I know our problem


(sun coming up /Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ve been chatting a great deal, as of late, about the current state of events
taking place around this Nation of ours.

Not a great deal of positives to report–or so say the news outlets…
or so say many of us average observers.

Because according to anything newsy, the sky is falling, the Russians are coming,
the White Supremacists are already here, everyone is a racist and if you support the
President of the United States of America, you are to be immediately outed via all things social media,
shamed, tarred, feathered and branded a deplorable, annihilated and readily destroyed…
plain and simple.
Heck, they wanted to make a movie about that very thing.

100 years ago such news would have been met with shrieks of laughter or the
hushed tones of berating to never say such heresy.

Sigh.

The other thing I’ve been chatting on and off about is the state of the Chruch
(be it the Chruch on either side of the pond)—
As in there’s been a big sell-out by denominations and clergy…all opting to follow the culture
gods and not the God of all Creation.

Happy happy is the key.
Abortions are okayed.
Same-sex marriages are approved, as well as happily conducted in sanctuary after sanctuary.
Gay clergy are a-okay.
Transgenderism is embraced.
The biological concept of male and female is now passe as gender is a fluid notion.
The traditional family is a cumbersome dinosaur and considered obsolete.
Males are to be neutered all because we no longer like strong male figures in the world.
Intolerance is the new tolerance.
Violence is the end to whatever means…
all the while the Chruch turns a blind eye or jumps in willing, into the thick of it all.

Yep, things seem all topsy turvy if you ask me.

And so I think I’ve finally figured out the problem.

At first, I thought the problem was simply that we had become an angry people.

Think Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Neo-Nazis…or even the angry progressive liberal news…
However, I think I’ve actually narrowed things down beyond the mere angry component.

Yes, we are indeed an angry people but that is just a result of our real problem.

The real problem is that we have lost The Sacred.

We have lost our understanding of The Sacred.

We have lost our longing for The Sacred.

We have lost the reality of our very need for The Sacred.

But here’s the thing, The Sacred has not lost us.
Never has.
Never will.

But for us, on the other hand…well…we lost The Sacred like we lose our keys.

We put Him down and can’t seem to remember where we put Him.

And if the truth be told, we don’t care if we find Him or not.

We’ve become so consumed by ourselves that we’ve squeezed the space The Sacred occupied
till there is no space left.

We are smug and arrogant, powered by tremendous appetites and egos…and yes, anger.

And yet I dare must ask… exactly how happy are you?
How content?
How at peace?

And so here’s the thing…it’s not too late to make room in that overly crowded
discontented space.

It will take, however, a little humbling,
a little letting go of that ego and of course that anger…and a simple,
“Dear Father, please hear me…”

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy,
and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

There is never coincidence, not even in the dark of night

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly,
all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God it is not so.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(Pieta in The Cathedral of Notre Dame / Paris, France /Julie Cook / 20118)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’ or dryness
are very important times of growth if we persevere through them by exercising a deeper
faith, hope, and love.
It is particularly important, they tell us,
not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order to come closer to Him,
and we should patiently trust Him during the trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Except From
Fulfillment of all Desire

With God, there are no accidents.
Never.

Even when, in our thinking, a near-irreparable tragedy, of which is a true accident and is
nonetheless horrific and simply unbearable…leaves both our lives and bodies shattered…

We are reminded that God is still very much present.

Yet such a reminder, to those who are living in and with the aftermath,
rings often empty and even bitterly insulting.

Our pain and our anger are both agonizingly palpable.

Yet such moments, more often than not, send even the most staunch religious
and spiritual among us into the depths of deep darkness.
A wasteland of sorrow, loneliness, bitterness and yes, a gnawing and seething anger…

The wasteland can last, for what can seem, an eternity.

Or…on the other hand…perhaps there was no accident…no tragedy…

There was no particular impetus for a sudden wandering into the wasteland of an empty soul…

We simply find ourselves, our souls, suddenly and oddly empty and cold.

At best, our faith remains shallow…
At worst, our faith seems lost forever…

However, we are reminded to hold fast.

To hold on.

Words, which to the hurting, the lost, the lonely, more often than not,
echo of emptiness and even the trite.

It will take a conscious act of totally emptying oneself to all that is.
It will take a complete letting go of all that we know and hold dear.
It will take a blind leap of faith.
It will take a willingness to trust in that which we cannot see while we cling to
a promise given to each of us long ago.

We have a choice…
we can choose to remain lost, bitter or angry.
Or we can cling to the one promise we have…

Be not afraid…

The tragedy, the accident, the sorrow which could not, cannot be prevented…
nor that of the painful results, while one seems to remain caught in the vicious cycle
of pain both physical and spiritual, that results from such situations…
is ours to either keep and hold on to or to let go of while we figure out how to find our way back…home

That is our choice, our conscious decision.

There are no accidents with God, no coincidence.
And when in the desert, He remains steadfast despite a perceived silence.

I say all of this as I am in the midst of reading a book that is a tale
of the horrific, the unthinkable, the unimaginable and yet a tale
of the hope, the healing, and the Saving Grace…
of which far outweighs that of the Evil.

More on this story as time allows.

It does indeed seem empty to say to those who suffer the unimaginable that they must simply
hold on and hold tight…
but that is exactly what we all must be willing to do…
and to “will” ourselves takes a conscious act…

Something Beautiful Happened
A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil
by Yvette Manessis Corporon

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:10-13

ailing?

“Sin separates us from the presence of God”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of Our Silence


(image of a WWII medic’s bag found on pintrest)

Slowly picking my way through David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of Our Silence,
picking as if I was walking ever so slowly and ever so carefully through a thicket of
freshly ripening blackberries…
eyeing the bushes just so as I closely look for the riper and juiciest berries…
so goes my reading.

And whereas time is also a contributing factor to my lack of speed, I seem able only to
take in a page here and a page there…

I’m jumping around a bit as yesterday I offered a look back to our nation’s backstory
as we took a peek back in time to examine the ideals that the pilgrims had brought with them
as they left family, friends, and home an entire ocean behind…
risking everything, including their lives, in search of a place where free worship of
the Creator would be paramount.

Today I’m going to skip ahead in our story, just a tad before I backup again another day
as there is still much that needs to be shared historically as to why we are the nation we are…
or perhaps that is,,, the nation we were…

However, today, as I was taking in a page here and there…
the following quote really jumped out at me…

“We can (and should) talk much about the love of God,
but we are doing the gospel and those who hear us a disservice if we do not also talk
about sin and the wrath of God.”

For you see this is a bit of a recurring theme of mine…
the theme that there is both sin and wrath…
God’s wrath to be precise.

But no one wants to hear about sin, sinful nature, repercussions, a wrathful God, consequences,
etc…
Because instead, we’ve turned all of that into political correctness and tolerance.

David goes on…
“There are many symptoms of the disease (sin), but God has provided a cure (Jesus Christ)
for the cause and has given us a written prescription (the Bible) to follow.
The Great Physician is always on call, so let us speak about the only remedy and
keep referring people to Him!”

Our culture has no idea that it is ailing…no idea that it is truly sick.
It ignores the symptoms, denies the disease, and discredits the Physician
more and more each day.

Any psychologist will tell you that it is human nature to run through some very basic
emotions when confronted with something really bad and or tragic…
with denial being right up there in the earliest stages.

Churchs today are so desperately wanting to cling to dwindling congregations or to a
youthful generation that is heeding the call of the world, so much so that the Churchs are
compromising the entire concept of sin and God’s wrath. Going so far as to offering a
desperately needy and thirsty people a watered down Gospel narrative…having turned it
into a feel good placebo.

No one ever really wants to hear that they are living wrong, immoral, sinful lives…
they’d rather be patted on the head, handed a sucker and told to go scoot off
and keep playing.

But that is not the reality of our world.
It is not the reality of the Chrisitan faith.

If we do not accept sin for what it is…
If we do not admit that we are in need of healing and saving…
then we will incur wrath…

So rather than deal with such, myriads of folks have opted to simply deny any such thing.
No God equals no sin, equals no illness, equals no need, equals blisful ignorance.

And so we, those remnants of the faithful, who understand that sin is sin, death is death,
Satan is real and that healing and saving are paramount… must speak.

We must speak up, out and loud.

David reminds us that opposition to such talk will be a given.
There will be pushback.
There will be ridicule.

But we must remember from whence comes that pushback and ridicule and to where it is actually
directed.

“Most of us understand in today’s culture that living our faith in public will attract
resistance, ridicule, and even hatred.
If we remember our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12),
we will not take it personally when people come against us.
Their problem is with Jesus Christ, not us.”

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12)

the common sense of the obvious

“A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:
a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright.
This is common sense really.
You understand sleep when you are awake, not well you are sleeping.”

C.S. Lewis


(Percy assumes the throne is his…it is not / Julie Cook / 2018)

No, Percy’s name is not Autumn and no that is not Percy’s chair,
it is Autumn’s chair.

Yet Percy thinks that what is Autumn’s is actually and naturally his…
because he was the first baby here in this house and therefore anything that is
for a baby is his by proxy.

In Percy’s brain, that all makes sense.

So the stroller is his…

That’s him underneath.
He prefers to be up top but at the time it was unfortunately occupied.

Autumn’s finnbin is his.
(That Scandinavian baby box I ordered so Autumn can snooze comfortably after her
workout on her play mat…of which is also Percy’s…as in his playmat.

When I’m busy folding clothes on the bed and Autumn is busy snoozing, Percy snoozes too.

So I really don’t understand why Gregory got so upset the other day when one of his very
expensive hearing aids disappeared and he naturally assumed Percy took it.

Years ago, poor Gregory was involved in a hunting accident and is now totally deaf in one
ear with considerable hearing loss in the other ear.

He gave into hearing aids about 8 years ago and has fussed and cussed them ever since.

They don’t work, despite costing a small fortune.

He’s lost one in the ocean.
He’s lost one someplace else that we can’t remember, otherwise it might not be lost.

Replacing them is a pain and another small fortune.

And so obviously, if Percy sees them say sitting on, say the counter, or by Gregory’s chair or
on the shelf by the shower when Gregory forgot that they were still in his ear when he got
in the shower and had to quickly get them to a dry spot…
Percy just assumes that Gregory has laid them out for him to happily take.

If you are not familiar with hearing aids…they are these tiny, yet expensive little
contraptions you shove into your ears.
They have tiny little batteries and tiny volume controls and they work by amplifying sound.

Unfortunately, Gregory claims they amplify the wrong sounds.

If you’re in a crowded restaurant, they amplify the noisy background chatter rather
than the true target, that being the person sitting across from or next to you…
as in me with whom he’s trying to communicate.

The waiter asks “Sir, how would you like your steak cooked?”

“I’ll have blue cheese thank you.”

With me then having to interject
“he’d like it medium and the blue cheese goes on the salad…”
this as he looks at me as though something happened but he’s just not sure what.

And whereas it can be quite comical and funny…
In actuality, it is very frustrating and equally maddening.

And can, more times than not, make his life just darn miserable.

Anyone who wears hearing aids will certainly testify to such frustration.

As can anyone living with said folks who suffer from hearing loss…
There is simply an awful lot of repeating, yelling, screaming, exasperation
and hands simply being thrown up in the air.

“WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME???”

BECAUSE I SAID IT THREE TIMES AND YOU STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID”

“WELL I’M SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR, REMEMBER!”

“AND DON’T SCREAM AT ME CAUSE YOU’RE HURTING MY EARS!”

It’s a vicious cycle

So I think the real reason as to why Gregory gets so upset when the hearing aids go missing
is not so much because they work, but rather because they cost a small fortune.

And here is where our real story continues…

The other evening Gregory went to take a shower and took out the hearing aids,
placing them on the counter in the bathroom.

One of them mysteriously disappeared.

I say mysteriously because two were there, and then two were not.

It wasn’t until after his shower that he’d come back to the den to watch TV that
he remembered he needed to go back to get his hearing aids.

If he doesn’t put them in while watching TV, the television is turned up so loudly,
I have to leave the room.

Suddenly I heard my name being called in a not so pleasant manner.

I race to the back making certain everything was okay.

“Julie, I can’t find but one of the hearing aids.”
“Percy got it.”

“How do you know Percy got it?”

“Who else would have gotten it?”

“Maybe you didn’t have both of them with you when you took a shower and the other
one is by your chair or still in your pant’s pocket.”

“I already checked the pants and I remember plain as day putting them here on the counter…
plus I remember seeing “him” in here.”

I did not like the way he had said “him” and I wasn’t too keen on how this was going.

I will admit that there have been a few occasions that Percy may have actually taken one
of the hearing aids, thinking of it as some small squeaking creature. And he may have
actually played with it as he would, say, a small creature…
Batting it wildly across the floor and tossing it up in the air as if it was a poor living
creature to be toyed with before a slow torturous death.

I know this because I must confess, I’ve caught him doing such.
My fear being he’d somehow get the battery out and swallow it.

So imagine my then having to fuss when Gregory obviously and carelessly forgets to
securely put away the hearing aids when he takes them out. This in turn potentially allows
for Percy to potentially get a hold of the hearing aids which potentially lead to his swallowing
a battery and potentially having to have some sort of emergency surgery.

Talk about a small fortune.

Plus as his mother, I have to defend this baby.

And so I spent about an hour that night scouring the house looking for said hearing aid.
All the while Gregory kept looking angerly at Percy,
demanding Percy tell him what he had done with the hearing aid.
All the while poor Percy was simply looking innocent as a lamb.

I crawled on the floor, looking eye level across the rugs, peering underneath the couch,
the chairs, the tables.

I didn’t remember the house looking, so, well, dusty and dirty…hummmmmm.

Finally, I gave up for the night because I knew tomorrow was another day.

So…for four long hours the following morning, I looked high and low.

I vacuumed the entire house, I dusted, I swiffered and I carefully looked, while on all fours,
investigating every inch of the house.

I opened closet doors.
I looked under cushions.
I flipped over every pair of shoes.
I debated calling the vets telling them I needed to x-ray Percy’s stomach…
and I even considered the unthinkable…sifting through the litter box.

I called Gregory who was at work, only halfway hearing.

“Gregory, I can’t find it anywhere…”

There were a few choice words I can’t repeat.

So I did what I always do in a crisis.
I prayed.

I prayed earnestly to God…explaining that I knew He knew how expensive the stupid
little things were and that I really needed to find it.

I decided to check under the couch in the living room one more time,
despite having already looked, dusted and vacuumed there twice this
particular day and once the night before.

With flashlight in hand, I got back down on my hands and knees, bent way down
almost on my head, lifted up the kick pleat and shined the flashlight into the far recesses
when low and behold…there it was.
Despite my having already looked three times total under that couch.

Ecstatic, I called Gregory and explained my answered prayer.

His reply was “Good, and when I get home, Percy will be tried in a court of law, my court.
He will be tried to the full extent of the law, my law.
He will be tried and found naturally guilty and punished…better yet, banished.”

Donning my best defense attorney hat, I proceeded to explain that since no one had actually
seen Percy take the hearing aid…let alone seen him take it to his favorite hiding spot
under the couch…the same hiding spot he goes to when, say a “stranger” comes in the house,
and he is afraid…or the same hiding place that his favorite toys often rest.
There is simply no clear-cut obvious explanation…only mere conjecture.

It is therefore only presumption that he is guilty as there was really just no way
to prove that Percy took it as there were no witnesses.
Peaches, the other cat…did not count.

I even threw in the fact that had
Gregory taken better care, putting the hearing aids in their case, it never would have
disappeared in the first place.

I was beginning to walk on thin ice.

But in the end, it’s all really pretty darn obvious is it not?

Who else would have, could have, taken it??
Especially given Percy’s proclivity and track record demonstrating his lack of restraint with
hearing aids, there is a pattern to his madness.

Yet I was simply running with it…to the far reaches of the absurd.

And thus my far out over-reaching is no more absurd then what you and I are hit with on a
daily basis flowing from our progressively insane society.
A society that is happily playing fast and loose with all things truth, common sense and
downright obvious.

I was running with it just like our own politicians, our legal eagle justice system
and even now our entertainers are running off with the obvious as they thrive to live to
shuffle and distort, to rile and defile.

They twist and turn the obvious and the truth around in such a way that they first convince
themselves while wielding their charms to twist the obvious into the oblivious for
everyone else.

And should you or I dare to question or think otherwise…questioning their form of the
“truth” …then you will be punished or even better yet, exiled…
much like Gregory decided to do with Percy…banished.

And I for one have grown weary of it all.

So this little tale about a cat and his hearing aid fetish serves not merely to
entertain us but rather to remind us…reminding us of the absurdity of that which
is currently circulating around us.

It reminds us of the lack of common sense and the twisting of the blatantly obvious
as the culture gods have taken the ultimate Truth and created the absurd.

Because remember, there’s no better way to ellude the average citizen than to
confuse him or her…so that way, no one really cares as to what is really what.

Now how did that stuffed mouse get in my shoe…?

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them;
the sins of others trail behind them.
In the same way, good deeds are obvious,
and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5:24-24

held to a higher standard

“Who stands fast?
Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom,
or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible
action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God- the responsible man,
who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.
Where are these responsible people?”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The notion of being held to a higher standard is a fast and dying concept.

This sad thought came to mind yesterday as I sat on a non-moving interstate with a screaming
3 month old in the back seat.

There were four lanes on this particular stretch of interstate, with a sea of cars and trucks
inching forward here and there by the slightest margins, while drivers kept jockeying for lane
changes.
The jockeying was due to every driver obviously thinking the other lane was actually moving at a
more rapid snail’s pace than their own.

Suddenly a car in the far left lane had the bright idea to cut all the way over,
over the four lanes of jam-packed cars and trucks, making its way to the far-right exit lane
as in right now this very moment…

As in it was suddenly a brilliant idea to stop all four lanes of traffic because this one
selfish bozo was tired of inching.

The tractor-trailer truck behind me was not having it.
He refused to let them in.
And in his defense, this car was being dangerously aggressive in their maneuvering,
giving very little care to anything or anyone around them.

When this car saw that they weren’t going to be allowed to squeeze in, they shot up two spaces
and actually cut off the cars two up from me and proceeded to cut until they flew up the exit ramp…
all the while, an arm was raised out of the open passenger window which was boldly shooting a bird
to each and all.

I use to think we humans were better than this.

Better than this self-centered, defiant, ‘to hell with you’ mentality we have now become so
smugly accustomed to.
A mentality we are readily, happily and eagerly embracing–
not to mention accepting and even expecting.

I was offended and I felt angry.

I could see they were young and of a minority.

And in my having just said that, the PC police out there have just labeled me a bigot, a racist,
probably a homophobic, xenophobic and out an of touch white supremacist right winger.

Shall we talk about labels…?
I digress.

But why should have I felt offended, let alone angry??

Why should I feel mad at someone who was obviously
an obnoxious self-centered thoughtless jerk who gave no-never-mind that they were
putting everyone’s safety in jeopardy just so they could get the hell out of dodge…
not to mention that they were being offensive with the hand gesture.

We use to be better than this right?

And in being better we actually held others up, thinking of one another with a higher
level of esteem and even feeling that we were all being held to a higher standard.

Meaning we should still know better, act better and be better….
but the thing is we aren’t.

Back during a certain day, we were more considerate,
more thoughtful and not so blatantly mean…and heaven’s forbid, blatantly offensive.

We actually use to take things such as politeness, prudence, judiciousness,
expertise, pride in doing one’s best, courtesies and citizenship all for granted.
We were taking all of these characteristics for granted because we simply expected such
from one another.
We were living our lives to those higher standards.

And maybe that’s our problem today.

But why now, why today should any of this be such a problem?
A problem in that we actually once expected more and received more from one another?

Perhaps it’s a problem because our society has become numb and desensitized to what is
offensive, endangering and even uncivil.

It’s as if someone suddenly clicked a switch and all of that changed…we changed.

We use to hold one another to higher standards and we use to hold various professionals to
higher standards.

We use to think of folks like doctors, members of law enforcement, members of the military,
athletes, youth leaders, coaches, members of the clergy, teachers, etc…as exemplary.

These were all folks that should and could always be held to a higher standard.
These folks were to be respected as were their jobs and roles in life.

Be it due to the amount of study or sacrifice that went into their profession…
to the seriousness in which they took their life’s calling…
or maybe simply because theirs was a choice of sacrifice for others.
They gave up their own time and often wellbeing to serve the rest of us.

Whatever the reason, we had a sense of peace with and for these folks.

We respected folks and their positions, their leadership, their expertise, their
learning, their teaching, their care, their giving of self…

But with time, all of that has eroded as scandal upon scandal had chipped away at each
group.

Sexual molestation.
Sexual predation.
Sexual solicitation.
Drug abuse.
Tax evasion.
Embezzling.
Money laundering.
Advantage taking.
Bullying.
Lying.
Cheating.
Abuse.

The sad little list goes on and on.
As we now view these sorts of folks with sideways glances and curious raised eyebrows.

Instead of rising upward or at least expecting to rise upward, we are sinking downward
and we do so with very little thought to it all.

We hear of something scandalous and we are no longer surprised or as outraged
as we once would have been.
We even produce and name television shows over such..as we sickeningly find it all so
entertaining.

And yet movements like all the hashtags, those movements such as #meto,
merely take us from one extreme to another.

And in lies much of our trouble.

We go rabid.

Because it appears as if rationality also left long ago…along with
both its friends esteem and expectation…
leaving us with only reactionary involuntary knee-jerk responses.
And much like wounded animals…we lash out.

We seek to throw scarlet letters on all perceived offenders.
While frantically searching with our spears and pitchforks for any hint of suspicion
in order to toss everyone in the wagon-cart of shame just so we can parade them around
for all to see.

We only thought we left stockades, pillories and public displays of punishment
behind in darker ages.

So is it surprising that we see no real change from the shaming and the shunning?

Instead, we simply become more and more numb.
It’s as if we’ve come to expect the idea of lowliness and rapidly diminishing expectations.
So much so that it is to the point that we are simply full of smugness and apathy.

We assume the worse.
Yet we continue being tolerant and even hungry for more.

However, all is not lost.

I am reminded that our God continues to hold us, his children, to a higher standard.
He’s never wavered in His expectations.

Despite knowing that we will fall…
Knowing that we will fail time and time again…

He continues to point upward rather than downward.
He continues reminding us that so goes the world, we are not to go.

He also expects us to hold those around us upward as well.
‘Sink not into the abyss’ He admonishes us while expecting us to do unto others
as we would wish done to ourselves.

So before we act and react in ways that are lowly, crude, hurtful,
hateful and dare we say evil…
may we remember to keep our standards set higher while never losing sight of
Godly expectations…

“…obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it,
not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor,
but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:22-24

our confliction…

“Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

“History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.”
Zbigniew Brezezinski

As people of faith we learn to be bi-focal.
We look through the eyes of secular newsflashes,
and we look through the eyes of spiritual and theological discernment.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

Anytime a Western coalition is mounted against “the bad guys”…whomever
those bad guys may currently be…more and more questions abound…
more questions than there may be answers.

Maybe it’s because I grew up during the Vietnam war.
A horrific conflict and war where thousands were killed, maimed, scarred and lost…
leaving no clear win or victor.

The bad guys were still bad and we were left limping back home…
home to a Nation now divided…and still dividing as we speak.

For Christians, the notion of war is a tough call.

The Koran makes no bones about the allowance for war and killing.

Our faith, on the other hand, admonishes those who opt not to turn the other cheek
or refuse to offer the shirt when the tunic is first taken.

For the Believer there is an inner turmoil…a conflict of both faith and righteous indignation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pacifist German theologian, lived this turmoil.
It also lead him to the gallows.
A walk he took decidedly confident because he knew his faith secure.
He looked to the words and teachings of St Thomas Aquinas when he agreed to be a part of
an assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler.

The moral issue here is that of tyrannicide…
the killing of a tyrant, and specifically, the killing of a tyrant by a private
person for the common good.
Technically, there are two classes of tyrants: a tyrant by usurpation
(tyrannus in titulo), a ruler who has illegitimately seized power;
and a tyrant by oppression (tyrannus in regimine),
a ruler who wields power unjustly, oppressively, and arbitrarily.

The key conditions for a justifiable act of tyrannicide in this case include
that the killing be necessary to end the usurpation and restore legitimate authority;
that there is no higher authority available that is able and willing to depose the usurper;
and that there is no probability that the tyrannicide will result in even greater evil
than allowing the usurper to remain in power.

However, if the tyrant by oppression attacks the citizen,
jeopardizes the welfare of the community with the intent leading
it to destruction or killing the citizens, or commits other evils,
then a private citizen can morally commit an act
of justifiable tyrannicide.
Moreover, if because of the tyrant’s rule, a nation cannot defend itself,
is on the course of destruction, and has no lawful means to depose or to condemn the tyrant,
then a citizen may commit an act of justifiable tyrannicide.
Interestingly, many modern political philosophers would posit that a leader who abuses
power and has become tyrannical ipso facto loses legitimacy and becomes a usurper.

(Catholic Resource Education Center / Fr William Saunders)

(see the previous post:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/the-seeds-have-been-planted/)

And so it is with interest that I’ve read a couple of the most recent posts by our friend
Bishop Gavin Ashenden regarding his feelings and thoughts about the coalition attack
on Syria.

The necessity, the truth, the need, the deception, the compassion, the empathy,
the indignation is each woven into the fabric of our confliction as human beings.

The conflict between right and wrong, defending the undefended, the truth versus
the deception…
that which is right versus that which is wrong,
the need for freedom versus the oppression of tyranny…

What are our roles, our responsibilities, our culpability…

The good Bishop offers one more perspective, one more layer to the fabric we
Christians continue to weave…

Do I agree with his doubts, his concerns, his pointed questions?

I think his questions lead us all to a place of asking even more questions.

Yet the real question found in the Bishop’s concern is simply leading us back to wondering
where the real true answers rest…

So Syria has been much in the news.
But to the community of faith, Syria is not just a place.
It is both a birthplace, and an end-place.
Theologically, for Christians it is the birth place of the Church.
It is the place where in Antioch, we first became known as Christians (Acts 11.26);
for Muslims the place at the end of time, the apocalypse.
This dual identity lies at the heart of the present secular conflict and how we unders
tand it.

And yet, it is clear in geo-political terms that what is taking place in Syria
is a proxy war fought over future energy sources and types of Islamic hegemony
between Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other.
The opposition to Assad was not a plea for regime change by democratic Syrians,
but an attempt to remove a non-Muslim ruler and replace him with a Muslim regime by
Saudi backed terrorist groups.
Twice now chemical attacks have been attributed to the Assad regime with the
immediate effect of inducing in the West a moral indignation that led to a call
for bombing the Assad regime.
But though the video footage was provocatively emotive, the hard evidence that laid a trail
back to Assad was always just missing.

Syria and the Western Christian conscience.

free and self-determined…such is God

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
but in ourselves.”

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


(hawthorn berries / Julie Cook / 2017)

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings,
but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people.
God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him;
rather, his way is beyond all comprehension,
free and self-determined beyond all proof.
Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels,
where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be.
There he confounds the reason of the reasonable;
there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be,
and no one can keep him from it.
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous
that he does wonders where people despair,
that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous.
And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…
God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.
God marches right in.
He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would
least expect them.
God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly,
the excluded, the weak and broken.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas