take it on the road

“People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are
the critics, blaming or praising him.
What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage;
he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings,
reminding them of their lost lines.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(ready for the first road trip to visit Moppie and Poppie / 2018)

Often times, we are required to leave the shelter of our wombs…
the warmth and protectiveness of a familiarity we have grown accustomed to cherish.

Because we have been called…to go.


(Uncle Percy is a bit perplexed by this new visiting neice/ Julie Cook / 2018)

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners.
It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating.
A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching,
so we accepted their [the communists’ ] terms.
It was a deal; we preached and they beat us.
We were happy preaching.
They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.”

Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

Sometimes we are called to go to places we’d rather not go.
In order to share with those who have not heard or do not know
that which we do know…

And we must speak to them about that which we know and they do not know
because it is what we are called to do…

I learned about Pastor Richard Wurmbrand when I was early on in high school.
I ordered the book, Tortured for Christ.

I’ve written about Wurmbrand before…

“Pastor Richard Wurmbrand (1909—2001) was an evangelical minister who endured 14 years
of Communist imprisonment and torture in his homeland of Romania.
He is widely recognized there as one of the country’s greatest Christian leaders,
authors and educators.”

The knowledge of the scourge of Communism, along with its anti-Christian hatred,
during the midst of the Cold War, only heightened my interest behind the story
of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand—-
his preaching, eventual arrest, tortures, rearrests, more tortures, solitary confinement…
all of which left a deep impression upon me.

I don’t know if I could go, live, share and do as those who have each suffered so grievously
at the hands of their tormentors—only to continue on, day after day..offering hope and love
to those very ones who tormented and tortured…all because of the calling and the love…

I think of Father Maximilian Kolbe who also knew to go and to share…
sharing all the way to Auschwitz…and who would continue sharing even unto his own death…

How many have gone and shared long before all of us, only to offer the ultimate offering?

Our prayer is that we might all have the courage to go, to do, to share and to say
when we are called to do so…
no matter how great the cost…

https://www.persecution.com/founders/

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

the written word

“What is more frightening a totalitarian regime’s destruction of
knowledge or its hankering for it?”

Anders Rydell


(sunset over the Gulf, Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2017)

I’ve come across a most intriguing story.
It is a tale of war, ideologies, plundering, destroying, recovering…
with an eventual attempt to reunite as it were.
And very much a true story.

It is a tale as told in Andres Rydell’s book The Book Thieves
The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries And the Race to Return A literary Inheritance

Rydell offers in the forward the idea that “In our time, the book has remained
a symbolic value that is almost spiritual.
Discarding books is still considered sacrilegious.
The burning of books is one of the strongest symbolic actions there is,
correlating with cultural destruction.
While mainly identified with the Nazi book pyres of 1933,
the symbolic destruction of literature is as old as the book itself.

The strong relationship between humans and books relates to the role of the written word in the dissemination of knowledge, feeling, and experience over
thousands of years.
Gradually the written word replaced the oral tradition. We could preserve more
and look further back in time.
We could satisfy our never quite satisfied hunger for more.
…Our simultaneously emotional and spiritual relationship to the book is
about how the book “speaks to us.”
It is a medium connection us to other people both living and dead.

A year before my godfather died, he had me come over in order to help him sort through
his belongings.
He and his wife were soon to move to a much smaller place as the issue of
each ones health, both physical and cognitive, was rapidly failing,
and he was under the clock to purge a lifetime of work and living.

To me this aging man was more than a symbolic godfather.
He had been a priest for over 50 years so he was actually more spiritual father than anything else.

While I was sitting sprawled out on the floor of his study, sorting through files,
DVDs and a mountain of papers, he offered me any of the books that I could carry
from his myriad of covered shelves.

Here was once a widely renowned man in his profession.
A long sought after lecturer and author.
His collection of books was both wide and diverse.
Yet it was to a small copy of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol that drew my eye.
“Jules, if you want it, take it” he nonchalantly told me.
I opened the book and inside the cover was written in fine fountain pen lettering
the follwing inscription:
“To David B. Collins
From Aunt Emma
Dec 25th 1930”

“But,” I stammered…. only for him to reassure me, “take it.”

The book is an illustrated version of the Dickens classic with this particular
edition being published in 1927.
And it had obviously been a Christmas gift to a nephew of 8 from a loving aunt.

Once home, I thumbed through the book.
There was a card, what I first thought was a yellowed notecard, placed between pages
222 and 223, the point in the story when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come had taken Scrooge to the churchyard in order to see his own grave marker.

The card was however an altar card from the chapel of The University of the South,
Sewanee, TN—the school that Dean Collins had attended for seminary as well as where he
served as rector.

I imagine the card marked material once used in a sermon.

I share this little story with you because it is just one small fragmented
tale illustrating the importance of not just a story in a book but rather of the book itself… and of the line of people the little book has traversed—
It is really the story a continuum…the continuum from once a loving aunt to
her 8 year old little nephew…and later from aging old man to his equally aging
spiritual God daughter….

But the giving will not have stopped with me…that’s how it is with books.
It’s merely resting for a while before, at some point in the future,
it travels once again,
For we come to understand that books often have a life of their own…

And so what the world witnessed with the Nazis and their fervor to rid themselves
of a certain group of people, with their ultimate hope being to actually rid
the entire world of these people—it was not enough to merely take their belongings, especially their books, and to destroy them or hide them away.

Nor was it enough that they take these very people and burn them, hiding them away…
But the key rather for the Nazis was to take the very essence of these
‘loathsome people’—with that essence being these people’s actual written word.

And if the Nazis could erase their words, then these people would in turn,
cease to exist— or better yet in the minds of the Nazis, cease to have ever
existed at all…..as in a total wiping clean of the slate of the very existence.

Because as Rydell points out “whoever owns the word has the power to not only
interpret it, but also to write history.”

Rydell’s story is rich in history as he gives an in-depth look into how Germany, a highly educated and culturally rich people, came to find themselves being lead blindly by
a madman.

Rydell’s story is a convoluted tale of madness, death, destruction leading to one of
hope and reuniting…linking a past with a future.

For there is a great lesson in his story for us today–especially now.
A lesson it would behoove our society to heed.

And a lesson I will be sharing in the next day or so….

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

what they really mean

“Socialists cry ‘Power to the people’,
and raise the clenched fist as they say it.

We all know what they really mean——
power over people, power to the State.”

Margaret Thatcher,
Speech to Conservative Central Council, March 1986

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning:
just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes,
we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

C.S. Lewis


(a buckeye butterfly enjoys a sunny day / Julie Cook / 2017)

I wonder if anyone really knows what anyone really means anymore.

Our leaders, politicians, statesmen, media personalities, legal eagles, entertainers…
none of them seem to know what they mean anymore…
simply because they’re always apologizing or deferring or deflecting these days.

The headlines splash across our eyes daily with the current mea culpas turned defense…
“I didn’t mean it”
“That’s not what I meant”
“My attorney won’t let me answer that”
“That was just a joke taken the wrong way”
“I didn’t say that”
“That wasn’t me”
“This has all been blown out of proportion”
“You heard wrong”
“You took that out of context”
“The devil made me do it / say it”
“The sky is falling… uh, just kidding….”

It’s all fun and games until there’s a push back, a backlash or a pure revolt….
Then the last laugh is no longer on the targeted but rather is now turned back around
to the one who was attempting to initiate the laughs, or the claims,
or the accusations in the first place.

And within all the mea culpas comes the deferments, the denials, the deflections,
the blind eyes…
as in…
“well, that wasn’t even my idea”
“he, she, it made me do it”
“I have no recollection of that”
“I didn’t do that, say that.. but rather he, she, it did”
“I plead the 5th…the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd and whatever else I can plead….”
“No habla inglés, or suddenly any other language for that matter…
“Who me?”
“I wasn’t even in the country”

The list is endless.

And hidden within the denials, the confusion, the lies, the excuses
is the anger, the rage and the resentment…
of the “how dare you not think me funny, factual, fair…”
“how dare you not think I wasn’t joking”
“how dare you take what I said / did the wrong way”
“how dare you, be you, who now makes me look bad / feel bad”

Actually it’s all really confusing because not only do we not know what
“they” mean anymore…we’re being told that we no longer know what we mean…
as what we thought we believed and knew to be true…is nothing but an illusion
of what we once knew…

The only meaning that has stood the test of time, the test of man….
despite man’s best attempts to alter it, change it, rewrite it, deny it, ignore it…

God’s word…..

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit,
of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Word

The printing press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, sometimes one forgets which it is.
E. F. Schumacher

“I have ascended to the highest in me, and look, the Word is towering above that. I have descended to explore my lowest depths, and I found Him deeper still.”

― Bernard of Clairvaux

DSC02209
(Images from the Hatch Show Print Shop / Nashville, Tenn / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02208
(Images from the Hatch Show Print Shop / Nashville, Tenn / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02176
(Images from the Hatch Show Print Shop / Nashville, Tenn / Julie Cook / 2015)

Johannes Gutenberg, in the early 15th century with his moveable metal printing press, pretty much changed the course of humankind and how the world would and could communicate. . .
. . .And we’ve never looked back.

With a greater availability and access to the number of books produced, which could be created readily as opposed to the laborious and painstakingly intensive process scribes and illuminators took who in turn could spend a lifetime producing a single book, the printing press opened up the written word to the masses.
Learning to both read and write became important to not only the nobility but now it was of greater importance to the common man as well, opening the doors to education for all rather than the few.

In 1455 Gutenberg printed 220 bibles that he would in turn take to the Frankfurt Book fair to sell–thus changing the course of history. . .

To date the number of bibles sold has far exceeded any other printed book in history with Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities as well as J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings coming in second and third respectively

Often we foolishly think that without the Bible the word of God becomes mute.
We defend, as well as die, for our bibles.
We sneak them into to foreign lands which forbid any mention of the Christian’s God.
We take it to court. . .
We fuss and cuss anyone who disputes it.
Evil has seen it burned, banned and destroyed. . .
Yet the Word, both the spoken and living, will never be silenced.

The printed word of God is valuable but the actual spoken as well as the living demonstration of the Word is paramount. . .for it is by our words and our deeds that they will know we are Christians—by our love, by our love. . .

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12