altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

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(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

Truth and Love have always won

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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(a delightful little bowl of color on a bleak January day / Julie Cook / 2014)

It grows ever apparent that faith, the beliefs held by those who strive to live the Word of God and profess the victory of the Resurrection, continues to swirl in the murky waters of political correctness, appeasement, self righteous indignation, ridicule by both big media and the entertainment industry, as well as from the sense of many that it is all quite passé and irrelevant in this age of glamor, glitz, high tech, new fangled, ego filled, self indulgence, and the endless pursuit of self fulfillment.

Covenants and laws proclaimed long ago and most far away seem to have little if any bearing on the living large lives which now seem to be the current trend of the world. The endless consumption of placating food, drink, sex and drug all in the name of “If I want to, I certainly can” continues leading to a path of self destruction which is sadly unrecognizable by the masses. The vortex of self gratification relishes sucking in soul after soul with little if any realization that this is not a positive situation.

Governments vie for control of global markets, as world leaders continue to demonstrate personal bad behavior, claiming that what is done in private, is no one’s business, all as they roll toward the quest of becoming demigods. Terrorism, that overt selfish fanaticism of an alarming growing number of depraved individuals, continues to hold the world at large hostage. The freedom to worship a monotheistic God, which is not so free, no longer is a priority as the smaller gods of technology, entertainment, self, and money all jockey for control.

All of this while the keepers of the Faith are lulled into acceptance. “Don’t rock the boat” the lies are slickly whispered by the insidious ancient foe, “you might as well get on board because it is simply now the way of the world”—“be quiet, don’t say anything because the backlash is tremendous” —“it’s all too old fashioned you know, those antiquated beliefs or yours”. . .”you, with that Faith of yours, are all wrong for having those beliefs of yours, in fact you are no longer entitled to your beliefs because they run counter to the way of this country, this world, this new age. . .

Sounds all rather bleak and Orwellian does it not? Sounds as if you would prefer not to think about it, to turn away, to pretend it doesn’t exist. Why should you bother, just ignore it and hope it will go away, just leave me alone, you say, in my ever shrinking world–

Ok.
That is your choice, your prerogative. But the world, with its current ways, is not going away. It will continue telling you that you are wrong and it is right. Masses will rise up against you. You will be mocked and ridiculed until you decide to be quiet.
Don’t argue.
Don’t disagree.
Maybe it’s ok, you wish upon yourself. Maybe they are right you reassuringly question.
It’s just all too grey, not well defined. As long as people are happy then it’s all ok is it not?

Is it?

Hear the words of Martin Niemöller spoken in a different time and place:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.