Upholding God’s word, part II: when your child is not your child

Let this be the way that I go,
And the life that I try,
My feet being firm in the field,
And my heart in the sky.

Philip Britt

It was May 2nd, the day the Chruch recognizes St Athanasius, a true defender of the
Holy Trinity, when I caught the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted featuring our
favorite rouge cleric Gavin Ashenden.

Before beginning his interview, the good Bishop made note of the feast day of this
former bishop within the Chruch, St Athanasius.
An obscure saint to most of the faithful but none the less important in the
history of our faith…
His is the story of a man who stood up in defense of the Godhead of Christ
when the early church was being run amuck in heresy.

Not much different it appears from our own current run amuck days.

St. Athanasius
A champion of orthodoxy!
He did not die a martyr, but his life was martyrdom in the truest sense.
Athanasius was the Church’s greatest hero in the battle against Arianism
(a heresy that denied Christ’s divinity).

“the entire Catholic congregation with one accord, as one soul and body,
voiced the wish of the dying bishop Alexander that Athanasius should succeed him.
Everyone esteemed him as a virtuous, holy man, an ascetic, a true bishop.”

Bishop of Alexandria and a great defender of the orthodox faith,
throughout his, life opposed the Arian heresy.
By denying the Godhead of the Word the Arians turned Christ into a mere man,
only higher in grace than others in the eyes of God.
St. Athanasius took part in the Council of Nicea in 325 and until the end remained a champion
of the faith as it was defined by the Council. Even as a young deacon at the Council.
he was recognized as “Arius’ ablest enemy” and the foremost defender of the Church’s faith.
After the death of his bishop (328),
“the entire Catholic congregation with one accord,
as one soul and body, voiced the wish of the dying bishop Alexander that
Athanasius should succeed him.
Everyone esteemed him as a virtuous, holy man, an ascetic, a true bishop.”
In him the Church venerates one of her great Doctors.
He was subjected to persecutions for upholding the true teaching concerning the person
of Christ and was sent into exile from his see no less than five times.
He died at Alexandria in 373 after an episcopate of forty-six years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The good bishop began the interview with a reflection on the life and death of Alfie Evans–
the young boy I wrote about the other day in the post “When your child is not your child”

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/when-your-child-is-not-your-child/

I found it important to hear the perspective of the good bishop—
the perspective of one who is British and understands better than I do
the workings of the healthcare system and the legal system in the UK.

Bishop Ashenden notes that this all boils down to a pure rank prejudice as to why the
British Court wouldn’t allow Alfie’s parents to be what is their God-given responsibility…
that being Alfie’s parents.
Parents tasked with making those hard decisions for their own children…
and not a legal system who blatantly decrees that it is the one who knows
what is best for a child not its own.

For as parents, it is our Divine responsibility to mirror the parenthood of God the Father,
a Father who sent His only begotten son so that we may have eternal life…

The Godhead of the parent to the Son.

Bishop Ashenden explains that at first, this was basically a case about a power struggle.
It was a struggle for power between the medical professionals who decreed that they knew best
for the child over that of Alfie’s own two parents.

But it turned more sinister and very anti-Christian when Alfie’s Catholic parents stated
that the Pope, along with the Italian Government who had granted Alfie citizenship,
offered to bring Alfie to Rome in order to receive continued care in Italy versus terminated
care in the UK.
No matter if that care was for 24 hours or 24 days, etc.

So wouldn’t any parent, no matter how dire the circumstances may be,
opt for, as well as cling to, any ray of hope???
That hope being, in this case, the generosity of both the Pope and Italy?!

Yet the judge involved, who happens to be an ardent Gay Rights supporter and known for his
outspoken disdain of Christianity, brought in the element of anti-parent and anti-Christian and
anti-Chruch by putting state and secular values before the values of the Gospel.

He ruled that Alfie could not leave the country for care elsewhere and that the hospital
should remove all life support from the child ASAP.

The child would then be expected to die immediately.

But Alfie did not die immediately.

He actually lived for 4 days…

And here is where the sinister enters in…
the hospital, seeing that the child would not die, withheld any and all sustenance, water,
IVs, fluids, noursihment…in essence murdering this 23-month-old child.

With the argument being that he would die anyway so why prolong the inevitable.

But do we mere mortals ever really know the inevitable or rahter merely the assumed?

So let us imagine for this moment the sheer hopeless anguish this young couple felt for
their child.
As his parents, it is their innate prewired disposition to protect, care for, nurture,
console, help, aid, and sustain their child.
It is what we as parents do…
Just as God the Father has so bestowed upon us all with His being the pinacle example.

Baby In My Arms I Took

Baby in my arms I took
Through the gentle night,
Tawny, tawny were the clouds,
By the moon alight.

And we found a golden tree,
All alone and old,
Standing in the tawny light,
Palm tree made of gold.

Golden palm tree, bend your head,
Tell my baby why
Here you stand all tawny-gold,
With your head so high.

Whispered then the golden palm,
Bending low and near,
“Long ago another Child
Found me standing here;

And He gave me leaves of gold,
Laughing in His glee,
Saying ‘When the babies come,
Speak to them of me.'”

Philip Britt
September 5, 1943

Flown the coop

“Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery”
Anne Frank

Amazement awaits us at every corner.
James Broughton

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(the house wren’s empty nest on the tractor, under the tarp / Julie Cook / 2016)

Amazing…
on so many different levels…
simply amazing…

Let’s take a small diversion from the current reign of havoc, or is that rain of havoc, or merely both….anywhooo….

Away from the havoc which has been beset upon us in these most recent of days..diverting ourselves away in which to wander…

Wandering away ever so slightly from that which is directly in front of our eyes…to that which is somewhat removed…
Blessedly and amazingly removed.

Yet, we must take note, it is to be no less, simply amazing.

And maybe since it is somewhat removed, tucked away and elusive in nature…
it is all of that, and so much more, which adds to the sheer amazingness of it all…

Let us now wander away to the world of the amazing…

On Sunday, 3 days ago, this empty jumble of leaves, with the giant hollowed out hole in the middle, was a dizzying beehive of activity.

RSCN3121

The stakes were high.
For there were five hungry mouthes which had to be fed.
We were all made keenly aware of this one important fact.
Life was suddenly all a flutter, literally.

Squawking and screeching two very busy parents hunted, pecked, chirped, sung, guarded, protected and fiercely chased away any friend or foe from the home of their 5 tiny offspring.

Not only had they labored to construct, dare we say craft, this amazing conglomeration of sticks,
leaves, feathers and fuzz…
they had selected a most safe, protected and hidden site in which to set up house.

Birds are amazing that way.

They worked tirelessly almost undetected…all but for the presence of a busy bee bird who could be seen darting, scurrying ad flitting here and there.
Eggs were silently laid and kept warm…unbeknownst to the unsuspecting nearby humans.

Yet all of that changed at hatching time.

Nonstop, two parents labored in order to gather enough food to raise up their alienesque brood.
Five oversized beaks flapped open, as 10 bulbous closed orbs protruding from wobbly heads,
continued to develop.

There would be silence…then as soon as a parent neared,
the inharmonic din of chatter began.
It was as if the sound translated into a clamoring repetitiveness of
“feed me, feed me, feed me…feed us… NOW”)

Then this past Sunday the nervous frenzy reached a crescendo.
As the tiny aliens mysteriously sprouted feathers as heads began to match bodies as wings took shape.
The parents were now worked into a fevered pitch as babies, turned fledglings, were soon to spread their wings. Mom and Dad were keen to create a safe zone, free of humans, cats and others
as their children would need some room to roam…safe yet free.

And just like that, it is…..now over.

“Did they fly away??” you pensively ask.

Well… I truthfully can’t say.

It’s as if one day they were there and the next day they just weren’t…

We’re they ready?

I’d like to think so.

As birds and their Divine Creator are each amazing that way….

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17

desensitized

Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another.
For the Strength of Youth

These data suggest very strongly that participating in the playing of violent video games by children and youth increase aggressive thought and behavior; increase antisocial behavior and delinquency; engender poor school performance; desensitize the game player to violence.
Leland Yee
former California Senator

Today the data linking violence in the media to violence in society are superior to those linking cancer and tobacco.
David Grossman
Israeli author

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(gargoyle downspout Adare Manor / Adare, Coutny Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Desensitize–a transitive verb—meaning: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically: to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it

Two recent articles about children and young people have each catapulted the word desensitization and its meaning to the forefront of my radar leaving me greatly troubled.

As a retired educator articles which showcase the current and various growing concerns for and of our youth certainly catch my eye as I spent a lifetime living out those very concerns on a daily basis. As any educator will tell you, teachers not only “teach” they also nurture, mentor, direct, guide, care for, comfort, coach, discipline, lead, encourage, help…etc.

Teaching is not a one subject fits all sort of job.
In fact teaching is not a job at all but rather a vocation or a calling. You have to care about kids and their well being in order to want to teach. Those in it for either a paycheck or some sort of job security need look elsewhere.

As a veteran classroom teacher, who spent my entire career working at the high school level, I am very much aware of the often fragile and tenuous tightrope our adolescents walk in their daily lives.

Any parent and educator alike can tell you that raising and educating kids is no easy task especially given today’s growing technological pull and social media draw that is blanketing our youth.

The first story I read yesterday.
It was an article examining a link between the alarming rise of teenage suicide and that of social media usage.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/11/is-social-media-fueling-national-epidemic-teen-suicide.html

I found the article both disturbing as well as telling— as I forwarded it to several teachers and counselors who are currently still working with various school systems.

It has often been noted that many in this generation of kids have a very difficult time actually talking to people. It is often observed that they do not make eye contact easily or readily nor are they capable of carrying on any sort of lengthy conversation with a free flowing dialog.

They can be in a room filled with their family or friends yet will be more engaged on their phones rather than those sitting by their side. They will actually opt to text a person in the very same room rather than ask a verbal question or make a verbal comment.

There is a frighting and rapidly growing disconnect between reality and virtual…with kids often preferring the virtual.
Maybe because its as if they feel they can control the virtual better than reality.

Yet the correlation between kids, their social media usage and an increase in the suicide rate is something that should have us all concerned…..

The second article, which includes a short video clip, I actually read today having spotted it on the BBC.
It was an interview conducted by a BBC reporter of two young Syrian boys aged 8 and 10.
The boys were only two out of hundreds who have been living in IS occupied areas of Syria.
Luckily for these two boys, they have made it out of Syria and hopefully out of harms way.

The interview begins with the 8 year old aptly demonstrating how to put on a sucicide vest with as much ease as he would have kicking a soccer ball.

He told the reporter how they had often witnessed beheadings. They would be called by loudspeaker to come witness what was taking place as IS members would behead, in the boy’s case, a neighbor.

It is reported that IS is actually rewritng the textbooks used in classrooms…changing dates as well as “current” geographical maps.

The children, yes young children, are put through a variety of physical military type training and obstacles courses while actually being shot at and yelled at as they maneuver the course.
Of which is probably the most disturbing clip in the video.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35552391

Between our own kids who are drowning in a sea of social media, violent video games and a huge Spiritual disconnect and then the children who fall under the harsh and brutal regimes of hate spreading their insidious indoctrination of hate and destruction all around the globe our future as a human race is looking neither hopeful nor promising…
We need, for their sake as well as our own, to take our children back….


All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13

Setting the example—Happy Father’s Day

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco

DSC01720
(3 AM 26.5 years ago / Tanner Hospital / Julie Cook)

DSCN5343
(groom and best man/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Parenthood has never come with an instruction manual–
much to the frustration of many a first time parent.

On top of not having a step by step manual,
throw in having no clue as how to be a parent—
as your own background of dysfunctional raising,
by two individuals who truly had no business really being parents,
left only an example of what not to do.

Forget manuals, your parents didn’t even try to pretend they knew what they were doing.
Throw in moving 5 times before your were 8. . .throwing out all thoughts of stability.
Throw in alcohol.
Throw in abuse.
Throw in the fact that this was a time when no one talked about such. . .
There were no Betty Ford clinics, no fashionable rehabs, just the state mental hospital.
How were you to tell your friends that your dad’s on another binge and was taken away kicking and screaming?
Throw in the fact your coaches, teachers and friends all saw the bruises, but again, this was a time when such things weren’t discussed out in the open, only in secretive hushed tones.

Mix all of that and the fact that you hadn’t really known what it was to be a husband and now you waited until you were 40 to start a family. . .
You had only one clue as to where you should start. . . you simply knew what NOT to do. . .
And so you ran with it. . .

Add in being. . .
Scared
Frightened
Anxious
Determined to be different
Never to repeat the same offenses you yourself endured.

And so you began your own journey into parenthood, with great trepidation, almost 27 years ago.

It wasn’t easy.
You immediately gave up smoking
You named him yourself
You worked long hours
You changed diapers
You made him laugh for the very first time
You gave him your full attention, each evening you were home, despite having worked 14 hour days
You fed him in the middle of the night allowing your wife some precious sleep
You never wanted to exclude him
You held him tight before his surgery
You cried when he was hurt
You offered him the gift of Nature.
You took him fishing, camping, hunting, hiking
You took him to the ocean’s shore for his very first time
You taught him how to swim
You bought him a boogie board and later a surf board.
You disciplined him when you absolutely had to, and it about killed you
You didn’t care when he couldn’t follow in your same athletic agilities and accomplishments.
You worried
You fretted
You cried
You obsessed
You gave him your old truck
You reluctantly bought him a new truck when he wrecked your old one
You afforded him college, to the place of his dreams, that turned out not to be a dream.
You later helped him settle into a place more suited for him.
Always teaching him how to begin again.
You offered comfort and only the positive when he fell, when he failed, when he lost.

You showed him what it means to be a man.
To be responsible.
To get up and try again when things look hopeless.
You taught him how to run forward. . .running toward the trouble, rather then running from the trouble.
You demonstrated that a man never hides from his troubles or mistakes.
You showed him what unconditional love is all about with your own attention to the father who never deserved your concern or care.
You demonstrated how to be a husband during both the good and the bad life has to offer.
You showed him how to give abundantly when it was little he would receive in return.
You demonstrated how to be honest in a dishonest world.
You taught him to be just, forgiving, strong, determined while keeping a gentle touch.
Reminding him to always walk with integrity while holding his head high. . .

You did this on your own. . .
With no direction
No manual
No help from your own father. . .
You demonstrated to your son, what being a real father is all about. . .
By giving him the greatest gift possible. . .
yourself. . .

Happy Father’s Day my love. . . .

Ripe yet?

Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.
Soren Kierkegaard

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming.
Frederick Buechner

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(unripened blueberries / Julie Cook / 2015)

By the looks of these blueberries, they still have a ways to go before they’re ripe enough for picking. More time is needed for basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays before they’ll be a deep purplish blue bursting with juicy sweetness. And I must admit, the thought of soon to be syrupy fresh blueberries is a comforting thought.

Life with Dad these days has precipitated any sort of garden this summer, which makes me sad—
yet at the same time life is as it should be—with me being able to travel back and forth, helping to care for him during this particular stage of his life’s journey. . .It makes for long hectic days, with some days being good and some days being not so good. We made a minor crisis run to the doctor’s today, and are waiting on more test results- – but for now, just this minute, it’s “steady as she goes”. . .

So being able to come home with a chance to wander a bit in the yard, checking out the progress of the blueberries, watching the birds dart in and out of their bird boxes, and just relishing in the muffled sounds of a late rural afternoon is a welcomed respite from the worries of a stress filled day.

And as I check on the ripeness of my pale green berries, my thoughts wander to my own sense of ripeness.

Most folks might think that at 55 I’m probably pretty good and ripe, with hints of pruneiness here and there. I’ve had life experiences both good and bad that have worked to shape and mould me into the person I am today.
Painful as well as pleasant, sweet coupled with sorrowful.
Yet one look at my 87 year old dad, pale and feeble, I think to myself “now here is someone who must be ripe–” And yet there are days I think he’s often just rotting on the vine as it were, wasting away with little effort to stop the decay.

I know my dad, I know he’s not where he needs to be, yet–and I doubt, knowing Dad, that he’ll get there in time. Which might mean that none of us are ever fully ripe as perhaps our lives are just one long ripening process. God works throughout our lives deep within our hearts and souls. He lovingly takes us, shifting and shaping, pushing and pulling. He allows the sun of his love to warm us while the rains of our sorrows water us. We are given ample opportunity to fertilize ourselves by His word, yet we don’t always take advantage of His available resources.

Some of us choose, sadly, to wither on the vine, preferring to never allow the Master Gardener the chance to prune, train, trim or nurture–we’ve even been known to actually rebuff His attempts.
A terrible waste of good fruit really.

So many of us spend our lives seeking God with hopes of establishing a deep rooted relationship with Him. Yet such relationships, as well as us each of us individually, are ever changing, growing, shifting and deepening. We scratch the surface finding some sense of satisfaction that only leads us to wanting more. We hunger and thirst for a deep feeding and watering as we long for sustenance that only He can offer. . .just like a tender plant yearns for and needs nourishment to survive. We find ourselves not only needing but wanting more of His time, His attentions, His care, His concern.
This becomes an unquenchable desire which spans the course of a lifetime.

So as I wander aimlessly surveying my tiny green orbs which dot my blueberry bushes like the decorations on a Christmas tree, all with a sense of great anticipation of things to come, I marvel at the fact that I myself am far from ripe—I’m just as green as my berries yet equally hungry for the warmth of His tender nourishment. . .

Prayers are now offered up for a deep feeding. . .
Here’s to His nurturing and our growing. . .

Post Script regarding Malala

Hope is nature’s veil for hiding truth’s nakedness.
Alfred Nobel
Sweden Alfred-Nobel2

***A bit of a disappointing Post Script
The Committee who awards the various Nobel prizes announced this morning form Oslo that a Chemical Weapons watchdog group, who has overseen the chemical weapons search in Syria, has won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately Malala Yousafzai, the young defiant 16 year old Pakistani girl, who was shot in the head last year by the Taliban and left for dead– all for refusing to back down from the hardline edict that girls should not be educated, did not win. She was the youngest contender.

Watchdog groups are important but I always have a hard time when “groups” win such awards verses the individual who has somehow defied the odds, overcome grave adversity, stood up to tremendous obstacles all in the face of grave danger with little to no regard to self in order to be the still small voice for the masses who have no voice. Alone. No group of support. Simply, alone.

I suppose the argument could be that that “Peace” and working towards that as an end to the means, is what the Weapons group is all about—but to me, that is their job, their responsibility. Is there danger involved? Certainly. But Malala is not ordered, asked, contracted, to be the voice for millions of young girls, she did not volunteer for this global platform, but came to it by simply refusing to stay at home and not attend school. It almost cost her her life but she understood the importance of learning and schooling for children world wide, particularly for countless young girls who still find that a deep double standard exists all around this globe.

Malala will still stand her ground against a terroristic group of men who somehow think it’s ok to burn down schools, pour acid on young girls and who even hunt them down as animals shooting them, as they simply attend school, in hopes of silencing “this rebellious act.” She will continue being the advocate for the countless numbers of girls who are mutilated, enslaved, tortured, bought and sold, pimped, who are considered less than all across this globe. She will continue to educate a world that a girl is a person of worth and that an education is the most important gift you can offer to children other than love.

Here is to education, to the hope that knowledge is more powerful than ignorance and that all children, male and female, deserve to be nurtured, loved and educated by the adults who are all entrusted to care for them.