which creature say you?

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(Green darner dragonfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or
into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God,
and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.
Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

power goes to their heads

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power,
the world will know peace.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Ah, Spring Break.
The trees are budding, the cold ebbs and flows and the pollen lays like a thick
heavy yellow dusty blanket…

And since it is that time of year, the Mayor has called me to Atlanta for a few days—

And as I have been called into duty, my thoughts, during nap time, have been left to roam and ramble…

What is it about our politicians and the evolution of that hunger and lust for power and rule…
that uglier side of human nature—the side that leads those who are elected to lead…
to not only want more power but they appear to crave it and actually need it…

It is a vicious cycle which eventually leads them to use such power and cravings,
not to the advantage of those they serve…
but rather they use such, as well as those around them, to actually serve
them…an upside down role reversal…

It’s like something comes over them when they begin to see their office
chair as more of a throne.

And when meetings with the staff do not go as planned, well, they have a hissy fit…

And what about the spending of monies and time on things that are to their benefit and not
that of their constituents…

I will keep you posted on any new developments on this notion of politicians and power
when they eventually turn their backs to the truth…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

the power to give…or not

“If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor.
If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without
waiting for them to ask you.”

St. Thomas of Villanova


(an olive dries on the tree outside of St Peters, Rome, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

“It is undoubtedly true that each of us, men and women, irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are,
hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others.
We cannot help it or escape from it.
The power is in us inalienably almost from birth to death—in us,
because we are persons—and we are responsible for the use we make of it.
Indeed, so mysterious is this power that the very presence of a person who does not realize his
responsibility is often the source of the keenest pain of all…
The failure to exercise the power to give happiness to others is not merely negative in its results;
it is the source of the most positive suffering of all.
Thus there is no escape from the responsibility involved in the possession of this power.
Not to use it where it is due is to destroy all happiness. Strange power,
indeed, to be committed to such weak and unworthy hands;
yet there could be but one thing worse: that none could interfere with the joys and sorrows of others.
We might envy their happiness and pity their sorrows, but we could not help them.
It would be a world of isolated individuals wrapped in inviolable selfishness;
each must take care of himself and the world must go its way.”

Fr. Basil W. Maturin, p. 149
An Excerpt from
Christian Self-Mastery

erring and snow

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness
in the proportion.”

Edgar Allan Poe


(a foot of snow blankets the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

Whereas this unexpected early December Southern Snow has blanketed us with a
deep white blanket of mystical silence and stillness…it has not come without
a wealth of woe….

The school systems in and around the Atlanta metro area…north and westward…
school systems who usually err on the side of caution actually decided to listen
to our meteorologists who glibly reported that,
whereas it looked as if there would be some snow….,
we’d been so warm up to now that any snow would be fleeting.
A lite dusting that wouldn’t stick to roadways or driveways as it had just been
simply too warm for any real need for worry.

In other words, a short lived event.

This was to be taking place on Friday.

So on Friday, everyone opted to go about life as normal…
This is the deep South you know….we don’t really worry about winter weather
this time of year.

And so right on que the rains came, turning eventually over to snow.

And then it snowed and it snowed, and it kept on snowing…..

The schools scrambled and quickly decided that perhaps they should release the hounds students…
And so we had everyone in a myriad of counties all starting to unleash madness
upon the roadways all at the same staggering times.
Staggered releases seemed to be the best option…yet it was still snowing…hard.
Snow and ice were beating the release times.

Buses found it impossible to deliver their tender cargo as the snow and ice
were blanketing roadways…making traveling up and down hills impossible.

Our very pregnant daughter-n-law, who teaches here in our county but lives in Atlanta,
opted to come to our house verses trying to navigate the snowy icy interstates back
home to Atlanta as the News was painting a terrible traffic picture.

A typical 15 minute drive to our house from her school actually took her 2 hours…
as cars were now slip sliding away.
In fact my husband had to go meet her a mile from our house as cars had simply stopped
in their tracks on the roads as others had landed in the ditches and she was stuck in
the middle. It took him 30 minutes to get to her…a drive that should have taken two minutes.

Meanwhile, limbs were falling left and right in Atlanta.
It is a city known for her plethora of beautiful trees…yet snow and ice are not
kind to trees.

A snow laden limb fell on our son and daughter-n-laws house,
literally ripping out the power lines from the house….lines now laying dangerously
across the lawn.

GA Power has come to access the issue and now needs one of their certified
electricians to come out and reconnect the lines into the house before
they can re-run the lines from the pole to the house…
lest all things blow up.

Our son, dad’s cat and the grand dog are hunkering down in the dark, without heat
as the temperatures plunge down into the teens….
waiting for word of this elections.

This as I watched today those who really suffer through these sorts
of weather events…the animals…
as well as those who have no shelter to call their own…

As God watches over both animal and man who remain without….


(notice to the left of the two bulls, the wee head peering out from the crack
in the dilapidated barn)


(the poor cold bulls / Julie Cook / 2017)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Psalm 5:11

Obedience

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all
that He says.
There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you
would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself
over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.
But trying in a new way, a less worried way.
Not doing these things in order to be saved,
but because He has begun to save you already.
Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions,
but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint
gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


(a wandering coon in the middle of nowhere west Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)

Obedience
o·be·di·ence
əˈbēdēəns,ōˈbēdēəns/
noun
noun: obedience
compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.
“children were taught to show their parents obedience”
synonyms: compliance, acquiescence, tractability, amenability; More
antonyms: disobedience, rebellion

observance of a monastic rule.
“vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience”

Oooooo….don’t you just shutter when you hear that word?

It’s a burdensome sort of word for it requires things of us as well as from us….
and more times than not, the majority of us don’t like to have to be
“required” to do much of anything–anything we consider to be out of our circle of comfortable, happy living.

Because isn’t that what obey and obedience really mean, that we are required to do,
or not do, certain things….?

And yet our news has been rife with just that very thing.

“No it hasn’t” you counter “because this latest rushing of falling dominos,
we’ve been currently witnessing regarding improprieties, harassment and out right
full fledged advantage taking, doesn’t have anything to do with obedience….”

And then I simply remind you that “yes”….yes,it really does because the base
of all that we are watching and witnessing is exactly that….
obedience…or more accurately the lack of….”

Next I’ll then remind you just how much you had hated the very notion of obedience
that you even wrote it out of the traditional marriage vows eons ago…
because there was just something about that word, that notion,
that act that has been akin to rubbing the fur
of an animal in the wrong direction—it’s uncomfortable and seemingly,
well, unnatural.

Human beings, by their very nature, do not like to be nor do they want to be obedient.
It is an act of the will to do such. And to exert that will is hard, difficult,
taxing and tiring.
Yet be it because we want to be law abiding, a nice person, a good person, a cooperative
person, even a loving person… we tend to lean toward obedience—
And if we’re not careful, we can just as quickly be disobedient.

Ask any parent of a toddler, teenager or the owner of a young pet…they will tell
you right fast that the nature of obedience vs disobedience is truly a very
fine line….

I’ve thought a lot about obedience as of late with each new tale of the rich
and infamous falling flat on their faces.

Us commoners have been doing it for eons,
falling on our faces in utter disobedience,
Yet the media seems to think the scions of all things political, newsy,
entertaining and even ministerial have somehow been exempt all these years….

And so now with these tales of the sick, twisted and powerful being just that,
the media outlets are in pandemonium, panic stricken to make sense of it
all while assuming some new disease has simply befallen mankind.

And yet those of us in the know just call that sin.

Sin.

Man’s age old nemesis.

Ego
Pride
Arrogance
Greed
Lust
Want…

The list is endless…and the root lies in our disobedience.

I can say this because I know what it is to have been disobedient and sinful…
just like anyone else really…it’s just that as a Christian, I am more
keenly aware of my errors and of the healing Grace that has brought healing and
reconciliation to the God of whom I disobeyed.

Doesn’t make me any better than the next person.
Doesn’t make me anything ever being perfect…
And to top it all, I’m still very much susceptible to the ways
of disobedience and its ugly repercussions…

But as C.S. Lewis so eloquently reminds us in our day’s quote,
‘that the reason behind our seeking or desire to be obedient…is not because
of anything we may be getting in the end but rather because there is now
a faint glimmer of the Divine burning in
our being….'(paraphrased)

We seek Him not because of anything about us or in us or from us,
as none of this is about us, as we so often egotistically assume…
but rather we seek, we obey because of Him and Him alone—
because He has first sought us…
And once that has happened, there grows a thirst and unquenchable yearning
within our beings to seek Him out—along with the desire to “want” to be
in communion with Him and Him alone.

Listening to Bishop Ashenden’s Morning Prayer podcast yesterday morning,
I was keen upon hearing his offering from a reading by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
It was taken from Bonhoeffer’s book Discipleship…
The good Bishop explained that the obedience of an individual, as to the call
of Jesus, has nothing to do with some psychological reasoning on the part of said
individual but simply because of Jesus himself.
A Jesus only sort of thing.
As in He is the authority.
He calls.
We, as disciples, follow….
and that is Grace….

Pure and simple.

It is because we “hear Jesus loving us…and thus respond….”

“Hear Jesus loving us….”
That notion resonated deeply within me as I was listening.

Not because of anything I’ve done or even not done…but He loves, is loving, me
none the less.

There is such a peace in that.

And it is in that Peace, that Love, that calls me to Obedience…
He offers and I readily accept.

As we see Obedience acting as Healer…

May we seek and heed the call to obedience rather than the crying out
and call to sin…

“If you love me, keep my commands.”
John 14:15

Swinging on a wire

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

Thomas à Kempis

Have you ever just sat back and really watched some of the news out there?
And I’m not talking fringe news, I’m talking basic television sort of news.
And it matters not which side of the pond you are on or wether you’re in the US or
even Canada…
madness prevails and is not discriminatory…

Put aside your knee jerks and just take a minute to listen and watch….and you
might just catch yourself actually laughing…

As in the hysteria has really gotten quite comical… pathetic yes,
but comical none the less.

The punctuated adjectives and facial expressions of the
gravely concerned and actually accusatory news anchors has been some of the most
superb acting I’ve noted as of late.

And just to make certain we’ve touched all of our PC bases,
we shall now que the overtly sensitive snowflakes
and progressive liberals who would so wish to accuse me of belittling the
trauma suffered by the recently uncloseted abused or the merely confused.

And my response to you would be to remind you that I began my working career in
the late 70’s—
I know all about lecherous and inappropriate professors, co-workers and bosses—
so much so that my own tales could make your head spin…
So do not attempt to lecture me on being insensitive…
I just prefer to be more real…as in we live in an imperfect and very broken
world.

One again I was listening to and reading two of my most favorite men of the cloth,
Pastor David Robertson and the Rev Gavin Ashenden, and their collective takes
on the latest madness regarding the implosion currently happening
in Hollywood, the Entertainment industry and even our Political circles
regarding the who’s who of the abused.
And I say “our” as a collective sort of Western Civilization ‘ours’…..

The who–or more like the who, who after 20 years or so, has come forward offering
tales of scandalous proportion.
As we only thought Bill Cosby was bad….
For it now seems as if the flood gates have been
opened and the dam has been released—-as everyone is currently racing as far
away as possible in order to now distance themselves one from another…
tripping over one another in the process as most anyone who is someone is now
considered a Typhoid Mary.

Add to this the latest lunacy over all things sexual….
as in what sex do you wish to be today and well…. we’ve created our own bit of
sideshow entertainment for the modern world.

I do not say any of this to lessen the real and actual traumas experienced by those
who have been sadistically abused at the hands of those they’ve loved, trusted and or admired…as there are many genuine individuals who have been hurt and continue to hurt…but the current onslaught showcased each evening on the nightly news has become something of epic pandemonium.

And maybe that’s the thing…

In Christianity we are not surprised, let alone shocked, by the news and tales of
fallen and sinful man and or woman doing just that—being fallen…or broken
and in turn being very sinful because we know that all of mankind,
and yes that includes womankind for those so obsessed with the use of words,
is all fallen and therefore very broken and in great need of healing.

We also know that there is true evil that runs rampant on this planet.
So whereas we of the Faith may be horrified, sickened and very saddened,
we are not shocked nor are we surprised.

The other thing in all of this is that the world, in the words of Bishop Ashenden,
“doesn’t make use of repentance and reconciliation”—
the world rather involves itself with that of power and position rather than grace
and mercy.
According to the good Bishop, “in the world, the room for grace is dreadfully
minimized.”

For this the current exposed misuse of the powerful as well as this
latest war of genderism does not surprise Christians nearly as much as it seems
to surprise news outlets and secular society because the majority of the
Christian faithful are well aware of both sinfulness and human frailty.

Yet the world would prefer that we “accept” such sinfulness and frailty
as the status quo of living—refusing to acknowledge any of it as sinful living
or living counter to the Word of God—
as the world would simply just rewrite said Word of God to suit her own
struggles, brokeness and sinfulness.

And perhaps the most disconcerting business in all of this is that the Church,
the church with the big C as in the collective Church,
has allowed herself to be modeled on the basis of the world–
as in what the world deems acceptable or not… and not rather on what Christ
himself has stated as acceptable and not….

And in her lack of intervention, when she and her leadership should have
intervened in some of the most grievous areas of abuse, she opted rather not
to do nor say anything when it was obvious that brokeness had made its way into the
both the clergy and the fold. She opted to remain silent…
further distancing herself for the very souls who needed her.
And in turn fueling the ire of an already leery and angry world.

And this has been a severe ‘dereliction of duty’ and most grievous offense to
a world that she had been entrusted to rather lift up her light unto….

So whereas those in the news circles and those power brokers of all things
entertainment and political are now seen to be running around like a bunch of chickens
with their heads cut off, the Faithful have been steadfastly praying for Grace,
Mercy and Salvation….

Because we know that in all of this latest brouhaha and sheer pandemonium of the
dominos falling of those large and powerful, along with the not so large and powerful,
that the only Hope and the only healing is to come from Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

And on that note, I leave you with a link to this week’s posting by the Wee Flea–
the Scottish Pastor David Robertson…as well as the offering from Bishop Ashenden

LED 15 – Scottish Government Trans Madness – Jordan Peterson – The Moral Panic – Expensive Piano Lessons – Walter Magaya – Blame it on Brexit – Jesus and the Jedi in Dundee –

Melanie Phillips writes in the Times: ‘ The Church of England is sowing the seeds of its own destruction’; re- Lorna Ashworth, Gavin Ashenden and Joshua Sutcliffe.

Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.

Jeremiah 17:14

authority, fear, respect…

“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years.
If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!
But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us,
and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal.
For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison.
For them there is no antidote.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(two cousins vying for the same spot / Julie Cook / 2017)

There is a sequence of events taking place within these images…
And believe it or not,
it has everything do with authority, respect and fear and the presumption of each.

First we should note that there is a giant dog’s bed that has been placed
in an otherwise dog free bedroom.

A cushy enough looking bed that cousin Alice sleeps on at night.

In the first image we see cousin Percy taking a look at
85 pound cousin Alice resting on the floor and not in her bed…
as a million questions now race through cousin Percy’s thoughts.

Next, cousin Percy looks to see if anyone else has noticed this anomaly.
A bed but the owner of said bed is opting not to use it, instead preferring the floor….
Hummmmmm…

In the next image we see that cousin Alice is nowhere to be seen and that cousin Percy,
deducing that the coast is clear, has decided to try out the bed.
Not that cousin Percy doesn’t have real beds at his disposal or closet shelves or
couches or anywhere in the house that he wants…but it is this visiting bed,
belonging to cousin Alice, that seems most appealing.

Lastly we see cousin Percy sound asleep.
Happy and content.
Cousin Alice’s favorite toy, the Yoda chew doll, sits on the floor right in front of a sleeping
cousin Percy and what we don’t see is cousin Alice, who is just out of camera shot, and who
is afraid to come in the room to get either favorite said chew toy Yoda let alone
get on her bed lest she wake the sleeping giant….

So here we have a small example of what authority is all about and what it means to
have respect… or in this case, a bit of fear of and for said authority.
And of course, there are all sorts of side lessons in all of this but let’s just consider the
concept of authority for now.

Authority is defined by Merriam Webster as:
a power to influence or command thought, opinion,
or behavior…as in the president’s authority.
b : freedom granted by one in authority: right..
as in Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?

2 a : persons in command; specifically : government…
as in the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing
public enterprise…as in the transit authority or the city’s housing authority

3 a : grounds, warrant…as in had excellent authority for believing the claim
b : convincing force…as in lent authority to the performance

We should note that throughout history, humankind has been expected to have respect
for authority…
And we might note that throughout this history of humankind,
that such words as ‘respect’ and ‘fear’ have been used interchangeably…
with fear not necessarily meaning cowering like a mouse but rather
being full of overwhelming awe….

Example being that some biblical translations use the word “fear of the Lord,
while a more accurate translation would be “respect for the Lord”…
but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

This business of authority, as well as that of having respect for said authority,
got its start with that whole creating of man and woman…as in Adam and Eve…

Adam, the first man, was to have respect for the authority of God, the only Creator.
The very God who gathered up dust, ash and mud and breathed life into it all,
creating Adam.
Next, God the Father knew that Adam would need a helpmate,
so borrowing that now famous rib, Eve came along.
Eve would now in turn have respect for the authority of both God and Adam…

Have you noticed that a little sequence of authority and respect is beginning to form?
The building blocks of authority and respect.

Next with Adam and Even having dominion over all of the animals, fish and birds…
they, these creatures of the earth, in turn then fell under authority of the God
followed by man and woman…

And we should note that any offspring of Adam and Eve, as they were the first,
then said offspring would therefore also have dominion over the animals, birds and fish….
And on and on it was to flow.

Add to all of this the lynchpin of respect.
Respect for and of one for another…
The tie that binds it all up.
A perfect scenario.

Yet unfortunately the chain of authority and respect fell into disrepair with that
first bite of an apple…
For you see God afforded this man and this woman the gift of free will.
And here is the kicker…..
they were not slaves who were to be forced under authority….
they were to come under authority freely and willingly…because within that
authority was the most perfect expression of Love.

And oh how perfect it all could have been…..

And as we now see, looking back over the annals of time, history has shown us that not
all authority since the fall has been kind nor benevolent.
Because in that fall from grace, free will gave way to poor choices..
choices that have been more selfish rather than selfless..
choices that have held very little regard for the dignity of person upon person.

With all of this business harkening back to that original initial sin and disobedience…
of which in turn begat pride, envy, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, cruelty, disrespect…
ad infinitum…

Yet just because we know that there have been those who have abused their authority
over others, and that there have been times that said authority had to be eliminated
or even rebelled against, the overall notion that a civil society has a chain of authority
which is a lynchpin to living…has been the glue that has held the precariousness of man
together.

And thus we see cousin Percy exerting his authority as kingpin of the home over his
visiting cousin Alice by deciding that what is hers should actually be his…
or at least for a little while.

And on the flip side we have cousin Alice, who despite her sheer size and body strength,
who could eat cousin Percy in one maybe two bites…defers to this pint size king
out of an overwhelming sense of awe, fear and respect….

Hence….
authority, fear and respect in a nutshell….

“Don’t be scared by the word authority.
Believing things on authority only means believing them because you’ve been told them
by someone you think trustworthy.
Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.
I believe there is such a place as New York.
I haven’t seen it myself.
I couldn’t prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.
I believe it because reliable people have told me so.
The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution,
and the circulation of the blood on authority—
because the scientists say so.
Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.
None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.
None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.
We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us
about them: in fact, on authority.
A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion
would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

C.S. Lewis