the right side of history…where will we be?

The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars:
Divine meaning and reason. We receive our notions of Divine meaning from a
three-millennial-old lineage stretching back to the ancient Jews; we receive
our notions of reason from a twenty-five-hundred-year-old lineage stretching
back to the ancient Greeks.
In rejecting those lineages–in seeking a graft ourselves to rootless philosophical comments
of the moment, cutting ourselves off from our own roots—
we have damned ourselves to an existential wandering.

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

And we’re also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo/Christian tradition.
All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
sons and daughters of the same God.
I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood,
by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom
which is our legacy as Americans.

Ronald Reagan, Former U.S. President (1980-1988)

I had to take my husband to the hospital yesterday for a nuclear stress test–
the glowing type of test I suppose.

So while I sat for my near four hours, I had the foresight to carry a new book with me…
The Right Side of History
How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great

by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is, if you’ve never seen nor heard him, is a young sharp cookie.
Not like this cookie here in cookieland…but a much younger and much smarter cookie.
A good kosher cookie.

Ben is a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a married man with two young children.
He also happens to be a conservative commentator which labels him as persona non grata
or better, a pariah.
An outcast from what is considered our progressive liberal mainstream society.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to catch an interview featuring Ben as a guest,
I have been greatly impressed with his views, data, and points.

His interviews are reminiscent of when I was teaching high school and was listening to our
debate team kids engaging in debate “presentations”.
Barely discernable facts spouted off at the speed of light.
It took a gift of keen listening in order to keep up.

Ben tends to spout off his facts in that same machinegun type of fashion.

Yet in Ben’s case, he has had built quite the resume of political journalistic prowess.

And so I sat in that lovely waiting room with its lone TV on the game show channel,
with my trusty highlighter in hand…that was until it ran dry.
I then grabbed a pen out of my purse and went to town.

At the beginning of this latest book, Ben recalled a moment when his wife once asked him
if he was happy.

Now being the smart young husband that he is…
Ben readily noted that when a spouse,
in particular one’s wife, asks if you’re happy…that can be a dangerously loaded question.

He shared that she asked this question during a rather stressful period in their lives—
their children were young and naturally required, as children do, lots of time and attention.
His wife had a career as a doctor while he was in the early stages of working with
his business partner trying to get their website and podcast venture off the ground–
all the while traveling the country, busy with speaking engagements.

Ben took the question deeper… to that of a question as to when was he was the most happiest—
and that answer was found on the Sabbath.

Ben is an Orthodox Jew who cuts off the world for 25 hours each weekend when he
and his small family take time to observe the Sabbath.

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

He recalls a traditional Jewish saying…
“the Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews”

Ben makes the point that politics is not the driving force for his happiness despite
the fact that it is the pursuit of politics that is where he makes his living…
yet it is the same revelation that our founding fathers also knew.
Our faith is our root—not our politics.
A root that came to us on Mt Sinai.

However this is where we’ll stop for the time being.
Whetting your whistle.

This is a meaty book—
a book that is steeped not only in our Nation’s history but steeped in that of
Western Civilization’s root history–
the history of both our Western Civilization and that of our Judeo/ Christian roots.

A root system we have taken for granted as we are currently watching its erosion.

Like I say—more to share in the coming days…

“Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds requires us to live with moral purpose.”

Ben Shapiro

one more word…

America is the only country ever founded on a creed.
G.K. Chesterton


(images of the flag flying over the American Cemetery in Normandy / Julie Cook / 2018)

I want to offer one last reflection regarding our visit to the Amercian Cemetery in Normandy
before moving on to other thoughts.

When we arrived at the US cemetery after a day of exploring battlefields, the “enemy’s” cemetery
as well as occupied villages and towns, it was now shortly before 4PM.

Each afternoon at 4PM an honor guard makes its way to the American flag flying watch over the
thousands of perfectly aligned crosses and stars.

Taps is played as the flag is lowered and folded.
The flag is lowered each and every day just as it has been lowered now for the past 74 years
that the cemetery has been an official US cemetery on foreign soil.

We had been wandering about the graves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of graves—
almost unaware that we were now carrying a heavy sense of deep sorrow.

We were told that it was the state of West Virginia that suffered the greatest number of
losses during the invasion, so we looked for the names of the states whose young men are
resting under the rows of crosses and stars.

We saw names hailing from states such as Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…
and yes West Virginia.

Just like in most cemeteries, there is a solemn quiet that carries itself throughout
the air.
Whispers or simple silence is the unspoken rule of etiquette.

As the clock struck 4 PM, as the honor guard approached the flag,
all the wandering visitors stopped wandering.

Next, all present turned toward the flag and were suddenly very still
as ball caps were removed from heads, despite the rain…
as now both young and old automatically lifted hands to either place over hearts or
lift to the head in salute.

Something very powerful was taking place.

Reverence and respect were taking place…
laced with humility as well as gratitude.

Oh how far this land of ours has fallen from those hallowed ideals.

I pray we find them again…soon.

If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan

Really now? You don’t say??? I think we need a history lesson!

The First Amendment was not written to protect the people of this country
from religious values;
it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

Ronald Reagan

As time allows, while I find myself sitting and waiting for this appointment
or that appointment, I have tried desperately to steal those precious moments of self
and empty time to read a bit further into David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of our Silence.

The following excerpt is truly an amazing tasty tidbit of what is, for all intent purposes,
a lynchpin of lost history.

The excerpt explores the long ago written words that shed a long-ignored light onto a
dark assumption…an assumption we have allowed to become the sole driving wedge
piercing deeply into the heart of Christianity in America.

It was never meant to be what it has become as it was in actuality a mere excerpt from a letter…

And yet our justice system, Government, legal eagles and every atheist in the county
have each had a hand in finagling this small section of a letter into becoming something so much
more than what it was ever intended to be.

Mr. Fiorazo explains…
There are citizens today who still don’t realize the phrase “separation of church and state”
does not exist anywhere in the United States Constitution.

Earlier drafts of what became the Frist Amendment are valuable in understanding our founders’
intent.

Emphasizing the fact that denomination was one of the words proposed
when drafting the meaning of the Establishment Clause is vital to comprehending their objective.

They wanted complete and unhindered freedom of religion, which to them meant Christianity.
But they did not want a specific denomination to
hold more power, control, or influence than any other denomination.”

The majority of colonial settlers were Christians…all of one denomination or another
with eventually a handful of Jews making their way to settle in Savannah Georgia.
As Savannah boasts the oldest Temple in the United States.

As the 1787 Constitutional Convention got underway, it was Benjamin Franklin’s
suggestion that participants kneel in prayer.
Franklin stated:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live,
the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—
that God Governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice,
is it possible that an empire can rise with his aid?”

Mr. Fiorazo notes that “Fifty-two of the fifty-six signers of our
Declaration of Independence were deeply committed,
orthodox Christians as well as all thirty-nine signers of the Constitution.
The others agreed the Bible was God’s divine truth and that He personally intervenes
in the lives of people.”

And despite what many folks will tell us today about our founding fathers and their faith,
or lack thereof, they were all either quoted or wrote at one point or another, as referring
to God as Creator…and yes even the deist Thomas Jefferson.

Yet the worry was that the majority of these men were members of the Episcopal Chruch,
and just as in England with the Anglican Chruch, they feared that
the Episcopal church could become a similar state church.

Thomas Jefferson seems to be the person that the Left cites as responsible for
putting up that so-called “wall of separation” between church and state.
Jefferson was not even one of the framers of the First Amendment;
and yet, court cases have been built on this idea,
and laws have been changed because of a false premise.
He used those infamous words just one time–in an 1802 letter to Baptists in Connecticut
who wrote him. they were concerned about their ability to express their faith publicly.
Jefferson wrote back to ensure them that government could not lawfully get in their way.
He also explained the state ould not enforce or favor a single religion.

In the Declaration of Independence, God is mentioned or referred to four times:
as Creator who gives us “certain unalienable rights,” as a sovereign legislator
(Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God), the ultimate authority as
“the Supreme Judge of the world,”
and having faith (a firm reliance on)
in the guardian and protector of mankind (Divine Providence).
Keep this in mind when Jefferson mentions natural rights referring to religious
expression in his reply to the Danbury Baptists.

Isn’t it interesting with all the historical diaries, documents,
and writings available to us, not one of the ninety framers of the Constitution
ever mentioned the phrase “separation of Chruch and state?”
It should amaze us that the very amendment they intended as a restraint upon
government to keep out of religious matters is used today by activists
to hinder the expression of Christianity.

Known as the Establishment Clause,
this amendment was to prevent an official state religion,
but this is most critical to see:
It also prohibits the federal government from favoring non-religion over religion.
Clearly, atheists are winning more court cases today as a result of
judicial irresponsibility.”

[Think Episcopal Chruch as a state-run church]

And so we now see the importance of actually looking back while we continue looking
forward as we learn that what we’ve simply taken for granted is not so simple after all.

Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world.
If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting,
that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

John 18:36 ES

Transcendent of time

“the Declaration of Independence was not a creation of the Gods,
but of living men, and, let us never forget, extremely brave men…”

David McCullough

“When he [Thomas Jefferson] wrote the Declaration of Independence,
he was speaking to the world then, but speaking to us also, across time.
The ideas are transcendent, as is so much else that is bedrock to what we believe as a people,
what we stand for, so many principles that have their origins here,
with the mind and spirit of Thomas Jefferson.”

David McCullough
July 4th 1994
Address at Monticello

“We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free.
It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years
it should be declared a day of prayer…

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River,
and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery,
with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or
Stars of David.
They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been
paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier.
Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach,
Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa,
Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir,
and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a
small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division.
There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message
between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary.
On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words:
“America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice,
I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost,
as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

President Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration Address

May God bless America…

fall from Grace…

“Freedom has been elevated to a total eclipse of a person’s obligations,
to a freedom from any obligation.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

“After the Western ideal of unlimited freedom….
here is the true Christian definition of freedom.
Freedom is self-restriction!
Restriction of the self for the sake of others!”

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

In his book A Pope and A President, Paul Kengor recalls the admonishment of a young senator from Massachusetts to a college audience….

“In 1955…Senator Kennedy told Assumption College that the Communists had a ‘fear’
of Christianity and allowed ‘no room for God.’

In a passage that could have been spoken by President Ronald Reagan thirty years later,
Kennedy said that Communists sought ‘to make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life’ and could not ‘permit a higher loyalty, a faith in God,
a belief in a religion that elevates the individual, acknowledges his true value,
and teaches him devotion and responsibility to something beyond the here and now.

As president, Kennedy candidly warned America of its “atheistic foe,” the
fanaticism and fury” of communions, and the “communist conspiracy” that
“represents a final enslavement.”
“The enemy is the communist system itself—implacable, insatiable, unceasing
in its drive for world domination,” Declared Kennedy.
“This [is] a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies”
freedom under God versus ruthless, goddess tyranny.”

“Years later President Reagan went to the home of Senator Ted Kennedy…
where he spoke at an endowment fundraiser for the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library. On hand were Jackie and her two grown children.
Reagan commended JFK for his shrewdness in recognizing the enemy:
“He understood the tension between good and evil in the history of man;
understood, indeed,
that much of the history of man can be seen in the constant working out
of that tension.”

Reagan noted that Kennedy knew that the United States had adversaries,
real adversaries,and they weren’t about to be put off by soft reason and
good intentions.
He tried always to be strong with them and shrewd.”

It’s hard for me, in this very surreal 21st century of ours, to imagine that there
were once two presidents serving roughly 20 years apart—
men from two very different parties,
who each understood who the nation’s collective enemy was.

These two very different men who, despite being decades apart in their service to
their nation as well as being nearly 30 years apart in age…men who were each of
different ideologies could actually collectively agree then on what today has
become a more satirical farce than serious consideration.

And not only did these two very different presidents understand who the
collective enemy was…they also deeply understood the connection between a nation
who rested under God’s dominion verses a nation resting under the dominion of man.

Imagine today the party of Kennedy speaking about an “atheistic foe”…
Or referring to an adversarial nation as having “no room for God”
as well as those who have a fear of a Christian nation—
Imagine that a leader of the party of Kennedy would actually claim the United States
to be a “God fearing, Christian nation”
That there would be those who would speak of godlessness when referring to
oppressive regimes.

Imagine the party of Reagan, in turn, speaking words of agreement…

Oh how far we have fallen from who we once were.

When did it happen?

When did we think it necessary to scorn and scoff the notion of being
collectively under the yoke of an Omnipotent Creator?
When did we decide that we were free of any obligations other than to our own
selfish individual whims?

When did we decide there was no real good nor evil…
rather just the altar of individual humanism?

And what is the irony that the words of a one time Soviet dissident
would remind us, those of us who have lived in and with “freedom” most of our
lives, that our’s is a precious gift…one that we have been entrusted with
to cherish and maintain…as blood has been spilled and lives have been lost
all in the name of this very “freedom.”

So on this Veterans day, it would behoove us as individuals as well as a Nation to
recall, as well as honor, the selfless sacrifices made by those men and women who,
since those early days when we were but a collection of bedraggled colonies,
who down through the decades understood exactly who the enemy always was and
that we as human beings have been called to a greater good…
These very men and these women who have often offered the utter sacrifice–
of both lives and limbs, for a Nation that now is at war with itself…
having lost her way.

May their service never have been in vain.

“…it would have seemed quite impossible, in America,
that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose,
simply for the satisfaction of his whims.
Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in in the west;
a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian
centuries with the great reserve of mercy and sacrifice.”

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

isms

“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an
‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it
is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its
principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive,
constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

John Dewey


(a dragonfly readies for take off / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the mid 1930’s there was a very loud and very vocal cry being sounded within the United States..
the voice was sounding the alarm to a rising tide of Communism…
as this rising tide had become a growing cancer on the world’s global stage.

This was at a time just prior to the outright assault of WWII, as war had not
yet been declared…
but Hitler was indeed on the move.

Both Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism in a nutshell) was viewed by most
of Europe, as well as the United States,
as the most serious and fastest growing threat to Western Civilization and
her beloved democracies…

In part because both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were within the confines of “Europe”
while Communist Soviet Russia was seen to be more of an eastern threat.
Poland had long served as the lone suffering stalwart blocker in histories past
to invaders, always being the stopgap to regimes set on menacing Europe…
so why should now be any different….

Yet this time Hitler had different plans for Poland and he needed Stalin’s help.

There was however a grim opinion held by a handful of visionary souls that it was
actually Communism which was to be considered the far more sinister sleeping beast.
These hardy and farsighted souls began to formulate a battle cry.

Joseph Stalin had come to power in the Soviet Union in 1929.
Cold, calculating and menacing…a terror the world would not soon forget.
Promoting and spreading the Communist ideal was a top priority.
A totalitarianism manifesto which would eventually dominate the world…if he and others
were to have their way.
Seeds were planted deeply into the various “western” democracies where the grounds were
ripe and fertile as the State would be seen as the
both the new god and guardian of the people…

It would be just a short ten years following his rise to power that in 1939
a toxic union would form between Hitler and Stalin.
A union that barley lasted 2 short years…that was…
once Hitler had decided his need of Stalin was no longer beneficial…
as he merely beat Stalin to the divorce.

And yet we must back up a few years.

Around 1934 Pope Pius XI, along with his top aide Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
(later Pope Pius XII),
had a meeting with a certain American Catholic Bishop.
His name was Fulton Sheen and his was a bigger than life persona.
He was a dynamic and charismatic personality who was known as both a top
notch educator as well as notable orator.
Sheen was widely popular in the United States with both Catholic and non Catholics alike.
The Pope knew a catalyst when he saw one.

Calling Sheen to Rome, the Pope told the Bishop that he wanted him to study the works
of Karl Marx in order that he could better understand the terrible threat Communism
was to be against not only Christianity but to the betterment of mankind.
The Pope trusted this young vibrant servant of Christ with defending the faith
as well as guarding the dignity of all human life against the growing scourge
of Communism.

Shortly after returning to the States, Sheen addressed the faithful.

“They have thrown down the gauntlet to the world.
The voice is either brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in anti-Christ.
There is no alternative.
If the one does not regin the other will.
They will have chosen the comradeship in anti-Christ —
they can devour anything that is not brotherhood in Christ.
Communism was inspired not by the sprit of Christ but by the spirit of the serpent…
The Mystical Body of the Anti-Christ”

He predicted that neither ‘New Deals [n]or fascism’ would stop communism because they
could not ‘summon’ forth sufficent zeal and fervor.’
They lacked communists’ absolute devotion to their religion”

(excerpt from A Pope and A President / Paul Kengor)

So as we now stand on the landscape of this 21st century…
far removed from the horrors of WWII and it’s battle between the good and evil,
freedom or enslavement…and even decades from that most famous command heard
round the world…
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
we must ask ourselves…how different are our times?

Are we not living in what many now call a post Christian society where secularism
and political activism have both risen to the forefront as the new religions?
Have we not merely traded one form of ism for another..that of progressivism, liberalism,
socialism, and even the counter nationalism…

May we each recall the wisdom offered during those previous dark days….

“The anti-God regime is always the anti-human regime”
Bishop Fulton Sheen

when man becomes God

“Communism begins where atheism begins.”
“Communism abolishes eternal truths,
it abolishes all religion all morality”

Karl Marx


(a thistle blooming in a meadow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Since his expulsion from his once beautiful and safe garden home,
man has vied to become his own creator, his own director, his own God….
Thinking, no actually more like proclaiming,
that he knows best and simply… that he IS the best…

In yesterday’s post, we read a quote by Sister Lucia—the Carmelite nun who as a child in
1917 along with her two cousins, experienced several Divine encounters with the Virgin Mary.

Over the course of several months, Mary actually shared several prophecies with the children.
With one such prophecy being about the final confrontation between Good and Evil—
or more precisely between Christ and Satan…

“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and
the family.
Don’t be afraid, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will
always be contended and opposed in every way,
because this is the decisive issue.
However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”

(the quote is taken from a letter written by Sister Lucia to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna)

The holy sanctity of both marriage and family, it appears,
is to be a lynchpin in that dramatic collision…

And are we not seeing that same “lynchpin” proving to be a divisive issue in our own current times?

I’ve recently started reading a new book, I was more than a little intrigued when
first, from out of the blue, I found that quote by Sister Lucia then later, when reading,
I was broadsided by what appears to be another piece of the puzzle
presented earlier by Sister Lucia….
two vastly different encounters yet now oddly apparently connected.

And as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in happenstance or coincidence.

The book, I initially concluded, was going to be a typically political and historical
book based on two leading world figures..

A Pope and A President
by Paul Kenogor

The book is based on the relationship between Ronald Reagan and John Paull II and
“the extraordinary untold story of the 20th century”

A story I pretty much assumed would center on the work and contribution of both men
in the dismantling of the Soviet Union—the toppling of communism as it were.

I’ve read several previous books showcasing the relationships between Reagan, Thatcher,
Gorbachev and John Paul…each of whom were instrumental in the tearing down of
that infamous wall….

But this book has an unusual beginning, not what I expected…
It begins in Fatima, Portugal 1917…
and intermixes with the death of the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution.

There’s much I feel I already want to share but I’m not even to page 50….
For to digest the book properly, it is a bit of a slow go as I read and re-read certain
passages.

While reading last night I was struck by an incident that had taken place involving the
newly formed Communist Congress spearheaded by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and others,
involving the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Russian Orthodox Church’s long-standing prohibition against divorce was lifted,
leading to an explosion in divorce rates and havoc upon the Russian family.
Lenin made good on his June 1913 promise to secure and “unconditional annulment of all
laws against abortions.
By 1920, abortion was legal and free of charge to Russian women.
The number of abortions skyrocketed to levels still unmatched in human history.”

I no longer find it coincidental that with man attempting to become God, the first thing
he wants to dismantle is marriage…that sacred union as mandated by God.
Because if you are now you’re own god, then why listen to the One claiming to be the same?

And so too the man god, it appears, finds it most natural to throw caution to the wind
while tossing the proverbial baby right out with the bath water…
….cause that’ll work, right?!?

And so we see that man has decided that he has a better idea of how living should work.

Of which has a direct impact on the family unit—
that bond that God deemed to be a Holy unit…
and naturally the man god decided that that too is also utter rubbish….

Thus with the dissolving of what God originally intended marriage to be,
we instead have the erosion of that very sacred union between man and woman…
with a direct resulting decay of, in turn, the essence of humanity….

But obviously that whole notion of a decreed sacred union along with the subsequent family unit
is no longer of importance to the now ruling man god….

Throughout the course of mankind, when man has attempted to usurp control from the
Divine Creator, the consequences have proven to be disastrous…
so why should today’s time be any different.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24