lord of the flies

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”
Denis Diderot

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
William Golding, Lord of the Flies


(I used this image back in June, but it fit so well today)

I suppose the reading of certain books during our time spent in high school
lit classes is all a part of the adolescent right of passage.

Most folks my age read such books as Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye,
A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Crucible,
1984 (yes published in 1949 and I read it long before 1984),
The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men…the list goes on and on.

Some books I enjoyed.
Some books I loathed.
Some books left me unsettled.

Lord of the Flies was just one such book.

No happy ending there.

It was a tale that left me terribly unsettled.

Any sort of story showcasing those who are oh so civilized one minute while
quickly falling into barbarism the next,
when all the trappings of modern life suddenly disappear,
leaves me less than happily settled—

Perhaps because it is a blatant reminder of how thin is the veil that separates
modern man from his animalistic alter ego …
and yet that was indeed the author’s intent…
A stalk reminder…..

I was in high school just past those heady days of Woodstock and Flower power.
The early 70’s were to be a time of reemerging.
We were coming up for air from an unpopular war, grave national unrest,
sit-ins, love-ins as a president was preparing to leave office in disgrace…
people wanted to reset and move forward.
Our naiveté was long gone.

Sounds as if I could be talking about today….

We read the works of writers who addressed such feelings..some being current, some
simply ahead of their time.

And it appears as if I am not alone in my recollection of my required reading
of such a tale…

The newly consecrated bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada and the US,
The Rt. Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, also recalls reading Lord of the Flies.

I found his post Wednesday to be most timely as he touched on an issue I’ve been
referencing in just these past many days…

That being the Nazis and their obsessive need to plunder, loot, and burn millions of books… in an all out attempt to control the thought processes of those they
wished to manipulate and rule while at the same time obliterating an entire
swarth of humanity.

“I can understand why the Nazis burned books.

One book can subvert a whole culture.

Perhaps one of the most subversive books I’ve known was “Lord of the Flies”
by William Golding.
I must have read it when I was 14 or 15.

It tells the story of a group of schoolboys whose plane crashes onto a remote island.
They survive the crash, but descend into violence and chaos and finally murder.
They lose all the trappings of civilisation, inside and out, in a very short time.

This was and is a shocking book.
It called the bluff of moral progress and ethical evolution.
Our civility is just skin deep Golding was saying.
From the moment I finished the book,
I knew that Golding was right and that progressive politics was based on a
misjudgment of human nature.
Our ethical progress was just skin deep, and could be lost in an instant.

I keep on being haunted by images of Nazi book burning and the smashing up of
Jewish shop fronts from Germany in the 1930’s.
Something like a collective madness came on the people of Germany.
It really seemed to erupt almost out of nowhere.
How could such a civilised people, the children of Goethe and Beethoven,
so swiftly become the breeding ground of Nazism, with its book burnings, thuggery
and ultimately the horrifying and very Golding-like final solution?”

The good Bishop goes on to explore the similarites he sees between the current acts of violence taking place on both sides of our collective pond in regards to the
progressive liberal groups and their lack of tolerance, or perhaps allowance would be a better word, with the more conservative and Christian groups over the current battle
lines.

Bishop Ashenden notes in particular a rather nasty incident taking place in Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park when several protesting groups converged.

It seems that a 60 year old feminist sort of protester was punched in the face by a transgendered male dressed as a female type individual,
who after punching said 60 year old woman in the face and knocking her to the ground,
then ran ran off.

Ashenden makes a rather stalk comparison between a now and then sort of moment:
“Mindless thugs beating their opponents in public were not the preserve only of the Brown Shirts in Berlin, of state apparatchiks in Moscow, but it’s odd to find gender activists demonstrating in favour of love, peace, tolerance and inclusion, beating up elderly feminists at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.”

Ashenden goes on…
“A great deal is made by the left that the threat of violence comes from the
‘far Right.’ In fact the press and media don’t bother with the ‘Right’ any more.
Anything less than socialist is called ‘Far-Right, – or Nazi.
There is no near-right, or middle right, or further right; just Far-Right.’

You may read the full post here:

‘Far-Left’ and ‘Far-Right’ need to be replaced by ‘Far-UP’.

The irony of our current thuggery groups behaving so terribly badly while they shout
for rights, proclaim justice, preach love, and of all things, demand tolerance….
all the while commencing to malign and beat to a pulp those who oppose their current
trend of senseless thoughts……

They might do well to reread a book or two from their day’s in lit class.

Barbarism is but a step away from the the civilized…..

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

giving way at the seams

“It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order
not to lose it all.”

Albert Camus

(a persimmon caught in the middle of the woods in a rather messy web / Julie Cook / 2017)

Just when I thought life had become nutty enough,
what with our latest troubles over petty things like a war of words between a sitting president of the United States and our nation’s professional athletes,
I am resoundingly reassured that we are not alone.

For I am comforted in knowing that there are other nations out there battling
their own levels of crazy.

They say misery loves company…
I say bring an extra bag of chips as we get the party started….

Yesterday’s post had not been what I had intended to write.
Yet I felt deeply compelled to share the role model example, as well as the bravery,
of Steeler’s player Alejandro Villanueva.

I say bravery because Villanueva made a conscious decision to honor the flag and anthem while his coach, Mike Tomlin with input from his players, had decided
that his team would forgo the National Anthem in hopes of just missing the whole crazy divisive issue.

Yet I would imagine Villanueva, a former Army Captain, West Point Grad and
Afghanistan war veteran, and his coach had had a discussion prior to
the game and the anthem.
With that whole discussion most likely revolving around how Villanueva felt a bound duty
to both honor and salute a flag and a Nation that he has served in active duty and now serves as a role model the playing field.

Villanueva is a man who completely understands commands and orders…so I imagine there
was discussion over Villanueva’s need and desire to break ranks as it were with
his beloved Coach and team.

As we now read that Villanueva had not intended to be as noticeable as a “standout”
Sunday as he was…fearing he may have inadvertently thrown his teammates under
life’s proverbial bus.


(Miami Herald)

Men and women have died defending our Flag…as her ensuing anthem is a reflection
not of inequality or bias but rather of blood shed for democratic triumph…
A notion now a couple of centuries old…

Soldiers understand that probably better than most of us.
I doubt any of The Steelers feel as if they were thrown under any bus by a man who
chose to put his own life on the line for his fellow Americans.

I was tremendously touched by the comments offered on my post Monday regarding that
brave act by that brave man.

It seems I am not alone in feeling that US Capt. Villanueva
made the greatest one-man showing on Sunday despite that not being his desire
nor mission–yet selfless patriotism has a way of always coming to the surface.

So just when I thought our lives couldn’t become any more surreal than they
already are, I watched Monday morning the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted
featuring the Anglican cleric, The Reverend Gavin Ashenden.

And then, if that weren’t enough, I followed that up with the solid reading from the
latest offerings by the Scottish Pastor David Robertson on his Wee Flea Blog.

Firstly I will share a brief bit of what Reverend Ashenden has had to share regarding
some recent happenings on his side of the pond.

It seems that the Church of England has either totally lost its mind or has
totally gone the way of the ‘All Ensuing Cultural War Express’….

Recently a fashion show featuring the symbols, dress and attitude of all things Satanic
was permited to take place in of all places an Anglican Church located in London.

Just when I was pretty well convinced the we had totally lost our minds on this side
of the pond, it seems as if our cousins abroad have totally lost theirs.

When on earth does a catwalk featuring those decorated and dressed in Satan inspired garb,
complete with a Christian altar as a backdrop, make any sort of sense at all?

You might need to read that again….

When on earth does a catwalk featuring those decorated and dressed in Satan inspired garb,
complete with a Christian altar as a backdrop, make any sort of sense at all?

It doesn’t!


(St Andrew’s Anglican Church allowing a Satanic inspired fashion show to take place in the sanctuary)

Rev. Ashenden pointedly reminds his listeners that if there be
any Christian among us who has the Holy Spirit residing in his or her soul…
of which would be a good many of the faithful, he or she would assuredly have felt a tremendous amount of consternation over having seen such a spectacle….

I know I did when I watched a few snippets of the “show.”

Rev. Ashenden proceeds to explain that there is a battle on this earth that
is a a battle of both Good and Evil and it is very much alive and very much real.
And if any of us foolishly think otherwise, then we are in store for a very frightful awakening.

Imagine Satan’s glee—his very own fashion show, featuring some of his best inspired
fashion, taking place in a House of God…

Oh the irony found in that one notion alone…

The good Vicar goes on to note that the Church of England has now obviously
succumb to its struggles with the secular culture as it is now very much
“coming apart at the seams”

Anglican Unscripted – Satanic & Masonic fashion in the C of E.

Next our dear friend the Scottish Pastor David Robertson shares his own observations
from the same side of the pond…

He takes a look at a variety of ills plaguing both the EU and the UK even venturing to
the land down under.


(am I the only one who sees a problem with this image from an Australian college campus?? Last I checked, no one was recommending burning homosexuals but apparently it’s ok
to burn a church)

Australia is now locked in a death roll regarding same sex marriages.

The good pastor notes “Well, they did warn us it would happen.
They said they did not want a referendum on same sex marriage because of
the hatred it would allow to be displayed.
They were right.
The Australian referendum debate has turned really nasty – not as some feared
with people taking the opportunity to express their homophobic hatred,
but rather because of those who are all into ‘love and tolerance’
being full of hatred and intolerance towards any who would dare to
disagree with them.

Pastor Robertson lastly offered a small step back in time.
He offered a “story of the week”


(Nixon and Kissinger in the Oval Office)

Story of the week –
I loved this story about Nixon.
Kissinger’s account from Woodward and Bernstein The Final Days.

“The president was drinking.
He said he was resigning.
It would be better for everyone.
They talk quietly – history, resignation decision,
foreign affairs.
Then Nixon said he wasn’t sure he would be able to resign.
Could he be the first president to quit office?
Kissinger responded by listing the president’s contributions,
especially in diplomacy.

‘Will history treat me more kindly than my contemporaries?’

“Certainly, definitely,” Kissinger said. “When this was all over,
the president would be remembered for the peace he had achieved.”
The president broke down and sobbed…How had a simple burglary,
a breaking and entering, done all this?

“Kissinger kept trying to turn the conversation back to all the good things.
Nixon wouldn’t hear of it. He was hysterical.
‘Henry, ‘he said, ‘you are not a very orthodox Jew,
and I am not an orthodox Quaker, but we need to pray.’

Nixon got down on his knees.
Kissinger felt he had no alternative but to kneel down too..
The president prayed out loud, asking for help, rest, peace and love.
How could a president and a country be torn apart by such small things?
Kissinger thought he had finished but the president did not rise.
He was weeping…
‘What have I done?
What has happened?
‘Kissinger touched the president, and then…
tried to bring rest and peace to the man who was curled on the carpet
like a child.
Kissinger again tried to reassure him…
Finally the president struggled to his feet.
He sat back in his chair.
The storm had passed.
He had another drink”

I for one did find forgiveness for President Nixon as I have opted to remember
the good works that Nixon actually did accomplish while in office….and there were many
such works.

LED 10 – Far Right in Germany – The EU – World Running out of Sand – Transgender Study banned – Australian SSM Intolerance – Catalonia and Kurdistan – Reality is a Social Constuct – Britons on the Toilet – A Tale of Nixon and Kissinger

And so I will leave us today with these current events now swirling in our heads as
we continue stepping ever so gingerly through the minefield of this world we
call our own…

May God have mercy upon our souls….

“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.

Joel 2:12-14

fragility

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it,
that we discover the possibility of true joy.”

Desmond Tutu


(a spent monarch butterfly lifeless in the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

You may remember that I once wrote a post about the life expectancy of butterflies…
and surprisingly, it is very brief.
Often times just a matter of a few short weeks.

Which is a bit hard to wrap one’s thoughts around when this yard of mine
is awash with the comings and goings of what seems to be hundreds of
butterflies in every size, shape and description.

I also know that some butterflies even migrate from life here in the south down
even further south to Mexico and as far as even South America.
I don’t know much about the life expectancies of those particular travelers
but for such a southerly jaunt, I’d imagine stamina is key.

Yet despite their brief lives, it is always sad finding one having given up
the ghost…

I don’t think I really need any more reminding on the fragility of
life…
however, having spotted this dead Monarch in the grass,
that’s exactly what I got when I was out watering the plants…

It is amazing to me how I can look at a dead butterfly and feel such a sharp pang
of sadness.

For despite my own spate of life’s current sadness, which is currently running
amuck in this little world of mine,
seeing a butterfly lifeless, in a fading clump on the ground, sends a rush of
melancholy washing over my heart.

Life, be it a butterfly’s or our own, is oh so fragile…
And yet we rarely think of it as such.

Our own ego and bravado coupled by the current run of angst and anger…
all run counter to any notion of life being fragile…

Life which is actually something to be savored caressed and
counted as a joyous gift not merely taken for granted or even worse,
purposely attacked.

I wonder what it might take for the majority of this angry Nation of ours,
what could move the hearts and minds of those filled with such hate
and intolerance…
what could possibly stir in the hearts of the gang members, those who
choose to relish in causing pain and suffering …
what could open the eyes of man to his fleeing fragile nature as he races
forward toward his own death and demise….


(a daredevil Tiger Swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2017)

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 39:4

what is the seed you sow?

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but
by the seeds that you plant.”

― Robert Louis Stevenson


(the tender cap of an emerging toadstool / Julie Cook / 2017)

If you have sown the seeds of discord…
If you have sown the seeds of hate…
If you have sown the seeds of the raging inferno…
If you have sown the seeds of vile speech…
If you have sown the seeds of dissent…
If you have sown the seeds of an ungracious spirit…
If you have sown the seeds of intolerance…
If you have sown the seeds of protest…
If you have sown the seeds of opposition…
If you have sown the seeds of pushing back…
if you have sown the seeds of violence…
If you have sown the seeds of resistance
If you have sown the seeds of revolution
If you have sown the seeds of civil unrest
If you have sown the seeds of contention
If you have sown the seeds of conflict
If you have sown the seeds of hostility
If you have sown the seeds of anarchy
If you have sown the seeds of mistrust
If you have sown the seeds of lawlessness
If you have sown the seeds of collusion
If you have sown the seeds of deceit….

spilt blood is on your hands….

Do not be deceived;
God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption;
but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap,
if we do not lose heart.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:7-9

disrespect found in a den of iniquity

Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality,
but from several–from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others,
from indolence, from stupidity, from distraction of thought,
from contempt of others, from jealousy.

Jean De La Bruyere

jeopcollege2017group_990x557
(the 2017 Jeopardy college championship, with our little friend from Stanford on the far right)

Disrespect….

I’m pretty certain that I’ve rambled on about this little topic before…
and here I am finding myself, once again, addressing the whole
notion of respect vs disrespect, morality vs immorality…
as I caught a little story in the news this morning that has left me troubled…

And it seems as if the story centers on, of all things, the college
championship competition on Jeopardy…
as if sadly, nothing is currently off limits…
particularly when it comes to this notion of respect…
even the benign bastion of all things related to trivia being apparently fair game…

Disrespect, which actually walks hand in hand with it’s first cousin immorality,
as in each are the mirror effect of respect and morality,
are two negative human traits that if left unchecked, unaddressed….
two actions that left either ignored or simply tolerated,
are two of the key undoings of any society.

For disrespect, and its cousin immorality, lead directly to the erosion of civility.
The erosion of civility, in turn, is the undermining of any civilization…
all of which leads directly to anarchy.

Throughout much of the history of humankind, it has been the youthful ones
who have had the most trouble with these two notions…
that of both respect and morality.

There is a time in all growing up when these two choices, or perhaps more aptly put,
decisions in behavior, come powerfully and dangerously into, well, jeopardy.
Be it testing the waters with a devil may care lifestyle,
the growing pains found in a struggle for independence or simply part and parcel
of growing up… that time period between late adolescence and early adulthood
is a murky pool swarming with defiance, emotional roller coasters and lots of
poor choices…

In times past, society had done well to nurture its angst filled youth through these
troubling waters…
today however, we are witnessing a dangerous anomaly taking place on
college campuses all across the country….
An enabling of the molly coddling coupled by a dangerous ideology of a liberal manifesto
found not in what was once considered to be the bulwarks of higher education but rather
now found in places that are considered nothing more then dens of iniquity.

Society now not only tolerates the anger filled intolerance of the self-centered youth,
it is embracing it and them with a heinous zeal while affording these young people the
luxury of living a Peter Pan type of lifestyle…as in never having to grow up and
accepting responsibility for the poor choices of their negative actions.

On this particular Jeopardy episode, three kids from various colleges were competing
for the college championship.
During the brief meet and greet portion of the show, Alex asked each student
a question allowing them a brief time of explanation.

One nice looking young man from Stanford was asked a question about his major.
While answering Alex’s question, this young man was, it appeared, to be not only
talking with his hands as he responded to the question,
but one hand was actually raised while he was coyly shooting a bird for the cameras.
For roughly 10 seconds, this kid talked while shooting a bird on national television.

I actually saw this particular episode and never noticed.
But why would I….
why would I think a competitor would want to act like a fool on a national platform?
Alex apparently didn’t notice either.
But Twitter noticed.

Someone tweeted out about the incident with the student quickly responding,
“damn right I did”

Really??

Now why pray tell would some kid, who is sporting the sweatshirt of his college,
proud to be representing his college in a national televised competition want to
show his butt by shooting a bird while casually explaining his college major
to the host of the show?

Rude comes to mind.
As well as selfish.
Selfcentered.
Arrogant…
Disrespectful…

I was angry.
Mad at this blatant act of total disrespect to not only Alex the host, but to
the crew, this student’s fellow competitors, his parents, the audience..
both in the studio and those of us at home.

So now, as a society, do we decide to tolerate this cheeky kid’s behavior?
Do we choose to ignore his disrespectful behavior?
Do we opt to laugh it off as merely brash?
Do we simply chalk it up to youthful ignorance?
Do we shrug it off as just a kid being kid…?

Or do we say enough.

Do we say grow up kid.
Man up, as it were.
Step up to the what it means to be and act like an adult.
Do we respond with a “you think you’re so smart, then act it?”

Maybe his winnings should be forfeited for his disrespectful behavior…
Maybe Stanford should be reminded about the type of “ambassadors”
they’re sending out as representatives of their fine institution of all
things educational.
Maybe it would behoove all of us to recall that actions, all actions,
have consequences…
instead we’ve chosen to turn a collective blind eye to
poor behavior….

Having a lack of respect leads not merely to the obvious opposite of disrespect…
but rather it leads to contempt…
contempt of both one’s self as well as others…
eventually leading us all down the chaotic path to the loss of soul
found only in anarchy.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/24/jeopardy-contestant-gives-trebek-the-finger/

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’
You blind fools!

You snakes!
You brood of vipers!
How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Matthew 23:13-17,33)