generation…redeemed

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful:
he makes saints out of sinners.”

Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard


(gulf frittilary butterfly /Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday our friend Kathy, over on atimetoshare.me, offered a marvelous post examining our various
generational monikers.

We have the greatest generation, the baby boomers, the silent generation, the Me generation,
along with that X, Y, and Z business.
A crazy mishmash of generational clarifications.

These labels are not necessarily meant to definitively define a specific group of people, given their
time of birth and their time of growing up, but it does, none the less, have a lasting pigeon hole
for those born during various time periods.

Were they quiet and steadfast?
Were they daring and wild?
Were they hyperfocused and driven?

Yet it wasn’t so much the names and characteristics of each generation that caught
my attention but rather it was the afterthought Kathy offered…

She noted that we should add in the Redeemed generation…

And I’d like to think that is this is the defining highlight of the pandemic /civil unrest generation…
a group of people that transcend both generational monikers or age barriers.

A collective group of ages and backgrounds.

Redemption that crosses both space and time…

Kathy reminds us:
The beautiful message of the Gospel, assures our forgiveness if we only believe it.
Isn’t it wonderful that in this world, where evil and selfishness prevail,
those who have faith in the most important gift of God can still be part of the “Redeemed Generation.”
Because of His grace alone, we will inherit His heavenly kingdom.
Through our faith alone, which is also a gift from God,
we receive the promise of eternal life.
Through His inspired Word, we have the perfect handbook for life provided by the King of Kings.
It isn’t complicated.

May we all strive to be a part of this Redeemed generation….

GENERATION REDEEMED

antithesis gone mad meets brute facts

Seventy-five years after the end of the Second World War,
Winston Churchill has once again come under attack.
This time, however, the crowds are not made up of young fanatics wearing armbands
with swastikas and parading through the streets of Berlin.
Today, mobs of young fanatics believing that they are the antithesis
of the Nazis parade through the streets of London denouncing Churchill as a racist.

David Freeman

I’m currently reading a great book by Erik Larson—The Splendid and the Vile
A saga of Chruchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.

The reviews were predominantly positive but I also read the negative as I
do like to see if there is balance.
In this case, the predominantly positives fully overrode the negatives.

I’ve read books by Erik Larson before–one of the best was
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

I even featured that book a few years back with a post.

I admit, that as of late, my morale has been flagging a bit.
In great part due to my sheer dismay over the current civil strife plaguing
our Western Civilization…and in particular, that being here at home.

Pandemic pandamonium isn’t helping— but if the truth be told,
I really think that the utter political lunacy, the unprecedented vehemence
directed toward a sitting president, the disrespect, news turned into twisted emotionalism,
a blatant disregard for human life, the endless bald-faced lies,
the push toward politically correct cover-ups,
the frightening lack of law and order, the march toward the cliff
of Marxism and socialism lead by an ignorant populace…

It is like I told Kathy yesterday—it is as if we are currently living
in what was once a draconian futuristic novel.

So what time is this in which we live when groups that on the surface say
they support black lives but when in reality they are a violent
Marxist organization bent on violence, hate, and death.

What time is this when support for a proposition called a Green New deal is actually
a thinly veiled cover for all-out socialism?

When Hitler began his insatiable gobbling up of Europe…there was initially dismay,
there was skepticism, and there was disbelief.

But all of that quickly changed when the tanks rolled into sovereign nation after nation…
and as the bombs began to explode across villages, towns, and cities.

Those of us who know our history, are well aware that Great Britain went it alone
against Hitler’s raging Nazi machine for years before the United States joined the war.
Our President simply wished them well…year after year after year…despite the desperate
pleading for help from their Prime Minister.

Yet this small island nation stayed the course, dug in her heels, and braced itself against
what appeared to be impossible odds.

She thankfully had a stubborn and resolute leader.
One who, just months prior, had been maligned, ridiculed, and certainly
not taken seriously.

And just when things indeed turned dire, she also had citizens who were willing
to sacrifice–doing what was needed to be done in order to make their nation as
prepared as possible.

All were willing to stand up rather than kneel to fascism.

And the sad irony today, these 75 years later, is that Western Civilization
now seeks to embrace fascism, socialism, Marxism…ideologies she once
vehemently stood ardently against…
all the while vying to defend her dear democracy.

So what happened in the time span of 75 years?

I suppose we’ll begin to look at this question in the coming days…

‘United wishes and goodwill cannot overcome brute facts,’
Churchill wrote in his War Memoirs.
‘Truth is incontrovertible.
Panic may resent it.
Ignorance may deride it.
Malice may distort it.
But there it is.’

is it really a good idea…is it in the best interest of humanity??

“I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole,
the less I love man in particular.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

2020 is proving to be the year that we must never mention again.

You know…as in the name that must not be spoken…
This year needs to hurry up and get put in the books— as in done!

Wishing our lives away?
Probably.

So here’s a little scenario, followed with a question.

Have you or anyone you’ve ever loved or known ever passed through that tumultuous
phase of life known as menopause?

You know…that little time in a woman’s life when her body shifts gears, things shrivel up,
fertility goes out the window and hell comes rushing in.

I can readily recall the one day that my happy-go-lucky aunt suddenly broke
down in a massive fit of tears while standing in the middle of my den wailing over
her young granddaughter and our young son having gotten into
a minor fuss over the notion of sharing–as most little kids do.

I thought she’d lost her mind until it dawned on me…
her bizarre wealth of emotion came from one place and one place only…
the dreaded “change.”

So back about 26 years ago when I was 35, I had to have a complete hysterectomy…
due to some serious health issues.

At the time, our son was in the second grade.
I was a little bummed that he would be relegated to being an only child but I
also knew the surgery was imperative.

Following surgery, when I was still in recovery, the first hot flash hit.
That’s how fast things happen minus working parts.

So enters HRT—hormone replacement therapy.
HRT was implemented because the prewired, naturally produced, hormones
were removed and taken away…hence the need for a little extra help.

So at age 35, I began taking Premarin.
We played with the doses for a while, until the correct balance was achieved.

And thus began a near 26-year love-hate relationship.

There was, however, that one year when I decided enough was enough and I needed
to purge myself from all that which was non-natural—
and that year became known, by not only myself but by those around me,
as the year from hell…
but I digress.

So last week, given my most recent blood work, my doctor said NO MORE ESTROGEN, ASAP…
as in aka, no more hormones…period, end of sentence.

So is this really the wisest thing to do given the current state of affairs
in our world?

Pandemics.
National civil unrest
The demise of Democracy
A contentious year of an election.
and now…no hormones????

It seems that blood clots have become a factor…thus, it is time.

“Cut the current pills in half for two weeks, then go every other day…
then stop”…so she says.

So… after one day…
the hot flashes revved up, the sleepless nights are now rampant
and the ill mood…well…I think if I go to Portland, the President
will not need to send in the National Gaurd…
cause I’ve got this.

A near 61-year-old woman now without her hormones is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Watch out Antifa, I’m coming for you…

miasma…once again, we are afraid to breathe

“Once plague had shut the gates of the town, they had settled down to a life of separation,
debarred from the living warmth that gives forgetfulness of all.”
“If there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love.”

Albert Camus, The Plague


(Paul Fürst, engraving, c. 1721, of a plague doctor of Marseilles
(introduced as ‘Dr Beaky of Rome’).
His nose-case is filled with herbal material to keep off the plague.)

Miasma–The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) is an obsolete
medical theory that held that diseases—such as cholera, chlamydia,
or the Black Death—were caused by a miasma (μίασμα, ancient Greek: “pollution”),
a noxious form of “bad air”, also known as night air.

The theory held that epidemics were caused by miasma,
emanating from rotting organic matter.
Though miasma theory is typically associated
with the spread of disease, some academics in the early nineteenth century suggested
that the theory extended to other conditions as well,
e.g. one could become obese by inhaling the odor of food.

The miasma theory was accepted from ancient times in Europe and China.
The theory was eventually given up by scientists and physicians after 1880,
replaced by the germ theory of disease: specific germs, not miasma,
caused specific diseases. However, cultural beliefs about getting rid of odor made the clean-up
of waste a high priority for cities.
(Wikipedia)

If you have ever traveled to Italy, pre-pandemic of course, you might have noticed that
the Italians tend to be, what we Americans might call, overtly health-conscious…
almost to the point of extremes.

So I can only imagine that their pandemic quarantine and loss of life was a very heavy,
heavy burden,

And yes, they do indeed believe in the notion of “night air”—aka “bad air”.

I have Italian friends, so I know this.
And yes, this belief, phobia, or fear, whatever you might call it, was truly way pre-pandemic.

They don’t understand why we Americans don’t use bidets.
You know those extra toilet looking things in hotels that my son once thought was
a fancy foot washer.
They bundle up with full face scarves in the winter to fend off inhaling cold air
and in the summers, they fear air conditioning— they think it produces “bad” air.
That is why so many older hotels and apartments do not have AC.

And if the truth be told, they may be on to something…think Legionnaire’s disease.

But I digress.

So when I read Kathy’s post yesterday over on atimetoshare, about masks—
“To mask or not to mask”
TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK
it got me thinking…

Plague doctors…THAT’S IT!!!!
We need plague doctors…
Oh, wait… isn’t that what Dr. Fauci is….???

Digressing again…

So a plague doctor, according to Wikipedia:

The clothing worn by plague doctors was intended to protect them from airborne diseases.
The costume, used in France and Italy in the 17th century, consisted of an ankle-length overcoat
and a bird-like beak mask, often filled with sweet or strong smelling substances (commonly lavender),
along with gloves, boots, a wide-brimmed hat, and an outer over-clothing garment.

The mask had glass openings for the eyes and a curved beak shaped like a bird’s beak
with straps that held the beak in front of the doctor’s nose.
The mask had two small nose holes and was a type of respirator which contained aromatic items.
The beak could hold dried flowers (including roses and carnations),
herbs (including eucalyptus, peppermint), spices, camphor, or a vinegar sponge.
The purpose of the mask was to keep away bad smells, known as miasma,
which were thought to be the principal cause of the disease before it was disproved by germ theory.
Doctors believed the herbs would counter the “evil” smells of the plague
and prevent them from becoming infected.

The beak doctor costume worn by plague doctors had a wide-brimmed leather hat to
indicate their profession.
They used wooden canes in order to point out areas needing attention and to examine patients
without touching them. The canes were also used to keep people away,
to remove clothing from plague victims without having to touch them,
and to take a patient’s pulse.

So do you think this will be an okay type of mask for me to wear to the grocery store
while keeping me safe?
Just thinking…


(as seen on Pintrest)

When buzzards come calling…

When vultures surround you, try not to die.
African proverb


(close up of a turkey buzzard / Lifescience.com)

Look at that face would you?
Look how the nostril just opens through to the other side…
I’ve always heard that, as the garbage men of the bird world, buzzards
can’t smell…well I would certainly hope not!

It is supposedly by their keen eyesight that they are able to scope out and zoom in on the
latest roadkill.

So over the past weekend, since it has been so miserably hot and while we are still
supposedly in some sort of social distancing lockdown…
just don’t tell everyone out on the roadways that, we opted for some idyllic countryside driving.

I don’t know about you but I’ve come to realize that I feel very heavyily burdened.

Be it this ongoing Pandemic mess…total civil unrest across the nation and world…
political persecution should you support the sitting president…
Christian persecution…

All the while questions loom heavy overhead…
Will there be school, will there not be school…
will there be a second wave…did we ever finish the first wave…
will they open Chruch…will we just succumb to Marxist ideology and the church will be
rendered dead…should we don a mask or not…

And so pray tell, how much longer will all of this mess go on!?

So as we started driving and I was looking out the window, with the weight of so much
heaviness on my mind, I focused my eyes on something a bit odd…
I noticed a black image sitting atop the steeple of a small country church.


(youtube)

“Oh my gosh,” I exclaimed to my husband, “do they not have any sense of reverence?”
“Who?” my husband surprised by my question responds a bit bewildered.

“Buzzards!”
“There’s a buzzard sitting on top of that church’s cross on its steeple.

“No respect” my husband chuckles.

I wish I had been able to get out my phone to take a picture but the one I found
on-line gives you some idea of what I’m talking about.

I went back to staring out the window while musing the symbology of a specter of death
perched on a cross atop a steeple.

And so wouldn’t you know it, when we were out driving around the following day,
I saw the same thing…but this was another church with another buzzard perched up top.

What are those odds?

Coincidence?

Who knows…but what I do know is that there’s got to be a heavy dose of irony
buried somewhere in two different visions of death birds perching on top of a cross,
an image of life.

Yesterday, Tricia, over on Freedom Through Empowerment,
and I were chatting back and forth about the implications of the news over Hagia Sophia
becoming a “working” mosque again mirrored by the Marxist push to attack
Christianity here at home.

We both noted that whatever is to come from any of these latest digs at
the global body of Believers was not going to be good.

For many weeks now a thought has been nagging at the back recesses of my thoughts.
It’s a thought that I believe is being slowly fine-tuned.

This was my response to Tricia—a response I cleaned up when re-reading
my initial reply because there is just something about pecking out a deeply
thoughtful response on a phone while using a thumb.

“Tricia—as a kid, I was always mesmerized by the stories of the early saints and martyrs of the church.
I often imagined living life in early Rome,
sneaking about and worshiping in secret, in the cover of darkness or hidden in catacombs.
I imagine my defiance if ever discovered and arrested.
I would face the torture with fortitude.

Or so thought my youthful bravado self.

Even over the past decade, as we’ve seen more and more about the persecution of Christians worldwide,
I’d like to think I would be courageous.
But here, at home, we have something much more sinister and insidious.
No less full of persecution with the end goal being Christian eradication—
yet am I courageous in our oh so woke society?

Do I take to the streets in defense of my faith?

Churches are being attacked..both here and in Europe and it is not by Muslim extremists…
but by extremists none the less.

I can’t help but think God has prepared you, me, Tom, Kathy, IB, Wally, CS et al,
(just a few of the blogging community of Fatih)
to be those who dare to meet in the catacombs albeit the catacombs of today…
those of our neighborhoods and cities.
Am I willing to risk everything for my faith??
I hope I will be able to answer yes.
Is this a preparation of an ending, a clash of both Good and Evil—–
of course, we can’t answer that…but it sure does feel like it.”

And so I’ve come to view my buzzard friends as both a symbol as well as a reminder.

Death has always smugly desired to sit upon that which has always promised life.
Yet those of us who are true Believers, and trust me, there are many today
who call themselves “believers” but who are not…are here for a reason.

Do I think “the end is near?”

I asked this same question just the other day…and like the other day, I couldn’t say,
I can’t say… but what I do know is that it sure does feel like it.

So I think we need to get ready.
Catacombs and buzzards seem to be waiting!

The future of Hagia Sophia should be very troubling to Christians…

Turkey to cover Hagia Sophia’s Christian icons during prayers
Governing party’s statement comes days after Ankara turned the iconic monument
from a museum into a mosque.

Al Jazeera


(The Deësis mosaic, Hagia Sophia upon its restoration)

This past week’s news story regarding Turkey’s Hagia Sophia was buried under the
weight of a global pandemic and the continuing Western civil unrest…
but this story is no less troubling despite being shrouded by the current events
of seemingly more pressing issues.
This is a story that is most ominous to not only art historians, or to Byzantium historians,
but it should be, in particular, troubling to all of Christendom.

But first, let’s take a look back to the Basilica’s inception…

On Jan. 13, 532, riots broke out in Constantinople,
the capital of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire.
(The city of Rome itself had long since become a backwater and had finally been conquered by barbarians.
The residents of the Empire still called themselves “Romans,” though, and their capital city was
officially known as “New Rome.”)
Within a week, tens of thousands of residents were dead and nearly half of the city
had been burned or otherwise destroyed, including the foremost church of the empire,
the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”).

(Desert News)

Historic fate struck again centuries later:
Tuesday, May 29, 1453 the ancient dream of Islam to capture Constantinople,
which originated with Muhammad, the founder of the religion was achieved by his namesake,
Mehmed II.
After allowing his troops to sack the city and terrorize the people,
killing them or capturing them to ransom or sell as slaves,
the Ottoman Sultan ordered the destruction of the city to seize.
He entered the city on horseback and rode through the doors of Hagia Sophia.
He could not travel on foot because the church was full of dead people and the floor
was covered in blood and gore. Islamic troops were in the process of smashing the icons
and stripping them of any valuables they could find.
The silver chalices, candlesticks, gospel covers and other things used in the liturgy
were taken and broken up. Priests and nuns were tortured in search for hidden treasure.
Running out of precious things
(It had been a very long time since Hagia Sophia had any treasures of value).
frenzied looting even extended to hacking at the marble ambo,
sanctuary screen and the altar-ciborium.
The ignorant soldiers believed they were made of precious stones.
Mehmed II ordered a stop to the destruction of Hagia Sophia
and declared that it was his personal property.
Next he dismounted from his horse, climbed onto the great altar and
recited a Muslim prayer converting Hagia Sophia into a Muslim mosque.
Eleven hundred years of Hagia Sophia as a Christian church ended.

(pallasweb.com)
https://www.pallasweb.com/deesis/history.html


(shutterstock)

Hagia Sophia, Turkish Ayasofya, Latin Sancta Sophia,
also called Church of the Holy Wisdom or Church of the Divine Wisdom,
cathedral built at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey)
in the 6th century CE (532–537) under the direction of the
Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
By general consensus, it is the most important Byzantine structure and one
of the world’s great monuments.

The Hagia Sophia was built in the remarkably short time of about six years,
being completed in 537 CE. Unusual for the period in which it was built,
the names of the building’s architects—Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus—-
are well known, as is their familiarity with mechanics and mathematics.
The Hagia Sophia combines a longitudinal basilica and a centralized building
in a wholly original manner, with a huge 32-metre (105-foot)
main dome supported on pendentives and two semidomes, one on either side of the longitudinal axis.
In plan the building is almost square. There are three aisles separated by columns
with galleries above and great marble piers rising up to support the dome.
The walls above the galleries and the base of the dome are pierced by windows,
which in the glare of daylight obscure the supports and give the impression
that the canopy floats on air.

The original church on the site of the Hagia Sophia is said to have been ordered to be built
by Constantine I in 325 on the foundations of a pagan temple.
His son, Constantius II, consecrated it in 360.
It was damaged in 404 by a fire that erupted during a riot following the second banishment
of St. John Chrysostom, then patriarch of Constantinople.
It was rebuilt and enlarged by the Roman emperor Constans I.
The restored building was rededicated in 415 by Theodosius II.
The church was burned again in the Nika insurrection of January 532,
a circumstance that gave Justinian I an opportunity to envision a splendid replacement.

The structure now standing is essentially the 6th-century edifice,
although an earthquake caused a partial collapse of the dome in 558
(restored 562) and there were two further partial collapses,
after which it was rebuilt to a smaller scale and the whole church reinforced from the outside.
It was restored again in the mid-14th century. For more than a millennium, it was the
Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
It was looted in 1204 by the Venetians and the Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade.

After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453,
Mehmed II had it repurposed as a mosque, with the addition of a wooden minaret
(on the exterior, a tower used for the summons to prayer),
a great chandelier, a mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca),
and a minbar (pulpit). Either he or his son Bayezid II erected the red minaret
that stands on the southeast corner of the structure.
The original wooden minaret did not survive.
Bayezid II erected the narrow white minaret on the northeast side of the mosque.
The two identical minarets on the western side were likely commissioned by
Selim II or Murad III and built by renowned Ottoman architect Sinan in the 1500s.

In 1934 Turkish Pres. Kemal Atatürk secularized the building,
and in 1935 it was made into a museum.
Art historians consider the building’s beautiful mosaics to be the main source of knowledge
about the state of mosaic art in the time shortly after the end of the Iconoclastic Controversy
in the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Hagia Sophia is a component of a UNESCO World Heritage site called the
Historic Areas of Istanbul (designated 1985), which includes that city’s other
major historic buildings and locations.

(britanica.com)

And yet once again, the fate of the Basilica Hagia Sophia turned Mosque, turned Museum
turns once again…this turn, however, becomes a great detriment to both
Christians and historians—

The UNESCO World Heritage treasure and long desecrated Christian Bascillica will
once again become a mosque…
a place that will not be welcoming to anyone other than Muslim worshipers.

Turkey’s Islamist Dream Finally Becomes a Reality
The Hagia Sophia has been designated as a mosque again,
its status as a museum viewed for decades as a seal on the country’s spirit.

(NY Times)

According to an article in the New York Times, this past week,
the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a decree ordering the Hagia Sophia,
a majestic 65,000-square-foot stone structure from the sixth century in Istanbul,
to be opened for Muslim prayers.
The same day, a top Turkish court had revoked the 1934 decree by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,
the founder of the Turkish republic, which had turned it into a museum.

The Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral and converted into a mosque, and then a museum.
It has for centuries been the object of fierce civilizational rivalry between the Ottoman
and Orthodox worlds.

The reconversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque was an old dream of Turkey’s Islamists.
In the Islamist political tradition of President Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party,
Ataturk’s experiment in secular republican government was a foreign imposition on Turkey,
and the Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum a seal on the country’s spirit.

After making the announcement, according to one report,
Mr. Erdogan was so shaken with emotion that he did not sleep until first light the next morning.
What he thought of as an era of humiliation had ended.

Various authorities of the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches voiced their indignation,
and the pope (Pope Francis) expressed “profound sadness.”
The governments of the European Union and the United States muttered their regrets.
There are also Christian extremists who care deeply about the Hagia Sophia and its symbolism.
These sentiments make the decision all the more exciting to many Turks.

So a warning dear Christian brothers and sisters…
While our Western Chruchs have shuttered their doors over the growing concerns of COVID 19…
while the protests and riots grow in scope and go largely ignored by governmental leadership…
Christian voices from our ancient past are also being shuttered and silenced.

As long as the faithful remain silent, the wolves will continue to devour the flock.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:15
English Standard Version

let’s do this…going forward

“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
Margaret Thatcher


(the Mayor on a mayorial visit, enjoying a BLT with homegrown tomatoes/ Julie Cook/ 2020)

Both the Mayor and the Sheriff started a new daycare this past week.

Due to the Pandemic and life shuttering back in early March,
they’ve basically been footloose and fancy-free for a near 5 months.

With their mom’s school preparing to reopen, while she’s having to gear up for what will
be both an open school coupled with optional virtual learning—in other words, teaching
to those seated in desks alongside those opting to stay home—a new daycare was in order
and the only option was to begin now.

As a retired educator, whose child served bided his time in daycare,
I can vividly remember those trying days–
a time that our pediatrician dubbed ‘the necessary evil’.

But since both their mom and dad must each work, and we live over an hour away,
daycare becomes a difficult, yet necessary, thing to utilize.

I can remember crying each and every morning, after having dropped off our son
at his daycare, as I drove on to work.

Guilt is always the working mom’s middle name.

The Mayor and Sheriff’s mom has also experienced this same sense heaviness,
each morning this past week.

So “mom” (aka moi, the grandmother) drove over Friday for a bit of a needed diversion.

The Sheriff was nonplused…


(the week’s new schedule has been exhausting)

And the Mayor insisted she immediately leave the Atlanta Woobooville office in order to return
ASAP to “Da” (aka my husband the grandfather) who was busy at the satellite Woobooville office.

There were no if’s, and’s or but’s…she grabbed her “pursh (aka purse),
put on her rain boots (no rain in sight), blew kisses to her parents, hugged the dog,
waved good-bye to “Je” (the Sheriff), took hold of my hand while announcing for one an all…
“SEE DA!”

And so we left to come to see Da—a weekend visit of sorts.

But with visits and kids aside,
I am painfully reminded that we are living in some mighty precarious days.

They are challenging for all of us.
Frightening.

We don’t know what’s the right thing to do.
Daycares are opening as workplaces begin to re-open…
as schools prepare to re-open…
as cases continue to increase.

And yet we trudge through it all…
we do so because that is what we do….it is who we are.
We roll up our sleeves and head forward.

Standing still or going backward are simply not options.

And so we live each day, one day at a time.

We enjoy the precious moments a bit more strongly,
while feeling the day’s heaviness a bit more keenly.

As we prepare for the coming weeks ahead of life…of school…of work…of sports…
of living…
We say, “let’s do this”—
but let’s do this with God’s grace.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

visiting the well alone is the only way

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin


(the original well used by Jacob, the famous Samaritan Well, currently located in the West Bank)

Every now and then, when it is most needed, God reminds us, well let’s make that He reminds me,
He is indeed still there and still in charge.

I don’t know about you but I have just felt so beat down as of late.

Wear a mask…
Don’t tell me to wear a mask…
Things are bad…
Things aren’t so bad…
Have school…
Don’t have school…
We hate Trump…
We love Trump.
Black lives matter…
No lives can matter…
Riots, looting, kneeling, anthems, flags…

Abortions, yes.
Abortions, no.

Hashtag (#) LGBTQ, transgender, asexual, bisexual, anything sexual…

Kill the Christians…
Hate the Jews…
Love everyone…but just don’t love those or those…

Watch the news.
Don’t watch the news.

Leave the house…
don’t leave the house…

It is simply overwhelming.

It is depressing, maddening, frustrating, and confusing.

I’ve told you before how great the series The Chosen is.
That crowd-funded production about the life of Christ.

It has brought the Gospels to life…to such a personal level…a real level.

The first season of episodes is out and now they are waiting to have
season two funded.

I cannot wait.

It is not a movie or a television show—it comes from an App or on the computer.

The final episode of season 1 is the tale of the Samaritan woman at the well.

First of all, I did not realize the significance of the well itself.
The well in the Book of John is the purported well of Jacob.
A seemingly dry site that Jacob knew would bear water…
God had led him to the sight.
God lead him here 730 years before the birth of Christ.
And it’s been bearing water ever since…
despite now being enshrined within an Orthodox Chruch.

I’ve read the Bible.
I’ve heard the stories.
I’ve seen various Biblical films and film productions about the life of Jesus—
none of which has moved me on such a deep and visceral level as this
story has as in The Chosen.

This Jesus…he is the one who I yearn to meet.
He is so real, so approachable…so unlike all previous depictions.

It also makes the various Biblical stories seem more relatable, more emotional,
more real.

Here is the Biblical story according to the NIV version from the Book of John:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more
disciples than John— although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized,
but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob
had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey,
sat down by the well.
It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.
Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain,
but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

John 4:1-30

If I could figure out how to share this particular episode from The Chosen here
on this blog, I would— but instead, I found on Youtube the added bonus feature from the episode
with the director and a Rabbi recounting the importance of this encounter between
a Jew and a Samaritan.
A man and a woman.
A Messiah and a broken soul.

The Chosen offers backstories to its characters.
They are an educated guess into what might have been…
based on what is known.
This is what makes these individuals so relatable…so much more so than the
stories from the Gospels.

The woman was scorned by her community for her lifestyle.
She was not welcome to visit the well in the cool morning hours with the other women of the
village…she had to go alone in the heat of the day.

She was a Samaritan…Jews considered this particular Jewish sect, a subgroup that was
less than…traitors of sorts.

Within her own community, she was an outcast living a depressing, empty
and sinful existence.

The deck was stacked against her when running into this Jewish man at the well.

Had she been with the other women, there would have never been the encounter.
She had to be alone.

Thus I realize that Jesus must come to us not when we are in the company of our friends
or surrounded by a crowd…he must come to us when we are alone, vulnerable,
and not distracted.
He needs our full attention.

It is to be a one on one encounter.

If you haven’t seen the episodes of The Chosen—I implore you to find them.
If you don’t know Jesus…if you find him sterile and benign, if you
mock him or simply disbelieve…watch just one episode…
I know you will view this Jesus of Nazareth much differently than ever before.

in the year 2525…or is that 2020??

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Albert Einstein

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(popular science)

Are you old enough to remember the 1968 number 1 billboard hit song
“In the year 2525”?

I am…
I hated it then and I think I hate it even more now.

It was a futuristic sort of song…dismal and depressing.
A song that told the tale of the world as we know it growing more and more separate
from that of mankind…to the point that mankind is basically eliminated.
As in no longer necessary.

It was a song that became a number one hit on both sides of the pond but it was
a one-hit-wonder for its artists.

It was a song written by a pop-rock duo of Denny Zager and Rick Evans.

According to Wikipedia the basic gist of the song is:
“In the Year 2525” opens with an introductory verse explaining that if mankind
has survived to that point, he would witness the subsequent events in the song.

Subsequent verses pick up the story at 1,010-year intervals from 3535 to 6565.
In each succeeding millennium, life becomes increasingly sedentary and automated:
thoughts are pre-programmed into pills for people to consume,
machines take over all work, resulting in eyes, teeth, and limbs losing their purposes,
and marriage becomes obsolete since children are conceived in test tubes.
Then the pattern as well as the music changes, going up a half step in the key of the song
(chromatic modulation), after two stanzas, first from A-flat minor, to A minor.

For the final three millennia, now in B flat minor, the tone of the song turns apocalyptic:
the year 7510 marks the date by which the Second Coming will have happened,
and the Last Judgment occurs one millennium later.
By 9595, with the song now in B minor, the Earth becomes completely depleted of resources,
potentially resulting in the death of all life.

The song ends in the year 10,000.
By that time, man has become extinct.
But the song notes that in another solar system (or universe),
the scenarios told in the song may still be playing out,
as the beginning of the song repeats and the recording fades out.

The overriding theme, of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence to and overdependence
on its own overdone technologies, struck a resonant chord in millions of people around
the world in the late 1960s.
The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during the Apollo 11 moon landing.

As a near 10-year-old in 1968, the song, although playing on all the radios,
had an ominous and monotone feel that actually frightened me.

How such a depressing song could rise to the top of the music charts was beyond my
comprehension…but then again, it was 1968 and 1969 and life in the US, as well as
most of the world, was quite precarious.

We had the Vietnam War, a civil rights movement, a summer of love, hippies,
an angry women’s lib movement, free love, free sex, the pill, burning bras,
a moon landing along with all sorts of protests left and right.

So wouldn’t you know it…out of the blue, those stupid lyrics popped into my head
this afternoon.

I suppose it’s because I’m feeling some hidden residual 1968 angst stemming from
a futuristic song titled ‘in the year 2525’ all coming into focus in the year 2020.

Maybe it’s some odd form of PTSD percolating to the surface from being a preteen
during the tumultuous late ’60s.

2020 seems to be pulling upon those hidden memories
and thus far, it certainly isn’t proving to be the greatest of years.

I have made a mental note of how many conversations I’ve had over the past month–
be it with friends, folks at the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners,
family members, the doctor’s office, blog friends, etc—conversations that have each
concluded with folks lamenting aloud that we are living in our final days.
As in…this must be the end of time and are we currently in the thick of it…

Yet I know what Scripture tells us…we will not know the day nor time..
like a thief in the night…He will come…unannounced.

In 2015, I went to Ireland–it was to be the last adventure with my aunt—a sad
truth that at the time, neither of us could have seen or known.

The trip which was just another in a list of adventures actually became more
of a pilgrimage.

God spoke very clearly to me during that tirp.
I’ve written about that before.

It just so happened that during that trip,
I became aware of an obscure 12th-century Irish archbishop and later saint,
Saint Malachy.

I love a good historical mystery—don’t you?

It seems that St. Malachy was a bit of a prophet regarding the seat of Peter.

According to Irish Central, In 1139, then Archbishop Malachy went to Rome from Ireland
to give an account of his affairs.
While there he received a strange vision about the future that included the name of every pope,
112 in all from his time, who would rule until the end of time.
We are now at the last prophecy.

The prediction in full is: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there
will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations,
after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will
judge the people.
The End.”

The father of the current pope [Pope Francis] was Peter, or Pietro,
and was from Italy even though the family moved to Argentina.

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/st-malachy-prophecy-pope-francis

During the trip, while in County Donegal, the original home to my aunt’s grandparents,
I had wandered into a small shop where an obscure little book caught my attention.
Prophecies of St Malachy & Columbkille

I already knew a great deal about St Columba (Columbkille) who hailed from
County Donegal and spent his life evangelizing the pagan Celtic lands of both
Ireland and Scotland, but Malachy was new to me.

Intrigued, I bought the book.

And so I ask you…
Is the global Church not under dire persecution?
Has the seat of Peter not been hated through the ages by
both Believer and nonbeliever?

Are Malachy’s words mere coincidence?
I don’t know.
Maybe.

Only time will tell.

So recently, at a low moment following the fresh riots in Atlanta and months of pandemic lockdown,
I sent an almost desperate email to a dear friend in Ireland.

This friend is a fierce Believer who I know hears very clearly the spoken word of God–
something I myself often struggle to hear.

I asked him what might God be telling us during these such trying times.

He waited quite some time before sending a response as he wanted
to hear clearly a true answer to my question.

His response was a balm to my soul…
I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing a portion of his reply…

“God is in control.
We are down to the bare bones.
Your faith is being tested.
God says I AM THAT I AM—this has been known since before time–
since before you were born.
While God did not create the situation, He is control of it.
I know that’s hard to believe when you are in the thick of it but you need to think back
on all the times you personally have known [that] God has moved in your life.
This is it Julie it is your maker and He wants you to tune out of this world
and focus on Him.
Not an easy thing to do but He is there amid all the chaos and lies and anger
and pain.
God sent his only son for you and me and all who would believe.
His love knows no bounds.
He is in control for you and your family– for me and my family– He will not let you down.
I know He has not failed me, even though I fail constantly.’
Keep the faith.
Know that God, Jesus the Holy Spirit are always with you and your family…”

So yes, these are depressing and frightening times…much like that stupid song.
And yes, the Chruch is in turmoil…as well as conveniently shuttered when
her flock needs her most…
Are we truly in the end times…?
I can’t say.
It feels like it but then again, previous generations have felt much the same
as we feel now.

But in the end, one truth remains…God is still God and I am not.

black lives vs all lives…when will we understand….it’s all lives

“Wealth and dominion fade into the mass
Of the great sea of human right and wrong,
When once from our possession they must pass;
But love, though misdirected, is among
The things which are immortal, and surpass
All that frail stuff which will be – or which was.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley


(Fox News)

This is a lamentation of sorts.
As in I’m feeling much like Jeremiah.

I’d like to address a couple of groups within this current culture wars of ours…
as in Mr. and Ms. Black Lives Matter…along with some mayors and even governors–
should the shoe fit.

To BLM: I caught your latest slick new commercial, airing on one of the sports channels,
the other evening.
The end of the commercial is what I suppose is to be your proverbial bottom line—

It went something like this…
‘All lives will matter only when black lives matter…’

And that is exactly the sort of thinking that is at the heart of all our problems.

But because I am white, having said such, you would first attempt to call me
the latest rage name of Karen.

Trust me, I am no Karen.

I do not consider myself privileged nor better than anyone else…
something about men and women being created in the image of God…
but I digress.

After calling me names, you would attempt to intimidate me, perhaps even harass me.
You would next force me to kneel, apologize, beg for forgiveness…
all before I could be granted absolution.

Thus, I will not expound further on your commercial or your notion that only
one color of life matters.
It simply won’t do any good for me to do so because you will
not listen…you will simply go back to calling me a disparaging name before wishing me ill.

So some troubling news surfaced from out of this past weekend…
maybe you’ve heard or seen a few snippets…

Over the 4th of July weekend, at least 7 innocent children were killed.
Killed not by the pandemic but rather they were murdered.
They were 7 black children killed by other black people who just so happened
to have guns.

Did you hear the cries of the parents and grandparents?
Did you see their anguish on the television?
Did you hear their desire for the police to be more active in their neighborhoods?

And so I speak to our big city Mayors and Governors…

The most recent black on black shootings have escalated on a greater proportional
scale than that of the recent events of black men and women being killed
by police officers.

And yet it is the police officers who you wish to see defunded and disbanded
while you allow ‘zones’ of your cities to be hijacked by violent agitators.

You mandate that law-abiding citizens must social distance and wear masks but you
tell the throngs of agitators that it’s okay to march and express their civil disdain.

Mayor Deblasio blames the Pandemic on the tremendous escalation of violent crimes
and murders in New York City.

Seattle’s Mayor Durken likened the CHOP/CHAZ zone in her city to something like
Seattle’s own version of a “Summer of love”—
But then an innocent 16-year-old black boy was shot and killed…
and suddenly the “summer of love” is no more.

Atlanta’s Mayor Bottoms had her chief of police resign after the Mayor went over
the chief’s head and fired several officers involved in the shooting of a black man
at a Wendy’s in downtown Atlanta.
The Wendy’s was subsequently burnt to the ground by an angry mob and the Mayor
actually allowed the violent agitators to “occupy” the area around the Wendy’s
as they claimed it now as a memorial and quasi shrine to the man who was
killed by police.

But that all quickly came to a screeching halt when an innocent 8-year-old little girl was
shot and killed by one of the “zone’s” occupiers.

So what of these mobs of yours?
What of the violence from these mobs?
Do you still consider these mobs “peaceful protestors” or perhaps more along the lines
of thugs and hoodlums bent on nothing but trouble?

What of the urban black community and their guns?
What of the blatant disregard for human life?

Black lives do not seem to matter to other black lives and yet it is
the white community that is vilified as the offenders of what matters and doesn’t matter.

So I ask you BLM, Mayors, and Governors—how many more children must die
before you focus on what is your real trouble–our real trouble–that being,
responsibility.

When will we all understand that these lives of the youngest amongst us are
the lives that offer us the most hope?

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8