Shepherds—please, lead your flocks

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

St. Jerome


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State, freedom of conscience, and civil disobedience.

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

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

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

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

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

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operation

“To convert somebody,
go and take them by the hand and guide them.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(one of my favorite games as a kid in the early 1960’s was Operation by Milton Bradely)

Yesterday my post centered on ailing…
ailing as in being sick and in turn needing a doctor…
I found today’s quote, offered below by Fr Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
most timely.

The ailment I was speaking of is actually the condition afflicting most of us as spiritual beings.
And as I noted, we are in desperate need of a doctor…with that doctor
being the Great Physician.

And we must know that this Great Physician has offered each of us the cure…

A cure found in the form of Salvation through the blood of His son Jesus Christ.
And yet oddly, or sadly depending on who you ask, many who are sick care not nor want or
even understand that they are in need of the Physician let alone a cure…

And even if we were aware, many have simply chosen to rewrite the prescription in order for
it to be more applicable to the desires of living life our own kind of way.

When a person who is sick is offered a prescription of medicine, and if taken correctly,
the medicine will offer a cure…why then would that sick person play fast and loose
with the dosage or even opt not to take the medicine at all…???
as it appears that they are assuming that they know more than the doctor knows.

When I was a kid, I loved the game Operation.

I loved it because I could play it with a friend or even better, I could play it alone…
while practicing my “skills”—that way I could mess up as much as it took to finally
get good enough to remove the parts without any repercussion.

I could play it for hours as I’d work on removing those things
the patient would need removing…
The winning of the game went to the person who could remove all the necessary parts, using the
special tweezers, without touching the metal sides of the opening, causing a buzzing sound.

I’d hear that buzz and think “uh oh, I’ve just let my patient perish on my operating table.”

After all my practicing, I imagined my skills to be so good that when I grew up,
I could indeed be a surgeon.

Little did my young mind comprehend that being a doctor and a surgeon would require
a great deal more than using a pair of electrified tweezers to remove a tiny plastic
piece of bread or the equally tiny little-broken heart…
the one piece that really would test my skills.

And so when I read the quote offered today by the good father, I found it rather timely
with my thoughts from yesterday.

The good father reminds us that when we are diagnosed with something rather serious
and are offered a procedure that promises to make us better… or say that it’s not even a promise
but a hope that it might make us better…we put life and limb
on the line by trusting the doctor and allowing him or her to cut us open.

And yet we are not willing to allow the Great Physician to bring us healing.

And the thing is… His healing is a guarantee.

We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business.
He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.
We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he
does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.
Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!
It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly.
We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—-
a mistake which may cost us our life—-
and protest when God sets to work on us.
If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes.”

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
p. 90

Taking one for the team in the company of loons and voodoo dolls

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
Vince Lombardi

Skylark, Have you seen a valley green with Spring Where my heart can go a-journeying, Over the shadows in the rain To a blossom covered lane? And in your lonely flight, Haven’t you heard the music in the night, Wonderful music, Faint as a will-o-the-wisp, Crazy as a loon, Sad as a gypsy serenading the moon.
Johnny Mercer

Great Northern Diver/Common Loon
(a beautiful image of a loon found on the web and belonging to Ignacio Yufera photography)

Ok–
I’ve always said let me be the example. . .
Allow me to be the one others look to in order to learn from life’s mistakes.
I’m willing to take one for the team, hoping that others will see. . .
what not to do
how not to do
when not to do
While learning from my
miscues
misfires
misgivings
mishandlings
misinterpretations. . .

These past three weeks have been jam packed with shining examples.
Despite any luck of the Irish that may have befallen the planet this past week, I was sadly passed over.

Almost three weeks ago I found myself living the life of a voodoo doll.
A cute little stuffed stick like figure, arms stuck straight out, hair looking like a result of an errant finger poked in an electrical outlet, blank faced, quasi puppet who’d quickly became a pin cushion at the hand of the malevolent and loon alike.
I was placed,
forced,
stuck,
covered in a situation (or four or five)
in which I was knocked upside the head,
dealt a terrible hand,
hit broadside with a triple whammy,
bamboozled,
and dumped within the middle of one nasty sticky wicket.

In order to protect the innocent or actually my own behind, we won’t use names.
Nothing to identify anyone but my poor misguided self and of course good ol Dad.

And before we proceed and lest we forget, a loon is not just another name for a lovely red eyed lake bird possessing a haunting tune, but rather the name for a psycho, sociopath or crazy individual who I seem to attract like a magnet. . .

–First to the current moment at hand. . .
If a medicine reads PM and or Nighttime, do not think that suggests AM or Daytime.
That is unless you enjoy feeling rather “outer body” during the waking hours
want to / need to drive
operate heavy machinery or something as simple, say like, the washing machine or hair dryer
wish to be productive–such as shower, dress, cook, eat, clean. . .
need to stay awake, as in not sleeping. . .
enjoy feeling drunk,
or think it’s a good idea to drive home from the grocery store with eyes that won’t focus. . .
PM and Nighttime are for just that—nighttime—even though it just may be the only option
in the cabinet, simply wait for the sun to go down before taking.

–Never ask “what else can wrong”
For it will be at that very moment the sewer pipe bursts.

–Never assume when presented with two different scenarios,
with one being tolerable and the other being the onset of Armageddon,
that you will get lucky, escaping with the better scenario hiding behind Door number 1. . .
Armageddon has your name written all over it.

–Never think that the other people you will find yourself dealing with are like minded, sane, rational, nice, or friendly. . .
There is a 50 / 50 chance you’ll get like minded–we must remember that since you usually get Armageddon, that 50 /50 percentage thing will be more like 80 / 20 against you. . .enter the loons.

–Never think that if you leave Atlanta at 4PM on a Friday afternoon, for your average hour drive home, that you will arrive anytime before midnight–thus making you the loon.

–Never think that if you are standing in a room with a loon and about five other folks that the loon will ask what you would like for lunch. . .the said loon, who has you in its crosshairs, does not consider you present, only the five other folks.
Trust me, you will be the only one without a sandwich.

–Never assume that age is essential when expecting people and loons to act mature. A 55 year old loon can act like a 12 year old junior high age kid any day of the week.

–Always remember, evil does walk the planet and sometime enjoys stalking you.

–Voodoo dolls are real and they look very much like me you.

–There comes a time when you need to be your parent’s advocate. The torch mysteriously passes from them taking care of you and your needs to you taking care of them and their needs. Don’t forget to step up and speak up.

–Which brings us back to likeminded. . .never assume you’ll be working with those who possess a “team” mentality when meeting a crisis head-on especially with a loon nearby.

–Never assume that if you were once a childhood friend with a loon someone that they remember it having been a nice friendship, a good time, or even remember at all. . .

–Never assume or figure. . .you’ll always be wrong, especially when it comes to loons.

–Never trust your “confused” 87 father with a “touch of alzheimers” to tell you that he will pay his bills and keep his records organized and don’t even mention the taxes—the witness protection plan may be the only open option when dodging the IRS

–Never remarry if you have grown kids. . .trust me.

–Never give in when the loons first approach you wearing smiles offering some sort of “great idea.”
Keep that whole Armageddon thing in mind.

–Never assume savings will always cover long term care for the elderly.

–It’s okay to now ask your dad what he was thinking when he thought getting remarried at almost 70 was a good thing. Trust me, he will now wonder with you what he was thinking.

–It’s ok to change your dad’s doctor.

–It’s ok to ask your dad if his idea of shaving is that of his entire face or just sections. It’s also ok to ask if he’s shaved in the past week or finds a beard with one long hair here and one long hair there his idea of no shave November in March

— It’s ok if your 87 year old dad asks you over and over “ok the doctor told me to speak my mind right?” “Yes dad, find your voice”

–It’s not ok when your dad starts calling you from a cell phone you thought he’d lost years ago and never knew how it worked.

–It’s not always a good thing getting step siblings at age 40

–Siblings. . .step, half, whole, or otherwise are like that whole 50 / 50 thing. . .
with that whole Armageddon thing hiding in there somewhere.

–Remember loons of a feather flock together, often attracting like minded loons.

–If you get rundown and stressed you will get sick—and then you will take nighttime meds accidentally in the daytime and wonder how you’ll get home from the grocery store

–there are no frequent flyer miles for traversing Atlanta’s interstates

–And lastly remember, when Life and loons come calling with crises and haunting calls—
it’s best to hold on, pray hard and look for the humor in between the tears. . .