Past and Future (tweaked repeat 2015)

“…It’s got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash…”

a few lines from Joni Mitchell – Help Me


(Thistles at the The Cliffs of Moher/ Co. Clare, Ireland/ Julie Cook/ 2015)

Has the past left you worrying about the future?
Will the future find you wistful for the past?
Does the present find you hopeful about much of anything?

Have you turned on the television, read the paper, seen the stories?

Terror attacks on a beach.
Heads chopped off like weeds.
Migrants flooding across both land and sea.
Legislation turns topsy turvy.
Killings where we worship.
Good guys now set bad guys free.
Sharks lurk hungry in the surf,
While flags flap in the wind.

A culture sees what was and decides it’s now time to
strike it all from sight, from history, from acknowledgment—
Seek and destroy quickly lest anyone notice.

And so hysteria cries foul as the masses must now acquiesce.

Wipe it clean with the sweep of a pen and that’ll make it right.
But do it quick and don’t dare pause to consider the bigger picture.
Just erase it from view and that’ll be the end of it…for now.

Rewrite what was and that’ll keep them happy, quiet, confused…
or out of sight and out of mind as we lose our minds.

Is straddling that fence getting uncomfortable?
Is the grey any more clear?
Upside down for one is now right side up for many.
Thought you knew which way to go? Think again.

Masked and muzzled.
Vaccinated with a passport.
When rainbows once came after the storms and
Hope grew out of the past…

History once directed our future…
and we thought everything simply made more sense…

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal
that has come on you to test you,
as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ,
you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any
other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
However, if you suffer as a Christian,
do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household;
and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who
do not obey the gospel of God?
And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will sh
ould commit themselves
to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4: 12-19

lost sheep seeking the Good Shepherd

Sinners have a spiritual vision that Pharisees do not have.
They look at Christ, and their humility allows them to perceive
in him their only hope of salvation.
The Pharisee sees merely the man, whereas the lost sheep sees the Good Shepherd!

Fr. Sean Davidson
From his book Saint Mary Magdalene:
Prophetess of Eucharistic Love


(My most favorite sheep, ever / Co Donegal, Ireland / Gleann Cholm Cille /
Julie Cook / 2015)

Growing up a city girl, I always assumed that there was but one type of sheep;
White and fluffy.

And for reasons that escape me, I have always had a deep affinity for sheep.

I’ve shared this notion before but I think this affinity was born from a prayer.
It is derived from the prayer of the penitent…a prayer I grew up praying
since childhood– found in The Book of Common Prayer.

The prayer begins…Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…”

A prayer that speaks straight to the root of my heart…erring and straying.
I think I’ve always identified with both that whole straying and lost
sheep business.

So bah bah I go…

I have been known to vow that one day I would escape to someplace obscure,
becoming a shepherd…
or if should I need to be more PC, that would that be shepherdess…
but I’ll just stick with shepherd since I don’t care for the interchangeability
of pronouns and monikers.

A shepherd of sheep.
The shepherd calls and sheep know his name….

Over the years, my various moves from city to rural life, along
with various travels, taught me otherwise…sheep come in many sizes,
shapes and colors…but it wasn’t until a trip to Ireland that the whole sheep
variety thing played out in real life.


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)

And so knowing human beings as I do…I know that we seek that often
elusive shepherd…
We seek the voice of the one who will guide us and care for us…
We seek it in our relationships.
We seek it in our jobs.
We seek it in our leaders—
for we are innately seeking one who will care and lead.

The trouble is that we most often seek the wrong voices, the wrong
lights, the wrong directions, the wrong glitz…
We seek temporary satisfaction in our shepherds.
We seek more of the immediate gratification and quick easy fit.

Yet sadly, those that we seek are limited, short-lived,
or most often then not, fleeting.

There is only One who is consistent and constant…never changing.
He knows each of his sheep…both lost and found.
He will leave the found 99 in order to go find, rescue and fetch that 1
who is lost.

How fortunate we are those who have erred and strayed!


(one of a kind / Julie Cook /2015)

“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely
in this obscurity; it has suffered:
for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable,
than that of rejoicing and of action.
In suffering God gives strength,
but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness
and imperfections.
And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue,
and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 149
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

sheep of thy pasture

God created us without us:
but he did not will to save us without us.

St. Augustine


(sheep farm / Co Killarney /Julie Cook / 2015)

“Let all nations know that Thou art God alone,
and that Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and that we are
Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.”

St. Clement

(taking a few days for some R & R—I think we all might need some
R & R about now…)

who knew

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter
there Thy cheerful beams.”

St. Augustine


(a wee ghost crab / Julie Cook / 2021)

Firstly–the other day, I spoke of fiats…and no, sorry, not the car.
(Sorry theearthspins.wordpress.com not cars this time)

Rather I spoke of decrees…earthly decrees vs Heavenly decrees.
As in… man vs God

Man’s decrees, proclamations, ultimatums, judgements…

versus,

God’s decrees…
as in… Word from on High—Commandments,
end of sentence types… as in… because I said so sorts of decrees.

I wrote about Mary’s decree, her words in response to the messenger of God,
Gabriel.
Her decree to Gabriel’s announcement.
Gabriel greeted her by telling her not to fear and that she
was the most blessed amongst all women… for she
had been chosen by God to bear the Savior of all mankind…

Her decree response you ask?…

“May it be so…may Your will, oh Father, be my will, as you would have done
unto me…
May it be so according to thy will.”

So secondly within this tale, there was a person who left me
a comment regarding said post.

This person told me that he often used my posts as part of a devotional.
I was humbled and flattered—however strange as it seems,
I now seem to be a persona non gratis in this person’s book…
simply because I had opted write about man’s selfish and arrogant decrees which
this commentator equated to my stirring the pot against all things leftist.

As in… I had written against Biden’s idea of how to clear out of Afghanistan.
(if it looks like a bafooned duck, it must be a bafooned duck, just saying)

I wrote negatively regarding Obama’s hypocritical birthday bash—elitist
and arrogant when his political party demands that we wee people mask up while they,
the sophisticated, partied hardy into the night with nary a mask in sight.
(I actually wrote about that soirée in length last week but no one said anything
about that post except Oneta who questioned why Martha’s vineyard would
have traffic issues following Obama’s party when churches with more attendees have
no problems whatsoever.)

I wrote about the lunacy of both Madame Pelosi and Mr. Schumer dancing and partying
while it seems the rest of us were /are having multiple humanitarian
crisis across our border as well as around the world—
throw in Tennessee’s flooding tragedies and Haiti’s devastation from the
latest hurricane and is it just me, but dancing and parties just seem /seemed
out of step…no dance puns intended.

And thus I explained that I wanted to showcase the tilted balance found between
man’s decree’s measured against the decrees of God.

Earthly failings of folly vs Heavenly triumphs of Glory.

In my posts, I often compare and contrast.

I do so by exploring whatever latest lunacy is racing through the days
of man versus the steadfast Word of our God.
Man and his superficial fiat debacles…which are the results and repercussions from
earthly commands and the impact they are having on our society which stand in stalk
contrast of the Great I AM

God’s Word vs man’s word.

Which of the two fiats would be everlasting?
Which of the two decrees will fail every time?

And speaking of earthly fiats….

Did you know that a giant rock could be a racist?

This past week, the leadership of The University of Wisconsin caved
to the Woke cries of racism all because of a massive boulder.

It seems that a huge rock, a rock which has graced the campus for well over
100 years and has been deeply rooted as part of the college’s culture
of tradition, was back-hoed up and moved out of the ground…taken far far away.

Back in the early 1920’s students once used a derogatory
term in order to describe the rock. The rock was a black
rock, so I’ll let you figure out the derogatory term.

However, despite no records showing that the term had ever been used after 1925…
it mattered not–man decreed, “off with its head–
or rather, move that rock!

Moving on…

Who knew that Leprechauns were considered offensive and insensitive to certain
groups of folks???
And because Leprechauns are now offensive, the fighting Irish of Notre Dame
need to get rid of their mascot??!!

I am of Irish descent.
I have visited Ireland.
I have traversed those mystical woods and moors where the wee folk
are said to roam.

Ireland is proud of her past– be it mystical, pagan or Christian…it
all melds into making the Emerald Isle a beautiful mystery–

So I dare you to show me one Leprechaun who is opposed to Notre Dame’s mascot
and I’ll share that pot of gold!!!

This is how idiotic we humans have become.

So yes, I compare and contrast.
Man vs God…

I’m going with God every time!!!!

“The strength of the soul consists in its faculties, passions and desires,
all of which are governed by the will.
Now when these faculties, passions and desires are directed by the
will toward God, and turned away from all that is not God,
then the strength of the soul is kept for God, and thus
the soul is able to love God with all its strength.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 259
An Excerpt From
Ascent of Mt. Carmel

a lamb lead to slaughter or just another dumb sheep?

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalm 119:176


(Francisco de Zurbaran / Agnus Dei / 1639)

If you know me, you know I have always loved that whole sheep and shepherd thing.
In fact I’ve often waxed poetic about moving to Ireland, living somewhere near
Dingle, with about 5 sheep.

A plot of emerald green land that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean….
ahhhhh… (thanks Paul)

I suppose this affinity of mine actually goes back to having grown up in a traditional
Episcopalian church…more “high” church—more Anglican than what we know now.

Each Sunday morning, working our way through the morning’s daily office, we would recite the
Confession taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.

Amen.
1928 Book of Common Prayer

I so often felt like that erring and straying sheep…especially as I aged.
I could err and stray with the best of um.

So I always keenly felt that whole “I am the Shepherd and the sheep know my name”
You know, that verse out of John??
I would yearn to hear that loving and forgiving voice of my Shepherd.

We sheep aren’t often the brightest and are easily lead astray.
And yet Jesus took on that role of sacrificial lamb.
Laying down His life for His own sheep…the Agnus Dei.

You know that wonderful piece found in Isaiah???–
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished

Isaiah 53:6-8

So much symbology…so many beautiful and yet tragic images.
Albeit tragic melding into triumph…

But today, I felt perhaps a little ‘less than’ triumphant.
I simply felt that I was being a good dumb sheep.

I was joining the herd.

Maybe they should use the term ‘flock’…
Flock immunity vs herd immunity.

I don’t know if you’ve had your “vaccine”.
I don’t know if you want to get “the” vaccine.

I thought I didn’t want to get my vaccine.

There are so many schools of thoughts—so many bickering camps out there–
each touting a different mantra regarding the vaccine.

“It’s a biologic not an anti virulent”
“It will alter your DNA”
“You’re doing your part for your fellow man”
“It’s made from aborted fetus cells.”
“You’ll be dead in a year”
“You won’t be able to travel if you don’t get the shot”
“It’s the culling of the human race”
“Do your part”
“It’s the mark of the beast”

That last one gets me a bit because this new zip code of ours ends in 666—
of course there are two other numbers in front of that little triple line up…but
none the less, I hate even having to give out our zip code.
And that is in part as to why my husband feels that we’ve had such a time with this
new old house of ours.
Never buy something you didn’t build is his mantra…
But that’s another story for another day.

I have a dear friend who I grew up with who is a doctor.
She’s been practicing for over 30 years—she is well established and well respected.
She was adamant…DO NOT GET THE VACCINE! DO NOT LET THEM VACCINE SHAME YOU!”

Really??

Then I have another friend who is a doctor…one who has also been practicing for over 30 years
and is also well established and respected—plus these two both grew up with me and they went to
med school together.
He was like…”don’t forget to get signed up for your shot, my wife and I have already had our two.”

So.
Hum.
A quandary.

Throw in reading various takes on all of this and the confusion between the
do’s and the don’ts is exponential..
It is a matter of ‘name your game’ sort of thinking.

We had COVID back in November and thankfully lived to tell about it.
I figure we have some immunity going on but for how long is anyone’s guess.

I confess…. we felt vaccine shame….
and since my husband is 71, I got him signed up through the country’s health department.
I took him yesterday.

My new doctor signed me up despite my being 61 as she proclaimed that I am my husband’s caregiver.
Oh if she only knew…

Anywhooo, she signed me up in her office this past week.
And so I had to be at the University Cancer and Blood Center yesterday morning at 9AM sharp.

Driving over, I really felt like some dumb sacrificial sheep.
Was it the right thing to do??
Was I signing my own death sentence or was I simply doing my part for all mankind???

Who knows.

But what I do know is that the most caring professional group gave me, along with 799 other
sheep, a first dose yesterday morning.

Plus they gave me a goodie bag…

I’m a sucker for a goodie bag.

Plying me with chocolate is probably a good idea–thus I don’t think too much
about this whole ordeal of leading me to the slaughter business…

But like our friend Kathy said over on atimetoshare, “I guess if I’m going to die from it,
it doesn’t really matter, because that means I’ll go to heaven sooner,
but God is in charge of all that too.”

Amen Kathy!!!

God is still in charge!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

in the year 2525…or is that 2020??

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Albert Einstein

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(popular science)

Are you old enough to remember the 1968 number 1 billboard hit song
“In the year 2525”?

I am…
I hated it then and I think I hate it even more now.

It was a futuristic sort of song…dismal and depressing.
A song that told the tale of the world as we know it growing more and more separate
from that of mankind…to the point that mankind is basically eliminated.
As in no longer necessary.

It was a song that became a number one hit on both sides of the pond but it was
a one-hit-wonder for its artists.

It was a song written by a pop-rock duo of Denny Zager and Rick Evans.

According to Wikipedia the basic gist of the song is:
“In the Year 2525” opens with an introductory verse explaining that if mankind
has survived to that point, he would witness the subsequent events in the song.

Subsequent verses pick up the story at 1,010-year intervals from 3535 to 6565.
In each succeeding millennium, life becomes increasingly sedentary and automated:
thoughts are pre-programmed into pills for people to consume,
machines take over all work, resulting in eyes, teeth, and limbs losing their purposes,
and marriage becomes obsolete since children are conceived in test tubes.
Then the pattern as well as the music changes, going up a half step in the key of the song
(chromatic modulation), after two stanzas, first from A-flat minor, to A minor.

For the final three millennia, now in B flat minor, the tone of the song turns apocalyptic:
the year 7510 marks the date by which the Second Coming will have happened,
and the Last Judgment occurs one millennium later.
By 9595, with the song now in B minor, the Earth becomes completely depleted of resources,
potentially resulting in the death of all life.

The song ends in the year 10,000.
By that time, man has become extinct.
But the song notes that in another solar system (or universe),
the scenarios told in the song may still be playing out,
as the beginning of the song repeats and the recording fades out.

The overriding theme, of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence to and overdependence
on its own overdone technologies, struck a resonant chord in millions of people around
the world in the late 1960s.
The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during the Apollo 11 moon landing.

As a near 10-year-old in 1968, the song, although playing on all the radios,
had an ominous and monotone feel that actually frightened me.

How such a depressing song could rise to the top of the music charts was beyond my
comprehension…but then again, it was 1968 and 1969 and life in the US, as well as
most of the world, was quite precarious.

We had the Vietnam War, a civil rights movement, a summer of love, hippies,
an angry women’s lib movement, free love, free sex, the pill, burning bras,
a moon landing along with all sorts of protests left and right.

So wouldn’t you know it…out of the blue, those stupid lyrics popped into my head
this afternoon.

I suppose it’s because I’m feeling some hidden residual 1968 angst stemming from
a futuristic song titled ‘in the year 2525’ all coming into focus in the year 2020.

Maybe it’s some odd form of PTSD percolating to the surface from being a preteen
during the tumultuous late ’60s.

2020 seems to be pulling upon those hidden memories
and thus far, it certainly isn’t proving to be the greatest of years.

I have made a mental note of how many conversations I’ve had over the past month–
be it with friends, folks at the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners,
family members, the doctor’s office, blog friends, etc—conversations that have each
concluded with folks lamenting aloud that we are living in our final days.
As in…this must be the end of time and are we currently in the thick of it…

Yet I know what Scripture tells us…we will not know the day nor time..
like a thief in the night…He will come…unannounced.

In 2015, I went to Ireland–it was to be the last adventure with my aunt—a sad
truth that at the time, neither of us could have seen or known.

The trip which was just another in a list of adventures actually became more
of a pilgrimage.

God spoke very clearly to me during that tirp.
I’ve written about that before.

It just so happened that during that trip,
I became aware of an obscure 12th-century Irish archbishop and later saint,
Saint Malachy.

I love a good historical mystery—don’t you?

It seems that St. Malachy was a bit of a prophet regarding the seat of Peter.

According to Irish Central, In 1139, then Archbishop Malachy went to Rome from Ireland
to give an account of his affairs.
While there he received a strange vision about the future that included the name of every pope,
112 in all from his time, who would rule until the end of time.
We are now at the last prophecy.

The prediction in full is: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there
will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations,
after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will
judge the people.
The End.”

The father of the current pope [Pope Francis] was Peter, or Pietro,
and was from Italy even though the family moved to Argentina.

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/st-malachy-prophecy-pope-francis

During the trip, while in County Donegal, the original home to my aunt’s grandparents,
I had wandered into a small shop where an obscure little book caught my attention.
Prophecies of St Malachy & Columbkille

I already knew a great deal about St Columba (Columbkille) who hailed from
County Donegal and spent his life evangelizing the pagan Celtic lands of both
Ireland and Scotland, but Malachy was new to me.

Intrigued, I bought the book.

And so I ask you…
Is the global Church not under dire persecution?
Has the seat of Peter not been hated through the ages by
both Believer and nonbeliever?

Are Malachy’s words mere coincidence?
I don’t know.
Maybe.

Only time will tell.

So recently, at a low moment following the fresh riots in Atlanta and months of pandemic lockdown,
I sent an almost desperate email to a dear friend in Ireland.

This friend is a fierce Believer who I know hears very clearly the spoken word of God–
something I myself often struggle to hear.

I asked him what might God be telling us during these such trying times.

He waited quite some time before sending a response as he wanted
to hear clearly a true answer to my question.

His response was a balm to my soul…
I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing a portion of his reply…

“God is in control.
We are down to the bare bones.
Your faith is being tested.
God says I AM THAT I AM—this has been known since before time–
since before you were born.
While God did not create the situation, He is control of it.
I know that’s hard to believe when you are in the thick of it but you need to think back
on all the times you personally have known [that] God has moved in your life.
This is it Julie it is your maker and He wants you to tune out of this world
and focus on Him.
Not an easy thing to do but He is there amid all the chaos and lies and anger
and pain.
God sent his only son for you and me and all who would believe.
His love knows no bounds.
He is in control for you and your family– for me and my family– He will not let you down.
I know He has not failed me, even though I fail constantly.’
Keep the faith.
Know that God, Jesus the Holy Spirit are always with you and your family…”

So yes, these are depressing and frightening times…much like that stupid song.
And yes, the Chruch is in turmoil…as well as conveniently shuttered when
her flock needs her most…
Are we truly in the end times…?
I can’t say.
It feels like it but then again, previous generations have felt much the same
as we feel now.

But in the end, one truth remains…God is still God and I am not.

Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless
the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold,
my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way.

St. Jerome


(sheep farm, Killarny Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Firstly—- I read the following July 4th post written by our freind and
most knowledgeable Christian sister IB.

As I read it, I felt warm tears falling down my cheeks.

I too have most recently deeply felt her words.
A sense of pleading that our Chruch leadership does what they are entrusted to do…
that being to lead their flocks—come hell or high water.
Not cower in the corner of current ideologies…

A day later, I read a post by our dear friend and former Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden..
A post that mirrored IB’s thoughts and words but simply written from across the pond.

I’ve cut and copied both posts here.
I hope their words will touch your spirit.

We Aren’t going to “Get Our Freedom Back…”

So listen, I don’t want to sound uncharacteristically somber and serious,
nor do I want people to think I’m a total conspiratress.
I am you know, I do love a good conspiracy theory.
The problem being this isn’t a “theory,” it’s simply common sense.
So, I just want to say, those who are waiting patiently for things to “get back to normal,”
it ain’t happening. It ain’t going to happen.

Those who seem to believe if we just comply enough, just cooperate enough,
just do everything they say, (wear your mask you idiot,
so we can all open back up again) it ain’t going to happen.

If you’re waiting for covid 19 to go away, it ain’t going to happen either.
We could get down to no cases anywhere and there’s another “pandemic” right around
the corner waiting for us.
The media is already on it.

Government and public health officials are already trying to say we’re going to have
to wear masks for years, certainly until we get a mandatory vaccine.
Besides, flu season is coming this fall…

Never in the history of ever has anyone in government voluntarily relinquished
power over others that they have managed to attain.
The only way to get our freedom back is to stop playing the game,
stop the charades, and stop buying into the fear.
We have to say “no,” and we have to say it somewhat collectively.
None of this can continue without our consent.

I’m pleading with Christians who are just sitting there quietly accepting
a ban on singing in church. C’mon on people, some part of you knows this is not okay.
The power of life and death is in our tongues, it says that in the Bible.
If we believe those words, if the singing we do actually means something,
then we have to realize that shutting down churches, mandating we all wear masks,
and telling us it’s too dangerous to sing our praises, are all huge red flags.

I’m pleading with everyone who has ever felt the “benevolent” hand of government,
anyone who still carries trauma from those experiences.
C’mon people, we all know what this is.
It smells just like history trying to repeat itself.
It’s a power play.

We flattened the curve!
Heck, we shut down unused field hospitals and laid people off from our hospitals.
We did not get our freedom back.
We shut our businesses down, we bought the hand sanitizer,
we put on the masks, and we stayed home and we still did not get our freedom back.
It ain’t going to happen. Freedom once taken is not something you just “get” back.
There will be no passively sitting around and waiting for our freedom to be politely
returned to us once we’ve met all the requirements.

We met the requirements. So they just moved the goalposts.
They will continue to do so.

We aren’t going to “get” our freedom back, like it will just be passively
and nicely returned to us based on our compliance. That is a big lie, a total deception,
and has never happened anywhere, in the history of ever. Frankly,
I’m a bit embarrassed people still believe that. Not even God Himself,
and He is Holy, just, and perfect, just “gives” us freedom.
He may open the door to our prison, tear down the walls, and coax us out,
but even then we have to walk out under our own steam.
Or crawl.
Whatever works.
The point being, it is extremely rare we ever get anything without first opening
our hand and reaching out for it.

Jan 22, 2020, is when all of this began in my state.
We are going on seven months now! 7 months. A quarantine is for the sick,
not the healthy, and it should last about two weeks.
To quarantine the healthy is simply tyranny.

Such notions often put me at odds with friends, family,
even some churches. The problem being, I know I’m right,
I know that everything I see points in the direction I am observing.
We get our freedom back when we stop voluntarily consenting to hand it over.
That easy, that simple.

Happy Independence Day!
https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/we-arent-going-to-get-our-freedom-back/

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

The state and the Church have a history in our country.
The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.
It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy
of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state.
Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life.
While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more
complex contest for a system of values fought in a variety of states
with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar,
through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin,
the contest for setting the values by which human beings live,
across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign.
Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between
two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity.
All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable.
The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises
the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

Christians are rightly wary that the in 21st C there is no reason for thinking
that the contest has been suspended. Fascism’s toll of Christians (and Jews)
in Germany and Spain was horrendous but dwarfed by the toll wreaked
by the Soviet Union and Marxist China.

In each period of attrition, the sign that the struggle to the death
had begun was the control of Churches and worship by the authorities.

The beginning of this century has exposed the oncoming depth and intensity
of a cultural revolution of values that are inimical to the faith in the west
and suddenly out of nowhere, for medical rather than political reasons,
the state suddenly closes the churches and prohibits worship.

There are three patterns of Christian response.
The first is the highly secularized and spiritually incompetent one, which says,
“places don’t matter; your private thoughts are everything,
corporate worship is overrated.
We are not worrying about the implications for a weakened church losing financial
and philosophical traction becoming ever more bankrupt in both.
There is nothing to see here, move on, don’t fuss.”

The second response, more literate historically but still
underdeveloped spiritually says “yes it’s a terrible sign that that the churches
have been down unilaterally. Yes, it looks authoritarian and apocalyptic,
but check out the facts. It was a pandemic.
It was medicine and science, not politics.
Calm down.
Nothing to worry about.”

The third group is more inclined to the view,
“if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck,
it may well be a duck”.
There is no value free science; everything has a political dimension;
more importantly, everything has a spiritual temperature,
character and metaphysical flavour or dynamic.
Whether there was intentionality or not, the state took upon itself the right
to close churches, prohibit worship, and deny the autonomy of personal
choice and informed conscience. And although this was a temporary measure (it seems)
it set a precedent which should have been exposed, challenged and repudiated.”

This is not the place to argue that the science on singing, water droplets
and infection is contested, as is the nature of the virus itself.
But it is the place to make common cause with Lord Sumtion and vociferously claim
that civil liberties require us to make a distinction between those who want to withdraw
from public life in order to protect themselves in a situation that is scientifically
and medically ambiguous, and those who chose to take certain risks congruent with a
personal value system and the dictates of their conscience.

It is the place to say that Christians do not recognise the power or authority of
the state to prohibit gathering for worship in ways that are not
medically or scientifically lethal or antisocial.

It is the place for insisting that the bar that state has to cross to
outlaw worship, close churches and outrage Christian conscience is considerably
perhaps impossibly higher than the secular state recognises.

It is, therefore, a legal and moral duty for the Church to challenge
the jurisprudential and ethical authority of the state to have set a precedent
in the authoritarian closing of churches and prohibition of worship.

It is for this reason that Christian Concern and a number of Church leaders
(amongst whom I am the least) have issued a challenge to the government by means
of judicial review to test the legality of this programme of church closure.

Further, if the legal challenge should be lost, many of us believe that Christians
could argue that we had a moral and ethical duty to refuse to acknowledge
the legitimacy of unjust law that not only acted as a threat to civil rights
and liberties that our forebears fought so hard to defend, but also struck
at the heart of our religious, spiritual and moral allegiance and identity.
https://ashenden.org/2020/07/06/the-state-closure-of-churches-and-civil-disobedience/

In the sound of silence

I posted this on Good Friday, three years ago 2017…

“On Good Friday last year the SS found some pretext to punish 60 priests
with an hour on “the tree.”
That is the mildest camp punishment.
They tie a man’s hands together behind his back, palms facing out and fingers pointing backward.
Then they turn his hands inwards, tie a chain around his wrists and hoist him up by it.
His own wight twists his joints and pulls them apart…
Several of the priest who were hung up last year never recovered and died.
If you don’t have a strong heart, you don’t survive it.
Many have a permanently crippled hand.”

Jean Bernard, Priestblock 25487: a Memoir of Dachau


(worn grave marker, Rock of Cashel / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook)

“Despite our earnest efforts, we couldn’t climb all the way up to God.
So what did God do? In an amazing act of condescension, on Good Friday,
God climbed down to us, became one with us.

The story of divine condescension begins on Christmas and ends on Good Friday.

We thought, if there is to be business between us and God, we must somehow get up to God.

Then God came down, down to the level of the cross, all the way down to the depths of hell.

He who knew not sin took on our sin so that we might be free of it.

God still stoops, in your life and mine, condescends.
“Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” he asked his disciples,
before his way up Golgotha.
Our answer is an obvious, “No!”

His cup is not only the cup of crucifixion and death,
it is the bloody, bloody cup that one must drink if one is going to get mixed up in us.
Any God who would wander into the human condition,
any God who has this thirst to pursue us, had better not be too put off by pain,
for that’s the way we tend to treat our saviors.
Any God who tries to love us had better be ready to die for it.
As Chesterton writes, “Any man who preaches real love is bound to beget hate…
Real love has always ended in bloodshed.”

William H. Willimon,
Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross

Ode to our nefarious founding….

Nowhere in the Constitution are we asked to let everyone in
world enter this country.
“The United States, allegedly steeped in the white supremacist ideology of the nefarious founding,
has been more welcoming to strangers than any nation in the world, and it’s not even close.”

David Harsanyi
Former Senior Editor at The Federalist.


(Snidely Whiplash from Dudley Do-Right and Rocky and Bullwinkle)

This morning, I took my husband for another epidural for his back.
The last one worked pretty well for a couple of months so we’re hoping for a longer
period of pain-free walking and movement….

Ode to the years of having spent playing football.

And speaking of ode…

As I sat waiting, I opted to use my time reading the day’s news feed from the Federalist.
The Federalist is an on-line news site whose tag line is
“Be lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray.”

I love freedom and I’m up for any sort of good old fashioned fray…

I scrolled through the stories clicking to read an article about the growing
new left in Ireland’s political world…
that being the rising of an old, somewhat dubious IRA related ‘party,’
with a new trendy feel, Sinn Fein.

Ireland and her “troubles” have always troubled my soul.
I was in college when either Newsweek or Time Magazine did a story about the children
caught in the crosshairs of waring countries.
Countries such as Ireland who seemed to be living out an everlasting ‘civil’ war.

Civil wars trouble me.

There is noting civil about a nation ripped asunder.

Think of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s 1936 painting depicting Spain’s civil war…
a nation devouring herself.
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)


(Philadelphia’s Museum of Art)

Scrolling through the stories which followed, there was one in particular that caught my eye.
In part because I often watch the Tucker Carlson Show.

The story was titled:
‘Tucker Carlson Is Absolutely Right About Ilhan Omar / Even if he’s wrong about immigration’

The story is by David Harsanyi who happens to be the son of 1st generation immigrant parents.

And since I am not a fan of a certain dismissive immigrant congresswoman who sneers at the
roots and foundation of the very nation she now serves, I continued reading…

Here is a snippet from the article:

When my parents came to the United States as refugees in 1968, for instance,
they were asked to renounce communism—because collectivism, like Islamism or fascism
or any authoritarianism, is antithetical to American principles.
Any newcomers in 1968 who believed the United States was guilty of crimes against
the proletariat, and praised Pol Pot or Castro, would not have been a quality immigrant.

This is one reason we still give newcomers citizenship tests.
We want them not only to comprehend our foundational ideas, but to adopt them.
Whether or not this nation consistently lives up to those values (far from it) is irrelevant.
There’s no country in human history born without sin.
Yet only Americans are asked to engage in daily acts of contrition for their past.

Some people might have you believe their partisan hobbyhorses—like “economic patriotism,”
for example—are American ideals. They aren’t. Having the right to protect yourself,
your family, and your property without asking permission from the state is an American ideal.
Religious freedom is an America ideal. Being able to live life without being coerced to
participate in groupthink is an American ideal. Uninhibited free expression
is an American ideal.
The right of communities to live without being impelled by a majoritarian democracy
to adopt centralized policies is central tenet of American governance.

Social mores change. Not our core governing principles.
Now, you may find all this eye-rolling earnestness both antiquated and puerile,
which seems to be the case with Omar and most of her progressive allies.
But then you have a new set of principles you want to enact,
not the traditional ones some of us want to preserve.

When Carlson argues that the very fact Omar —
a refugee from one of the most violent places on Earth, Somalia —
can rise to become, at only 36,
one of the most famous members of Congress is the best argument against her critique of America,
he has good point. Omar has more influence than 99 percent of her co-citizens.
She is a testament to an open and free society.
Her words are not.

Believing that the United States is defined by racism and economic injustice
doesn’t make Omar a bad immigrant, only a silly human being.
Importing anti-Semitic beliefs from the broader Islamic world,
on the other hand, makes her an unassimilated American.

Being critical of foreign intervention doesn’t make Omar un-American,
but talking about servicemen who sacrificed their lives fighting Somalian warlords
at Battle of Mogadishu as if they were terrorists does.
In the same way, dismissing the Islamic extremists who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 as
“some people who did something”—because it’s “Islamophobic”
to point out facts—makes her ungrateful.

With so many people coming here, it is within the purview of the citizenry
to make decisions about who enters and who doesn’t.
And it is perfectly legitimate—although probably not very practical—for us to
try and discern what ideological baggage is brought with them.

Certainly there is nothing “nauseatingly racist” about bring critical of Omar,
or pondering the potential downsides of mass immigration.
This lazy smear so overused it’s become virtually meaningless.
(Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recently insinuated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
was a racist for criticizing her.)
And not just by politicians, but pundits, as well.

At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf claims that Carlson suggested
“that because Omar came here as a child, she doesn’t have the right to voice critical
opinions about America.”
You can read the Fox News host’s comments yourself,
but nowhere does he propose anything of the sort.
What does seem to be happening, though, is that some people are given special dispensation
from criticism and debate. And that is a genuinely un-American idea.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/11/tucker-carlson-absolutely-right-rep-ilhan-omar/

While reading the opening of the article about 1968 era immigrants being asked to denounce various
ideologies such as Communism and as to why we continue to give newcomers a citizenship test
before “making” them new citizens, I was struck by the similarities between those who opt
to choose Christianity, being asked to renounce a sinful self before taking on the
new birth through Christ.

We are told that we cannot serve two masters.

It’s an either or sort of situation.

We have many up and coming politicians who think they can serve opposing ideologies while
claiming to be for all things democratic—an ideology that does not, cannot, co-exist
with opposing thinking.

It won’t work.

Abortions will not work.
More government will not work.
Socialism will not work.
Militant feminism will not work.
Progressive liberalism will not work.
Anarchy will not work.

Come November, Americans will choose either or…
but for those of us of Fatih…the ‘either or’ is more lasting than simply another four more years.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in
your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 ESV