when did respect die???

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself.
The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he
cannot distinguish the truth within him,
or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.
And having no respect he ceases to love.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world,
to explain and despise it.
But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it,
not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves
and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

Hermann Hesse

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

Edwin Markham

This quote by Edwin Markham…it was one of my favorite quotes… or better yet,
it actually became a sort of life rule that I kept close to my heart when I was in high school…
way back in the mid 70’s when I first found it.

It is a quote by Edwin Markham (April 23, 1852 – March 7, 1940)
He was a poet, as well as an American poet laureate, hailing from Oregan.
He was a prolific writer with most of his work coming from the years between 1923-1931.

This quote came racing back to my thoughts yesterday after a little incident I witnessed
at my local grocery store.

Let’s think of where I live.

I live in what is considered to be a small town.
We are about an hour west of Atlanta, give or take the traffic.
Yet we are a college town.
And we are what some might consider to be a sleeper community of Atlanta.
Meaning, folks drive back and forth to the big city in order to work.

We have big businesses but we still have a cattle sale barn that operates every Monday.
It’s where the local farmers bring their animals each week to show and sell…
So yes, we have pastures, cows, goats, sheep, bulls and yet we also have
global industry, a major hospital, a Division II college, and two nationally
recognized school systems…

Our town is a good town.
A small town with rural charm along with a comfortable modern feel.

So yesterday afternoon, I ran to the grocery store, our local Publix.
As I made my way to the door, pulling my mask over my face, I saw an older woman,
in her 80’s pushing her cart out of the store.
She was sporting a Trump 2020 t-shirt along with a black Trump 2020 face mask…
smartly accenting her jean skirt and sneakers.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye an elderly gentleman approaching us pushing another
grocery cart…he was bent over with age and I surmised he was her husband.

She told me she wanted to tell me something.

As she was an older woman and I have a deep respect for older folks,
I knew I needed to pay attention to what she wanted to tell me.

I don’t care what race, creed, or religion an older person might be,
they will always have my respect.
That’s how I was raised.

I might be almost 61 myself but I will always respect those who are older than I am.

No matter who they may be or where they may come from…be they humble
beings or more well do to…our elderly population are our treasures.
They have lived through so much, be it good or bad, and they have so much to
teach each one of us.

So when one of that generation tells me they have something to tell me,
I’m all ears.

This very southern gentile woman begins to tell me that a young man…
she told me his race, but to be honest I couldn’t make out exactly what she said
given the muffled voice coming from under her mask,
I could have easily assumed she was referring to a black male, but I’m just sticking with
young male…

This young male saw her shirt and mask and told her to her face that she was a
“fucking racist.”

Suddenly I felt a sick feeling hitting my stomach like a brick.

That could have once been my grandmother.
For some punk to call my own grandmother a “fucking” anything would have
sent me reeling.
For all I know, my grandmother probably never had heard of such a word!
She was that much a southern lady…much like this woman

By this time, her hunched-over husband chimed in telling me that had he heard
this young man say that to his wife, he would have hit him but he was
not nearby as he was just trying to get a cart to help him walk.

Here was a feeble elderly man feeling that his wife has been terribly insulted
and he wasn’t there to defend her—and that tore my heart to pieces.

I apologized to this couple that such should have happened to them on this humid September
Thursday afternoon at their local grocery store in small-town USA.

I felt so hurt.
So much so that tears came to my eyes.

I could have just as easily seen an elderly black man or woman wearing a BLM shirt
at the store and I would never have ever considered saying a word.
I might have disagreed, but I would respect their choice, their right,
to wear such because that is indeed their, our, right as Americans.
I don’t have to agree, but I do have to have respect.

Why?

Because that is how I was raised.

And so that one little word, that one little issue, is, in a nutshell,
the answer to all of this idiocy taking place across this Nation of ours…
respect has died.

May she rest in peace.
And may God have mercy.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

generation…redeemed

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful:
he makes saints out of sinners.”

Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard


(gulf frittilary butterfly /Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday our friend Kathy, over on atimetoshare.me, offered a marvelous post examining our various
generational monikers.

We have the greatest generation, the baby boomers, the silent generation, the Me generation,
along with that X, Y, and Z business.
A crazy mishmash of generational clarifications.

These labels are not necessarily meant to definitively define a specific group of people, given their
time of birth and their time of growing up, but it does, none the less, have a lasting pigeon hole
for those born during various time periods.

Were they quiet and steadfast?
Were they daring and wild?
Were they hyperfocused and driven?

Yet it wasn’t so much the names and characteristics of each generation that caught
my attention but rather it was the afterthought Kathy offered…

She noted that we should add in the Redeemed generation…

And I’d like to think that is this is the defining highlight of the pandemic /civil unrest generation…
a group of people that transcend both generational monikers or age barriers.

A collective group of ages and backgrounds.

Redemption that crosses both space and time…

Kathy reminds us:
The beautiful message of the Gospel, assures our forgiveness if we only believe it.
Isn’t it wonderful that in this world, where evil and selfishness prevail,
those who have faith in the most important gift of God can still be part of the “Redeemed Generation.”
Because of His grace alone, we will inherit His heavenly kingdom.
Through our faith alone, which is also a gift from God,
we receive the promise of eternal life.
Through His inspired Word, we have the perfect handbook for life provided by the King of Kings.
It isn’t complicated.

May we all strive to be a part of this Redeemed generation….

GENERATION REDEEMED

Kristallnacht, we will try to live through it…

“Our father took me and my little sister in his arms that night,
and said, ‘this is the beginning of a very difficult time, and we’ll try to live through it’.”

Ruth Winkelmann remembering The Night of Broken Glass


(United States Holocaust Museum)

The greatest gift that all of us can give to our country as patriotic Americans
is to live out our lives as faithful Catholic Americans who have been entrusted
with the fullness of faith and the fullness of divine life and the fullness of power
without which our country will not endure.

Dr. Scott Hahn
from A Father Who Keeps His Promises

I don’t think Dr. Hahn would mind me substituting “faithful Christian American”
in place of “faithful Catholic American—as I think it is a most fitting assertion…
in that, it is a gift that all Believers should be offering—
as in a gift given from ourselves to ourselves and to our fellow countrymen…
those who are Believers as well as to our non-believing kinsmen.

What better example could we the faithful be but that of good and patriotic Americans!
Those who possess humility, kindness, charity, and that of a law-abiding zest for living.
As in, we the people, who have been the entrusted caregivers of this Nation…
a nation founded 244 years ago. We are her stewards.
As that was the legacy and hope of our Founding Fathers.

Yet, in most recent weeks, we have been witness to a life far from that of caring…
a life far from one of stewardship.


(Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House/
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)


(Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG/ Long Beach, California)


(Minnesota protesters topple a statue of Christopher Columbus)

Even our cousins across the great pond have gotten in on the act.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) “was a racist” written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, most of the countries which make up our 21st-century Western Civilization
have devolved into a disastrous maelstrom of violence and hate.

Last week when I wrote a post lamenting this current reign of madness, a fellow blogger
commented that we are actually experiencing our own Kristallnacht…
the night of broken glass.

I was dumbfounded.
It was as if I had been struck by lightning.
It was a revelation.
And I was amazed at the eerie similarity.

And so for those of you who are unfamiliar with Kristallnacht or for those who do not
know their history…and particularly since this current cultural civil war seems to be
falling woefully short any sort of knowledge of history or the past…
let me share with you a brief look backward.

When one googles “history repeating itself” a myriad of sites pop up dedicated to the notion
that history does indeed repeat itself…no ifs, ands or buts.

Many scholars and historians both believe that this phenomenon takes place after a
4 generational time frame.
Meaning, it takes four generations to see a re-cycle of time and events.

And according to Wikipedia “a generation is
“all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.”
It can also be described as, “the average period, generally considered to be
about 20–⁠30 years, during which children are born and grow up,
become adults, and begin to have children.”

According to the United States Holocaust Museum,
Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, took place during two nights
in November, the 9th and 10th, of 1938.

1938 is 82 years ago—a division of 4 being 20.5 years

The term ‘night of broken glass’ comes from the fact that the streets of numerous cities
across Germany, those two nights in 1938, were littered with millions of shards of glass coming
from the smashed and shattered windows of storefronts, synagogues, and homes…all properties
of the Jewish population—a result of riots instigated by Nazi Party members
and the Hitler youth.
The Jews were blamed collectively for what was at the time was an apparent
wrongful death.

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members
of the SA (Sturmabteilungen: commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted
as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination
of Ernst vom Rath.
Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris.
Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938.
A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship
living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents,
residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry
into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near
the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.
Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently
sought revenge for his family’s precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy
and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting.
The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch,
an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership,
assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext
to launch a night of antisemitic excesses.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms,
suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit
the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that…
demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party,
but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

Now, let us look at a few similarities…
The “spontaneous” riots in 1938 were the result of the outrage over a wrongful death.

In the case of Germany, it was an assassination of a low-level government official.
In the US it was the death of an unarmed petty criminal.

In both cases, riots were instigated under the pretext of these wrongful deaths.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who we know is credited with instigating
Germany’s “riots”, noted that Hitler had called for no organized demonstrations by
Party officials but that if things happened spontaneously…well, then so be it.

The turning of the blind eye.

And so we ask ourselves, how many in our own government raised a voice during the past
month decrying the civil unrest taking place across our nation?
What of those in our media?
What public figures raised their voices crying out that enough is enough?
Other than the President and his inner circle, what elected official has denounced
the violence?

Rather, our media and leadership are siding with and even encouraging the agitators–
they claim that nothing is wrong with the destruction of businesses, livelihoods,
churches, or monuments.

Now whereas some claims have been made that when Hitler came to power,
he defunded and disbanded the German police—
but in actuality, the opposite is the case.
But it was at a dire cost.

The United States Holocaust Museum continues…
Nazi state in fact alleviated many of the frustrations the police experienced
in the Weimar Republic.
The Nazis shielded the police from public criticism by censoring the press.
They ended street fighting by eliminating the Communist threat.
Police manpower was even extended by the incorporation of Nazi paramilitary organizations
as auxiliary policemen.
The Nazis centralized and fully funded the police to better combat criminal gangs
and promote state security.
The Nazi state increased staff and training, and modernized police equipment.
The Nazis offered the police the broadest latitude in arrests, incarceration,
and the treatment of prisoners.
The police moved to take “preventive action,” that is,
to make arrests without the evidence required for a conviction in court and
indeed without court supervision at all.

Conservative policemen were initially satisfied with the results of their cooperation
with the Nazi state.
Crime did indeed go down and the operation of criminal gangs ended.
Order was restored.
But there was a price.
The Nazi state was not a restoration of the imperial tradition.
It was at its core thoroughly racist.
The Nazis took control and transformed the traditional police forces of the Weimar Republic
into an instrument of state repression and, eventually, of genocide.

The Nazi state fused the police with the SS and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD),
two of the most radical and ideologically committed Nazi organizations.
Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, also became the chief of all German police forces.

But the most egregious capitulation actually came from an unlikely organization—
that being the Chruch.

From the beginning of Nazi rule and the fateful years leading up to them,
Germany’s traditional spiritual and moral leaders failed to speak out against
hateful speech, violence.
After 1933, they failed to speak out against legal measures that progressively
stripped Jews of their rights.
Some church leaders, particularly within the more nationalistic “German Christian”
movement of the Protestant Evangelical Church, enthusiastically supported
the Nazi regime.

Only a small minority of religious leaders, ministers, and priests,
usually in isolated parishes, spoke out against Nazi racism, gave Sunday sermons
decrying the persecution of Germany’s Jews, provided aid, or hid Jews.
Without the support of their leaders and institutions,
voices of dissent had little effect.
Churches in communities across Germany also facilitated the implementation of racial laws
by providing baptismal records,
a proof of non-Jewish descent.

Church responses to the persecution of Jews were shaped by traditional forms of
religious antisemitism with deep roots in Christian history.
Clergy and church leaders were also influenced by larger political and social trends
in Germany after World War I, including rising nationalism and of special importance for the churches,
the fear of “Godless Communism” after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia,
which led to left-wing revolutionary activities in Germany.
Support for the repression of communism and the need to restore Germany’s economy
and status as a world power usually outweighed church leaders’ distaste for the
“un-Christian,” racialized thinking, and “paganism” many of them saw in Nazism.

By the time of Kristallnacht, the violent assault on Jews of November 9-10, 1938,
no church leader of influence spoke out to protest and in this,
they shared the complicity of university, business, and military leaders who were also
silent during events of which many disapproved or had qualms.
By this time, as the orgy of violence and terror of Kristallnacht showed,
it was probably too late. The Nazi regime had total control of public discourse and
spaces and of the tools of repression which became even harsher once war began,
from imprisonment without trial in a concentration camp to execution.

So where I have been going this week with all this talk about callings, vocations,
civil unrest, radicalism, capitulation, Nazi’s, police, The Chruch, the madness???
I’ll tie this all together tomorrow…

the in between is what really matters

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Frank, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex:
A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings


(looking down on the top of the original grave marker for my grandmother’s
great grandfather / Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday, I wanted to escape.

I wanted to go anywhere—anywhere where there were no protests, no looting, no riots,
no fires, no pandemic, no hate…but oddly I wanted to go to a place of death.
Or more aptly put, a place of final rest.

Odd yes, but I just really wanted to go away.
Just for a little while.

So where do you go to escape the world and her madness on the final Sunday in May?

I had a thought.

We got in the car and drove for a while.
Driving to a tiny rural middle Georgia town…
It was the birthplace of my grandmother.

There isn’t much to this tiny speck of a town.
It is a rural area with its share of farming and cattle.

My grandmother isn’t buried here but her mother, sister, and brothers are.
She, on the other hand, is buried in Atlanta and Atlanta is under siege so I wasn’t
about to go back over there…the middle of rural nowhere Georgia was much more appealing.

My grandmother’s father was killed in 1900 during the Spanish American War and
in turn, she and her three siblings were raised by their 26-year-old widowed mother
along with her father–their grandfather.

It was in this small rural town where they were raised.
But how in the world did they get to this place in the middle of
nowhere I’ve often wondered.

I knew that their family had come to this small middle Georgia area by means of Savannah.
Their great grandfather had been born in Savannah and before that, their great-great
grandfather was born in Germany finding his way to Savannah via London and North Carolina.

He fought in Chatham’s Artillery during the Revolutionary War.

The son severed in the Georgia Legislature and later as a state Judge.
Following the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1820 that killed 4000 in Savannah,
the elder man took his small family to rural middle Georgia as a hope
to avoid the sickness found in a swampy coastal region.

And since neither man, grandfather nor great grandfather were buried in
the hometown of my grandmother, I wanted to know where they were.

It didn’t take long to locate them with a quick google search.
They were only about 12 miles away in a small cemetery located in another small town–
the county seat to this particular rural county.


(the grave of the man, along with his wife, who raised my grandmother / Julie Cook / 2020)

And the irony found in my day’s journey was that I got a call while we were exploring the second
cemetery from our son, asking where in Arlington, the Atlanta Cemetery in north Atlanta,
where my dad, his Pops, was buried.

It seems that seeking peaceful rest was a running thread in my small family today.

He wanted to visit his grandfather’s grave, introducing his young son to his great grandfather–
and in turn, my mom, my uncle, my grandmother, my grandfather, and my cousin.
My brother was elsewhere in the cemetery.

A family reunion of sorts.


(my grandson meeting my mom, his great grandmother/ Brenton Cook / 2020)


(my grandson meeting my dad, his great grandfather/ Brenton Cook / 2020)

So with all of this notion of death, eternity and yes, even peace, swirling in my head,
and obviously in my son’s as well, I shifted gears right back to the madness plaguing our land.

For you see, I couldn’t truly get away.

I kept thinking about an article I had read the previous night.

It was an article by a black woman who was riling against anyone using
the phrase ‘all lives matter….’
In her mind, the folks who were saying such a phrase were white and due to their skin color,
“they didn’t get it”—
and thus, such a comment was to be considered racist…
so we can only say black lives matter…while forgetting all the rest.

She was angry.

And the odd thing is that I actually wrote a post about this very thing back in 2015…
five years ago.

Imagine that—five years ago we were digging the same divide we see continuing today.
Five years ago we still had national trouble.
We were riding the wave of the Occupy Wallstreet movement.

Antifa and Black Lives Matter were rising violent groups who sought change by the use
of force and violence at any cost.

Police officers were part of the problem.
In particular white police officers.

We don’t seem to change much in this country because we continue having the same
tragic incidents over and over.

Here is a portion of that post I wrote in September of 2015:

Fast forward to September 1st 2015…
Breaking News…a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer is shot by 3 assailants
and dies from his wounds.
He’s a 32-year law enforcement veteran who leaves behind a wife and four children.
The suspects are still at large as the entire community is put on lockdown.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination,
which took place over the weekend of a Texas Sheriff’s deputy who was shot while simply pumping gas,
filling up his police car.
A man approached him from behind, shooting him executioner style.
When he fell to the pavement, the gunman stood over the body,
emptying his gun into an obviously dead body—an exclamation point of murder.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, wait, didn’t I just say that…
of two television journalists in Virginia…etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.

There’s been a lot of banter recently about “Black Lives Matter”…
However, I heard a response from the Sheriff of the deputy who was shot that I think sums up
all of this craziness best…
his response to the press just following the murder of his deputy was, and I’m paraphrasing…
‘that there has been lots of talk surrounding the Black lives matter conversation
but we all need to drop the qualifiers and understand one thing…
that ALL lives matter—doesn’t matter black, white, brown, yellow…
ALL lives matter…’

For you see, in this one man’s grief over the wasteful loss of life,
he gets it–he can actually see to the core of what is yet just one more divisional line
to so many divisional lines in this Nation of ours…

…for in the heart of God, there are no distinctions…
there is no line of separation, no color, no status, no sides, no qualifiers…
all that exists is a Love that is as wide and tall as it is deep…as in never-ending.

It does not discriminate, nor does it look twice…
it does not set limits nor does it demand anything in return…
It is equal, all-inclusive, welcoming, and offered to each and every one…
who so chooses to accept it—-
and that’s the kicker…
choosing to accept it––
choosing love, forgiveness, surrendering of self, of pride, of ego, of hate, of suspicion
in exchange for Love…
a Love that has been offered from a Father and bought with the ultimate price by a son,
so that you and I could stop the madness and live a life that finally lets go of the hate—

So today, these five years later, I still say all lives matter.
I still say folks who seek violence as a means to an end are thugs.
I still know that we are all born and that we will all die.
And I know, more importantly, that it’s what happens in between both that living and that dying
that is what matters most.

I always find solace in knowing of those who went before me just as I find hope in knowing
that it is particularly important that I leave a path of goodness for those who
follow after me.

I would think that George Floyd would have desired that his life and death be remembered
not for the begetting of more deaths and violence but rather for the possibility of positive
changes for a future generation…

May God have mercy on the United States.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed,
and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29

The timelessness of C.S. Lewis as found in a pandemic

I read a marvelous passage by C.S. Lewis over on the blog of
‘Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II’—

The blog title comes from a quote by Pope Paul VI:

“We would say that, through some mysterious crack—–no, it’s not mysterious;
through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God.”

And so I would dare say that it would behoove all Christians, Catholic and non, to understand
that Satan has long fought to ooze into the tiny minuscule cracks found within the Church’s
earthly foundation.

Have we not seen such in the way of sexual abuse scandals, the acceptance of homosexuality,
and a myriad of schisms to name but a few of demonic attacks…

But that story of Satan’s attempt to breach the walls of the Church is but for another day…
for today—we turn to the timeless wisdom of C.S.Lewis.

The following passage is actually from an essay written by Lewis in 1948
addressing the fear of living in a frightening new atomic age.

He was addressing a real fear suffered by those of his generation.

There was the constant and real worry of “is today the day?!
The day we are incinerated??!!
The day life ends as we know it??”

And how often have we, the generations of today, asked ourselves a similar question…
Is today to be the day that is the end of life as we have known it?
Will a pandemic bring us to our knees?
Will the specter of Death now knock on our door following
a mere trip to the grocery store because we stood near another who coughed?

Lewis reminds us that we have each been sentenced to death long before
there was a bomb, or in our case, a virus.

He admonishes us to “pull ourselves together”
He practically commands his readers to stop cowering
under the pretense of what might be and to instead live as we are…

There is much wisdom to be found in the words of Lewis…offered to a previous
generation…but oh so timely and pertinent to us today as we live under the shadow
of our nation’s response to a pandemic.

Do we hide and cower while waiting for death or do we choose to live?

I pray we choose life!

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.
“How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply:
“Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London
almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia
might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed,
as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis,
an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents,
an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.
Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death
before the atomic bomb was invented:
and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.
We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics;
but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing
long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death
to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all,
but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is
to pull ourselves together.
If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb,
let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying,
working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis,
chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like
frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.
They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.—

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/wisdom-from-c-s-lewis/

we can do this!

We’ve been asked to curtail our usual comings and goings.
We’ve had to close our schools and universities.
We’ve canceled our church and worship services.
We’ve canceled our beloved sporting events.
We’ve canceled all international travel.
We’ve been told to avoid any sort of “gathering” together…
We’ve emptied the shelves of our grocery stores.
Weddings, parties, reunions have all been either canceled or rescheduled.

Unfortunately, it seems that there are many folks who are taking all
of this an open excuse to have parties or hit the bars.

The whole idea behind the sacrifices is to curtail the number of new cases of Covid19.

This is accomplished by limiting our exposure to one another.

This means we need to practice our best hygiene skills by washing our hands
and using disinfectant when needed.
This means we limit our time out and about.

It isn’t what we’re used to.
It isn’t what we really enjoy doing.
But it is a sacrifice of us as individuals that we are making for the whole.

The sacrifices we are making pale in comparison to the sacrifices made
by those generations who have gone before us.

They willingly gave up their wealth, their wellbeing, their comforts, their lives
not merely for themselves or their own generation or their own time…
they did it for us…
And we, in turn, are doing this for ourselves, but more importantly, we are doing
all of this for those who will be…

We can do this.

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers,
by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
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 12:1-2

Scrutiny, reviews, restrictions… I get it… but…

We seek for truth in ourselves; in our neighbours, and in its essential nature.
We find it first in ourselves by severe self-scrutiny,
then in our neighbours by compassionate indulgence, and, finally,
in its essential nature by that direct vision which belongs to the pure in heart.

Saint Bernard


(ariel view of a portion of the American Cemetery in Normandy, image courtesy of the White House)

For years, long before it became chic or before it became social or before it launched its
commercials with its very own spokes-owl and long before it was pitted against a growing
plethora of similar agencies…I had been writing reviews on Trip Advisor…
way before travel sites were “a thing.”

I have relied on Trip Advisor and its review offerings for everything from restaurants
to hotels to worldwide attractions as well as to the vast array of travel services,
all of which they’ve freely provided…
for,
you guessed it,
for years.

I have been in the top 1% of all Atlanta area reviewers…once again, for years.

I am well aware that each review written and submitted is in turn reviewed by a
TripAdvisor team member before it is allowed to be published…
just as it should be.

Integrity and truth are the driving forces behind companies such as TripAdvisor
that supply the general public with much needed and honest information.

I’ve never had a problem…
that is until yesterday.

I had written a review yesterday regarding the tour group we had used for our D-Day visit
while in Normandy.

I had written the review regarding the guide we were assigned along with an overall
review of the group we had used for this most memorable tour.

I sang the praises of our guide.
I sang the praises of the tour service…and…
here is where I ran into a glitch,
I also included a personal observation…

I wrote why I thought it was important for every American to visit Normandy.
An improbable probability yes, but still something I felt to be very important.

I wrote in my review of how a self-absorbed younger generation…
a generation that seems bent on division, socialism, anthem protests, violence,
all-inclusiveness, etc…
why a history lesson ‘in the raw’…
one such as walking through the American Cemetery in Normandy, would and could be beneficial.

One youthful generation looking out over thousands of crosses and Stars of David of
the sacrifices made by a previous youthful generation.
The lessons from those who went before…
lessons long lost on today’s youthful progressive generation.

TripAdvisor sent me an email about a need for ‘action request’ regarding
my review.
They told me not to include other URLs…
Yes I confess that I did have a link to my D-Day post that I had written here at WP
as I thought it could offer further, and some more in-depth
information, for those who might be seeking more or who were curious about such a tour.

“Okay”, I thought…they’re telling me to cut and paste what I wrote, edit it,
then reload and resubmit.
Okay, I’ll cut out my link.
No biggie.
I get it.

Yet a bit of a problem arose when I figured out that they had only sent me a small portion
of what I had previously submitted. Actually only about 1/3 of what I’d written.
And I quickly discovered, much to my frustration,
that there was no way, not even by going into my history, was I to find the full body of text.

So as I cut out my link, I had to rewrite, as best as I could remember,
what I had previously written.

I cut, edited, rewrote and resubmitted.

10 minutes hadn’t passed before I received the same ‘action request’ email with an added note
that they did not want reviews to include “personal opinions on politics, ethics, religion,
or wider social issues.”

Is this about those so-called trigger alerts?

Okay, I thought…
I’ll try to rewrite it again…rewriting again because they hadn’t provided
the full body of text again…
so I’d be relying on my fading memory, one more time…

But as I thought about this, I said to heck with it!

I opted to write just a bit more in order to finish out the first thought..the portion of the
text body that they had sent back in the email before I proceeded with my new thoughts.

I then proceeded to write that TripAdvisor had asked me to keep my personal observations to myself.

I continued my review by asking how does one write about visiting such powerful places
as the beaches, the various locations, the churches, as well as those overwhelming cemeteries
of that fateful June day in 1944 and not offer thoughts that include “wider social issues?”

Normally I would have kept my review informative with a general sweeping overview…just like
all the hundreds of previous reviews I’ve written…
however, for this particular review, I chose not to do so.
I couldn’t do so.

I didn’t know how I could.

How could I be simple and concise given the sacrifices freely made by all those thousands
of individuals who died that fateful June day?
Those individuals who, unbeknownst to them at the time, died for both you and me?
Do they not deserve more than some simple, generic, sterile, and broad sweeping travel review?

Maybe it’s the impending Veteran’s Day remembrance.
Maybe it’s the craziness currently sweeping our Nation.

No matter what the reason…I just couldn’t keep it simple when talking about
what I saw and what I experienced there in Normandy.

Something very powerful happened that June day in 1944.
Something that greatly affected how each of us lives our lives to this day.
Keeping one’s personal opinion quiet when taking in the raw emotion while visiting
those beaches and those cemeteries is…well…an injustice really.
An injustice to each one of those crosses and stars.

So I suppose it’s all a matter of context…or maybe its a matter of perspective…

No matter what it is…there are just some things that deserve our full attention and our
full voice.

(images from the National Gaurd Memorial of Omaha Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to
maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do,
would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

pet rocks

Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.

John Muir

I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s

Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.

Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
early days.

And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.

I can remember wanting a pet rock.

By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…

As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.

Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…

And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.

The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”

Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…

Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Wikipedia

Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…

For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.

The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40

I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…

I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…

Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…

What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??

When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

Generational monkeys and angst, part deux

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2

He took what is mine so that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

St Ambrose


(a selfie taking Macaque at the center of a debate regarding images
and monkeys / wikipedia—why does he look like he’s missing the same tooth I just had pulled??? At least I’m crossing my fingers for the implant!)

As promised, our friend of Wee Flea fame, David Robertson is back with part II
of his takeaway from Rod Liddle’s book
Selfish Whining Monkeys, How we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy

A cheeky book examining “our” generation—along with the hows and whys as to our
having totally careened out of control…
leaving the roadway, having crashed, rolling over and over…
as we are now slowly burning in the bushes.

As I mentioned yesterday, David reports that the book is not written by a Christian
nor is it directed toward a Christian audience as it is a tome laced with a rawness
along with a gracious offering of the F word…
yet David offers that once you look past the junk, the insight is actually
very telling.

And so David in his kindness has pulled out a top 25 highlight list that he has
graciously compiled on his blog for those of us who might not want to
actually, read the book.

1-13 was in his Part I post from yesterday, today he offers us Part II—
I’m just pulling out a few of the tidbits that sting me the most…

I’ll let you click the link at the bottom for the
full coup de grâce—-
Oh, and you do know what coup de grâce actually means don’t you???
It is the merciful death blow allowing the misery to end…
I fear we still have our fair share of suffering to endure…

14) The Uneducated Generation

“children are not, in general, capable of making sensible decisions which impact upon their future. They make decisions based upon the here and now. They are not old enough to take the long-term view.” Page 89.

“The children – the students – emerge, as a consequence, with a highly developed, perhaps unreal, sense of entitlement. They have not been corrected; they have instead been indulged. The world, later, will come as a shock to them, I think.” Page 93.

“It is the poorest kids who suffer most from this modernist approach to education. Middle-class children have the amenities, the infrastructure at home to compensate. The poorest kids depend upon school as their sole conduit of learning. A policy, or ideology, designed to improve the chances of the least well-off as had the results of penalizing them still further.” Page 94.

“British kids, then, are squeezed by ideologies from the left and the right. From the left: you are your own masters, sort out right from wrong and take no shit from supposed figures of authority. From the right: live, consume, die.” Page 96.

“We do not wish for them to be bored, of course, and we think that we can buy boredom from them with consumer durables, corporate entertainment and early evening courses in tae kwon do.”Page 97.

15) A Motherless Generation

“The children born in 1970 to working mothers were much more likely to fail educationally, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to suffer psychiatric problems or mental stress than those born to mums who stayed at home and looked after their children. Irritatingly, the amount of time a dad was at home with the kids mattered not one jot. It was the mother who was important.” Page 106.

16) The Unequal Generation

“Almost 70% of total national newspaper columnists went to fee-paying schools, whereas this gilded elite, this expensively educated, comprise just 7% of the population….. In fact, anywhere there is power, or dosh, the sons, and daughters of the wealthy predominate.” Page 118.

“Some 58% of those working in the law – rising to 80% when you get to High Court judges in the very top barristers – and 55% of senior civil servants. They also make up more than 60% of the top echelon of those in the City of London, some 70% of surgeons and consultants, and 55% of journalists,…… 80% of the very top jobs in society are held by people who went to private school.”Page 121.

“when I joined the BBC today programme at the end of the 1980s, I noticed very quickly that almost everyone else to work on it had been privately educated.” Page 125.

23) A Deluded Generation Enslaved by its own Freedom

“We have been led, since the middle of the 1980s, by an elite which increasingly bought into the secular social liberalism and moral relativism of the 1960s and the laissez-faire economics of the Chicago school. And while the rest of us followed along more or less willingly, it was the Metropolitan bourgeoisie that gained the most.” Page 230.

“As we always will, we did what we thought we could get away with. Now it transpired that we could get away with an awful lot; we could get away with stuff we hadn’t dreamed of before. The thought that along the way we got rid of those controls that made our life more pleasant, more coherent, better for children, more peaceable and communitarian, did not seem to occur. We thought we liked this new way we were, these new deregulated humans, fearful of nothing but I think that we have deluded ourselves. We filled our boots and deluded ourselves.” Page 231.

And so I will leave you to go over to the Wee Flea in order to peruse the remaining
nuggets which David has pulled out of Mr. Liddle’s book—of which just so
happens to all thankfully be the ‘G’ version versus the ‘M’ version
in the actual book—-with ‘M’ standing for mature—

As I am certainly a “mature” individual…I just happen to prefer to read, hear,
digest that which is not so crass nor crude…

Now if I could just work on our President’s choices…

Selfish Whining Monkeys – Part 2

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

Proverbs 4:10-13

speaking wisdom

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel,
that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart,
and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal
the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,
‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas


(late afternoon in Northwest Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.

Psalm 49:1-14