees of a world…safer or less safe…

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.
It was here first.”

Mark Twain


(historyhit.com

You see this picture of Winston Churchill?

You can clearly see the Prime Mister, along with several commanding officers,
surveying some of the British troops.

Off to the far right of the photograph walks Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery,
the senior serving officer to the British army during WWII.
General Montgomery was crucial to the success of Allied forces
defeating Hitler and his mindless Nazi murder machine.

And here we see another picture…


(AP photo 1959)

It’s an actual photograph the was used by the AP Press and taken
the year I was born, 1959.

I’m fortunate to have several actual photographs of Churchill that were used
in both magazines and newspapers throughout his life.

I think they call these first edition or simply original photographs with documentation.

The picture I have was taken 19 years following the initial
photograph from 1940.

In the first photo, we see two leaders, along with their troops,
as they were all preparing to embark on a world war that would
determine the course of Western Civilization’s democracy.

An embarkation for the betterment of the free world.

The second picture shows two older, yet no less formidable,
men greeting one another before attending a meeting of Parliament regarding
the Suez Debate.

19 years had passed and they and their input were still considered viable
and even necessary.

Both of these men were from what we consider a first world country.
81 years ago they were preparing to do battle against men also from
first world countries. As well as second and even third world countries.

Today we hear a great deal about a first world and her “problems”—
spoiled problems really.

Problems that consist more of want rather than need.

Problems about such things as to where we might wish to go out to eat?
“What do you mean the movie I wanted to see is sold out?”
“Why can’t I get my new appliances in when promised?…
You know the current ones I have are outdated!”
“Why can’t the dentist get me in this afternoon vs tomorrow?”

On the flip side, third would problems are based primarily on a basic need
of survival—
it is not so much based upon wants and whims but rather upon survival needs.

“We need to find clean drinking water.”
“The drought has destroyed our family’s only source of food.”
“We must walk 25 miles in order to find a doctor in the neighboring
town to help the baby get well.”

On my end, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about first world problems.

“A mother laments that her daughter can’t find a dress in her correct size
for the homecoming dance—
there seems to be a production and material shortage.”

“This house we’re building is taking much longer than we anticipated
because our builder can’t get the lumber.”

“I really wanted that new couch for the den but it would blow the budget.”

These are problems more of want and convenience rather than that
of need and survival.

So I got to thinking…

We know there are first world problems, if you can call them problems–
and we know there are third world problems—problems about basic needs…
shelter, protection, medicine, food, water…

But…wait…what of second world problems??
Is there even such a thing as a second world?

After a little investigating, I discovered that there is indeed a
category of a 2nd world…but we never really hear about it do we?

According to Investopedia.com

What is Second World?
The outdated term “second world” included countries that were
once controlled by the Soviet Union.
Second world countries were centrally planned economies and one-party states.
Notably, the use of the term “second world”
to refer to Soviet countries largely fell out of use in the early 1990s,
shortly after the end of the Cold War.

But the term second world has also been used to cover countries
that are more stable and more developed than offensive term
“third-world” countries but less-stable and less-developed
than first world countries.
Examples of second-world countries by this definition
include almost all of Latin and South America, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa,
and many others.
Investors sometimes refer to second world countries that appear to be
headed toward first world status as “emerging markets” instead.

By the first definition, some examples of second world countries
include: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
Russia, and China, among others.

With regard to the second definition, according to geo-strategist
and London School of Economics doctorate Parag Khanna,
approximately 100 countries exist that are neither first world (OECD)
nor third world (least-developed, or LDC) countries.
Khanna emphasizes that within the same country there can be a
coexistence of first and second; second and third;
or first and third world characteristics.[1]
A country’s major metropolitan areas may exhibit first world characteristics,
for example, while its rural areas exhibit third-world characteristics.
China displays extraordinary wealth in Beijing and Shanghai,
yet many of its non-urban regions are still deemed developing.

So I find it interesting that nations such as China and Russia, our
long hard fraught archnemeses, our adversaries, can be first,
second and even third worlds all within one…
whereas here in the US, Canada and much of Europe,
we consider ourselves first world.

Perhaps we should consider the land mass of each of these countries.
In Russia there are 11 different time zones compared to our 6..
yet oddly France claims 13 given their country proper along
with their sovereign lands.

It is an odd conundrum.
Land mass equating to first, second and third worlds.

So whereas there were once men who were determined to defend and protect
the freedoms of not only their first worlds but that of all worlds…
A globe where the chance for freedom for all worlds, no matter their “status”,
could be attainable.

Yet sadly we find very few who are now willing to defend and protect
those very freedoms…freedoms for all of our worlds…
freedoms that men, only 80 years ago and less, were readily willing to die for.

It appears that the agenda of both democracy and the freedom has gravely shifted.

So—let’s ask some of our older citizens or those now citizens who have immigrated
from the 2nd and 3rd world nations…
Are we more free, safer and secure under our current leadership than we were
80 yers ago?

I think I know the answer…

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

caricature of freedom

The church is not primarily a political organisation.
We’re a religious organisation.
There’s a much greater opportunity.

Cardinal George Pell


(bumble bee visits a purple cone flower/ Julie Cook / 2021)

caricature:
noun: caricature; plural noun: caricatures
a picture, description, or imitation of a person in which certain striking
characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

verb: caricature; 3rd person present: caricatures; past tense:
caricatured; past participle: caricatured; gerund or present participle:
caricaturing make or give a comically or grotesquely exaggerated representation
of (someone or something).

“True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society,
which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever
and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality.
It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize
their lives with no reference to moral values,
and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection
and advancement of ethical values.
Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.”

Pope John Paul II

Celebrate our Nation’s day of Independence

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom,
can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
“…Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty,
may acquire fresh Property:
But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom,
can never be restored.

John Adams


(Julie Cook / 2018)

Notice how I use the phrase “celebrate our Nation’s day of Independence.
Not the day for privileged white people, not the BLM day,
not the vaccinated people’s day…but the day for the entire Nation—
as she celebrates her Independence…
As in all Americans…

May it always be…

I’ll be back in a few days after the Mayor and Sheriff head home….

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and
our children’s children what it was once like in the
United States where men were free.”

Ronald Reagen

Fall from Grace…(a re-post, sort of)

So I’ve obviously decided to stroll a bit down memory lane recently,
doing so again today by pulling some thoughts from past posts—
this one comes from Veteran’s Day 2017—and yet it remains very relevant
for today as we ready to celebrate our Nation’s birthday…

“Freedom has been elevated to a total eclipse of a person’s obligations,
to a freedom from any obligation.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

“After the Western ideal of unlimited freedom….
here is the true Christian definition of freedom.
Freedom is self-restriction!
Restriction of the self for the sake of others!”

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn


(Washington with troops at Valley Forge / Adam Asar)

In his book A Pope and A President, Paul Kengor recalls the admonishment of a young senator from Massachusetts to a college audience….

“In 1955…Senator Kennedy told Assumption College that the Communists had a ‘fear’
of Christianity and allowed ‘no room for God.’

In a passage that could have been spoken by President Ronald Reagan
thirty years later, Kennedy said that Communists sought
‘to make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life’
and could not ‘permit a higher loyalty, a faith in God,
a belief in a religion that elevates the individual, acknowledges his
true value, and teaches him devotion and responsibility to something
beyond the here and now.

As president, Kennedy candidly warned America of its “atheistic foe,” the
fanaticism and fury” of communions, and the “communist conspiracy” that
“represents a final enslavement.”
“The enemy is the communist system itself—implacable, insatiable, unceasing
in its drive for world domination,” Declared Kennedy.
“This [is] a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies”
freedom under God versus ruthless, goddess tyranny.”

“Years later President Reagan went to the home of Senator Ted Kennedy…
where he spoke at an endowment fundraiser for the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library. On hand were Jackie and her two grown children.
Reagan commended JFK for his shrewdness in recognizing the enemy:
“He understood the tension between good and evil in the history of man;
understood, indeed,
that much of the history of man can be seen in the constant working out
of that tension.”

Reagan noted that Kennedy knew that the United States had adversaries,
real adversaries,and they weren’t about to be put off by soft reason and
good intentions.
He tried always to be strong with them and shrewd.”

And so it’s hard for me, in this very surreal 21st century of ours,
to imagine that there were once two presidents serving roughly 20 years apart—
men from two very different parties, two very different men, who each understood
what exactly was this nation’s collective enemy.

These two very different men who, despite being decades apart in their service to
their nation as well as being nearly 30 years apart in age…men who were each of
different ideologies, could actually collectively agree at that juncture in time
on a single threat.
Something that we see today which has become more satirical farce
rather than serious consideration.

And not only did these two very different presidents understand who the
collective enemy was…they also deeply understood the connection between a nation
who rested under God’s dominion verses a nation resting under the dominion of man.

Imagine today the party of Kennedy speaking about an “atheistic foe”…
Or referring to an adversarial nation as having “no room for God”
as well as those who have a fear of a Christian nation—
Imagine that a leader of the party of Kennedy would actually claim the United States
to be a “God fearing, Christian nation”
That there would be those who would speak of godlessness when referring to
oppressive regimes.

Imagine the party of Reagan, in turn, speaking words of agreement…

Oh how far we have fallen from who we once were.

When did it happen?

When did we think it necessary to scorn and scoff the notion of being
collectively under the yoke of an Omnipotent Creator?
When did we decide that we were free of any obligations other than to our own
selfish individual whims and agendas?

When did we decide there was no real good nor evil…
rather just the altar of individual humanism?

And what is the irony that the words of a one time Soviet dissident
would remind us, those of us who have lived in and with “freedom” most of our
lives, that our’s is a precious gift…one that we have been entrusted with
to cherish and maintain…as blood has been spilled and lives have been lost
all in the name of this very “freedom.”

It has mattered not whether we were black nor white,
male or female, freeman or enslaved individual…we toiled
through wars with others as well as wars with ourselves
so that ultimately ALL men and women living under our one flag
could and would be free.

And so I look around and wonder now—why is there such divisiveness?
Why is there such strife?
We have all fought too hard and too long to believe the lies
of those whose desire it is to destroy our way of life.

And I say that as I speak of those within our own Nation.

It would behoove us as individuals as well as a Nation to
recall, as well as honor, the selfless sacrifices made by those
men and women who, since those early days when we were but a collection
of bedraggled colonies…
a people, who down through the decades, understood exactly who
the enemy always was and that we as human beings have been called
to a greater good…

These selfless brave men and these women who have served and continue to serve
our Nation have often offered the ultimate sacrifice of both lives and limbs,
all for a Nation that now is at war with itself…having lost her way.

May their service never have been in vain.
And may we always hold our freedom from tyranny dear…

“…it would have seemed quite impossible, in America,
that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose,
simply for the satisfaction of his whims.
Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in in the west;
a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christ
ian
centuries with the great reserve of mercy and sacrifice.”
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

time marches forward or does it?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


(time’s toll on a sunflower / Julie Cook / 2021)

Not much time to chat due to grandparent duties but I did want
to squeeze in a thought that has been percolating in my brain…

That being the thought of history and time.

Pretty deep and vast subject matter I know, but
perhaps the point of this percolating is more subtle and succinct
then the topics themselves.

I have to admit that, years back, when I got my first Apple computer along
with an eventual iPhone, I began to utilize the e-calendars on those devices.

Traditionally I had kept a wall calendar at home as well as in my classroom.
Never one to use one of those notebook planner / organizers that
Stephen Covey made so popular in the 1980’s, I stored most dates in my head.

I tried planners but I was not dutiful when it came to working in them
as one was expected. I was usually on the move, so much so, that storing
things in my head just worked for me.

And that head system of mine worked pretty well throughout my tenure
as a teacher until I began to notice that I would miss a hair appointment here
or a meeting there…getting days and weeks a bit skewed.

We call that age.

So wall calendars were big with me…

Once technology began to trickle into both my professional and personal life,
the electronic calendars were quite handy as I especially liked the alert
systems allowing my device to alert me as to an upcoming appointment.

However I was a little peeved when I realized Apple had pre-inserted various
“holidays” onto the calendars.

Some “holidays” I knew, some I did not.

Now I understood having the biggie National holidays marked
as most business, banks and post offices are to be closed.

And it was good to see where days, say like, Thanksgiving or July 4th,
were going to fall during a week when it came to planning time off,
trips or family gatherings.

And I suppose having Ground Hog day pre-marked is a good thing
if you like using a giant rodent as a weatherman…
yet in our family, having that date marked was good because it also happened
to be Aunt Martha’s birthday.

However I have to admit that there were a few “holidays” that I would
have preferred having the option to delete as they were
not pertinent to me and my world.

When I first saw Juneteenth, marked on June 19th, I had no idea as to
what that was all about.
It seemed so random.
Was it some sort of millennial thing that I was not privy to…?

Well naturally, I needed to investigate.

As a one time history major…
how did some things ever seem to elude my studies?

Or was it merely presented as a different name as the notion of a Juneteenth was indeed more new to me than old?

Juneteenth it seems, marked a day for the emancipation of enslaved
African Americans.

Ahh—well….
So why not just call it Emancipation Day?
And so through my investigating, I discovered that it was indeed referred to
as Emancipation Day in Texas as well as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day or
Liberation day…

I think I like Jubilee Day the best as that is indeed something to
have been jubilant over!

So now I get it.

But what I don’t get, is why there are now groups of folks out there
who are saying that July 4th should no longer be relevant…??!!

There are sectors now claiming that America’s day of Independence should
not be recognized.
As in July 4th is not a day of liberation from tyranny…
They are saying that it is not a day of independence
for black, brown, red or yellow Americans…

Now I’ve written long and hard about the importance of a
young Nation’s fight for independence.
That that initial fight for freedom was but the beginning of
many freedom fights to come.
One begetting but another.

I’ve written about how Betsy Ross and her flag were not and are
not symbols of racism—as she was both a pacifist as well
as an abolitionist.

Here’s a link to that previous post:
https://wordpress.com/post/cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/28222

And I noted in that previous post..
“Slavery was not a new problem to a new Nation.
Nor was it a problem created by the new Nation.

It had been a form of “free labor” used by other Nations long before
there were 13 colonies and even before there had been a new land.

And the Quakers (of which Betsy Ross belonged) were actually
one of the first religious groups to denounce the ownership of slaves
and vocally oppose the practice of slavery.

Betsy Ross, the Continental Congress, and the new flag had nothing to do with racism
or slavery…end of sentence.”

So when I read or hear of certain groups out there clamoring that
July 4th is not representative to all Americans or that it is
not a day that all Americans should recognize as a day of this Nation’s
independence…well I get a bit rankled.

Like I say…that fight for freedom set in motion more freedom fights
to come.

And so when I hear such talk, I feel it’s important to remind
folks of a few facts…
Facts like Betsy Ross, along with the flag she created to be carried
by the Revolutionary soldiers, had nothing to do with the new
hot button word, racism.

Or the little fact that men, both black and white, actually had the
right to vote long before any color of women.

So after a hard fought emancipation, came a suffrage movement…
where eventually all Americans were afforded the privilege to vote in
free and open elections.

But hearing so much talk these days about separating black from white…
I just don’t understand.

Wasn’t the quest for emancipation to have all people in this country
living free and on equal footing with one another?
Having the same sorts of opportunities—not hand outs but
opportunities??

And in turn, didn’t generations before today’s new angry and woke generation,
fight hard to bring about that same equal footing???—was it not their desire
for the divisiveness and strife to end??

And yet today, are we not seeing a backwards trend?

Rather than the hopes and toil of all those Americans, of all colors,
in previous generations who labored just so you and I could work side by side
in a Nation that is both by the people and for the people…we now
have a new generation who wants to go back to separations and division…
back to hate and immense anger…

The unity so many fought for and even died for…is now unraveling before
our very eyes…
May it not be so.

As we ready for another year’s Day of Independence may we remember
to honor all those men and women of all backgrounds, both past and present,
who made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice for our ability
to be free…
and sadly that freedom seems to now be a matter of fussing and cussing with
one another…

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry

stand up now or soon, you won’t have the opportunity…blame it on the bats

Alleluia.
Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.
Alleluia.

Book of Common Prayer


The Resurrection of Christ, from the right wing of the Isenheim Altarpiece, c.1512-16 oil / Matthias Grünewald)

Christ has Risen—
Christ has risen indeed!
Amen…

We are resoundingly reminded of this little fact each Easter…
we are delightfully reminded that our hope remains intact and steadfast.

Growing up—Easter always meant a new pretty dress and shiny black patented leather shoes.
Sunny and bright…radiating light all for the most Holy day in all of Christendom.
Easter Sunday was such a festive and beautiful day despite the early spring weather
being unpredictable.

There was the deep and resounding pipe organ accompanying the rising crescendo of voices
ringing out that Jesus Christ had (has) risen today…

Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

(Latin hymn, “Surrexit Christus hodie)

Holy, Holy Holy…

Sacred while full of joy.

Yet sadly, we took it for granted didn’t we?

We just assumed every Easter we’d dress up, go to Church, sing joyfully then
gather with family for a festive lunch and competitive Easter Egg hunts.

This joy came after the lead up of dying eggs, picking flowers, cooking foods we’d
fasted from for the previous 40 days…

We let it become systematic…routine.
We took it for granted.

We didn’t realize it then did we?
We didn’t realize it two years ago.

However, last year gave us a foreboding glimpse to what was to come
and I dare say, the majority of us didn’t see what would be coming.

Not here…not us.

We had a pandemic.

We shut down our world.

We shut down our lives…our jobs, our stores, our movies, our schools and
more importantly, our houses of worship.

But hey, we can do anything for the good of the whole for a few weeks right?

But it wasn’t a few weeks was it?

We are now over a year in…
and two Easters have since come and gone.

So what does any of this mean?

Well Christian participation, that of church worship attendance
in the US, is now for the first time ever, down below 50 percent.

Before I go much further, let me give my full disclosure here—
I do not regularly attend any particular church.
So before you start wagging fingers at me for assuming that I am
some sort of ‘do as I say but not as I do’ sort of individual…
My journey with my Anglican roots has been jolted to the core
over its frenzied and gleeful racing away from God’s word…
all the while it blindly races to embrace the world’s word…
a word that is a lie.

So I am waiting for His lead as to where I need to land.
But until that time, know that I cling to a deep Christian Spirituality.
The mysticism that is our faith.
The Mysticism embedded within a three time span.
A timeline that exists between betrayal, brutality, death, hell
and Resurrection.

So I caught a blog post about Christian persecution…modern day, 21st century
persecution.

It was shared by our friend Vincent over on Talmidimblogging

“More than 245 million Christians worldwide are enduring high levels of persecution
for their faith—from militant extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram
(an Islamic extremist group terrorizing West Africa),
to government law and the general culture that often sees converting
to Christianity as betrayal.

According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List—an in-depth investigative report focusing
on the global persecution of Christians—persecution is increasing at an alarming rate.
That 245 million number is up this year from last year’s total of 215 million.

https://theologyschool.org/2021/04/04/christians-whose-lives-dont-matter/

The post highlights the top 10 nations from around the world who are trying to
silence Christians and eliminate the faithful and their faith.
Brutality
Torture
Kidnapping
Rape
Imprisonment
Death

The article however got me thinking.

Thinking about what we in the West take for granted.
We take our faith, our ability to go to our places of worship, all for granted.

We witnessed such on this past Easter Sunday both here and in Europe
where various masses and services were interrupted by law enforcement—interrupted
by the police for breaking pandemic protocol.

Where pastors and priests were reprimanded and even arrested for holding services with
their parishioners during a pandemic…
all the while secular events begin to open back up.

Police descending upon our houses of worship all the while rioters and protestors
continue their unchecked mayhem in our major cities—while thousands of immigrants
flood across our borders—the pandemic is allowed to fester due to our oh so woke
liberal minded leadership in what they allow to cross our borders by turning their
blind eyes.
They hammer home for everyone to get vaccinated yet they can’t even say that with the vaccine
things will ever get back to what they once were—as in going back to normal.

Control is an interesting thing.

Eating bats is also interesting.

It appears to be problematic— not only for the said consumer, but
apparently for the entire world.

We first saw that little problem with the Ebola outbreak a few years back…
Bats were the culprit then…and supposedly they are the culprit now.

Bats leading to the demise of Christianity in the 21st century?

I suppose stranger things have happened….

But if you are a Believer and you are beginning to wonder how much longer
the powers that be think they can curtail your right to publicly worship
you might want to speak up now…while you still legally have a voice.

Or you can just blame it on the bats and keep quiet.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

do not allow your arrogance to convince you that there is nothing left to learn…

“So long as I am acting from duty and conviction,
I am indifferent to taunts and jeers.
I think they will probably do me more good than harm.”

Sir Winston Churchill

“One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions.”
Winston Churchill


Sir Winston Churchill speaks at the Hall on Thanksgiving Day, 1944

“We have come here tonight to add our celebration to those which are going
forward all over the world, wherever allied troops are fighting in bivouacs and dugouts,
on battlefields, on the high seas, and the highest air.
Always this annual festival has been dear to the hearts of the American people.
Always there has been that desire for thanksgiving, and never,
I think, has there been more justification, more compulsive need than now.

It is your Day of Thanksgiving,
and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us,
that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States,
with all the variety and freedom of their life in such contrast to the iron discipline
which has governed many other communities –
when we see that in three or four years the United States has in sober fact become
the greatest military, naval, and air power in the world – that,
I say to you in this time of war, is itself a subject for profound thanksgiving.

We are moving forward in this struggle which spreads over all the lands and all the oceans;
we are moving forward surely steadily, irresistibly,
and perhaps with God’s aid, swiftly towards victorious peace.

There again is a fitting reason for thanksgiving, but I have spoken of American thanksgiving.
Tonight here, representatives of vaster audiences and greater forces moving outside this hall,
it is British and American thanksgiving that we may celebrate today.
And why is that? It is because under the compulsion of mysterious
and all-powerful destiny we are together.

We are joined together, shedding our blood side by side, struggling for the same ideals,
and joined together until the triumph of the great causes which we serve has been made manifest.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the end of the Second World War,
Churchill spent six years as leader of the opposition to Clement Atlee’s Labour government of 1945-1951,
before being re-elected in 1951 for a second term as Prime Minister.

This rare video footage shows Churchill speaking at an event organised by
the Women’s National Advisory Committee (now known as the Conservative Women’s Organisation)
on 27 May 1954, discussing his government’s policy of
“peace through strength”:

(archives from the Royal Albert Hall)

“You have enemies? Good.
That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Winston Churchill

Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless
the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold,
my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way.

St. Jerome


(sheep farm, Killarny Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Firstly—- I read the following July 4th post written by our freind and
most knowledgeable Christian sister IB.

As I read it, I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks.

I too have most recently deeply felt her words.
A sense of pleading that our Chruch leadership does what they are entrusted to do…
that being to lead their flocks—come hell or high water.
Not cower in the corner of current ideologies…

A day later, I read a post by our dear friend and former Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden..
A post that mirrored IB’s thoughts and words but simply written from across the pond.

I’ve cut and copied both posts here.
I hope their words will touch your spirit.

We Aren’t going to “Get Our Freedom Back…”

So listen, I don’t want to sound uncharacteristically somber and serious,
nor do I want people to think I’m a total conspiratress.
I am you know, I do love a good conspiracy theory.
The problem being this isn’t a “theory,” it’s simply common sense.
So, I just want to say, those who are waiting patiently for things to “get back to normal,”
it ain’t happening. It ain’t going to happen.

Those who seem to believe if we just comply enough, just cooperate enough,
just do everything they say, (wear your mask you idiot,
so we can all open back up again) it ain’t going to happen.

If you’re waiting for covid 19 to go away, it ain’t going to happen either.
We could get down to no cases anywhere and there’s another “pandemic” right around
the corner waiting for us.
The media is already on it.

Government and public health officials are already trying to say we’re going to have
to wear masks for years, certainly until we get a mandatory vaccine.
Besides, flu season is coming this fall…

Never in the history of ever has anyone in government voluntarily relinquished
power over others that they have managed to attain.
The only way to get our freedom back is to stop playing the game,
stop the charades, and stop buying into the fear.
We have to say “no,” and we have to say it somewhat collectively.
None of this can continue without our consent.

I’m pleading with Christians who are just sitting there quietly accepting
a ban on singing in church. C’mon on people, some part of you knows this is not okay.
The power of life and death is in our tongues, it says that in the Bible.
If we believe those words, if the singing we do actually means something,
then we have to realize that shutting down churches, mandating we all wear masks,
and telling us it’s too dangerous to sing our praises, are all huge red flags.

I’m pleading with everyone who has ever felt the “benevolent” hand of government,
anyone who still carries trauma from those experiences.
C’mon people, we all know what this is.
It smells just like history trying to repeat itself.
It’s a power play.

We flattened the curve!
Heck, we shut down unused field hospitals and laid people off from our hospitals.
We did not get our freedom back.
We shut our businesses down, we bought the hand sanitizer,
we put on the masks, and we stayed home and we still did not get our freedom back.
It ain’t going to happen. Freedom once taken is not something you just “get” back.
There will be no passively sitting around and waiting for our freedom to be politely
returned to us once we’ve met all the requirements.

We met the requirements. So they just moved the goalposts.
They will continue to do so.

We aren’t going to “get” our freedom back, like it will just be passively
and nicely returned to us based on our compliance. That is a big lie, a total deception,
and has never happened anywhere, in the history of ever. Frankly,
I’m a bit embarrassed people still believe that. Not even God Himself,
and He is Holy, just, and perfect, just “gives” us freedom.
He may open the door to our prison, tear down the walls, and coax us out,
but even then we have to walk out under our own steam.
Or crawl.
Whatever works.
The point being, it is extremely rare we ever get anything without first opening
our hand and reaching out for it.

Jan 22, 2020, is when all of this began in my state.
We are going on seven months now! 7 months. A quarantine is for the sick,
not the healthy, and it should last about two weeks.
To quarantine the healthy is simply tyranny.

Such notions often put me at odds with friends, family,
even some churches. The problem being, I know I’m right,
I know that everything I see points in the direction I am observing.
We get our freedom back when we stop voluntarily consenting to hand it over.
That easy, that simple.

Happy Independence Day!
https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/we-arent-going-to-get-our-freedom-back/

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

The state and the Church have a history in our country.
The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.
It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy
of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state.
Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life.
While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more
complex contest for a system of values fought in a variety of states
with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar,
through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin,
the contest for setting the values by which human beings live,
across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign.
Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between
two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity.
All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable.
The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises
the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

Christians are rightly wary that the in 21st C there is no reason for thinking
that the contest has been suspended. Fascism’s toll of Christians (and Jews)
in Germany and Spain was horrendous but dwarfed by the toll wreaked
by the Soviet Union and Marxist China.

In each period of attrition, the sign that the struggle to the death
had begun was the control of Churches and worship by the authorities.

The beginning of this century has exposed the oncoming depth and intensity
of a cultural revolution of values that are inimical to the faith in the west
and suddenly out of nowhere, for medical rather than political reasons,
the state suddenly closes the churches and prohibits worship.

There are three patterns of Christian response.
The first is the highly secularized and spiritually incompetent one, which says,
“places don’t matter; your private thoughts are everything,
corporate worship is overrated.
We are not worrying about the implications for a weakened church losing financial
and philosophical traction becoming ever more bankrupt in both.
There is nothing to see here, move on, don’t fuss.”

The second response, more literate historically but still
underdeveloped spiritually says “yes it’s a terrible sign that that the churches
have been down unilaterally. Yes, it looks authoritarian and apocalyptic,
but check out the facts. It was a pandemic.
It was medicine and science, not politics.
Calm down.
Nothing to worry about.”

The third group is more inclined to the view,
“if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,
it may well be a duck”.
There is no value free science; everything has a political dimension;
more importantly, everything has a spiritual temperature,
character and metaphysical flavour or dynamic.
Whether there was intentionality or not, the state took upon itself the right
to close churches, prohibit worship, and deny the autonomy of personal
choice and informed conscience. And although this was a temporary measure (it seems)
it set a precedent which should have been exposed, challenged and repudiated.”

This is not the place to argue that the science on singing, water droplets
and infection is contested, as is the nature of the virus itself.
But it is the place to make common cause with Lord Sumtion and vociferously claim
that civil liberties require us to make a distinction between those who want to withdraw
from public life in order to protect themselves in a situation that is scientifically
and medically ambiguous, and those who chose to take certain risks congruent with a
personal value system and the dictates of their conscience.

It is the place to say that Christians do not recognise the power or authority of
the state to prohibit gathering for worship in ways that are not
medically or scientifically lethal or antisocial.

It is the place for insisting that the bar that state has to cross to
outlaw worship, close churches and outrage Christian conscience is considerably
perhaps impossibly higher than the secular state recognises.

It is, therefore, a legal and moral duty for the Church to challenge
the jurisprudential and ethical authority of the state to have set a precedent
in the authoritarian closing of churches and prohibition of worship.

It is for this reason that Christian Concern and a number of Church leaders
(amongst whom I am the least) have issued a challenge to the government by means
of judicial review to test the legality of this programme of church closure.

Further, if the legal challenge should be lost, many of us believe that Christians
could argue that we had a moral and ethical duty to refuse to acknowledge
the legitimacy of unjust law that not only acted as a threat to civil rights
and liberties that our forebears fought so hard to defend, but also struck
at the heart of our religious, spiritual and moral allegiance and identity.
https://ashenden.org/2020/07/06/the-state-closure-of-churches-and-civil-disobedience/

freedom…hummmm…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin


(image courtesy a business site)

If the truth be told, I’ve had one particular thought crossing my mind over and over
throughout this most surreal time in our lives.
That thought is simply one of freedom.

I’ve even addressed it here in blogland, when the time has allowed, during this past nearly
three months of living life in the Twilight Zone.

There has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us…
emotions of sorrow, fear, confusion—-

And there has been a stone wall of both frustration and anger.

I have noted before that I live in a “free” state.

A classification that I find extremely bizarre.
When would an American find themselves differentiating between a free
and non-free state other than say, during the Civil War?!

But for our 21st-century way of thinking,
a free state is a state that is lifting its pandemic bans.
Non-free states remain closed.
As in non-functioning.

I have recently enjoyed the opportunity of actually going out to eat.

Actually sitting down at one of my favorite restaurants and actually enjoying a dining experience
albeit with masked servers and socially distanced table set-ups.

People in our state can go get a haircut—something I’ve yet to do as the process
is a tad tedious and makes for very limited appointments so I’ll stick to my
ballcap for now.

The liquor store is still curbside.
Which I kind of enjoy but miss looking at the pretty bottles.

Our farmer’s markets are open.

I’m going to get my car serviced tomorrow—at a dealership 45 minutes away, in another town…
meaning I am free to travel about without restriction.

In Italy, they had to have official paperwork allowing them to venture
out of their homes in order to go to the grocery store or Pharmacia.

Whereas our parks are beginning to reopen, our lakes and marinas have never closed.

And we should note that our grocery store chains, Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes
and Home Depot have never closed–
nor did they even ration the number of patrons entering the stores–masks or no masks.

And for the record, I do not wear a mask.

If I am told I had to do so if it meant visiting a certain business, I would oblige–
but if not mandated, I don’t.
I am not sick.
I have not been exposed.
Plus I try not to let fear dictate my life.

Good hygiene practices and common sense rather than fear seem to both win out for me.
But I digress…

One thing I have found perplexing is the tit for tat that governors in
“non-free” states are having with their fellow governors in free states–
along with that of their /our President.
They are trying to remain locked down come hell or high water—
and if they aren’t careful…it just might be both.

People are not being allowed to work.
They are being furloughed, let go, or permanently closed down.
And small businesses, the backbone of this nation, are not being allowed to operate.

As this all makes good economic sense to whom???

Another odd happening throughout the country during all of this mess
is that one has been free to go get an abortion if one so chooses as abortion clinics
had been categorized as “essential” yet church doors remain sealed.

So that means that one’s spiritual wellness is not essential but murder and death are…
go figure.

See Citizen Tom’s posting on the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance in Virginia for
more of the story of the idiocy reigning supreme in the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding the
rights of the unborn–or maybe that should read…no rights for the unborn.

THE ABORTION MASQUERADE

And if I hear another pastor or priest dictate that they are keeping the doors
shut to their particular houses of worship because they are following
“science” —–well, just knock me in the head!

Men and women of the cloth are to follow the Word of God—
and I’m pretty certain God’s doors are open as He will certainly approve of the various
and the necessary health precautions for his precariously fragile creations.

Wear masks if you must, wear gloves if you must, receive communion, the Host, in open hands and use a
throw away cup for the wine verses a chalice—
Sit in pews 6 feet apart or on every other pew…don’t sing if you think it too
precarious and contagious (as in healthwise and not song-wise) but for Heaven’s sake
and for our sake, let the people pray and worship in God’s house!!!!

Did we close the churches and synagogues during the Great Depression or WWII???
Or what of the summers when polio was plaguing our children?
Or when TB was running rampant?

When people most needed comfort and hope, the various houses of worship opened
wide their doors.
They may have donated church goods to be melted for the war effort, they may have
had fewer attending due to polio or TB concerns, but the doors were open none the less,
allowing the spiritually hungry to come inside and find sustenance.

And so I caught another great post over on the Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II
musing over our plight in the Twilight Zone

“How did a temporary plan to preserve hospital capacity turn into two-to-three months
of near-universal house arrest that ended up causing worker furloughs at 256 hospitals,
a stoppage of international travel, a 40% job loss among people earning less than $40K per year,
devastation of every economic sector, mass confusion and demoralization,
a complete ignoring of all fundamental rights and liberties,
not to mention the mass confiscation of private property with forced closures of millions of businesses?

Whatever the answer, it’s got to be a bizarre tale…”

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/the-2006-origins-of-the-lockdown-idea/

And now, we come back full circle to the notion of Freedom.

A notion, along with the fact that I am writing this post on Memorial Day,
is a most poignant thought.

It is the day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our very freedoms.

But the question remains…what of those freedoms?

Who now dictates those freedoms?

I will close today’s rambling with a look at the opening quote by Benjamin Franklin…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

What are you willing to give up for a bit of temporary safety?
Everything?
I hope not.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:1 and 5:13-15