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

Sacred

Love is a sacred reserve of energy;
it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(generations of sacred texts / Julie Cook / 2017)

What makes something sacred?

Something that is to be held in reverence,
passed from one generation to another?
What is it that makes something so dear, so esteemed, so important,
albeit within the confines of a family,
that it becomes a treasure and a life line linking one individual to another?

Deep and heavy thoughts as I slowly begin to purge, pack, relocate
sort, discard, save and add to my own niche of life those things that
were once others as I labors to merge them now as mine.

A frayed small ribbon peeks out from atop a long ago repaired cloth bound,
oh so frail, little black book.
The homemade cover tenderly stitched in order to preserve and protect someone’s
sacred treasure

A hymnal whose first page is now page 7.

As to whose hymnal, which denomination, how old…
Who knows…
But in the family, on someone’s side, it has obviously weathered.

Hymn 527 sounds very much like my beloved 345
A hymn that is as soothing as a beloved’s rhythmic cadence of breath.

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” has been described as perhaps the most beautiful
of all the countless versions of the 23rd Psalm.

The Tune St. Columba is named for the Irish saint who
“carried the torch of Irish Christianity to Scotland”
(and who has the dubious distinction of being the first to report a sighting of
the Loch Ness monster, in 546).
The tune is one of the Irish melodies collected by George Petrie (1789-1866)
and given in Charles Villers Stanford’s
“Complete Collection of Irish Music as noted by George Petrie,” in 1902.
There it is said to have been sung at the dedication of a chapel in the county
of Londonderry.
The association of the tune with this text,
and also its harmonization, are from “The English Hymnal,” 1906.

Excerpt: “Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worhip”

In a time of grave uncertainties..
both personally and globally…
A time of unprecedented growing rage and division.
May we each rest in the knowledge that we remain bound always to the Sacred….

Please enjoy this beautiful video…

Peter Pan

“We have created a nation filled with too many perpetual children—
Peter and Patty Pans—who were brought up getting trophies for participating in sports,
instead of winning, protected from the supposed horrors of being ranked
by grades and scores and sold corrosive message by the likes of Barack Obama
and Hilary Clinton that everyone deserves every kind of support,
regardless of the level of education they have or the work they put forward.”

Dr Keith Ablow

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough.
You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

― J.M. Barrie

peter-pan

After yesterday’s post regarding the whole concept of disrespect effecting a
large swarth of our younger generations,
a story I had read last year came flooding back to mind.
It was a story written by a psychiatrist about the troubling phenomenon that we are
currently witnessing within our more youthful generations.

It is known as the Peter Pan effect…
as in, a generation preferring never having to grow up.

As in why should they….
life is pretty darn cozy remaining irresponsible,
being taken care of,
forever youthful,
beautiful,
always being reminded you are special…
ad infinitum….

But we mustn’t blame merely these young people who we’ve recently watched on
various college campuses protesting, marching, demonstrating,
refusing to attend class, walking out of class,
throwing benches through plate glass windows of campus buildings
as an all out temper tantrum has taken hold across this nation….

No, it is not really their fault.

The truth be told, those of us of the older generations shouldn’t be staring at our
television sets…those sets carrying the news stories of the troubling images
of the young gone amuck…
all with our eyes popping out of our heads as we are alarmingly heard to shout
“What in the heck is wrong with these kids??????….

For the truth be told it seems to be the fault of none other but us older generations—
Those parents and grandparents out there who bought into the notion,
hook, line and sinker
that molly coddling was kinder than tough love.
That “yes” was better for the self esteem than “no”
That television,
gaming stations,
video games,
video which became DVDs,
to iPods,
to iPhones,
to computers,
to tablets…
were all better than our personal undivided, undistracted and undistorted attention…

Just throw another trophy or award at them and let everyone win,
and it’s all good we thought.

While we were busy being “us” and finding ourselves,
spreading our own wings and doing our own things…
our kids, who were being raised at arms length by a group of people who decided
to become hovering helicopters in order to make up for our absences during
the more crucial moments…
well we just may have had a hand in these current shenanigans…

Maybe when we decided God wasn’t real, traditional families were passé,
patriotism was old fashioned and morality no longer current…
maybe, just maybe that was the beginning of our troubles…..

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/05/26/nation-peter-pans-have-created-country-filled-with-perpetual-children.html?intcmp=hpff

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of,
because you know those from whom you learned it,
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

fretful, wearisome, fearful…and the challenge to love and believe

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity
but a spirit of power and love.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

dscn1351
(the cliffs of Moher / County Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There is much around us that is awesome and awful.
We know too well the divisions and suffering that plague our world.
We have seen that the authorities today use tactics similar to those employed 2,000
years ago, and many people scheme to play to our fear,
destroy our hope, and seal off our joy.

But we have the confidence of our faith.
We have seen the risen Lord!

Joyce Hollyday

Growing up in the United States I have always felt safe and protected.
I have always felt safely blanketed under our laws and judicial process.
The founding fathers, those paternal creators and now guardians of all that
I had known growing up and held dear, had painstakingly paved the way for
future generations of Americans, of which I was one,
to live and to prosper in a harmonious cohesive nation embarked now on her steady course…

Yet unbeknownst to me or to those men who gave birth to this Nation,
that steady course of which was set in 1779 with the swearing in of our first president,
would begin to unravel…with the unraveling beginning around 1970 or so….
(yet I am certain that there are those who, no doubt, would say the unraveling
had actually started much earlier than the 20th century….

What with Roe v Wade, the Woman’s right movement, the demand for birth control, and the seemingly
never ending war in Vietnam….
according to Bod Dylan’s singing proclamation of 1964,
“the times, they are a-changing”…
for they were indeed changing…
just as they were to be changing even more…

According to Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen in their newly
released book, You Will Be Made To Care
a book based on “the war of faith, family and your freedom to believe”…
a wildfire is raging out of control…
with the faithful being caught smack dab in the middle.

Every once in a while, a society succumbs to a cultural wildfire—
and loses its mind.
It does things that future generations look back on and wonder,
‘How could they have possibly throught that was a good idea?’

To most Christians and conservatives, it seems that society has lost its mind,
attempting to play God by redefining gender and abolishing marriage…

Many people of faith have been trying to ignore the signs of smoke from this wildfire
in the hopes that it will just go away.
Others have been trying to avoid the heat by being nice,
hoping that a little compromise would keep the flames at bay.
Still others have thought all that would be required to extinguish the flames
was a kinder, gentler, more winsome voice.
But the accommodation of evil never achieves the desired end;
it only increases the inevitable cost of victory

(page 28)

Reading the latest never ending stories of modern day Christian persecution,
and I am not referring to those ever increasing attacks at the hands of Islamic extremists,
but rather attacks by our own courts, legal system and journalists who now claim
that Christianity and Christians in the United States equate to being enemies to the human race,
I am left both saddened and dazed.

It is more than hard to wrap my head around such language and thoughts
as I never thought I would live to hear fellow Americans espouse that
Christianity and Christians are now the enemy of the state.

It is both wearisome and worrisome to hear such,
as it leaves me terribly fretful and even fearful as to what may yet to be…
For that once protective blanket has now been sufficiently ripped away.

If I did not know the stories behind such language were coming from today’s
news, headlines and court cases involving Christian business and individuals
who are being forced to either pay exorbitant court fees and settlements,
close their businesses or acquiesce and succumb to business practices that run counter
to their religious morals and beliefs,
I would simply think I was hearing and reading tales out of Nazi Germany…

To say that professing to be a Christian in the 21st century of the United States
is now not only looked upon as a negative but in many instances is actually
considered to be downright counter to American values…
that is something my grandparents would never have believed.

Yet in the course of 50 years since my grandfather’s death when he was but 70 years old,
that is exactly what has happened.
And I am left like a deer in headlight, stunned.

And yet we are reminded that for all the angst, the worry, the fretting and even the fear,
we, the faithful are reminded…
to be strong and to let our hearts take courage…for our courage is in the Lord
(Psalm 31:24)

As we join the psalmist’s plea…
O Lord, watch over us and save us from this generation for ever
(Psalm 12:7)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3