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.”

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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

This time of year….

Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

William Shakespeare

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Scottish saying

Halloween Pumpkins, Witch, Devil, and Black Cat
(vintage halloween card)

What is it about this time of year…
This time of year when we seem to crave the supernatural?
Is it in our nature to lean-in, ever so closely,
to those ancient tales of the “other side”?

Halloween,
what once was an evening relegated to the innocence of the imaginations of children,
has grown to become the second largest commercial “holiday” following Christmas.
No longer is All Hallow’s Eve a single night for young children to don costumes…
all the while as they canvass their neighborhoods, singing trick or treat,
as they amass a small mountain of candy…

Adults have gotten deep into the act.
With Halloween merry making and party going exceeding that of New Years Eve…
For it has now become a month long event….

Yet aside from candy and costumes, which innocently afford one the opportunity to play
dress up as some alter ego,
Halloween has become, more or less, a spiritual excuse.
An open invitation allowing ourselves to taste a bit of a spiritual realm…
But the trouble…
for that is what it becomes, a trouble…
lies in the choice of realms…

Bemused, you may wonder if there is a problem with this yearly interest,
of which borders on obsession,
in this revelry of the realm of the spirits…

And I fear that…yes, perhaps there is.

For you see, we are indeed spiritual beings…
with spirituality being hardwired into our DNA—
And history has proven that it is not necessarily always a need
for a monotheistic God that we seek,
but some sort of spirituality none the less.

Hollywood has long jumped on the bandwagon of our desire to examine spiritual realms,
while at the same time allowing us to exert that odd need to be frightened.
Spook and Horror movies, as well as those tales of witchcraft,
demon possession and specters, have long topped box offices
as we have an almost sick obsession with such.

It is as if cultures worldwide use Halloween as some sort of green light,
a go ahead in affording ourselves permission to dabble in the art of
fortune telling, tarot cards, palm readers, seances, Ouija boards,
paranormal hunting…the supernatural.
All coupled with jaunts to places that are supposedly haunted, creepy and even perhaps dangerous…
and lest we forget the trips to the myriads of haunted / horror houses
which open throughout the month.

Even Disney and Six Flags have each gotten into the act…

So we tell ourselves that that makes it all perfectly safe and harmless.

And yes Halloween, and the thought of spirits,
does indeed course through the blood of humankind….
With those roots traveling far back to Celtic Europe, the ancient Pagan Middle Eastern Kingdoms,
ancient tribes of the Americas, Asia and even Africa—
as every race of people has had that aspect of the supernatural and mystical tied
to their very beginnings.

So maybe we’ve just deem it as all innocent fun as we explore this need of the mystical.

Perhaps we merely convince ourselves that it’s simply wired
deep within the ancient core of our brains…
this odd desire to be scared and frightened…
all the while as we parle into a realm different from our own…

Maybe it’s just something we simply enjoy…

“So what,” we grouse, if it morphs into something else…
something other…
“I’m not scared, I don’t believe in that
hocus locus business…it’s just harmless fun…”

Yet there is just something troubling about it all…
Something actually quite unsettling…
Something actually very dangerous..

For in the naiveté of opening seemingly harmless doors,
we enter into an on-going battle…
an ancient battle for which we are simply not prepared to fight…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13

Narcissus and the selfie obsession

“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
John Steinbeck

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(Narcissus by Caravaggio 1597-99 / Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy)

I just don’t get it.

Were we not taking pictures, those of ourselves, long before the word selfie came into being the most recent phenomenon cultural obsession?
Those good ol days of the Kodak instamatic, with its four part flash cube, clicking away at the important moments of our lives. . .

Excitedly we’d pop out the film role, being careful not to expose it to light, racing it off to the nearest camera shop as we could barely contain our excitement over our soon to be developed pictures.
Only to joyfully retrieve the prints after several days of anxious waiting, marveling at the double exposures, red eyes, and blurry images as being careful not to get sticky fingerprints on the new glossy picture prints.
Were we a bit more cautious as to what we were taking pictures of as we knew that there was a person at the camera shop who would be developing said pictures and we certainly didn’t want him or her to see us in any poor choice of situation—perhaps with the developer acting as both filter and conscience. . .Hummmmmm. . .

But I suppose yes, we have come a long way. . .I just don’t know if its been a very good journey.

And social media, I don’t much get that either. . .

This whole FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram. . .”insta” this and that obsession in this obsessive connect every dot, unabashedly sharing of everything, and sadly I mean everything, with everyone and anyone world of ours. . .
Keeping up with the Joneses has now met the 21st century way.
A virtual brag sheet of trips and activities with the sharing of our intimate and private moments. . .with not only friends and family, but everyone!

Maybe it’s the latest national, no actually global, obsession, of everyone wanting their 15 minutes of fame—with, as we again sadly see, that fame often leading to instant demise. . .

I know what you’re thinking. . .you’re thinking I’m really showing my age, my ignorance, my uber unclooness. . .
Well I prefer hoping that maybe I just might be simply on a quest for wisdom.

I’ve stated before that I’ve never joined in with the whole FaceBook phenomenon.
I don’t tweet, pin, post, chat and whatever it is that most folks are now doing on this communicative world stage of ours.
Oh I understand the whole “it’s how I stay connected with my family who live so far away” mentality. . .I get that.
I get you want to see pictures of the grandkids. . .share what the kids are up to with a traveling spouse. . .share those treasured family moments with literally the world, I get it. . .I’m just wondering if we haven’t also turned into a culture of. . . what’s the word??. . .oh yeah, creepers or maybe just plain ol voyeurists–as we fill our time by pouring over ours and our neighbor’s, those known and unknown, virtual worlds.

Moms following their kids around cyberly making certain all is on the up and up until the kids “unfriend” them (which is good and all, but maybe policing their allowance of usage with technology would be better serving. . .I know, you’ve got an argument for that. . . as I’m obviously far off the grid here)
And what of the old high school and college flames reconnecting, never mind one or the other may still be married. . . or maybe you’re just trying to rekindle that whole “what was” business only to discover “what was” in now 40 years in the future and we and it has all been changed by time. . .

And yes I get the whole raise the awareness of current issues and crises. . .the promoting of businesses, the whole global drawing attention to the growing list of the lost and hopefully soon to be found. . .yet I fear our obsession is going too far—

And what’s up with this whole “sexting” business?
Where folks sashay out into the world of casual sex in a way that oddly is rationalized off as safe, as in no body is touching anybody and therefore there is really no sex, no potential disease, no true infidelity or premarital sex, so it’s all harmless—no biggie that you’re posting pics of your intimate areas as it were, looking for love or affirmation or whatever it is you’re looking for in all those wrong kind of places. . .only to see those private images go suddenly viral. . .now there’s a sticky wicket—and then that leads us to the growing sickness with cyber porn, child predators as we open an entire world of technology darkness. . .lets not even talk about cyber stealing. . .

Maybe you’re just feeling really good about yourself these days and you want the cyber world to know it as you upload selfie, after selfie, after selfie. . . .is there not more to your world than you?
And who exactly is it who is seeing these images. . . and just when you may have second thoughts about having posted those pics, hitting delete later doesn’t delete you from cyber space where you and that image remain until the end of time. . . .looking hot and good for ages to come. . .Hummmmmm

We’ve seen the selfie of the young lady, all grins as she snaps a picture of herself while on that special European trip, standing at the gates of Auschwitz—-a big ol happy smile with that cold dark gate standing behind her as the sign of “welcome” still remains. . .maybe she didn’t get that whole history of where she was standing thing. . .

What of the other young American tourists scratching their names into the side of the Colosseum there in Rome then snapping pictures in order to post to FB of their “kilroy was here moment”. . .never mind defacing a National historic treasure of Italy or the arrest, or of the fine. . .
or of the stupidity. . .

What of the tourists mugging for the camera with the bodies of the calcified remains of the victims of Pompeii—maybe it’s just me but that just seems a bit awkward—everyone pull in tight as we snap the pic of us with our arms around the case containing the remains of a human being who met a tragic end. . .everybody smile. . .

Are we so caught up in the moment of snapping that picture that we forget where we are,
what we’re doing. . .too busy to take it all in because we’d much rather get the perfect picture of us with “it”— and not merely of “it”, wherever and whatever it may be—as in look at me, here I am with “it”, at it, on it, under it, in it. . . but I’M here, ME, WE. . . forget it. . .

Oh sure there are the shots of the adrenaline rush moments with the GoPro taking us places most of us will never be or of things we will never see or of perspectives that are not our own. . . of the parachuters, the whitewater rafters, the free fall divers, the skiers, the surfers, the sharks, the rhinos, the birds, our dogs. . .

Yes there is certainly coolness and there is good. . .yet there is sad and there is dark as well. . .

I fear that our focus has become more about us, as in. . . see us, see we, see me. . .
all of this self obsession as a world continues spiraling out of control, as its troubles keep growing- – -yet we keep on smiling and sharing. . .


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Resolutions

When you rise in the morning, form a resolution to make the day a happy one for a fellow creature.”
― Sydney Smith

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Ok, so I originally wrote today’s post wising to discuss my new healthy purchase. I veered off the subject as usual, verging on a rant regarding our Society’s obsession with beauty, über health, thinness and of our obsessive fear of aging. Things got too wordy, albeit all correct, plus my intent has never for my little blog to be stage for ranting, although there is a great deal I could rant about–Now that being said, this sacred space is reserved for that of a retired Yoda’s musings—plus I was certainly not on topic with that of my new little blender–so he is now the abbreviated version.

I’m not one to make resolutions for the New Year. I just think that we should all try our best, each and every day, without needing some sort of mile marker pointing us in the right direction year after year–those “resolutions” are the things which should be determined each morning as we open our eyes—a daily sort of quest of determination to do right and do better by not only ourselves but our kinsmen as well. Isn’t that a novel concept.

And so it was on the Monday to the new week to the new year—no more sweets, no more fats, back to my little weight lifting regime, loose this excess of weight, get that elliptical machine for the basement, get healthy, get lean. . .hummm. . .
have I ever been lean?

Remember, I’ve got a wedding in June.
“Wedding?”
No silly, not my wedding, my son’s wedding.
“Ahhh, mother of the groom eh?”
Yes and I want to look nice and I want to be able to fit into a dress.
“But no one will be looking at you, they’ll be looking at the bride.”
So you say.
I’ve been to those weddings and you have too– as they escort the mothers in you turn and whisper to you friend, “She surly has aged. Wow she’s gained weight since the retirement. I don’t remember her being so grey. . .” and the litany goes on.

As I take stock of myself in the mirror, wondering what it is that I need do in order to get into “the mother of the groom” sort of shape, I’m noticing that I can no longer tell whether or not I have eye lids, my mouth has more lines around it than a road map and those things that are supposed to be up on my chest, the things that I think folks refer to as breasts, now seem in a position closer to my navel. Hummmm…

I suppose I should start with not only some exercise but perhaps a bit of monitoring of my diet.

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(Please note the word “fiber” in the lower left corner–NO MORE FIBER PLEASE!!!)

I’m certain it comes as no surprise to you that the new trendy super vegetable is Kale. Every time you open a current cooking magazine or search the web’s plethora of foodie sites the once humble green is now all the rage. This simple prolific winter crop of greens which has kept many an Irishman happy as he ate a hearty bowl of Colcannon is now the darling of health food. Funny how the lowly collard and turnip green, along with cousin kale, have taken the eating healthy stage by storm. I’ve been eating such for years—of course the southern style–simmered in chicken broth, a little hot sauce a piece of bacon, or for those hard core southerners, fat back. That my friend is the South on a plate.

Not to be left out of the latest food craze I too have fresh kale on hand. But as far as those kale salads and kale chips are concerned, I’m good. I’ll stick to my spinach and mesclun lettuce for salad and the only chip, as far as I’m concerned, is a potato. I don’t buy potato chips, as I do try to watch what I put in my mouth, I at least know where they are if I need them–right there on the chip aisle–not the kale chip aisle.

Everyone is screaming for kale and I’m still in wonderment over my butter making jar. Now that’s something truly special—butter. And I say all of this as I type under the watchful eye of the placard hanging in my kitchen— “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream” Those immortally wise words of Julia Child.

But let’s get to my point shall we—I bought a Bullet.
A what you ask?
I had not heard of it either but it seems to be a most popular little device.

What started this new little move to health was actually founded in a bit of guilty indulgence. Monday, I decided that I would make chocolate pudding. My poor husband has felt quite deprived since the new year’s healthiness began. Pudding would be okay. But then I saw a fun recipe by the pioneering red head, Ree Drummond for Pots de Creme, which sounded quick and easy. Put the chocolate chips in a blender along with eggs, grind, then add the hot coffee. I did as instructed and as the chips began “grinding” , suddenly my very nice Kitchen Aid blender stopped. I thought the chips were stuck to the blade–but as luck would have it, the chips killed the blender. Who knew?!

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Obviously I had to get a new blender. It was suggested that I try a NurtiBullet, as in a magic bullet to health, which will enable me to make those wonderful healthy smoothies which are now all the rage. Really? I want to do that? Who says I want to do that? Blenders are for fun little cocktails, and the blending of the bases of various soups. . . milkshakes, yes, smoothies, ok—but what’s this healthy business?

I proudly bring my new Bullet in the house and unpack it. Looks easy enough. It’s smaller than a traditional blender and it even has a nice little recipe book.

As it is lunch time and I am a tad hungry, I immediately pack the blender cup with the suggested items–peaches, blueberries and kale, filling it with water. I used frozen peaches and blueberries hoping to eliminate the need for ice as I don’t like a smoothie full of hunks of ice. Pop that puppy up on the base, plug it in, and ZIP—within seconds a beautifully deep purple, dotted with little specks of green, smoothie. “This looks really good,” I’m thinking as I bring the cup to my lips. Big sip. . .
AAAGGGHHHHHHHH—eeeoooo, gag–cough, cough

Oh my Lord, I’m drinking grass! All I can taste is the raw kale–no sweet peaches, no tangy blueberries. Honey, I know, it needs some honey!!
Let’s just say that honey will not blend into something very cold, it stays a clumpy cold mass–so now I have a cup full of purple raw greens with a wad of honey hiding within.

Ok, I do see some potential here, but I’ve got to think this through— rather than just throwing any healthy thing in a cup thinking I can blend it up into a palatable concoction, there must be balance. Back to the grocery store I go. More fruits. Some Greek yogurt, some frozen yogurt, add some dashes of perhaps protein powder, this new rage of flax seed meal, some chai and gogi crap. I can do this.

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I am now armed with an arsenal of “additives”–all in the name of health. Do you know what excessive fiber can do to your system if you are not use to such. Let’s just say it’s not pretty nor comfortable as a smoothie is pretty much cold raw fiber in a cup. And this is what I wanted?? Hummm

Now on day 3 it’s gotten a tad better. Peaches, strawberries, a banana for texture and potassium, some Greek yogurt, a little coconut milk, cinnamon, a tad of honey—ZIP again, voila, pretty smoothie and one that is much more palatable. Next, blackberries, frozen peaches, pineapples, frozen yogurt, cinnamon, almond milk and a sprinkling of Qia—What in the heck is Qia?? Some sort of magical mix of super seeds—ZIP it up again and I now have a pretty crunchy smoothie. Hummm—I don’t like the seeds, I doubt my intestines like the seeds. No more seeds
At least however, there are possibilities. It’s easy to use and clean–I can give it a try for a while. I wonder if the yogurt, peaches and almond milk would enjoy a shot of Amaretto? I think I would. Oh, this is breakfast, I forgot, nix the alcohol.

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This will definitely take some playing around with in order to appreciate the full potential–ratios and combinations are certainly coming into play. And yet, I’m still drawn back to the pudding. So much smoother–such a wonderful feel in the mouth–none of this stick in the teeth seed business. Chocolate and creme–a thing of beauty in the mouth–and what’s more these two would appreciate a shot of Amaretto, Rum, Bourbon, you name it!!
Oh what would Julia say?

The moral of this tale—make no big yearly resolutions, simply tell yourself each morning that you will make good daily choices for yourself and others— while always making room for a little added pudding.
Now I’m thinking I may just go back to my fig newtons for lunch–figs and whole grains—now that sounds healthy!