mystery

“Love is an endless mystery, because there is no reasonable cause that could explain it.”
Rabindranath Tagore

(Moses by Michelangelo / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli /Rome / Julie Cook 2018)

“A sculptor who wishes to carve a figure out of a block uses his chisel,
first cutting away great chunks of marble, then smaller pieces,
until he finally reaches a point where only a brush of hand is needed
to reveal the figure. In the same way, the soul has to undergo
tremendous mortifications at first, and then more refined detachments,
until finally its Divine image is revealed.
Because mortification is recognized as a practice of death,
there is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of Duns Scotus**, Bis Mortus; Semel Sepultus
(twice died, but buried only once).
When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive.”

Fulton J. Sheen, p. 219
An Excerpt From
Peace of Soul
(**John Duns OFM, commonly called Duns Scotus, was a Scottish Catholic priest
and Franciscan friar, university professor, philosopher, and theologian.
He is one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of
Western Europe in the High Middle Ages, together with
Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham. Wikipedia)

So the other day I posted one of my more short and sweet offerings…
When time is scarce, I rely on a good picture and a couple,
of what I think to be, pointed quotes.
Most often the quotes offered are by the Saints, Christian theologians,
Christian authors and or Christian mystics.

And so it was on a recent day when I posted a quote by C. S. Lewis:
“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,
perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God.
But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed.
Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology,
that will not mean that you have no ideas about God.
It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones—bad,
muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God
which are trotted out as novelties today are simply
the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 155
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

that I received the following comment:

“In the old days, when there was less education and discussion,”

This was true in regards to both theological and knowledge of everything
but I believe that is the only part the great writer Lewis got
right in this quote.

Theology has not changed, the stories and traditions are basically
exactly the same today but likely more complicated than when they
were created but the general knowledge of our world has
increased dramatically.

We have the massive advancement in both scientific knowledge
and increased educational opportunities that have accumulated mostly
over the last two hundred years, this has cost all religions dearly
in a decline of power especially in first world industrialised countries.

As there is now more freedom of thought there are answers
that explain what we experience in the light of reality without
any supernatural input.

Well, I’ve not had a chance to respond to this particular commenter but
thought I could maybe take a little time now in order to do so…

The picture above is a marble statue carved using the famed Carrara marble
of Carrara, Italy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrara_marble)

The statue was carved by the famed Italian artist Michelangelo…
a statue of Moses that was to adorn the one-day tomb of Pope Julius II.

Pope Julius and Michelangelo had quite the love-hate relationship.
It was this same Pope that sent his guards to bring back the
run-away artist who tried to skip out on his Sistine Chapel project…
but I digress.

Isn’t this just an amazing piece of craftsmanship?
Do you see the veins and tendons in the muscular arm of Moses?


(Julie Cook / 2018)


(Julie Cook 2018)

When I was in Girl Scouts, we were given a bar of soap and were to use our
trusty Girl Scout knife in order to carve something out of the soap.

Despite my grandiose hopes of carving out a bear, I think I managed to
have a whittled pile of soap shavings.

So to be able to see something in a massive chunk of rock and to then,
with only hands, hammer and chisel–with no modern electric or technological
assistance in order to bring forth “life” is, to me, simply amazing.

It is a gift.
Not a rote learned skill…
Now whereas it does indeed take skill to be such a craftsman,
it also takes much more.
It takes vision…seeing that which lies within…
And it also takes something that borders upon the mystical.

Life breathed into a handful of dust….

So our friend’s comment today speaks of both knowledge and understanding.
Noting that each one has more or less come steamrolling in within the
last 200 some odd years…but I dare say it all really took off during
the day’s of Michelangelo…the age of the Renaissance…
and by gosh, it hasn’t dared stop to look back.
Think the Age of Reason…the Age of Enlightenment…
The Industrial Revolution…Post Modernism, Post Christianity…

Whereas we greatly pride our 21st century selves on our breadth,
depth and scope of knowledge…there are, contrary to popular belief,
a few truths that remain…despite man’s dire
attempts to counter it all with his / her hubris and arrogance.

“Supernatural input” our friend notes.

Yet, despite the argument that we are so advanced and now know
all there is to know, there actually remain certain truths…

Take Biology for instance…
I would think Biology is one said truth.

Male.
Female.
Egg.
Sperm.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

And yet, therein lies the mystery.

Conception / birth / life / death…

Sure there are miscues and misfires.

There are anomalies.
There are exceptions
There are mysteries.

But that does not diminish the truth.

Male.
Female.
Conception.
Birth.
Life.
Death.

Our friend speaks of a “freedom of thought giving way to answers that explain
what we experience in light of our reality…”

Hummmm.

Thought does not necessarily equate to reality…does it?

This particular individual speaks of the supernatural no longer being necessary…
but if it is “super” as well as natural…then is that not a mystery in itself?
That which remains rooted in that of the unknown?

And so as I consider today’s quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
I marvel.
Our lives are not so readily written off as compartmentalized
reason now are they?

“When we die to something, something comes alive within us.
If we die to self, charity comes alive;
if we die to pride, service comes alive;
if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive…”

normal

“A perfectly normal person is rare in our civilization.”
Karen Horney


(courtesy the Web)

We try to walk about an hour every morning.
And during our morning jaunts, we see an array of creatures
both great and small.

Deer
Rabbits
birds of every shape, size and description
bugs
dogs
cats
squirrels
chipmunks
and then there are a few oddities…
several fox squirrels along with several species of snakes..
the pictures offered today are of a black headed fox squirrel and a grey rat snake— the first image is taken by a photographer–my pictures are below…

The fox squirrels and the snakes wandering out along the neighborhood roads
appear a bit out of place…not exactly the normal animal fare.


(fox squirrel spied while out walking / Julie Cook / 2021)

And suddenly normal takes on a new meaning…

Due to my recent babysitting hiatus, I’ve been playing catch up here in blogland.
As I was reading over the various blogs that I oh so enjoy, I noticed an underlying
thread weaving its way throughout each post…it was the word normal

So I thought that it would be best if I looked up the word
to see what a dictionary might offer in the way of explaining the word…

adjective: normal
conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

MEDICINE
(of a salt solution) containing the same salt concentration as the blood.

noun: normal; plural noun: normals
the usual, average, or typical state or condition.
“her temperature was above normal”

mid 17th century (in the sense ‘right-angled’): from Latin normalis,
from norma ‘carpenter’s square’ (see norm).
Current senses date from the early 19th century.

conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern :
characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine

according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule,
procedure, or principle

occurring naturally

generally free from physical or mental impairment or dysfunction :
exhibiting or marked by healthy or sound functioning

So it appears that ‘normal’ is a standard.
It’s routine.
It’s centering.
It’s sound, stable…
It’s not out of the ordinary
It’s a means of measure.

It’s the starting point while anything deviating outward, upward, downward
or backward moves away from the standard, the norm, the home place.

And so as I consider the word normal, I can’t help but look at what is
currently transpiring around this country regarding
our public schools…a three ringed circus full of everything but that
which is normal.

Abnormal is actually more accurate.

It was in the mid 19th century that the nation’s leaders determined that
our youth needed to be educated.
Not merely the upper crust whose families could afford private educations
or tutors…but education for each and every child.
(and no that was not an example of white privilege–it was a matter of
aristocracy vs the average citizen…hierarchy has been with us through
the ages…
hence why the Marxists are hard at work to “level the playing field”
and that, mind you, is a key educational phrase…but I digress)

With a booming growth taking place in our cities, along with
a growing influx of immigrants, coupled with an upward spiraling industrial
revolution, we had transitioned from being that of a nation based solely
upon an agricultural economy to one that was of an
up and coming economy of technological growth.

Our wealthier children had tutors and private schools…
yet the general populace needed rudimentary basic educational skills.
Thus a free public education would focus on what was thought to be
the most important basic needs when it came to “educating” children…
reading, writing and arithmetic.

Eventually science, literature and history entered the picture.

And as the nation grew and expanded while young men were sent overseas to wars,
it was determined a wider depth of knowledge was needed and so courses in
geography, latin and civics were added.

Throw in courses such as drafting, the fine arts, music and we
had a full well rounded education shaping up

Now granted this is all just a simplified look at the the inception and growth
of our nation’s public schooling…
however somewhere in the 20th century, things took a turn.
And that turn was not necessarily for the better.

Sex education came onto the scene.

Mainly because the ‘powers that be’ were concerned about all the young
men who were being sent overseas to fight in wars and yet were contracting
a variety of sexually transmitted diseases at a rapid rate.

Fast forward through prohibition, a depression, a post war world,
an iron curtain, the growth of baby boomers, a police action,
rock and roll, civil rights, a sexual revolution, women’s liberation,
a space race, a drug revolution, assassinations, flower power,
a summer of love, an endless war, an angst ridden youth…
all the while, our public educational institutions were quietly
changing.

Normal quietly became a casualty of the times.

And other casualties of this generational madness…

Our:
Reverence
Respect
Parental authority
Nuclear family
Judaeo/ Christian corner stone

We are now being sold a sorry sack of lies…
Our schools, school leadership, school boards have all given in to the lies…
lies such that our original normal is now a new normal…
and thus we must teach to a new normal…

any deviation from normal, according to each definition of normal,
means that things are not normal.
Normal is the standard.
New is not.

so tomorrow lets explore this new normal notion…
that of the abnormal

You believe that God is one; you do well.
Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James 2:19