what lengths are you willing to go so that no one will ever forget?

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.
Malcolm Muggeridge


(Photo: Getty Images/Ellen van Bodegom)

Maybe you’ve fantasized about living out your days in a Mediterranean villa.
You might have even gone so far as to check listings before the reality of your
bank account forced you to give up on the dream.
Well, despair no longer.
One town on the Italian island of Sardinia is offering the real estate deal of a
lifetime, as long as you’re willing to stick around for the long haul.
In Ollolai, one of several hundred historic homes could be yours for just $1.25 (€1).
Yes, really.
Mayor Efisio Arbau successfully petitioned local residents to turn over their
abandoned homes in the town,
which then put them on the market for the attention-grabbing low price.

The aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known for its
successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.
The village’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300 over the years,
and the migration of its younger people to larger cities has led to a declining birthrate.
“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,”
Arbau told CNN.
“We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”

as seen on Conde Nast Traveler / CNN Travel

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/ollolai-italy-one-euro-homes/index.html

I always love these stories—the ones about the small tranquil village that has witnessed
a tremendous decline in its inhabitants and in turn makes almost outlandish sales offers
in hopes of luring would-be occupants and potential citizens to come own, inhabit and live,
all at very little expense, for a piece of paradise.

And we know that the reasons for these villages slow deaths are for all sorts of troubles…
families move, youth…when grown…move-out and away,
and the Old…well they have simply died…

And so now all these small communities, all over the globe, begin to slowly shrivel up and die…

The young see no growth, no fun, no potential, no reason to stay.
Young families have no real choice in schooling or sound medical care.
Those trying to make a living and livelihood discover that such is nearly nonexistent…
while the Old have hung on for as long as they can, yet are now dying off in large numbers…

It is the visual death knell sounding for small communities worldwide.

And yet there is a real desire that these communities remain for they have existed for eons…
they have been the underpinning, the lynchpins, of our greater society as a whole…

And of course, the catch for the potential buyer is always the caveat of remodeling
and pouring copious amounts of cash into the refurbishing of said piece of paradise.

But I’ll admit, the allure of buying a piece of paradise for all of a buck is pretty darn
appealing…however it’s the copious amounts of cash needed for the remodeling, modernizing
and upkeep that is the killer of the dream.

And so I bring all of this up as I’m still making my way through Andreas Knapp’s book
The Last Christians…Stories of Persecution, Flight, Resilience in the Middle East.

You may remember it was the book that my publishing friend from Plough Publishing House
sent out for my perusal back around Christmas.

It’s not a long book and you’d think I would have finished it ages ago,
but it is a book that demands my full attention—
especially since I take highlighter in hand as I read, along with a notepad
as I make notes while reading.
I cover only a few pages or a chapter a day here and there as time allows…

For meatier stories demand our utmost attention…and this is such a tale because the
subjects of this story deserve nothing less.

And it is not an easy read—it is not easy reading about persecution, murders, terror,
and insanity.

I was struck by what Mayor Efisio Arbauin said in the Conde Nast / CNN article
about why he wants to maintain his dying village in Sardinia.
“the aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known
for its successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.”

Advertise like crazy as we want to maintain an ancient town that stood up against
an aggressive, mighty, powerful and brutal empire…

And yet I marvel at how the world at large will allow the last remaining true
Aramaic Christians, who trace their lineage, which in turn is our lineage,
back to Jesus himself–a world that will allow, nay is allowing,
these Aramaic Christians to be tortured, murdered,
disbanded, scattered and ultimately totally destroyed and wiped from the face of the Earth.

Read the following excerpt offered by the book’s author Fr Knapp along with a
priest and Bishop Petros Mouche who is the leading prelate of a
dispersed and disparaged people:

“Many people in Western countries, he points out, campaign for the protection of
animal species threatened with extinction.
And yet all appeals to halt the loss of the oldest Christian
Culture and its people and language have been ignored by the Western World”

(Bishop Petros Mouche displaced Syriac Catholic)

A young priest along with the Bishop both relate their tales of horror to the author
Fr. Knapp

“He who says nothing implies consent”
Latin Proverb

“How can we rebuild our trust?”
We can’t simply forget what happened.
And how can there be reconciliation with our Muslim neighbors when they haven’t expressed
the slightest regret?
Indeed will Muslims ever be capable of acknowledging any guilt toward us Christians?
Bishop Petros intervenes quietly at this point: “In times like these, we ourselves
can experience feelings of aggression.
We must overcome them.
It is God’s will that we should love our enemies.

I am silent, left speechless by his stance in the face of such a brutal reality.
He shakes his head thoughtfully.
“We can’t just forget what has happened.
But we will ask God to forgive the offenders
and lead them to think differently.”

Still, the white-haired bishop’s face betrays a deep anguish.
With this last oasis of Iraqi Christianity now under IS control,
and a nearly two-thousand-year-old
local church reduced to rubble, Qaraqosh is like a ghost town.
Bishop Petros is especially troubled by the fate of a three-year-old girl and some
young women abducted from the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain who–
like the Yazidi women-face sexual abuse, forced marriages with
Islamic fighters and slavery.

Bishop Petros told me of one eighty-year-old man who asked the terrorists why there wouldn’t
spare his family any food for the children;
their response was to hack off his hands and feet.

And yet the Bishop states that “they may have lost everything else,
but they have never lost their faith.”

What will the world be willing to offer in order to save these last Christians?
What will Christians be willing to offer in order to save these ancient brothers and sisters?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this crossroads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

the observation of love by a wee flea

“Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed
especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five
years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

Cartoon Flea Success

Cartoon Flea Success

Yesterday I found myself reading over the latest blog offering by the Scottish Pastor
David Robertson….
who once again, expresses so much more eloquently what I feel…

Thoughts and words I’ve been trying to convey here in my little corner of the blogosphere..
for quite sometime, but seem to fall a bit short of his more marvelous observations.

This latest post is entitled The Fallacy of the Fascist Revival–Hope Not Hate

I was barely through the first paragraph when I heard myself shouting “AMEN”

“My concern is not so much with fascism but with the dumbing down of our society,
including our media and political discourse and what that leads to.”

Personally I have become so perplexed with this new global obsession with what seems
to be some sort of new age fascism….
that I am heart sick that so many Americans are now so deluded as to claim that the
other half of their countrymen are now practicing Nazis…
as they truly have no inkling as to what they are accussing
or claiming others to be practicing…..

I have become so incensed that there are actually so many seemingly educated,
yet truly misinformed individuals,
who are clamoring over such nonsense as to the country being overrun with goose-stepping
brown shirts and that a sitting US president is channeling the essence of an
evil demigod and führer.

I am infuriated that there are those who currently think that anyone with a differing opinion
should now be labeled as a fascist…
all without having a true depth of knowledge of what it is that they are labeling and accusing
others of being…..

All of what this has done, this current fanaticism, is but to cheapen the lives of those
who actually suffered and lived through the reality of all that was throughout the 1930’s-1940’s…

Our friend at the “Wee Flea” notes:

As usual Brendan O’Neill puts it far better than I can.

“The word is now used with an ahistoricism and thoughtlessness that are genuinely alarming.
And among the upper echelons of society, not merely by scruffy protesters or online blowhards.
The Archbishop of Canterbury says Trump is part of the ‘fascist tradition’.
Prince Charles has warned darkly of a return of the atmosphere of the 1930s,
and we all know what that means. ‘Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist’,
says New Republic, a magazine that once considered itself a voice of reason among
the paranoid style of American political life. But everyone’s paranoid now.
Everyone now sees fascists.”

Pastor Robertson continues:
“Dumbing down then enables people to become deluded by the delusions.”

“People who are either too lazy, too unthinking, or too self-obsessed with their own delusions,
can’t stand being challenged and so they hate. Even if, in their own eyes,
they are on the side of reason and love they will emote and hate.
In fact its worse than that – its BECAUSE they are on the side of love that they feel
they have the right to hate. And in the age of the internet and social media,
they find it much easier to do this online, than spray painting their neighbours
house.”

So not only are we witnessing this new age lunacy here in the US…
that of our modern day fascist witch hunt…
One that I liken to an ill perceived “War of the Worlds” mass pandemonium,
it just so happens that it is sadly more indicative to the growing hysteria
found across our entire Western Civilization…

“This demonisation has frightening consequences.
Someone from Edinburgh sent me this photo of a poster in Edinburgh he passed the
day after he read my article.”

img_20170214_135429553

Yet perhaps the most troubling aspect to be found in all of this
is to be found in the messages we are now sending
to our young people….
especially as we are hearing such hateful rhetoric spewing
form the mouths of educators…..

“One of the most disturbing series messages I got was from someone who said they were a
history teacher and described the UK government as a fascist government.
Now imagine you are a child who hears that, and hears about the evil of fascism,
and then reads a poster like this.
It’s beyond irony that those who want to use hate speech legislation to suppress all
views except their own, are so often full of hate.”

Pastor Robertson then poses the question that most sane and rational individuals
now find themselves asking, nay imploring….

“Where is the Hope in all of this?”

And in his question…in this search for some semblance of rationality, sanity…
it is our Hope in which we find our answer…..

“I don’t see it in politics.
And I don’t see it in groups like ‘Hope not Hate’, because they too demonise the other,
in order to justify themselves. It seems as though we are in an endless cycle of blame,
guilt and hatred.
But there is a solution.
There is somewhere where ‘the dividing walls of partition’ are broken down,
where people really do become one and where love, harmony, unity and diversity predominate.
I am of course talking about the church of Jesus Christ.”

“Its not an ideology that brings love and unity—
its Christ.
If you want Love not Hate, then you need to know the One who is Love.”

The Fallacy of the Fascist Revival – Hope Not Hate

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”
Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this cross roads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

the frenzieness of our times

“Not Bolshevism, which Stalin liquidated along with all the old Bolsheviks;
not Nazism, which perished along with Hitler in his Berlin bunker; not Fascism,
which was left hanging upside down, along with Mussolini and his mistress,
from a lamp-post—none of these, history will record,
was responsible for bringing down the darkness on our civilization, but liberalism.
A solvent rather than a precipitate, a sedative rather than a stimulant,
a slough rather than a precipice, blurring the edges of truth,
the definition of virtue, the shape of beauty; a cracked bell, a mist,
a death wish.”

Malcolm Muggeridge, The Great Liberal Death Wish

the_man_in_the_high_castle
(Philip Dick’s 1962 Alternate History Novel)

According to Merriam-Webster the word Frenzy is defined as:

a: a temporary madness– a rage amounting to a frenzy
b: a violent mental or emotional agitation
2: intense usually wild and often disorderly compulsive or agitated activity

And according to Online Entomology Dictionary the word Frenzy first originated:
mid-14c.—delirium, insanity; from Old French frenesie; frenzy, madness (13c.),
from Medieval Latin phrenesia, from phrenesis, back-formation from Latin phreneticus
Meaning—excited state of mind; is from c. 1400

I always think it good form to know where such words come from when one currently
finds oneself living in the midst of said particular word.

As it seems… this current frenzied state, of which many Americans along with
their similarly bonded global brothers and sisters in arms,
is just about to tip us all as a human race over
the edge and down into the deep dark recesses of the bottomless nothingness of a
no return black hole.

I am still trying to make sense of what’s just taken place over the past couple of weeks…

From young children being interviewed in the streets after starting fires,
aiding and abetting anarchy over the election and subsequent inauguration of a president
of these United States while gleefully boasting to a reporter “screw the president”…

to women donning such apparel as “vagina” hats, and other vulgar attire, while carrying
Russian protest signs…

to “news” sources and agencies fraudulently and knowingly peddling false and unsubstantiated
stories as Gospel truth…

to Civil Rights legends confusing the fight for civil rights with the democratic process…

to infamous entertainers proclaiming, on a global platform, that they will burn down the
White House…

to confused actresses pulling out their best theatrical performances while channeling
their best Scarlett O’Hara impression in a sweeping diatribe about comparing
the United States of America’s president to Adolph Hitler….

hummmm…..

And it is to the latter that my thoughts remain.

What, if any, of the aforementioned lunacy is to be considered…
right,
prudent
or acceptable behavior…
is beyond my soul…

And it is to this troubling rhetoric,
rhetoric that I have heard over and over again in recent weeks,
this comparison to Hitler and the asinine notion that there is a rise of Nazism in America,
that has brought me to the point where I must not remain silent any longer.

One of the myriad inauguration protest march organizers, on the night of the
inauguration when interviewed,
told the interviewing reporter that at one of the balls taking place
she had seen the raised arms of Nazis hailing the new Führer.

Deadpan to the sardonic “Really??!!”

The rational part of me almost fell out of my chair when watching this woman being interviewed.

Yet it was also the rational part of myself that wanted to inform this young woman
that she had no idea as to what she was so ignorantly spewing out of her mouth to
this hungry for a story reporter…

As I am now left shaking my head over the constant cries of Nazis and
Hitler-like wannabes taking over America.
Shades of a War of the Worlds moment

In 1962 author Philip Dick wrote an alternativesque history novel based
on the notion of the what if scenario of Hitler and Nazi Germany actually
having been the victors of the war,
along with Japan,
as the United States and the Allied Forces were all defeated.

A fanciful story dipping deeply into an epitome of the ‘what ifs’…
had a world war turned out tragically and frighteningly differently.

Amazon Studios has in the last year or so turned this novel into a made for TV drama series.

I’m not keen on those ‘what if’ scenarios—
For the actual war and the reality of all that was and what happened to millions of people
over the course of the war…was horrific enough without having to reinvent it into a
made for TV melodrama…
Living, being maimed, tortured, raped, starved, tormented and dying was catastrophic
reality enough,
the metamorphosis into a current bizarre drama is far from warranted or even necessary
in my humble opinion.

And thus having many ill-informed, or more correctly, ignorant individuals daring to
make any correlation between Hitler,
along with his mad Nazi machine, and that of the democratic process
of this Republic nation is not only shameful but borders on the gravely and
recklessly irresponsible and is simply put, moralistically wrong.

Not to mention that it lessens and cheapens the true horrors that millions
of innocent individuals suffered.

Enough with the empty clamoring of stupidity, ignorance and deranged fanciful irrationalities…

Therefore rage not thou futile mortal man…
beating thy head against the empty idols
of your makings….

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun:
The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover,
are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live,
and afterward they join the dead.

Ecclesiastes 9:3

Of kings and thrones

“When kings the sword of justice first lay down,
They are no kings, though they possess the crown.
Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things,
The good of subjects is the end of kings.”

― Daniel Defoe

“Christ is on the throne.
We are not.”

David Robertson and the Wee Flea

clovis-nuremberg
(Woodcut image of King Clovis I (466-511), ruler who untied all the Franks, was the first
King of France who in turn declared Pairs the capital, as well as being one of the first
pagan rulers to convert to Christianity /
image from the Nuremberg Chronicles 1493)

“Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour
millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead:
even famous prostitutes or gangsters.
For spiritual nature,
like bodily nature, will be served;
deny it food and it will gobble poison.”

― C.S. Lewis

“do not seek the because”

“Do not seek the because –
in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.”

Anaïs Nin

dscn4375
(sea oats / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

My life is no different from anyone else…
there are both highs and lows, ups and downs…

We all experience both the positive and negative moments in life…
as neither one discriminates…
Yet it seems that the negative moments will often last a life time…

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are immune from getting…
sad,
depressed,
discouraged,
hurt,
angry,
sick,
or at times, even despondent…

For believers, simply put, are human just like everyone else…
Believers are humans who believe in God as father and Omnipotent Creator
and that His son overcame Death in His resurrection…

And as humans, we just do the best we can getting through the day to day living of life.

But it is because of the very fact that we are believers that the non believers,
those who are angry at God or those who are merely skeptical…
begin pointing the naysaying finger at us when our lives becomes bleak or tragic

It is the age old accusatory “where is your God now” sort of rhetoric…

And if the truth be told, there are times we wonder the same question…
because we are, remember, human…
falible
weak
foible
sinful

And as I was laying on the floor again this morning, as the pain in my back and leg were again
a bit more than I could bear…
as yes, tears, rolled down the side of my face in pain and in frustration…
as my heart was equally as heavy for what Dad and I
have been dealing with these many weeks now….

I recalled having watched a You Tube video yesterday of a young man
waiting out in Houston at MD Anderson, waiting to undergo chemotherapy.

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=j_wXcwI4IjE

I don’t know this young man—but from the video I gathered he has some sort of cancer,
he is a young husband and father,
that he’s from Atlanta,
that he’s been waiting for chemo
and that he is an ardent believer in the Risen Christ…

He shared in the brief video his spiritual journey as of late–
the prayers offered for and over him.
The words that have been shared in multiple settings, all by different individuals,
but all the same words none the less.
He mentioned a couple of Psalms that he’d been keying in on…
Psalms that I wrote down with the intention of turning to those same Psalms today….

I was encouraged by his own journey.
That he obviously wanted to be healed…prayed for such…
but that he also knew that God is a Sovereign God…
and no matter what the outcome…it is in God’s hands…

And I was stuck that he is finding gratitude in and for all sorts of things…
He is being grateful and thankful even while life is proving dire, frustrating and grim…

As we are reminded that in all things we are to rejoice, offering our praise and thanksgiving.
That in those moments of struggle, pain and suffering we are to utter the words—we may not
necessarily feel them, but we can still utter them, allowing God to do with them as He may….

I was also reminded that it is in our distress that we are drawn closer to God.
We don’t seem to “need” Him as much when life is golden…
as we tend to neglect the relationship…
It isn’t until we find ourselves in dire straights that we cry out,
like a frightened child in the night,
and always, He answers in our despair, He is there…despite our fickled ways…
He will always be there…waiting…..

And it is during those hard-to-grasp situations of life and death that
skeptics and non believers alike circle like buzzards…
as they look for a Lazarus or an empty tomb—
and when they don’t see such,
they collectively shout
“HA, we knew it…imposter, phony, sham!”

So after reading a few posts by friends this morning, after reading those Psalms that young man sited,
after reading the words of both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Malcolm Muggeridge each regarding
both life, living, dying and death…
I again, felt a peace…despite laying on the floor in the midst of despair…

I may be hurting both physically and emotionally.
I may shed tears of frustration, depression and sorrow….
but I will not be broken nor deterred for I have the promise of a Sovereign God.

I was told that I should build a post around the following comment I left this morning for a fellow blogger…my friend Wally…
Of which I suppose I already had to some degree…

Here is Wally’s morning’s post as my comment follows…

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/faith-in-action-why-be-joyful-over-trials/

“it is hard and is not easy…but we are told time and time again—
to look to God in all things—good and bad, painful and joyful–
for God is found not only in the good, the joy and the happiness but He is there,
even more so, in the hard and difficult, the misery and suffering…
and this is where those who are not believers or those who reside in the anger
and sorrow keep wanting to point the finger of “if God is a God of Love and Omnipotent…
then why the hurting, why the unfairness, why the suffering…”

and it is there Wally in your very words and the words of James, so led by the Holy Spirit, that because God IS in everything…then we may find our HOPE!!

The things of this world…those good and those bad,
are all but temporary and they all point us back to Him—in our lack of knowledge and lack of true omnipotent knowledge, we cannot know, we cannot see how all things…
That all things, work together in God’s plan and God’s time—
yes there is Evil very much busy and very much at work…
working so very hard to counter the Benevolence of a Loving Creator…
but the thing is…despite the dark one’s vain attempts to derail us,
derailing our faith, our hope—
he can’t, he never can—
for his is a losing battle…
for our’s is the Victory in Christ Jesus!”

All of this brings us back, almost full circle,
to the the beginning of this post with the quote byAnaïs Nin—
for there is no understanding, no explanation, no reasoning, no answers, no because…
to be found in the Love offered to us by our God….