The Inferno

“When it became clear that the death warrant for hundreds of thousands
of Irish babies was about to be signed, it broke my heart.
When I saw the grotesque pictures of people dancing in the streets in
celebration it was like a scene out of Dante’s Inferno.”

David Robertson


(Dante)

Dante degli Alighieri was a 14th century Florentine who is most remembered for the epic
poems he composed into a collection known as The Divine ComedyInferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso
in other words, Hell, Purgatory and finally Paradise.

The collection of 3 poems are as epic as they are brilliant.
An allegory for what Dante believed were his own dark days and yet sadly for us,
during these trying days of our own, his words are most timely as they remain as a
reflective mirror—reflecting the emptiness of our own darkness.

As noted by a description on Wikipedia,
“it [hell] is the “realm…
of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites
or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice
against their fellowmen”.

Our friend the Wee Flea, the Scottish Pastor David Robertson, continues in his most
recent post which piggybacks off of the post he wrote just following the passing of the
referendum in Ireland rescinding the ban on abortion, as a most troubling sign of the times.

David likens much of what we are witnessing coming out of Ireland, in particular
what is coming out of the capital of Dublin, with its now jubilant party-like atmosphere
following the passage of the vote,
as something that could be straight out of the pages of Dante’s Inferno.

David notes that the vote, which is in itself bad enough in its own right, almost pales in
comparison to the near-hysterical celebratory mania that has followed the referendum’s passage…
a frenzied jumbled hoopla that is more than disturbing, it is downright barbaric.

Think about it…
a vote passed with an overwhelmingly large percentage in favor of the right to
terminate pregnancies up to 12 weeks…meaning that a mother can decide to
legally kill her unborn child, and the people are celebrating as if some massive
and oppressive enemy has just been finally and thankfully defeated.

Some sort of David and Goliath moment but so utterly far from such.

Prior to this vote, women in Ireland who wished to terminate their pregnancy
had to travel to Britain.

Yet today, women from around the globe are now proclaiming this latest referendum as
a giant victory in the way of women’s rights.
It’s that whole notion of ‘it’s my body, it’s my choice’ nonsense.

But what of it no longer being just your body involved?
Technically it is no longer the choice of a single individual because there are
actually, two bodies now involved.

And if the truth be told, it is not merely a singular choice or even a choice of two…
but rather it is a choice that truthfully involves three…

Yet oddly we never seem to hear about nor count the male who was involved
and assisted in the occurrence of this now rather ominous choice that is proclaimed as
being a singular choice.

David startingly notes that the whereas the politicians and the media have each
joined in the festivities proclaiming this referendum as a victory for the people…
the collective body of Church families has remained eerily silent.

The Catholic Chruch, silent.
The Anglican Chruch, silent.
The Chruch of Scotland, silent
The Free Chruch, silent.
The Baptist Chruch, silent.

A few clergy members here and there have voiced their sorrow but as far as a collective
Christian body response, the voices remain silent…

My favorite quote by Dante:
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis,
maintain their neutrality.”

Perhaps the Chruch needs a reminder of the volumes her indifference speaks…

The Irish Referendum – the Repercussions

Matt. 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be
drowned in the depths of the sea.

riding a seasonal wave or just waiting for us to die…

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet


(a neighbor’s wanning blooming tulip tree / Julie Cook / 2018)

Still in Atlanta, still playing nurse and grandmother…as our daughter-n-law,
the new mother, is still quite ill…
and as we are all still very very sleep deprived.

This new grandbaby has her nights and days confused…
she is, however, her father’s daughter as I seem to recall having the same problems
with him…

Slowly I’m making my way back to redirecting a little bit of outward focus.

Yesterday in my post I wrote about the disparaging remarks being made about the
now late Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

In that post, I referenced our lovable renegade Anglican bishop Gavin Ashenden’s post
regarding that now very troubling trend of Graham bashing…
of which leads us all back full circle to that of Christian bashing.

I followed that up with a similar observation being made by our friend the Wee Flea
who had also written several posts regarding the recent and ever-growing secular melee
taking place regarding the passing of this ardent Herculean Christian crusader.

I don’t know—but maybe this business about being a new grandmother has resurrected the
sleeping mama bear in me…
Whereas I have been rather glum over the direction I’ve watched our society skirting
these past many months…
I think I am now gravitating back to just being flat out mad.

What type of world are we….we meaning you and me…those of us who are members
of the Faith, what type of world are we allowing to mould and shape our children?

Do we not care that each and every day more and more famous, infamous and
just plain ol folk are taking aim at the practice of our personal Faith and beliefs?
Even that of the very underpinnings of Western Civilization’s foundation—
a Judaeo /Christian base?!

As the attacks grow, we find growing ridicule against our beliefs in God’s mandates—
Mandates such as marriage being between one man and one woman.
Mandates that children are born either male or female—
Mandates that Jesus Christ is the Way and the only Way to Salvation.

Do we not care that those who are considered to be conservative, a traditionalist or
an orthodox member of the faith, those who adhere to the moral fiber of the
Christian faith, do we not care that they are now being considered expendable
and a pariah?

Perhaps we’ve simply decided that it is best not to upset the apple cart…
perhaps being a non-committal, disengaged ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand,
is the best approach to life.
Maybe if we just keep our heads down, ‘they’ won’t notice us.

Does it not bother us that because we seek to adhere to God’s word that we are in turn
ridiculed, attacked, threatened and told that we may no longer believe or
act upon that Word of faith?

Does it not bother us that our rights as Christian believers are no longer the
same as others who are non-believers.

Well…

It bothers me.

It bothers me that boys and girls as young as 6 are considered “mature” enough to
decide if they want to remain said boy or girl.
What does a non-sexually active individual, one who has yet to develop or mature
sexually, understand about sexual orientation?

Boys are boys
Girls are girls…

When did we decide that man was a better guide than God in our lives?

You may answer to the contrary…
You may counter that none of that is who we, the Faithful are…
Answering with a resounding no…that no, we haven’t allowed those things to happen…
And yet haven’t we helped to create this current caustic life…??

Our indifference, our appeasement, our fear, our choosing blindness to the chipping
away at our very foundation…that is indeed the fault of us all.

However, it should be noted that Christians, as in you and I are currently being told that we
may no longer hold our prayers publically…
that we may no longer demonstrate our faith outwardly…
all the while other religions are encouraged by our current culture to bask in their rituals.
Are we not being dubbed as homophobic while being branded ignorant…
all because we believe in the mandates of our God.

And as our Wee Flea friend succinctly points out…
we are now being told that we exist on the “wrong side of history.”
That even Jesus Christ existed on the wrong side of history…
as the demigods of today have hailed themselves the all-knowing wise sages
who are currently attempting to alter and rewrite our history.

Our Wee Scottish friend continues in his latest post with a stinging observation
regarding the current negative coverage of Billy Graham’s death:

“And as there have been many fine tributes to the life and testimony of
Billy Graham, what struck me were the number of people and organisations who couldn’t
even wait until his body was cold before they stuck the boot in.
These reactions tell us a great deal about our culture and churches.”

Billy Graham preached Christ, and he preached the cross of Christ.
He may have been on ‘the wrong side of history’ from the perspective of those who think
they know what that is, but he is now on the right side of eternity where I’m sure he has
already heard the words that all believers long to hear:
‘well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.
(Matthew 25:21).

So perhaps the question which we must ask ourselves…
are we merely riding a seasonal wave of a series of modern-day Christin persecution or
are we experiencing something much more sinister…

Was Billy Graham a homophobic, Christ denying, antisemitic and bigoted failed evangelist on the wrong side of history?

falsehood

“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people
who only ask one to pretend!”

Edith Wharton

rscn4314
(small private plane leisurely crosses the sky above our house / Julie Cook / 2016)

There is a danger in our lives…
one offered up slickly,
in such a fashion,
that we are painfully failing to see it for what it truly is…

It is hoped that we won’t discover the danger until it is all too late…
Too late to turn around…
while there is still time for safe guarding our hearts and minds…
and even our very souls….

For we are finding ourselves living in the age of the sublime…
A life that has been elevated by those who spin the innocuous into the delicious…
As they vie for everyones full attention and interest.

They woo us with all that is glossy while passing off dribble as exceedingly important.
They hope our eyes will glaze over as they happily wipe the drool from our mouthes.

They are the henchmen to a dark and sinister force,
who sadly don’t much realize the part they now play.

We have found ourselves living in the stratosphere of falsehoods
yet strangely we don’t seem much to care.

Distraction and glamour are the name of the game…
anything to persuade the masses that the trivial is what truly matters.

Diversion is their forte and it is found in every aspect of living.
If we are not careful, not thoughtful, not cautious…
it will all be too late.

But no one really wants to hear that.
No one wants some gloom and doom sort of scenario…
because that isn’t fun, comfortable, wrapped up pretty and sweet.

It’s not the unbelieving who are the only ones to be the goats of choice…
The lukewarm, so called, followers…
those who prefer nice to the hard truths, happy to the seriousness at hand…
those who are lost to banal indifference,
those who proudly consider themselves the chosen sheep…
it is they who will find the errors of following the falsehoods

However it will all be much too late as they too will join the goats….

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

Matthew 25:31-33

Mediocrity

“And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:
“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”
And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —
even the wicked cannot glory in them.”

― Dante Alighieri

“The world would hate His followers, not because of evil in their lives, but precisely because of the absence of evil or rather their goodness. Goodness does not cause hatred, but it gives occasion for hatred to manifest itself. The holier and purer a life, the more it would attract malignity and hate. Mediocrity alone survives.”
Fulton J. Sheen

DSCN2015
(a lone warbler / Cades Cove, TN. / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Do not hide yourself behind mediocrity,
while basking in the average of mundane.
Do not opt for the middle of the road while choosing
neither high nor low, fast nor slow.
Do not settle on simply blending in
nor being like all the rest…
For climbing the ladder, rung by rung, will lead you neither up nor down.

Dare rather to choose your side refusing to straddle the fence
Roll up your sleeves and sweat if you must, as the outcome is now dire
Be not afraid to make a stand for Darkness has chosen his
Time is no longer on your side with the stage having long been set
It’s life or death for you my friend yet ignore it if you so chose
For mediocrity loves a crowd for indifference is no stranger…

The tale of the passion of the tiny old woman

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
Albert Einstein

DSCN2973
(crystal stoppers, Julie Cook / 2014)

Passion and indifference–two polar opposite emotions, stances, choices, feelings. . .the excess of or the lack of an internal drive.

Both can be quite dangerous.

One can bring about something positive or something quite negative, depending on the drive and focus. The latter can also bring about change—but often sadly so. . .
Both can be quite frustrating—for both the owner of and the recipient of.

Yet, Big things come in small packages.

There once was a tiny young girl named Agnes who prayed very hard that she may grow up to one day do big things for the very big God of her heart.
The God of all gods answered the tiny girl’s prayer.
He told her what she was to do.
She got busy.
This was her passion.

Time passed.

The tiny girl grew up becoming a tiny woman. She worked hard doing the big things for the big God of her heart.
Frustrated her work just didn’t seem to be enough she decided she needed to do more. Her passion was so great that she imagined her work must be greater— as the need of those she worked to help was greatest.
She wanted to do more.
Bigger things for the big God of her heart.
So she prayed really hard once again, asking to do more things, really big things for this very big God of her heart.
He spoke again.
She got busy.

Time passed.

The tiny woman grew to be a tiny old woman.
She had spent her entire life doing big things for the big God of her heart.
She was so busy, she never thought of herself. There was simply no time for self.
She never asked anyone to do anything that she had not already done herself.
There were just so many who needed so much that she had to work so very hard. So very many people were in such great need that it was almost over whelming. The tiny old woman worked non stop as she knew that this was what she had prayed for and that the big God of her heart had answered her prayer.

Sadly however, to the tiny old woman, the very big God of her heart had now remained silent for such a very long time. She had not heard from Him since her last really big prayer. But it didn’t matter, she still had big things to do for the big God of her heart.
She thought that if she was not doing the right things then He would certainly say something. Obviously His silence was an indication of her doing the right things.

Time passed.

The tiny old woman now grew to be a tiny frail sickly old woman.
She continued working, doing the big things she had asked to be able to do, but inwardly she worried.
Why was the big God of her heart so silent for so long?
No matter.
There was still so very much to do.

And so the story went—until one day the tiny frail old woman closed her eyes for the final time.

She had lived a very long life doing those big things for the big God of her heart.
She had worries of the heart but never allowed them to distract her focus of the big things for the big God of her heart. She had doubts and questions but no one but the tiny old woman knew of these doubts and worries—no one but herself and the big God of her heart.

There was never the concern for self. Never vying for a stance of “I’m right, you’re wrong”. No vacations, no shopping sprees, no finding of one’s self. No indifference. Instead there was simply the passion of the big work for the big God of one’s heart.

When the tiny young girl named Agnes was 18 years old, she changed her name. She had entered the religious order of the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. As a young girl she had greatly admired the young saint known as the little flower–Thérèse de Lisieux. Agnes also admired the spanish mystic nun St Teresa of Avila.

Both of these women were considered to be giants of the Church. Each had worked to do big things for the big God of their hearts. One did so quietly, the other was much more bold. Young Agnes simply wanted to do the same–daring to do big and perhaps bold things. Not because she wanted fame. Not because she wanted the world to notice–though the world would eventually notice, she just wanted so much to do something important for the big God of her heart. Doing big things for the big God of her heart was simply the most important thing–there was no indifference–young Agnes was simply full of passion.

Time passed.

Pieces of the world are now better for all of the work of the tiny young Agnes who grew to be a giant of a tiny old woman. And it all came about simply because of a tiny young girl who had a big desire to do really big things for the very big God of her heart. So it matters not if you are big or small, rich or poor, highly educated or not—it only matters if you have passion, and if that passion is genuinely set upon doing the big things for the big God of your heart. There is really still so very much to be done, it’s all just a matter of passion.

DSC00315
(painting by Julie Cook)