hope for us all…

“Where there is no obedience there is no virtue,
where there is no virtue there is no good,
where there is no good there is no love,
where there is no love, there is no God,
and where there is no God there is no Paradise.”

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


(a willet shorebird / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

Recognition that lost periods of a life can never be returned can provoke
an intense desire to give completely to God what is yet remaining in a life.
The soul scarred by former sin is sometimes, after grace, the soul that will give without reserve.
It is not at all an exaggeration to affirm that great sinners often do become hidden saints.

Fr. Donald Haggerty
from Conversion

“It’s an attack on Christianity”…Vol. III to the Chronicles of the Asinine… or…St Francis has got to go!

“It is a persistent evil to persecute a man who belongs to the grace of God.
It is a calamity without remedy to hate the happy.”

Saint Cyprian of Carthage


(a yard, as seen on the web, celebrating a birthday with pink falmingo yard ornaments)

Today’s installment of Vol III to the Chronicles of the Asinine, we find that an
HOA has seemingly lost their minds.

Now my disclaimer is that I live out in a more rural area and I do not live in a subdivision
that has an HOA or Homeowners Association.

I’ve never lived in a subdivision that has ever had an HOA.

But from my understanding, residents pay monthly dues and in turn,
are told what they can and cannot do…
The HOA of Jurisdiction…
The law of the land…
As in:
How high one must keep their grass.
What type of mailbox one is to have.
When one needs to get rid of their weeds.
When one needs to take down those overdue Christmas lights.
And everyone is reminded not to leave their garage doors up…

Violators will be fined.

Now I would like to think that most homeowners are well-meaning,
law-abiding, and courteous.
Thoughtful of their neighbors while they toil keeping
up their property.

Yet sadly all we need to do is to simply watch any local news to know that
that is not always the case.

We learn about the quiet neighbors down the block who were running a
meth lab in their home. As if the hazmat team showing up wasn’t sign enough.

Or what of the neighbor around the corner who was running the prostitution ring
out of their home?
Hence why the HOA says how many cars may or may not be parked on the curb.

But today we have a story about an HOA that has told a resident that after 16 years,
this resident’s small yard statue of the Virgin Mary has got to go…

Well…if you ask me…something smells fishy in Denmark…
or rather make that Detroit…because this is a story out of a suburb of
Detroit, Michigan.

And so I suppose that now means that my St. Francis has got to go.


(The Mayor loves St Francis as they are close in stature)

And what of my tiny little cherub birdbath that is nestled up under the
viburnum and butterfly bush?

There’s a house on an adjacent street that has a small statue of Buddha
sitting in their garden.
And what of the other house further down the road that has a small statue of
a Native American Indian by the front door?

Small, tasteful non-garish, demure and personal.

As a Christian, I’m certainly not up in arms that there is a Buddha statue in a neighbors yard,
And for the record, you have to pull down my driveway and come along my front walk in order to
see St Francis.

And the Native American statue always leaves me wondering as to the family’s roots.
Offended?
Absolutely not!
Only intrigued as by what their story must be.

Discreet.
Simple.
Unobtrusive.

All words that describe most folk’s yard decor.

I’ll wager that even pink flamingos and garden gnomes have their place.

As do the beehive boxes, the small chicken coop along with the humble frog cloche.

Everyone’s little touch of the personal connection to their own tiny piece of paradise.

Now I know that there are those individuals out there who go overboard and take a good thing
to the extreme.

Those Howard Finsters of the world.

Howard Finster, if you aren’t familiar, was a Summerville, Ga character.
Both preacher and folk artist.
He claimed that God had told him to transfer his swampy land into a “folk art” paradise.
And so he spent a lifetime expanding and growing his tiny piece paradise into
quite the folk art exhibition.

Finster died in 2001 but his 2 acre Paradise Garden is still open to the public.
And the words ‘paradise garden’, in regards to Finister, are certainly up for interpretation

Whereas Finster had neither HOA or zoning issues, there is still that poor fellow out
in a suburban neighborhood of Detroit who has been told that his small yard statue of the
Blessed Virgin Mary has got to go.

According to an on-line Newsweek article,
A family in the Detroit suburbs says it is being forced to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary
that’s been in the yard for 16 years by an overeager homeowner’s association.
Samona told the Detroit Free Press he believes it’s a case of discrimination.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this is an attack on our religion.
We have already received an outpouring of support from friends and family,
and we are prepared to fight this tooth and nail.”

Samona’s parents immigrated to the United States from Iraq,
where they faced religious persecution for being Catholic.
He says every member of his family stops to pray in front of the Virgin Mary
regularly since they moved into the area in 2003.

He calls the statue “a symbol of peace,” and says the demand to remove it is
“an attack on Christianity.”
Samona says that he’s not only standing up for his family,
but for religious expression in general:
“We don’t know what’s going on over here.
We just want to be able to freely practice our religion,” He told WDIV.
“Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist—
whatever you are—don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t practice your religion.”

I think we would all agree that a 6-foot blowup of a cartoonish Virgin Mary would
most definitely fall under the watchful ire of an HOA but a small 16-year-old statue
that sits unobtrusively at the walkway of a family’s home, is an entirely different story.

And so we have just one more example of the madness and loss of common sense that is
currently taking this country by storm.

At this rate, we might just run out of volumes in which to share these tales of the
asinine, absurd and downright unprovoked attacks buy the PC Police.

I do wonder that if this statue of Mary was rather a statue of Buddha or
a statue of a Hindu god or simply a Muslim man out on his lawn, with his prayer rug,
bowing toward Mecca in prayer…I wonder if the HOA would have raised their flag
of discontent…

Stay tuned…tomorrow we’ll investigate the story about the flash mob of 60 teens who
amassed upon an unsuspecting business as they proceeded to trash and loot
a Walgreens in Philadelphia.

A tale of when the asinine becomes violent, dangerous and in turn a rallying cry for
our culture to finally put its foot down to the madness.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

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

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


(Photo: Getty Images/Ellen van Bodegom)

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

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

as seen on Conde Nast Traveler / CNN Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Bishop Petros Mouche displaced Syriac Catholic)

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

“He who says nothing implies consent”
Latin Proverb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 5:1-5

just another day in paradise…

“I know paradise has many gates, just as hell does.
One has to learn to distinguish between them, or one is lost.”

Henning Mankell

DSCN3348
(Watercolor 30A, Santa Rosa, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;
Revelation 22:1-3

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DSCN3349

Suffer the little children. . .

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:19

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
Nelson Mandela

DSC01277
(a self-portrait by my now grown son when he as a little boy / Julie Cook / 2015)

Over the past weekend, various news reports were extolling the overt covert Delta Force take down of one of the IS masterminds while in the same breath heralded the news that IS had captured Ramadi. . .
Obviously a many headed snake slitters in our midsts.
Cut off one head only to deal with another, and another, and another. . .
It seems like a small gain in an attempt to cripple a monster, while the monster takes another large stride without skipping a step. . .

300px-Medusa_by_Caravaggio_2
(Medusa by Caravaggio / 1597/ The Uffizi Gallery / Florence, Italy )

60 Minutes aired a troubling story last evening—they seem to run a lot of troubling types of stories these days. . .Child Suicide Bombers reported by Lara Logan.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/child-suicide-bombers-lara-logan-60-minutes/

Ms Logan likened today’s suicide bombers as the modern day equivalent to the Japanese Kamikaze pilots from WWII, while noting the fact that a growing number of these misguided souls, suspected to be in the hundreds, are actually children.

And it is a horrific tactic that has been perfected by the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Children as young as 7 are recruited and trained in the sinister art of suicide bombing—as in being wired, going to or being taken to a specific location or “target” and proceeding to detonate oneself as a living bomb. And should the child, at the last minute, decide to change their mind, a “handler” who has taken the child to their target location can actually detonate the child themselves. Meaning an adult can push a button in order to blow up the child purposefully as if they were like a bug to be squashed under foot.

Ms Logan interviewed both a major general in the Pakistani army as well as a Taliban commander with ties to Al Qaeda. One man who is doing all he can do to stop the devastating practice while rescuing as many of the children as possible as the other man, who is hellbent on not only building the practice but advancing it—even to the point of wanting his own 5 year old son, who he claims is mentally ready to make jihad, to become one of the suicide bombers.

What 5 year old child is mentally ready for much of anything except for play???

Jihad, suicide bombs, Paradise, infidels, murder, death, blown to smithereens. . .
verses
Cartoons, super heroes, coloring, playing ball, running, skipping, laughing, loving. . .

I don’t know, is it just me. . .here we have, once again, another global issue of dire concern yet it is but a mere blip on the radar of the conscious world who would prefer to fill their time with the latest music award shows, stories of Johnny Depp’s illegally imported Yorkies into Australia, the latest news anchor or political pundit who didn’t exactly tell the truth, the bizarre fascination with the latest presidential candidates, the latest women to pop up pointing a finger at Bill Crosby, or the summer’s latest suspense psycho thriller showing up on television. . .anything but the real nitty gritty ugly side of humanity that needs to be addressed and stopped!!

Be it Al Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Al-Shabaab. . .the list grows daily of “organizations” that recruit, kidnap and steal children in order to enlist them into the dirty work created by woefully misguided and evil adults.

This doesn’t even touch on the skyrocketing statistics of the human slave trafficking of young girls, and yes young boys as well, for purposes of an explosivly growing global prostitution epidemic.

Or what of the millions of children worldwide living in abysmal poverty who are forced into manual labor, working in outrageous conditions while carrying out deadly and dangerous jobs for little if any pay. . .

I would think, dare to assume, that most parents all over this globe love their children.
They find joy, pride, and pure love in their children. . .
Parents from Russia to Mexico to Brazil to Uzbekistan to Kuwait to the US to China to New Zealand, etc. . .parents who love their children. . .
who are pained when the living conditions are less than desired,
who fret if their children are hungry,
who worry should their child get sick,
who sorrowfully mourn at the loss of a child. . .
Yet there are the parents of these child bombers who send them to do the work of Allah, as in blowing themselves up in order to put an end to the “infidels”— these children who are trained, or better yet brainwashed, to commit jihad. . .

Who are these parents who allow 5, 13, 17 year old boys to strap bombs to themselves and go forth to blow themselves up- – -for what????

Lara Logan asked the Taliban Commander the very same question. . .
“For what? I don’t understand that. . .”
And his response was “You do not know the Quran. You are not a believer”

Well I thought the Koran / Quran espoused of peace and of the great love of Allah. . .
Not, send your children off to go blow themselves up. . .
What kind of “believer” is that who would pack off a 5 year old child to go learn how to get blown up into a million little pieces????

Aren’t parents wired to vehemently defend and protect their children???
To hold their hands as they cross the street?
To run to their beds in the middle of the night to soothe the bad dreams?
To hold cool cloths to fevered brows. . .???

Who for the love of God, gives their kid a bomb and says
“see ya, go off now to paradise”. . .

“Oh but Julie” you say “it’s a different culture, you just don’t understand because you’re a privileged American. . .”

Bullcrap!

I cannot repeat my initial response to that as it would not be rated G. . .
I don’t buy that crap.

Parents the world over love their children—rich or poor, privileged or not, black or white, red or yellow—
Something somewhere is now fatally flawed. . .
And I for one think the free thinking, free world needs to sound a global alarm- – –

Children are not expendable!!!!!

They are not commodities to be sold, bought, stolen or traded!
They are tiny living, breathing human beings who we, you, me, them, have been given charge of for the nurturing and caring of. . .

To “train them up” in the way they should go—and that is to go forward making this world a better place for the generations of children to come. . .

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”

Mother Teresa

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 18:10

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