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

Don’t say it!!! Rather let us say thank you!

“The line between ‘normal’ and ‘neurotic’ begins to appear when
any activity becomes compulsive –
that is, when the person feels pushed to perform the act because
it habitually allays his anxiety rather than because of any intrinsic wish
to perform the act.”

Rollo May


(the roses are blooming despite our current quell of life / Julie Cook / 2020)

Don’t say it!

I don’t think I can bear hearing it one more time…

“new normal”

There is no such thing.

There is either normal….or there is its antithesis…not normal
‘New normal’ is not a thing.

We are either normal or we are not….end of sentence.

If I suffer a stroke and my current way of life is suddenly altered, I will work to make
it normal again—what I know to be normal.
I may struggle, things will obviously be altered but I will work toward normal.
I will not give up or give in–I will do my best to be what I know to be normal.
I may or may not make it—but I will strive for what I know as normal.

“New normal” is a compromise, a ‘less than’ sort of approach.
A settling.
Settling for something less and “other than.”

So to all those ‘powers that be’ who keep trying to tell us that we are to now live
a new normal…to accept life as a new normal…
I say NO!

We will not settle.
We will not settle for ‘less than.’

Rather we will strive for what we know to be normal.

And we will do so with wisdom, patience, and prudence…
we can and we will be normal again.

Our armed forces…those men and women who have bravely fought and also
sadly died throughout this near 250-year history of our nation…
those who have fought defending this great nation of ours did not give their all,
they did not offer up their limbs and lives, for a nation that simply settles.

They knew, just as I know, that we are an exceptional nation.
We will not accept “less than.”
They have taught us this on each and every beachhead, unfriendly sky, dense jungle,
tumultuous sea and savage battlefield.

And so today of all days, we owe a deep sense of gratitude to our veterans and
their valiant sacrifices—
We owe it to each and every last one of them to continue to strive to be ‘better than’
rather than ‘less than’.

So let us, this day, take the opportunity to thank those who have served and continue to serve…
thanking them for reminding us that we are indeed a nation worth fighting for!

These are challenging days and precarious times…and yet we have faced challenges before…
And each and every time we have faced the seemingly insurmountable,
we have risen to the challenge and we have overcome.

And we will do so again.

We will do so not by settling but by fighting for what we hold dear and cherish…
that being our liberties and freedom—the very ideals our servicemen and women have
sacrificed their very lives for.

Today, we offer our gratitude.
Tomorrow we move onward and upward!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

FREEDOM…redux


(Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the movie Braveheart)

The other day while scrolling through various news feeds, I caught one story’s
headline that made me rather angry.

The gist of the title said something about Americans and their love of freedom and how
they really needed to let go of that love…in other words,
Americans needed to quit focusing on that little hangup of theirs…
that being freedom.

The picture of the gentleman penning the story was that of a non-American or
perhaps an American national at best.
And don’t start with how racist it is of me to see someone’s picture and
“assume” they are not American.

The dude was clearly smug, arrogant and all-knowing as he wrote a piece lecturing Americans
over their obsession with freedom.

I was really quite incensed and opted not to read the article lest my blood pressure rise up
any further than it has, having been on this lockdown now for three months.

And so I immediately thought of Sam Adams.

Yes, Sam Adams and not William Wallace.

Adams being that beer-making colonist and not the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace
as seen above–

It’s just that the image of Mel Gibson as a half-crazed angry Scotsman who led a ragtag
army of clansmen while waging guerilla warfare against the British Army in a frustratingly
failed attempt at independence was just much more eye-catching than the benign painting of
Sam Adams seen below.


(detail of a portrait of Adams by John Singleton Copley /1772)

According to Alphahistory.com, Samuel Adams was a Massachusetts businessman,
writer, and political figure, known for his busy activism and his radical political views.
From the mid-1760s, Adams became the American Revolution’s agitator in chief,
to the extent that the British reportedly declared him the “most dangerous man in America”.

Adams, as a Harvard graduate, was no dummy yet he is more often remembered for being
that of a rabble-rouser and true revolutionist rather than that of a scholar,
statesman, or businessman.
And more sadly— he is merely seen as some sort of father of American beer–
as in the first brewing company.

But Adams was a ‘freedom at any cost’ sort of fellow—
much like our Scottish friend William Wallace.

Adams did eventually go on to become one of those famous band of brothers known as
the Founding Fathers.
His name would go on for eternity to be held in historical esteem with the likes of
John Adams (his cousin), Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

Wikipedia notes that Adams was “a leader of the movement that became the
American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of
American Republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States.”

Yet some historians argue that Adams may have been more of hot-headed renegade versus
that of a level-headed leader as it appears he was one more apt
to promote propaganda and mob violence rather than failed negotiations with a King
and his realm.

I like to think that Adams was more of a spirited revolutionist–the quintessential
example of what makes Americans, Americans.

A man who fought valiantly for the freedom that we Americans enjoy today.

Land of the free and home of the brave.
Home of the free, land of the brave.

Yep we, as a young republic fought, while blood was shed and lives were lost, all
for this land of the free…

And so I am more than perplexed watching our states…our states fighting
amongst themselves as well as their larger government regarding
lockdowns vs soft openings vs tyranny and oppression vs freedom…

Experience tells us that with more available testings for COVID-19, aka Wuhan flu,
the more available tests will, in turn, result in higher numbers of positive cases—
of which will then result in the scary higher numbers which we are now seeing.

Does that, in turn, mean that there will be more gloom and doom
along with death and pandemonium…??
I don’t know…

However, I don’t think statistics and charts will show significant dire straits
are in store for us.

Yet what I am seeing is that these new numbers are now steering leaders to make choices
and decisions based simply on fluctuations.
While we the people remain held hostage.

Does that make for good governing?
I don’t think so.

The one thing I know, the one thing for certain…
we are indeed Americans…we believe in freedom—it’s kind of what makes us, us…
be that for good or bad–

So to tell American entrepreneurs that they must shut their doors indefinitely,
leaving them with no clear picture of when or if they may reopen for business, let
alone how they are to pay their employees who also need to pay their bills and buy those
day to day items that help keep them going, is most vexing.

Are there those among us who are being stupid in all of this?
Yes.
So do we need to have safety measures in place as we begin to wake back up
and resume some sense of who we are as a nation?
Most definitely.

But to stifle our economy and our daily lives just to see if we can wait out
a virus is not the answer—if that is the case the virus will win while
we wither and die—not from a virus but from hiding under a rock.

And those who think socialism is our answer, as we print more and more paper,
which is considered money, money that is simply pulled magically out of the sky to then
be passed around like candy, well, they may want to go live in those countries who currently
live under socialist regimes to see how well that works for the common man or woman.

And as for bigger Government—and Big Brother…
Well, I think we’ll wait to talk about that another day…because for now…
I think I’ll stick with Patrick Henry’s line of thinking—
Give me liberty or give me death…

piece of cake

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

St. Brendan


(the wildflowers are now blooming / Julie Cook / 2020)

Oh, how the words of St. Brendan have touched my heart today–
(today, for me, being Monday and yesterday for you).

Walking into the unknown.
Journeying beyond the familiar.
Needing faith, as well as hope, while we leave the old ways, the old life, far behind.

Now left feeling helpless while trying to navigate uncharted waters…
Murky waters leading into something vastly different and to
something surreally new.

This is not to be a temporary change—not a momentary glitch to a set pattern or routine.
Such hiccups in life are not always pleasant but are made manageable in that we know they are
not meant to last…as in, not forever.

But this is not that.
This is not a slight bump or pothole in the road.

I think in all of this that what it boils down to is my simply yearning for what was…

And if the truth is really told, I think it is the feeling of freedom that I long for,
as well as pine over, the most.

To come and go as I once did…without worry or fear.

To hug an old friend who I’ve run into in a store.

To take a spontaneous road trip.

To save for, to plot and then plan a special vacation.

To actually linger in a garden shop…feasting on the colors and breathing in
the heavenly scents of beauty…free of masks or strips of tape that
keep me at a certain distance.

To simply being able to finally go back to the dentist for the new crown for my broken tooth.

Yet all those things are deemed “non-essential”, unnecessary to the basic day to day living.

So instead, I am left to precariously gather weekly supplies while spraying myself
with the sole sacred can of Lysol.
I tend to wee grandchildren as their parents now work and teach from home.
We cook, we eat, we clean, we wash, we huddle together and we wonder what tomorrow
will bring.

And so yes, I pray that God will give me the faith to leave what was known and trusted
behind as we all now embark on a journey into the new…of that which is
untrodden fresh ground.

If I walk hand in hand with my Father…that which is unknown, will be a piece of cake.

You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you,
that you may live, and that it may go well with you,
and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 5:33

Ode to our nefarious founding….

Nowhere in the Constitution are we asked to let everyone in
world enter this country.
“The United States, allegedly steeped in the white supremacist ideology of the nefarious founding,
has been more welcoming to strangers than any nation in the world, and it’s not even close.”

David Harsanyi
Former Senior Editor at The Federalist.


(Snidely Whiplash from Dudley Do-Right and Rocky and Bullwinkle)

This morning, I took my husband for another epidural for his back.
The last one worked pretty well for a couple of months so we’re hoping for a longer
period of pain-free walking and movement….

Ode to the years of having spent playing football.

And speaking of ode…

As I sat waiting, I opted to use my time reading the day’s news feed from the Federalist.
The Federalist is an on-line news site whose tag line is
“Be lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray.”

I love freedom and I’m up for any sort of good old fashioned fray…

I scrolled through the stories clicking to read an article about the growing
new left in Ireland’s political world…
that being the rising of an old, somewhat dubious IRA related ‘party,’
with a new trendy feel, Sinn Fein.

Ireland and her “troubles” have always troubled my soul.
I was in college when either Newsweek or Time Magazine did a story about the children
caught in the crosshairs of waring countries.
Countries such as Ireland who seemed to be living out an everlasting ‘civil’ war.

Civil wars trouble me.

There is noting civil about a nation ripped asunder.

Think of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s 1936 painting depicting Spain’s civil war…
a nation devouring herself.
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)


(Philadelphia’s Museum of Art)

Scrolling through the stories which followed, there was one in particular that caught my eye.
In part because I often watch the Tucker Carlson Show.

The story was titled:
‘Tucker Carlson Is Absolutely Right About Ilhan Omar / Even if he’s wrong about immigration’

The story is by David Harsanyi who happens to be the son of 1st generation immigrant parents.

And since I am not a fan of a certain dismissive immigrant congresswoman who sneers at the
roots and foundation of the very nation she now serves, I continued reading…

Here is a snippet from the article:

When my parents came to the United States as refugees in 1968, for instance,
they were asked to renounce communism—because collectivism, like Islamism or fascism
or any authoritarianism, is antithetical to American principles.
Any newcomers in 1968 who believed the United States was guilty of crimes against
the proletariat, and praised Pol Pot or Castro, would not have been a quality immigrant.

This is one reason we still give newcomers citizenship tests.
We want them not only to comprehend our foundational ideas, but to adopt them.
Whether or not this nation consistently lives up to those values (far from it) is irrelevant.
There’s no country in human history born without sin.
Yet only Americans are asked to engage in daily acts of contrition for their past.

Some people might have you believe their partisan hobbyhorses—like “economic patriotism,”
for example—are American ideals. They aren’t. Having the right to protect yourself,
your family, and your property without asking permission from the state is an American ideal.
Religious freedom is an America ideal. Being able to live life without being coerced to
participate in groupthink is an American ideal. Uninhibited free expression
is an American ideal.
The right of communities to live without being impelled by a majoritarian democracy
to adopt centralized policies is central tenet of American governance.

Social mores change. Not our core governing principles.
Now, you may find all this eye-rolling earnestness both antiquated and puerile,
which seems to be the case with Omar and most of her progressive allies.
But then you have a new set of principles you want to enact,
not the traditional ones some of us want to preserve.

When Carlson argues that the very fact Omar —
a refugee from one of the most violent places on Earth, Somalia —
can rise to become, at only 36,
one of the most famous members of Congress is the best argument against her critique of America,
he has good point. Omar has more influence than 99 percent of her co-citizens.
She is a testament to an open and free society.
Her words are not.

Believing that the United States is defined by racism and economic injustice
doesn’t make Omar a bad immigrant, only a silly human being.
Importing anti-Semitic beliefs from the broader Islamic world,
on the other hand, makes her an unassimilated American.

Being critical of foreign intervention doesn’t make Omar un-American,
but talking about servicemen who sacrificed their lives fighting Somalian warlords
at Battle of Mogadishu as if they were terrorists does.
In the same way, dismissing the Islamic extremists who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 as
“some people who did something”—because it’s “Islamophobic”
to point out facts—makes her ungrateful.

With so many people coming here, it is within the purview of the citizenry
to make decisions about who enters and who doesn’t.
And it is perfectly legitimate—although probably not very practical—for us to
try and discern what ideological baggage is brought with them.

Certainly there is nothing “nauseatingly racist” about bring critical of Omar,
or pondering the potential downsides of mass immigration.
This lazy smear so overused it’s become virtually meaningless.
(Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recently insinuated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
was a racist for criticizing her.)
And not just by politicians, but pundits, as well.

At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf claims that Carlson suggested
“that because Omar came here as a child, she doesn’t have the right to voice critical
opinions about America.”
You can read the Fox News host’s comments yourself,
but nowhere does he propose anything of the sort.
What does seem to be happening, though, is that some people are given special dispensation
from criticism and debate. And that is a genuinely un-American idea.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/11/tucker-carlson-absolutely-right-rep-ilhan-omar/

While reading the opening of the article about 1968 era immigrants being asked to denounce various
ideologies such as Communism and as to why we continue to give newcomers a citizenship test
before “making” them new citizens, I was struck by the similarities between those who opt
to choose Christianity, being asked to renounce a sinful self before taking on the
new birth through Christ.

We are told that we cannot serve two masters.

It’s an either or sort of situation.

We have many up and coming politicians who think they can serve opposing ideologies while
claiming to be for all things democratic—an ideology that does not, cannot, co-exist
with opposing thinking.

It won’t work.

Abortions will not work.
More government will not work.
Socialism will not work.
Militant feminism will not work.
Progressive liberalism will not work.
Anarchy will not work.

Come November, Americans will choose either or…
but for those of us of Fatih…the ‘either or’ is more lasting than simply another four more years.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in
your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 ESV

humility as viewed through the lens of football

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course,
as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

C.S. Lewis

What is humility?
And why does it matter?

Here are several definitions I found online:

A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride

Freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble

I really like the last definition…

The first definition has a bit of a ring of self-martyrdom to it.
The second one seems to be left to one’s birth personality leanings…
meaning you’re either born with it or not.

But that last one…
that last one speaks of ‘a freedom from’…

There is a great sense of release in that notion for sure.

For there’s almost a sense of ‘a lifting’ or ‘a removing of’
along with a ‘healing from’.

For to be free of something is liberating…it means you are no longer bound,
as in nothing is binding.
And there is certainly tremendous gratitude found in that!

So it seems that no matter how one slices it, humility is a lacking of arrogance
and false pride….it is also very low key.
All of which is both freeing and liberating…

Humble people tend to be low key and quiet.
They tend to shy away from the limelight…as in they have no use for such.
They prefer to stay quiet in the background.

They don’t tout themselves as this or that but rather yield to the others around them.
They eschew the spotlight…or really any sort of attention for that matter.

This notion of humility has come to the front of my thoughts recently
in part because Atlanta’s news has been all abuzz all weekend over the former
NFL football player Colin Kaepernick’s very much publicized staged workout in town…

From all outward appearances, this seems to be a staged last-ditch effort by a
young man and “his people” to draw the attention of the League’s teams,
owners and coaches to the fact that he is still very much ready to play…
playing for anyone who might ask.
He wants everyone to know he’s still viable and marketable.

But is he really?
And is this the true impetus behind this latest media-driven public spectacle?
Is he sincere?

I can’t remember a single player ever going to such extreme efforts
to get teams to reconsider him as a potential player.

And if this media spectacle wasn’t surreal enough, at the last minute,
Kaepernick changed the location just prior to the scheduled event leading
to confusion rather than the simplicity of simply showcasing his physical talents.

Was it just another issue of who is and who is not in control?

There are plenty of disappointed players out there who have been cut,
let go or who have gone undrafted for a myriad of reasons…

Professional sports are a fickled business.
As cutthroat comes to mind.

There are tons of players who continue working out, attending open practices, etc,
all in hopes of getting just one more shot.

Even big-name players such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel obviously come to mind—
Two very different players who were let go and yet did not want to be let go.

Tebow never seemed to get a fair shake…of which I suspect his
very open Christian faith might have had a lot to do with that…
And Manziel, well he simply burned his bridges with his continued drug use and
bad-boy behavior.

Bad-boy behavior becomes a liability in a business dominated by fans.
As in the fans are the ultimate bosses.
When fans pay to come and support a team…money flows.
When fans don’t pay to come and opt not to support a team, the money stops.
Ratings drop, players, opt to leave, as a team then becomes toxic.

No money, no revenue…
No revenue, no pay for salaries.
Maybe if salaries weren’t in the millions, this might not be such a problem.
Liabilities don’t generate revenue.
Arrogant players tend to become liabilities.

Former Steelers and Raiders player Antonio Brown comes to mind.

I just can’t seem to recall any player who has ever created their own media circus
in an attempt to force the hand of the League with the ‘hire me or else’ tactic other
than Colin Kaepernick.

I never cared for Johnny Manziel, even when he was a college player,
all because of his blatant self-destructive arrogance.

He quickly found out that the League didn’t care for it either.
The Canadian League gave him a chance but he still wants back in the NFL.

Tebow, well, he remains a bit of an anomaly regarding his playing.
Once he figured out his football days were seemingly over, as no one really wanted
to give him a real chance, he opted for baseball…
but he didn’t seem to fare any better there.

So yes, there are tons of former players, well known as well as unknown,
who would love to be able to afford their own personal very public media-hyped workouts
in an attempt to strong-arm a League,
but either they can’t or more importantly, won’t.

And maybe humility has something to do with some of that.

Some might argue that tooting one’s own horn is a must in professional sports.

Yet when you’re a sports figure who uses your job (because that’s just what it is, a job)
as a platform for your own personal political views and personal agendas…well then
that is a case of exploitation…
exploiting your work platform for your own personal desires…
Forcing a captive audience, the fans, to endure your selfish antics.

You are no longer a team player but rather a self-centered individual
allowing your on-field antics rather than performance to become an extension to a soapbox
for something so much other than what you are there for…
for athleticism and finesse on a playing field.

A humbled person might see such and reconsider how best to promote a personal agenda…
An arrogant person, on the other hand, is so self-absorbed that they have quickly lost touch.

We see this constantly with our politicians as well as with our entertainers…
just as we now see such in our professional athletes.
No area of our lives seems free of hubris.

It would be so nice to have some places in our lives that remain a-political.
Places of quiet that remain low key.
Places where we can just enjoy a game for the game’s sake… or a concert or even a simple
trip to the mall without being victimized by those who push their envelopes in our faces.

Our souls are so thirsty for the humble.

We hunger for places where there are no spotlights, no news media,
no glaring social media blitzes.
No one screaming “look at me”–

Arrogance and self-absorption dominate our lives.
Yet we readily feed into this very trend every time we feel the need to post our latest images
of ourselves doing whatever it is we do, thinking the world needs to see what we do.
The question however is, does the world really care or is it rather ourselves who are
the ones who care?

It would behoove us to seek the humble, the quiet and the lowly.
Our souls are in dire need of such.
For our souls are parched and need refreshing…

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles
himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 ESV

crisis of faith or living faith…a choice

In a speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2011, Benedict XVI
reflected that
“The essence of the crisis of the Chruch in Europe is the crisis of faith.
If we find no answer to this…then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

The Day is Far Spent / Cardinal Sarah


(a lone turkey feather lost in the woods / Julie Cook / 2019)

When Joseph Ratzinger speaks about a “crisis of faith”,
we should understand that he is not talking in the first place about an
intellectual or theological problem in the academic sense of the word.
He means a “living faith”, a faith that imbues and transforms life.
“If faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength
from the encounter with Jesus Christ,” Benedict XVI added that day,
“then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

This loss of the sense of faith is the deep root of the crisis of civilization
that we are experiencing.

As in the first centuries of Christianity, when the Roman Empire
was collapsing, all human institutions today sem to be on the
path of decadence.
Reflections between people, whether political, social, economic, or cultural,
are becoming difficult.
In losing the sense of God, we have undermined the foundation of all
human civilization and opened the door to totalitarian barbarity.

Human beings, separated from God, are reduced to a single dimension—
the horizontal—
and this reduction itself is one of the fundamental causes of the various forms
of totalitarianism that have had tragic consequences in the past century,
as well as the crisis of values that we see in the current situation.

By obscuring the reference to God the ethical horizon has also been obscured,
to leave room for relativism and for an ambiguous conception of
freedom which, instead of being liberating, ends by blinding
human beings to idols.

The temptation that Jesus faced in the wilderness before his public ministry
vividly symbolize which “idols” entice human beings when they do not
go beyond themselves.
Were God to lose his centrality man would lose his rightful place,
he would no longer fit into creation, into relations with others

Pope Benedict XVI
Nov 14, 2012

Asking forgiveness, it’s never too late nor futile…Poland is such an example

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has
forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Freedom is the capacity to assert one’s will against the willfulness of others.”
William of Ockham


Over the past weekend, I caught a lovely news story.

In between the nerve-racking updates about Hurricane Dorian here on the east coast—
the hurricane that just doesn’t want to go away—
to the sorrowful story coming out from the west coast about the tragic boat fire in the
Pacific claiming nearly 40 lives, to another sorrowful mass shooting…
finding a news story that read of hope, if not simply civility, was greatly welcomed.

Below, I’ve simply cut and paste the AT&T news story.
My take on it all follows…

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for Poland’s forgiveness
80 years after the start of World War II.

“I stand before you, those who have survived, before the descendants of the victims,
the old and the young residents of Wielun, I am humbled and grateful,”
Steinmeier said during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun,
the site of one of the first Nazi bombings in the country on September 1, 1939.

“I bow to the victims of the attack in Wielun,
I pay tribute to the Polish victims of German tyranny and I ask for forgiveness,” he said.

Nearly 6 million Poles died during World War II,
which remains the bloodiest conflict in history.

More than 50 million people were killed in the conflict overall,
including some 6 million Jews, half of whom were Polish.

At a ceremony in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke of the atrocious history
suffered by Polish people during WWII and the “trauma” that they still carry today.

The Polish President remembered the fallen and thanked the soldiers
“who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom.”

In an address on Sunday morning in Westerplatte, Gdansk,
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of the huge material, spiritual, economic
and financial losses Poland suffered in the war.

“We have to talk, we have to remember about the losses we suffered,
we have to demand the truth, we have to demand compensation,” Morawiecki said.

War reparations remain a contentious issue in Poland —
since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice (PiS)
party has revived calls for compensation, Reuters reported.
Germany made the last payment on reparations in 2010.

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Warsaw on Sunday at the commemoration ceremony
to mark the 80th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland.
Two days later, on September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

“During the five decades of untold suffering and death that followed the outbreak of World War II,
the Polish people never lost hope, they never gave in to despair,
and they never let go of their thousand-year history,” Pence said.

“In the years that followed this day 80 years ago,
their light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” he added.

https://start.att.net/news/read/article/cnn-german_president_asks_for_forgiveness_80_years_aft-cnn2/category/news

The nation of Poland has a great deal to teach the rest of the world about perseverance
as well as the ability to forgive…just as it seems a German leader has a few things to teach
all of us about the never-ending ability to ask one who has been tragically wronged, to forgive.

But you’d need to understand a bit of history first to truly appreciate this story.

I’ve touched on Poland and her history before in a few previous posts,
but it seems the importance of revisiting has resurfaced.

Poland sits in a pivotal location geographically.

According to the renowned author and biographer, George Weigel, in his international bestseller
Witness to Hope / The biography of Pope John Paul II,
Poland’s location at the crossroads of Latin and Byzantine Europe, it’s geography,
and its repeated experience of invasion, occupation, resistance and
resurrection gave rise to a distinctive Polish way of looking at history.

Poland sits in the middle of Europe—in between the majority of Europe to the west
and Russia along with her broken minions to the east.
Poland has, down through the centuries, proven to be a historical bulwark.

She has literally been the defending line between tyranny and democracy for centuries.
And she has never complained about her pivotal lot.

I am reminded of the verse from the book of Luke:
“From everyone who has been given much,
much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much,
much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

“Polish history is generally taken to begin with the baptism
of the Piast prince Mieszko I in 966. Mieszko’s choice for Latin Christianity
over Eastern Christianity, which had been formed in the orbit of Constantinople,
decisively shaped Poland’s history for more than a millennium.”

By Mieszko’s choice, a Slavic land and people would be oriented toward the Latin West.

These Roman Slavs were a bridge between Europe’s two cultural halves;
they could “speak the language of two spiritual worlds.”
Poland’s Catholicity and its geographic location led to a certain catholicity
of cultural temperament.

Tartars and Swedes had laid waste [to] the country; the Austrians had stripped the
Old Town of its fortifications and walls (Kraków); occupying powers of varying degrees of
ferocity had displaced the kings and queens of Poland from the royal castle,
atop the “Polish Zion.”
Now, on September 1, 1939, Wawel Cathedral was about to experience something beyond the
imagining of those who had worshiped beneath its gothic vault for centuries.

Poland, as a nation, has been erased numerous times from the known geographical
maps of human history.
Meaning, she was eliminated as a nation…
absorbed by her greedy neighbors on more than one occasion…
actually being erased for over 100 years from any historical map.
Yet the Polish people and their spirit as a unified people, has always remained.

Weigel notes “Poland is not always appreciated this way.
Indeed, the suspicion seems widespread that the Poles
must, for some reason or other, deserve their bad luck.
Yet Poland’s curse is neither in the stars nor in the Polish people.
It’s the neighborhood.”

“For more than a thousand years, the Polish people and their state have inhabited an enormous
flat plain bounded by large, aggressive, materially superior neighbors.
…The Germans were always to the west, and almost always aggressive.
German-Polish enmity followed and peaked in World War II,
when the Nazis sought to eradicate the Polish nation from history.

World War II, which the Poles sometimes describe as the war they lost twice,
was an unmitigated disaster for Poland.
Six million of its citizens our of a prewar population of 35 million,
were killed in combat or murdered– a mortality rate of eighteen percent.
The nation was physically decimated.
Poland became the site of the greatest slaughters of the Holocaust.
And, at the end, another totalitarian power seized control of Poland’s political future.

Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, would live under and eventually be formed by
these two occupying and oppressive regimes–two regimes that would each lend an
unknown hand to the building of a formidable world leader and in turn their own
nemesis and foe.

According to Wikipedia:
On 16 October 1978, Poland experienced what many Poles literally believed to
be a miracle.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the archbishop of Kraków, was elected pope at the Vatican,
taking the name John Paul II. The election of a Polish Pope had an electrifying
effect on what was at that time one of the last idiosyncratically
Catholic countries in Europe.
When John Paul toured Poland in June 1979, half a million people came to welcome
him in Warsaw; in the next eight days, about ten million Poles attended the
many outdoor masses he celebrated.
John Paul clearly became the most important person in Poland, leaving the regime
not so much opposed as ignored. Rather than calling for rebellion,
John Paul encouraged the creation of an “alternative Poland” of social
institutions independent of the government, so that when the next crisis came,
the nation would present a united front.

On 27 October 1991, the first (since the 1920s) entirely free Polish parliamentary
election took place.
This completed Poland’s transition from a communist party rule to a Western-style liberal
democratic political system.

And so despite the centuries of war, siege, occupation, death, murder, and even obliteration…
Poland has remained…just as she continues to remain.

And so we are fortunate in that we, as a world, may watch as a one-time warring
and occupying nation sincerely offers a very humble and visceral apology.
Words that cannot erase the pain, suffering, loss or unfathomable human tragedy…
but words offered by a nation who can admit to the sins of her past…
which in turn now offer hope to a renewed future for us all.

Forgiveness, Hope and Healing—all offered to a very troubled and very needing world…

We continue to hold on to Hope…

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

don’t put a squashed pine cone in your mouth…

“the ‘task of the conscience’– a word of great value in Western civilization,
is to determine what that divine purpose is and then to live
it out irrespective of the cost”

observations about Pope John Paul by George Weigel
excerpt taken from The Divine Plan
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

The above image is a picture within a picture…or rather, it’s a still-shot from a video.
And the title is a quote I actually uttered yesterday…
as in, “DO NOT PUT THAT SQUASHED PINECONE IN YOUR MOUTH!!

However, that story will have to wait as I simply needed an
the attention-grabbing title today…
As in I wanted your full and undived attention.

I’ve been spending time with the Mayor and the new Sheriff the past several days,
helping out…and I hate that I’ve not even had the chance to share with you about their
charming encounter with the ocean…
But it seems as if the world has tilted just a bit further off her axis and has needed
a tad more of my attention than merely my chattering on as a doting grandmother
who’s droning on about her grandkids…

But first a quick word to the wise…it is not prudent nor is it wise to pick up a run over
and flattened pinecone and proceed to poke it into your mouth and then bite down…just saying.

But now to the matter at hand.

It seems that there has been a lot of talk as of late…here in the blogosphere, FB
(or so I’m told) as well as on various Christian media outlets about more and more
big-name Christians announcing their seemingly sudden withdrawal from the fold
so to speak.

As in there appears to be a slight uptick in the number of those recanting their faith
all in very public places and on very public platforms.

Odd to want to grandstand over losing one’s faith.
Opting to be vocal and in the spotlight rather than introspective, sad and
living the loss.

Or as IB so aptly noted the other day, in the words of the famous band out of
Athens, GA—REM—grandstanding over ‘Losing My Religion’…

And to be honest…not being one who runs in the evangelical or other
protestant denomination’s circles or one who keeps up with the current mega-church craze,
I can’t say that I’m familiar with many of these recently fallen sheep.

But as I’ve been reading…there is indeed a long, sad, public and very vocal fall
taking place.

I have, however, on the other hand, been a bit more focused on the sexual abuse scandal
rocking the Catholic Chruch as well as the naming of a few notable and now long deceased
Anglican priests whose names have been sullied by the same accusations.

And so as I look out over the horizon of our collective Christian faith—
our denominations far and wide, I can see Satan being very busy as work.

I’ve written about this so many times before that I think I must just be beating my head
against a brick wall but there is a divide and conquer mentality being applied to the
Christian fold and it is being applied fast and furious…
And the thing is… nobody seems to “get it”

I’ve also written that this is indeed a mad world—a mad mad world on so many levels.
Mad as in crazy nuts and mad as in viscerally angry.
We have troubles my friends and I do indeed fret for my darling grandchildren.

The slick lies that are being tossed about fast and loose as truth
from things such as children’s tv and music, to what defines a family, to
legalized murder in delivery rooms, all the way to the odd notion of fluid genders…
it is enough to make me want to grab up my babies and run and hide.

But we cannot hide.

We cannot ignore it any longer.
We cannot turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.

We are being spoon fed lies as truth.
Lies as legalized truth.

As a once overly zealous teen, when reading the stories of those early Christian martyrs in
places such as Rome and Judea, I would often imagine having been there and how I would have
hoped to have stood up so bravely as those countless men and women who suffered
grievously under torture, mutilation and even death—
suffered almost readily rather than giving in and recanting their faith.

Because their faith was precious.
It was dear.
It was sacred.

Today it seems to be more passe, victimized and tired.

And so when I read of these modern-day Christians recanting their faith
so flippantly and arrogantly, apologizing to the masses of those seemingly innocent souls
who they feel as if they had helped to lead astray, I am more than saddened, I am sickened.

For they have bought into the culture gods hook, line and sinker…
They are now the poster children of a hedonistic and self-absorbed culture…
selling a bad bag of goods to an innocent fold.

There are thousands around this world of ours who continue to die for the Christian faith.
They worship in secret and in whispered tones.
They live in places such as Russia, China, Africa, Myanmar, Yemen, Iran, Iraq…
They love Jesus and are willing to pay the ultimate price for that love.

Their worship is not easy nor is it easy to come by…
not as it is here in the West.

And yet here in the West, we too indeed suffer as well.
It’s just that we suffer on a quieter level.

Our suffering is on a more insidious level.
Our suffering is often more psychological than physical.

We are shunned, ridiculed, threatened with legal action and told we may not utter
the name of God or Jesus as we once did…
Words spoken, along with the right to speak those words, was simply taken for granted.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.
We’ve taken for granted the Precious and the Sacred.
We trivialized our God and made that which is Great, small.

And now Satan is working overtime.

Time is running out.
He knows this.

So, therefore, be not quiet.
Speak up and speak out.
Because it is a mad world…
in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways…

freedom and faith…

“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.
Religion is more needed in democratic societies than in any other”

President Ronald Reagan during a 1988 address marking Georgetown University’s 200th anniversary.


(piping plover / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

[Seek] authentic freedom [and] avoid every kind of illusory freedom,
every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into
the whole truth about man and the world.

Pope John Paul II
Redemptor Hominis 1979