If I were queen for a day

Monarch of all I survey — Mo–na-a-a–a-arch Of all I survey!
the Lion singing
If I were King of the Forest
from the Wizard of Oz


(Queen Elizabeth’s Emprial Crown)

If I were Queen for a day…
I’d give them what they want.

Their freedom.

They want to carry no burden of duty while desiring
all freedom from responsibilities…

I’d strip them of their titles.
I’d cut all funding, entitlement, privileges, and perks.
Fly economy I say.
Put in a home security system, setting your own agenda
and hope for the best.

Come home for the holidays if you’d like, or not.

Last name you say?…
Well, no longer Sussex, not even Windsor
but perhaps Mountbatten.

As Monarch, I know that one cannot have
one’s cake and eat it too…we saw how that worked
once for a distant French cousin.

I also know that sometimes giving someone what they
think they want is the best lesson learned.
A hard lesson that makes for a lasting impression.

For better or worse, birth into this family is shadowed by burden.
Duty.
Service.
Obligation.
Constancy.
Accountability.
Commitment.

Not all have done it well.
One before you also chose to go.
Torn between want versus responsibility.
Others have relished in the gifts while forgoing the noble route.

I have borne the disappointments alone.
My hopes rested in you, your brother and cousins.
Learning the lessons your parents failed to learn.

Sometimes loving someone means allowing them to have what
they so desperately think they want–
Yet knowing that it will not end well and is not what they
actually need.

To lead is hard.
To love is even harder

If I Were King

I often wish I were a King,
And then I could do anything.

If only I were King of Spain,
I’d take my hat off in the rain.

If only I were King of France,
I wouldn’t brush my hair for aunts.

I think, if I were King of Greece,
I’d push things off the mantelpiece.

If I were King of Norroway,
I’d ask an elephant to stay.

If I were King of Babylon,
I’d leave my button gloves undone.

If I were King of Timbuctoo,
I’d think of lovely things to do.

If I were King of anything,
I’d tell the soldiers, “I’m the King!”

A.A. Milne

And I thought ‘woke’ meant something you did after sleep

In 2020, Americans are going to be forced to choose between two opposing visions:
the pro-American vision of President Abraham Lincoln
and the deeply anti-American vision of the modern left…
The modern left’s outlook is radically different from —
and deeply hostile toward — the classic definitions of
American liberty and history.

Newt Gingrich

Yep, it’s hard to keep up if you’re of a certain age.
And perhaps even harder if you make the conscious decision to abstain from
social media…
Because it appears that social media is THE place to learn all sorts of new words,
both good and bad, and oh so part of our ‘woke’ culture.

According to an article on business2community.com:
The Oxford English Dictionary has added a plethora of new words to their online database.
Those searching their dictionary can now find the definitions of words such
as “woke,” “hygge” and “post-truth,” which they named last year’s Word of the Year.

One of the most notable entries for many on social media was “woke,”
a slang entry that was met with both praise and backlash.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “woke” as:
well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination
and injustice; frequently in stay woke (often used as an exhortation).

In later use perhaps popularized through its association with
African-American civil rights activism
(in recent years particularly the Black Lives Matter movement),
and by the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu,
in which the words I stay woke serve as a refrain.
In addition to having an original meaning of simply “awake,” the adjectival “woke”
has been around far longer than some may think.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest use in a figurative sense was
in a 1962 New York Times article.
Titled “If You’re Woke, You Dig It,”
it “describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time.”
The term is now widely used to challenge others to be more aware of
injustices in the world.

It seems that the folks of all things dictionary, be that Merriam-Webster, Oxford or others,
have actually added 600 new words this past year.

At this rate, my communication skills will no longer be woke but more like asleep…

And I for one find such words stupid…as in dumb, useless and if the truth be told, lazy–
as they are nothing more than slang.

There already exist some pretty great civil descriptors out there–
of which mean very much the same.
Yet I wonder…is it because these existing words are more pointed and
seemingly painfully direct…Because we know this progressive culture of ours is actually
afraid of pointed, direct and painful.

And as a small aside, might I just add that I am sick and tired of hearing,
seeing, reading the ‘F’ word at every turn. We went to the movies last evening
to see the movie 1917 and in the very first preview of coming movies, Will Smith opened
the preview spouting off the F word…sigh…
And despite my having written many a post of the use of vulgar slang as being now
acceptable, I am digressing…

So all this talk of culture, words, and of being woke had me thinking when I caught
the following article by Newt Gingrich.

If anyone out there is woke (please note that my Grammarly correction wants that to read ‘is waking’),
I would think it would be Newt.
As a history professor, author, historian and former Speaker of the House,
Newt knows a thing or two when he looks back while looking forward.

Here are a few tidbits from his latest article followed by a link for the full
story.

Newt Gingrich: In 2020, Abraham Lincoln will be controversial and divisive.
(Yes, Lincoln!) Here’s why

Lincoln clearly admitted that the work of freedom was unfinished and that we owe it to those
who gave their lives to continue the work of extending and improving liberty for all people.
In fact, Lincoln said it is our duty to extend “under God, … a new birth of freedom.”

(Of course, the anti-religious left would scoff at the reference to God.
Yet, both Lincoln and Washington shared a belief that America existed because of
Divine Providence’s benevolence.)

We have moved from government of the people to government of the experts.

The gap between Lincoln’s belief in the people and the contempt elitists such
as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,
have for those who Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” tells you a lot about the gap
between Lincoln’s values and the values of the modern American left.

One of the great challenges for the Trump administration and its allies is
to re-center government on Lincoln’s values and dismantle the elitist
“bureaucrats know best” model that now defines so much of our government.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2020-abraham-lincoln-controversial-newt-gingrich

guarding faith from assault

“When we attend to the needs of those in want,
we give them what is theirs, not ours.
More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great


(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)

Some people who think themselves naturally gifted don’t want to touch either
philosophy or logic.
They don’t even want to learn natural science.
They demand bare faith alone—as if they wanted to harvest grapes right away without putting
any work into the vine.
We must prune, dig, trellis, and do all the other work.
I think you’ll agree the pruning knife, the pickaxe, and the farmer’s tools are necessary
for growing grapevines, so that they will produce edible fruit.
And as in farming, so in medicine: the one who has learned something is the one who has
practiced the various lessons, so that he can cultivate or heal.
And here, too, I say you’re truly educated if you bring everything to bear on the truth.
Taking what’s useful from geometry, music, grammar, and philosophy itself,
you guard the Faith from assault.”

St. Clement of Alexandria, p. 13
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

reign of terror

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people,
whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

―Maximilien Robespierre

Robespierre’s quote seems sensible enough…
for I’d bet we can all agree that an education does truly open minds.

But opens to what?

On the flip side to that opening of ignorant minds to that of knowledge,
would it not then depend on the education that is being provided…
provided to give this particular gift of knowledge?

So when it is a state-run, state-funded institution offering said education,
aka the knowledge provider, well then…
I suppose you get a state’s worth of education/knowledge…be that for good or bad.

Thus we shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there might be just a wee tad of skewing
buried in all that educating…a skewing that leans back toward the state…but I digress.

Today’s thoughts are not exactly about education…
or maybe they actually are…I’ll let you decide that once you take all of this in…
as to whether or not you learn something…be it good or bad.

Today’s post is really just a post about a particular type of lesson…
a lesson which focuses on a new and troubling trend.

The other day I read a rather interesting article by Newt Gingrich.

Now you can say what you will about the former Speaker of the House,
but being a close friend of the Speaker’s late first wife and mother to his two daughters,
I can certainly say my fair share…
however, I will say what she always graciously said…” he may be a lot of things but out of
all those things, he is extremely smart…”
She even would often use the word brilliant…

Despite having every right to say some other choice and more fitting words…
my friend would always opt to share the good by choosing to offer a positive
observation. And in this case, it was certainly true.

So with that being said, we should know that the Speaker, in turn, knows his stuff…
especially when it comes to his passions…
and those passions are history and politics.

So in this recent article, Mr. Gingrich shares both his knowledge
and passion with regards to a dangerous opening of Pandora’s box by the Democratic party.

The article’s opening sentence says it all:
“a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) wrote an article for
Vox explaining the movement’s goals –
to end capitalism and radically change America.”

It seems that Mr. Gringrich is concerned, as well we all should be,
with this current growing trend in the Democratic Party…
the trend of a hatching of a hybrid in the guise of youth, vigor, newness, and relativism…
that being the Democratic Socialists.

Let those two words sink in slowly…
Democratic + Socialist.

Democratic + Socialist = a demon in the making

Or so says our professor for the day, Professor Gingrich.
(who did indeed teach college classes)

I never thought I’d live long enough to hear Socialism as a viable option in the US
coming from those other than odd little fringe groups…
so maybe hell is indeed freezing over because these youthful, truly ignorant, idealist
candidates are actually being elected.

And I suppose we can thank Bernie Sanders for unlocking this proverbial box and
gleefully lifting the lid.
But I suspect our thanks can go back even farther than Mr. Sanders.

Gingrich goes on to quote Meagan Day, a member of the East Bay Chapter of DSA,
as saying “in the long run, Democratic Socialists want to end capitalism.”

Who else vehemently denounced capitalism???… Let’s think…
What did our history lessons teach us?
Was is Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, the Bolsheviks, the Communists…?

Gingrich observes that the recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
who defeated a senior Democrat in New York City’s 14th Congressional District
as now going on a whirlwind media tour,
spreading the gospel of socialism.

This explicit goal of ending capitalism makes clear what Ocasio-Cortez meant when she
said cryptically in a recent interview, that
“capitalism has not always existed in the world,
and it will not always exist in the world.”

This is a clear threat to the system which has made us prosperous and the envy of the world,
but I appreciate the honesty.
Ultimately, the United States is a democratic republic.”

But Gingrich actually prefers to look further back to a different Nation that underwent
its own revolution of change…
all the way back to the French Revolution.

He does so because he notes that “however, the second notable item in Day’s
article suggests that Democratic Socialists don’t value democracy all that much.
Day also identified herself as a staff writer at a New York-based,
socialist magazine called Jacobin.
In fact, several members of the Democratic Socialists of America are writers and
editors at Jacobin magazine.”

And so who cares whether or not a magazine opts to name itself Jacobin
or that there are those who desire to identify themselves as Jacobian?

Gingrich continues with our history lesson…

The Jacobins were the most violent and radical political group of the French Revolution.
Led by Maximilien Robespierre, the group responded to a growing backlash against
the revolution by executing anyone their so-called Committee of Public Safety
deemed insufficiently loyal.

Gingrich makes note that the estimate is that over 40,000 people were beheaded by the
guillotine for being considered in opposition to the Jacobian rule.
Gingrich then shares a moving true story about a play which he and his wife attended
a few years ago that told the story of a group of nuns who were beheaded for not
denouncing their faith and adhering to the Jacobian way…

“A few years ago, Callista and I saw “Dialogues of the Carmelites”
at the Washington National Opera.
It is a moving, true story of the Carmelite nuns who refused to denounce Christ at
the peak of the Reign of Terror.
(The French Revolution was virulently anti-Catholic –
many churches were closed and reopened as “Temples of Reason.”)
The nuns were beheaded for their unwillingness to denounce their faith.
Moments before the guillotine dropped,
they displayed the power of God’s love by singing hymns and renewing their vows.

A few years later we visited the Picpus Cemetery in Paris.
It holds the graves of the martyred nuns and more than 1,300 victims of the Terror
in a six-week period of 1794.
It is a very sober reminder of what the Jacobins did during the Reign of Terror.
It is not a record for which any American should advocate.”

And so if you’re one to think that all that is in the past…these are just superficial
coincidences Gingrich cautions…
“It is hard to imagine a modern-day Reign of Terror happening in America.
But consider the recent phenomenon of outrage mobs on social media demanding people
be fired and ostracized for expressing un-PC points of view.

Think about the left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative
voices from speaking.
Think about the rash of people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats.
Think about the violence of Antifa.

Perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine.”

So perhaps those new demons who are currently being unleashed from this newly unlocked box
shouldn’t be so full of themselves as it would behoove them to remember the fates of previous
generations and their revolutionaries…

Trotsky was assassinated by means of an icepick when Stalin sent the secret
police to Mexico to find him.
While Robespierre’s very own Committee of Public Saftey turned on him…
arresting him, placing him in the very cell where he had once sent Marie Antoinette
as he eventually met the same fate with the guillotine.

So before these new “socialists” begin claiming a new day in this brave new world, a look back to
a history lesson just might be in order… they might be surprised who it is crying
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/08/18/newt-gingrich-democrats-have-no-idea-what-demons-are-unleashing.html

the small gift of the holidays— or when a cousin comes to visit

“It’s an universal law–
intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education.
An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience,
whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(the cousins on the couch resting after the big meal / Julie Cook / 2017)

With the arrival of this almost two month long “holiday” season–that time
prior to Thanksgiving, of which usually is now ushered in just following Halloween,
with the big lead up to feasting and fellowshipping—
all the way to just after New Years, with its big exhale and let down…
many of us will experience the comings and goings of family and friends
those who come home to roost or those who are simply passing through.

Perhaps it’s us who are the ones doing the visiting…
making those often precarious trips here, there and yon

Either way…all sorts of folks are coming and going.

College students return home.
Schools shut down for the holidays
Work schedules become erratic.
Vacations begin…
Things just become topsy turvy… for what was once just a couple of weeks
to something now which has morphed into almost a 2 month celebration.

As a kid, do you remember having family come visit for the holidays…
or maybe you were the one traveling with family to do the visiting?

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins…. folks you wouldn’t have seen but
maybe once or twice a year,
but folks who your parents would read you the riot act over….
Strongly reminding you as to what it means to being kind, patient, polite
and not to grouse when having to share your toys, your room, your time,
your space–or to, in turn, tolerate having to be the recipient of perhaps
the not so most hospitable relative.

Older great aunts who would pinch your cheeks, kissed your face with bright red lipstick
as their extra strong perfume lingered cloyingly in your nostrils….
Or of that very loud and very obnoxious uncle who just made for awkward conversation…
yet would always slip you a dollar when no one was watching.

You could see your dad biting his tongue, your mom “playing nice” and you’d figure
if they could handle it, you could handle the little cousin who constantly
followed you around the house while your older cousin hid your favorite stuffed animal while having to sit by that aunt who insisted on your trying her best pickled ham casserole.

Family…friends…visiting—it’s what the holidays bring.

And therein lies the hidden gift of the holidays…

I thought about all of this today when I finally sat down,
exhausted from the days of lead up cooking and the few hours of cleaning
for what amounts to about a 20 minute meal…
when looking at our son and daughter-n-law’s dog, Alice the grand-dog, who had jumped
up on one the end of the couch, making herself at home,
home on the end that one of our cats, Peaches, stakes out as her own.

Disgusted, she left the room.

Percy however was not to be displaced.
He loves his mother and doesn’t want to share her with his usurper cousin….
so he jumped up and settled in right by my side—

17 pounds of cat verses 85 pounds of black lab….both wanting, needing, to be
by the one they look to for food, comfort and security.
Yet not particularly caring for one another.

And so they tolerate one another…they share their space, albeit it precariously.
They “play nice” to coexist in close proximity because they are “family”—
like it or not.

Alice is here until Monday.
Percy is here for the duration.
Yet they will make the best of this not so favorable situation of time
because this time of year, these holidays just bring out the better, the kinder,
the more generous in us all.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting
to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great,
and you will be children of the Most High,
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:35-36

God’s perspective verses man’s

I never give God thanks for loving me, because he cannot help it;
whether he would or no it is his nature to.

Mester Eckhart


(a stormy surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

An aged man, whom Abraham hospitably invited to his tent,
refused to join him in prayers to the one spiritual God.
Learning that he was a fire-worshiper,
Abraham drove him from his door.
That night God appeared to Abraham in a vision and said:
“I have borne with that ignorant man for seventy years;
could you not have patiently suffered him one night?

The Talmud

I must decrease

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability
to see your worth.”

Anonymous


(a broken stem of blooming rhododendron floats across the lake / Julie Cook / 2017)

Over the course of the past couple of weeks following Dad’s death,
I am finding my world shifting.
There is so much to do, but it is vastly different from what I had been doing.
From the endless driving to the running of errands, the picking up of meds,
to the seeing of doctors, nurses, hospitals…
to buying groceries, paying bills and lastly, to sitting a sad and difficult vigil.

Now all of that is different.

There is change.

There are messes that now need sorting.
There are still many bills…as bills don’t die when we die.
This part of the process is hard, laborious and full of uncertainties.
Much like before, there are open ended questions and
just like in that time of before where there was transition,
so too a shift of all that is has become most apparent.

For now it is a matter of picking up the pieces…
the pieces that fell when Dad took his last breath…
And now a good many of those pieces simply leave me less then thrilled
that I must even tend to them.

There will be more on all of this once the dust settles..
and that might be in several months…

But the change has made me think.
The caregivers who had seen me every single day for the past several months see me now
about 2 to 3 times a week if that…as there is a shift in family dynamics…
So there is mourning and frustration in the change…
They continue to look to me to direct the course of the ship…
Despite my now being sole overseer of all that was and all that remains…
I have stepped back with a controlled intent.

There are lessons here…and some are hard…for all involved.
There has been frustration and even resentment…
but I know God’s hand is the actual hand which still guides this ship.
I am learning to be still, silent and serving as I wait.

I don’t understand it all.

Yet I wrestle with sorrow and absence mixed with a dose of bitter anger
all directed toward the man who I just lost…
He’s gotten us in a bit of a pickle with poor and selfish choices..
as I’m seeing just how much he didn’t consider the after effects….
This as I have to put his discarded pieces back together again…
because as I said…in death we, nor any of our messes, readily disappear.

However, this morning as I sat in another day’s nightmare now known
as Atlanta’s traffic disaster, the words echoed by the Baptist flooded my head…
“He must increase as I must decrease….”

As I ponder my role in regards to the caregivers and my stepmother…
all which is decreasing…
Much to the chagrin of those caregivers.
However their roles in our lives will end when April ends.
They will then move on elsewhere to new assignments.

For good or bad there is change.
And there is decrease…
while others and other things must increase….

But as for me, when all is said and done, to remain faithful…
To feel God’s hand steadying my shoulder lest I step out or speak out of turn
in unbridled harsh emotion as…

continued lessons during this holiest of weeks come readily into focus…..

The one who comes from above is above all;
the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth.
The one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God,
for God gives the Spirit without limit.
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:30-36