being defined by the writing on the wall

“It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall,
man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners.”

Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth


(as seen on the blog Writing’s From The Raven’s Desk)

Yesterday I offered a post more or less from an observational standpoint.

I had read an email post by the Presbyterian Free Chruch Scottish Pastor David Robertson
on his take on the Episcopal Chruch of Australia versus the Scottish Episcopal Chruch.
An email posting that oddly was MIA from his blog.

Obviously, it’s an odd Juxtaposition but he’s on sabbatical in Australia and has spoken to
and with a good many Episcopal groups while traveling about.
He’s learning a thing or two about a splintering church.
It is becoming apparent that the writing is clearly on the wall.

Other’s have seen it.
Bishop Gavin Ashenden for one.
David has also seen the writing on the wall for the SEC back home in Dundee.

I saw the writing on the wall years ago here in the US.

Yet it was two comments I received yesterday from two different friends and sisters in
Christ that really brought all of this into focus.

It can be a most dismal story when one is sounding the clarion call…
That whole ‘woe to you’ clanging coming from the mouths of the likes of the Jeremiahs and Johns
amongst us…

The world is not receptive.

Nobody seems to like hearing, nor being reminded of, the seemingly negative and killjoy
mantra to “repent, the end is near” nonsense.

And yet is that not what we are actually seeing and hearing from those lone
voices out there?
Voices that the majority shun but voices we so desperately need to hear?

Voices like David’s and Gavin’s…
Men who are now being threatened, set apart and scorned…?

Both Kathy and Shara brought this point home with steely percision.

Firstly Kathy (atimetoshare.me) said:

Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender alteration,
believing only certain parts of the Bible are true,
looking at the ten commandments as the ten suggestions, chastity,
waiting until marriage to have sex, sex outside of marriage,
the sanctity of life on both ends of the spectrum, altering the Bible to fit the times,
not looking at sin as a problem – all parts of what’s going on in the church today.
We have taken tolerance to a whole new level and it has infiltrated our churches as
well as our lives.
The devil must be jumping for joy.
His insidious nature has weaseled its way into every aspect of society,
gnawing away at it bit by bit until it becomes unrecognizable.
I pray that the end is coming soon.

Then Shara (https://scasefamily.com/) polished it off with exquisite clarity:

Fascinating and sad…was reading yesterday that people say
Christianity is shrinking, but it’s actually being more clearly defined.
Interesting post friend!

And it has been that very fact that…the fact that we aren’t necessarily seeing
some sort of death knell for Christianity…
though denominations are beginning to morph into the unrecognizable as they depart
and fall from God’s word…
but rather we are seeing Christianity being polished and honed
a Christianity that is simply being refined and more sharply keenly defined…

The furnace is heating up as God works on the faithful, refining and preparing us for what
is to come…

“The glory of a good person is the evidence of a good conscience.
Have a good conscience and you will always be happy.
A good conscience can bear a great deal and still remain serene in the midst of adversity,
while a bad conscience is fearful and easily ruffled.
Only be glad when you have done well.
Evil persons are never really happy, nor do they feel peace within them;
for ‘there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord’ (Isa. 48:22).
Even though the wicked may protest that peace is theirs and that no evil shall harm them,
do not believe them. For God’s wrath will suddenly overtake them,
and all they have done will be brought to nothing and their plans destroyed.”

Thomas á Kempis,
The Imitation of Christ p.76

“and when my life is over….”

“Where there is love there is life.”
Mahatma Gandhi


(coconut palms at The Breakers, Palm Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

There are days when suddenly, for no apparent reason…
a song, a thought, a memory
pops into the forefront of consciousness.

While we are often left wondering why…from whence, from where and for what?

Sometimes… the whys are not to be understood.

My life is currently a herky jerky roller coaster full of emotions…
The days are punctuated by smiles and accented by endless tears.
Wandering about mostly lost.

And then a song from the recesses of time percolates to the current..
bridging a time that was to the time which is now…
That a random tune from a different season
triggers a memory, a feeling, a thought…
existing now to help assuage the current moment….

“A Song For You”

I’ve been so many places in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs, I’ve made some bad rhymes
I’ve acted out my love on stages
With 10,000 people watching
But we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I treated you unkindly, but darling can’t you see
There’s no one more important to me
Darling can’t you please see through me
‘Cause we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you

You taught me precious secrets
Of the truth, withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now, I’m so much better
And if my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody, ’cause my love’s in there hiding

I love you in a place where there’s no space and time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song to you

But I love you in a place where there’s no space and time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing my song
Singing this song for you

Love and Truth

The truth is incontrovertible.
Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it,
but in the end,
there it is.

Winston Churchill

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end,
they always fall.
Think of it–always.

― Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN3549
(toad frog / Julie Cook / 2016)

Just remember….
They might not always be considered pretty, worldly or even popular…
but Love and Truth will always triumph…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

Travesties

There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience.
It supercedes all other courts.

Mahatma Gandhi

In war, truth is the first casualty.
Aeschylus

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(a bumblebee busily enjoys the sunny day / Julie Cook / 2016)

Truth and justice…
Two of the massive building blocks to man’s existence.

If this was a perfect world, a pre-fallen world, or rather a never fallen world, then truth and justice would be as commonplace as breathing. They would be woven into the everyday living of man and most likely never really contemplated or fretted over…

They would be nothing out of the ordinary.
As nothing could challenge such as each would simply just be part and parcel of man’s existence.

For if there were no fall of man, there would be no lies, no falsehoods, no injustices, no deceptions,
no fabrications, no misdeeds hidden under the pretense of false or half truths and no repercussions of such…

There would be no harm nor fouls.
No need for others to impose justice in defense of the truth…
no casualties of war as there would be no wars….

Yet sadly, for better or worse, we do live in a fallen, as well as broken, world.

We, both you and I, are victims of our own duality—the inner struggle between right and wrong…
With that duality being rooted in the very fall of man…
and in turn…a direct result of man’s sinfulness…

The duality of Good and Evil…
with “truth” being the first victim of that sinful nature.

There is the metaphysical and philosophical concept of dualism, or binary opposition, which addresses the concept of man being both good and bad.
There is also the Christian concept of dualism, or the inherent condition of man’s sinful nature, and the earthly battle of Good and Evil.

C. S. Lewis, the noted British academic, theologian and writer observed that “good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

Lewis goes on at length about the concept of dualism and its relationship to Christianity…
“But I freely admit that real Christianity (as distinct from Christianity-and-water) goes much nearer to Dualism than people think. One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe–a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.”

We fight a constant battle—within ourselves as well as without.

We are often victimized doubly—first by our own sinful nature, then as the direct result of the sinful nature of our fellow man.
Victims of crime, of war, of lies, of deciet…all attacks outside of ourselves, attacks that we are often helpless to defend.

6 million innocent lives taken in the death camps of World War II—-
…victims of the evil duality of man.
First that of Hitler, then of his commanders, then of his soldiers who carried out the arrests, the tortues and the deaths and finally to the culpability of their fellow countrymen who placed all blame for all things wrong with Germany upon their Jewish neighbor’s shoulders.

We face a constant barrage of attacks from outside of ourselves.

You can call it what you will, but Evil has claimed Earth as his own.
It happened that fateful day in the Garden…
And it has raged against us ever since.

Pope Emeritus Benedict continues this idea of duality and Good and Evil in his 2008 Advent catechesis on original sin
“And finally, the last point, man is not only curable, he is in fact cured. God has introduced healing. He entered in person into history. To the permanent source of evil he has opposed a source of pure good. Christ crucified and risen, the new Adam, opposed the filthy river of evil with a river of light. And this river is present in history: We see the saints, the great saints but also the humble saints, the simple faithful. We see that the river of light that comes from Christ is present, is strong.

The dark night of evil is still strong. And that is why we pray in Advent with the ancient people of God: “Rorate caeli desuper.” And we pray with insistence: Come Jesus; come, give force to light and goodness; come where falsehood, ignorance of God, violence and injustice dominate; come, Lord Jesus, give force to the good of the world and help us to be bearers of your light, agents of peace, witnesses of truth. Come Lord Jesus!”

So yes, come Lord Jesus….
Even in the duality of this Good and Evil and in our constant battle… we can rejoice…
As Pope Benedict reminds us, we have already been cured and healed…the hope is regenerated with each Advent, the healing began on Good Friday and the cure came Easter morning…
Hallelujah!!!

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Pope John Paul II

Humble

Talent is God given.
Be humble.
Fame is man-given.
Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given.
Be careful.

John Wooden

“The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust.
The world crushes the dust under its feet,
but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him.
Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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(a jackdaw / Adare, Irleand / Julie Cook / 2015)

There will be those times in life when we will be served up a hearty plate of crow or even an abundant dish of humble pie.
Often unpleasant, difficult to accepte and offensively unpalatable…
Such dishes will come unwanted, unordered, unrequested…but they will come.

The question will not be whether we asked for it, deserved it or should be served such…
the importance will rest in how we accept it.

Will we eat our share of ego crushing humility, allowing it to cleanse the palate, making room for a renewed and refreshed spirit…

Or will we simply allow the bitter taste of resentment and indignation to remain,
lingering on the tongue…

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

Obviously the truth

“Today I will do what others won’t,
so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t”

Jerry Rice

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion
against injustice and lying and greed.
If people all over the world…would do this,
it would change the earth.”

― William Faulkner

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out
the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN2639
(the first butterfly of the season visiting the blueberry blooms / Julie Cook / 2016)

The official word is supposedly to come Thursday.
The long awaited “will they or won’t they….”

Word is that they won’t.

Yet the House has voted…383-0
Unanimous across party lines.
A strong signal to the Administration…

“Last week, ISIS militants killed 16 people, including four Catholic nuns, at a retirement home in southern Yemen,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “This is the latest in a string of brutal attacks committed by ISIS against Christian and other minorities. Yet the administration has still not called this what it is: A genocide.”
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House

The Senate will vote next.
Yet these votes are symbolic in name only…
Because the final word will come from the White House and the White House alone.

However… no matter whether this Administration confirms that the atrocities waged by ISIS against Christians is indeed genocide… or not….the truth remains…obviously the Truth…

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/03/14/house-poised-to-declare-isis-committing-genocide-against-christians-other-minorities.html?intcmp=hpbt2

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;
Zechariah 8:16

the tontine

If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time.
And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.

Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN0529
(The Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

A tontine…
A french word used during the 17th century to denote an investment created by several individuals…With the premise being that each member of the group agrees to initially pay a set sum…
The money is never touched, rather it is allowed to grow over time.
As the years pass and the members of the group eventually, one by one, die off, the remaining shares grow…with the last surviving member of the group amassing the lump of the sum plus all accrued interest.

The idea of a tontine played out on one of the episodes of the hit show M.A.S.H.

In this particular episode Colonel Potter, the patriarch of the cast, received a secretive and oddly strange package of which suddenly cast a grave pall over his entire demeanor. Naturally those closest to the beloved leader, Hawkeye, BJ, Margaret and Charles each grew terribly concerned seeing that the Colonel had grown almost inconsolably depressed after having received this most odd package.

The entire episode evolved around what was in the package, what was wrong with Colonel Potter and what could this rag tag group of friends do to help.

Finally Colonel explained…
The package was a bottle of fine French Brandy.

The story behind the bottle was that during World War I, when Colonel Potter was a young soldier, his regiment had found themselves dangerously deep behind enemy lines in German occupied France. His small group of comrades had come upon the bottle of brandy as they hunkered down in an abandoned shell of what was once an elegant home. Right then and there this little group of beleaguered soldiers made a pact, or more appropriately a tontine. Should they survive the war, they would save the bottle of brandy by placing it in a safety deposit box. The bottle would then remain under lock and key until there was but one lone survivor of the group–upon which time the bottle was to be delivered to the “last man standing” who would in turn drink a toast to what had been.

Colonel Potter, who now bitterly found himself still fighting, what seemed to be a lifetime of wars all these many years later, was the last living soul remaining from his once youthful regiment, as his own mortality now mockingly taunted him as it stared him in the face… all the while a lonely bottle of brandy begged to be consumed.

Life is indeed bittersweet.

If we are fortunate, we live a long life supported and surrounded by family and friends.
We journey together through both joy and sorrow, trepidation and gallantry.
We ride the waves of triumph both high and mighty then hold fast and tight during the calamity of storms.
We experience shared moments, good and bad, which become the mortar between the building blocks of our lives.

Then one strange day we suddenly realize, that while we weren’t paying attention or taking much notice, ever so slowly and one by one…our numbers mysteriously have decreased…

We find ourselves on the opposite side of happily ever after, looking back wondering where the time has gone. One by one we are left more and more isolated and alone, until finally we are the last man / woman standing out of a once large troupe of beloved comrades, family and life long companions.

Gone are those who were in our lives to protect, to cheer on, to share with, and to relish with….those who were the life-lines, the wise ones, the sages of our lives…
Leaving us in the unfamiliar position of now being those very things for a much younger lot than ourselves…
A lonely feeling.
A bittersweet feeling.
A very sad feeling.

And that was the very overwhelming realization for dear ol Colonel Potter…

The friends that had transitioned with him from boyhood to manhood, under cloak of war, we’re all now gone. Those who had lived through and understood a lifetime now long past had all but vanished, leaving him as the only remaining one who could recall and understand a time that was as he found himself now surrounded by a much younger group who had not been there nor done that…he was now the odd man out.

Yet through the heavy sense of loss with the weight of age suddenly bearing down and crushing his shoulders, our dear Colonel Potter understood that as he may be the last of his particular group to survive, he was still surrounded by companions, loved ones and friends… albeit of a different generation.
Life was still to be lived, relished and enjoyed.
Occasionally he could look back and recall all that was, but life was indeed for the living and it was time to say good-bye to the past while looking toward the future.

And so as he opened the bottle of bandy that had delightfully mellowed with time, offering a toast to those who once were and to a life that was well lived…he also offered a toast to those standing by his side and to the life that was yet to be…
toasting the memories of friends now gone and toasting the lives of those friends now standing by his side.

May those of us who now find ourselves standing closer to the end of our own life’s tontine remember, that as our numbers maybe decreasing, our importance in the lives of those who come behind us is greatly increasing.
Our experiences, our history, our life’s knowledge is all necessary in order to help light the path for those generations behind us as we continue moving toward an unknown future of the possibilities of what will be.
We stand as the mile markers and guideposts for future generations…may we, with God’s grace, direct them well…

And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
1John 2:17