We are a coveting people, yearning for Royalty

“When I realize that God makes his gifts fit each person,
there’s no way I can covet what you got because it just wouldn’t fit me.”

William P. Smith

We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us.
Ovid


(Royal Standard of Great Britan)

I’m not exactly certain as to why it is…
but what I do know is that it is indeed a real thing.

What am I talking about you ask?

Well, a couple of things really…but first I need to set the stage for our day’s
dialogue with a peek into an odd little obsession of ours.

It seems that we Americans have a bit of an obsession with anything and everything “Royal.”

Maybe it goes back to our being the somewhat red-headed stepchild or the kissing cousin or
simply the former colonist…I’m not exactly certain as to the reason but what I do know is
this—-
That the wee tidbits and morsels of all things Royal…be it from the news (aka gossip rags)
all the way to the paparazzi pictures tossed our way like a bone to a starving dog,
everything Royal seems to leave us only salivating for more.

We might think this goes back to a public’s love affair, from both sides of the proverbial pond,
with a young girl who grew from a shy and awkward girl into a glamorous beautiful princess all before
our wanting and wondering eyes…

It was a possessive sort of obsession with a girl who had married an older cad of a prince—
a man who had perhaps stopped his selfish playboy ways in order to settle down with
the Cinderella of his dreams.

Our favorite happy neverending fairytale.

Yet it was a tale that was neither happy nor neverending.

We loved how she doted over her two adoring sons and we felt protective when she became a
much-maligned princess from the Royal’s perspective.

And eventually, we painfully mourned when her beautiful life was tragically cut short…

Her demise was due in part to our obsession and to those who wanted to feed
that obsession.

We took her into our hearts as the tragic romantic heroine who seemed to need us as much
as we needed her…

Or maybe this fascination of ours goes back even further.

Maybe it goes back to the King who abdicated his short-lived reign in order to marry the
“woman whom he loved”—
A very public curiosity over the matter of duty versus that of love.

It was an abdication for a woman who was both an American and twice-divorced—all of which
precluded a British monarch the right to marry such.

The desire for forbidden fruit.
The desire of our wanting what we cannot or should not have…
or at least in this case, our wanting it for another.

And so being the hapless romantics that we truly are, we must have thought it oh so noble
to turn one’s back on both one’s solemn birthright of duty and responsibility while racing
blindly into the arms of love for love’s sake…
or was that lust for lust’s sake?

Never mind they both became Nazi sympathizers.

Or maybe it goes back even further…back to the life of a young Queen and mother who lost
her beloved prince consort prematurely to a brief illness,
as she spent the next 40 years of her very public life living a very public life of mourning.

A woman we associated with wearing nothing but black while ruling a realm,
of which the sun never set, with an iron thumb.

Or maybe it goes back even further…all the way back to our history books…
back to a king who was married 6 times…
Marrying, executing, losing and leaving women left and right for all the wrong reasons…

We became fixated on such a notion…that being of marriage for the sake of an heir—
The proverbial carrier of both name and nation…

Throw in the tawdry sex and it was a made for a Hollywood script nearly 500 years
before Hollywood was ever imagined.

Never mind that his illegitimate, bastard and passed-over daughter carried his legacy
on longer than any other man or woman…
that is until our present day’s monarch.

So no matter when this fascination of ours started, we are hopelessly continuing on
with such as we wait, watch and speculate what will be the latest saga
between two brothers…Wills and Harry…
as we fixate on their wives, their children, and their seemingly tragically
beautiful lives.

Lives that truly have no bearing on our own.

However, this post is not so much about our love affair with being Roayl,
being Roayl watchers or hoped for fairytales coming true as it is about our
wanting what others seem to have.

And no, I’m not suggesting that we want Royalty over our Presidency…
despite perhaps many
bemoaning such a possibility…
For we have our own royalty as we have turned our Presidents into our personal
little Royalty…
think JFK and Jackie, Ronnie and Nancy…
Just as we do with our entertainers and sports figures.
We have mastered the art of making people into things they really aren’t.

Yet this post is not even about that…turning people into things they are not…
nor is it about duty vs selfish wants…

Or maybe, just maybe, it is…
Maybe it is about our selfish wants.

For this is a post about our yearning to have that which is not our own…
wanting what others have and we have not.

We call it the simple act of coveting.

And coveting just happens to be on that oh so controversial list of “do nots”
as in the list of the Ten Commandments.

I think our subject actually comes in at number 10

Thou shalt not covet.

Or as we read in Exodus 20 verse 17 and according to the New International Standard,
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant,
his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Yet we have seen this notion of wanting what another has since the dawn of man.

Adam and Eve wanting the knowledge God had.
Cain wanting the recognition from God that was afforded to Abel.
David seeking another man’s wife…

We have been wanting what is not ours to have been since that initial apple incident…
as our wants have only become even more alluring.

Coveting is indeed our insidious obsession.
And our society has honed it into a fine art form…a very profitable art form.

One we call marketing.

They have it, we want it.
So let’s make it work.
Plain and simple.

We’ll market it, make everyone think life’s happiness depends on it and then we’ll sell it…
We’ll make gobs of money in the meantime…allowing for more wanting and having.

I think social media has had a deadly hand in all of this.
Social media has become a very slick tool in the marketing of wanting and having.

Not only are we inundated by cutting-edge advertisements and sales gimmicks working on a
psychological level convincing us that our happiness and well-being depends on getting and having–
we now have social media making us yearn for what we see others enjoying, doing and having.

The beautiful life plays out in front of our very eyes making us feel less-than because
we don’t seem to be having as much fun, traveling to such exotic destinations,
attending such fun events or accumulating as cool a-stuff as those whose lives
spill out before us on Instagram and Facebook.

I had a friend once tell me that she was going to stop looking at facebook because, as she
confided, it actually made her feel bad about both herself and her life.

She found herself becoming jealous and in turn depressed over her friends who were traveling,
having fun, buying new cars, new homes, new everything and anything they thought to post…
images of that which she wasn’t doing or of that which she didn’t have.
All she was doing was getting up each day and going to work.
How fun, how glamorous or how mundane or how boring was such a life?

Just the other week I found myself lamenting that my cousin was heading out on a trip
to Bermuda while several other friends were off to Europe for a couple of weeks…all the
while I was off to babysit.

I wanted what they had… the fun, the freedom, and the adventures.

Yet what was wrong with what I had?

Absolutely nothing.

For what I had was more lasting and not fleeting… it was not something that would only grow dim or
forgotten in a short time but rather it was something that was enduring and edifying.

Yet only a few of us are brave enough or honest enough to admit that we find ourself
feeling less-than when we see or hear of what others are doing or where they are going
or what it is they are buying…

We are coveting…

We want what others have…
while leaving behind what is our own realtime lives.

We compare what we have, or rather what we don’t have, to all that is around us and in turn determine our
level of self-worth and self-esteem—and if the truth be told, we usually come out
on the short end of the stick.

How many of us snap pictures of this or that wonderment we’re currently experiencing and find
it almost too hard to resist the urge to race to our social media outlets in order to quickly
upload, post, and share?
Living not in the moment but rather living in the moment ahead.

Our brag sheets to the world…while we calculate just how many ‘likes’ we will then accrue.

The fleeting fickleness of having and not having.

We have become the masters of voyeurism.
Living a life of watching the lives of others as we yearn for that which is not ours.

We are living in a world, in a culture, that glamorizes that which we have been commanded to
avoid—to avoid at all costs for our own eternal salvation.

We’re being sold a bag of ill goods..a bag of lies while we greedily digest the tawdry,
the egregious and the wanton with a sick level of zeal.

Being happy with what we have.
Being grateful for what we have.
Being satisfied with where we are…with who we are.
Being content.
Being at peace.
Enjoying.
Rejoicing…

Things which are quickly forgotten…
just as is the cost for such forgetting…
along with the cost of coveting.
All of which are becoming dangerously inbreed deep into our psyche.

So perhaps the lesson to be found in this roundabout tale is the fact that we most certainly do
yearn for Royalty.

We yearn to be the princes and princesses of a king…
the sons and daughters of a great King of a great Kingdom…
afforded the glory found in such a king and kingdom.

And the thing is, we need not dream of such…
for we are the heirs of the one Great King…

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

A new saint with an old soul

When it comes upon me how late I am trying to serve the Church,
the obvious answer is, even saints, such as St. Augustine, St. Ignatius,
did not begin in earnest till a late age.

Blessed John Henry Newman


(courtesy AP)

Today Pope Francis will canonize a new saint.

To those of you who are non-Catholics, this news is no more than a blip from some
religious news feed, but to me, I find it quite interesting.

As many of you reading this already know, I was born and raised in the Episcopal Church—
which is, in a nutshell, the American branch of the global Anglican communion.

Anglican being the Chruch of England.

A denomination I once loved, but for many years have found myself at a crossroads of odds.
I have found that I cannot remain in a fold that disregards the Word of God while
preferring to re-write God’s tenants to suit a disgruntled liberal culture.

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest, writer and intellectual who was considered
‘an evangelical Oxford University academic.’

He too felt at odds with his “church.”

And so I offer you a little background from a few periodicals who offer us a bit of background
to this new saint with an old soul…

According to Wikipedia,
He [Newman] became known as a leader of, and an able polemicist for the Oxford Movement,
an influential and controversial grouping of Anglicans who wished to return to the
Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rituals
from before the English Reformation.

In this, the movement had some success.

In 1845 Newman, joined by some but not all of his followers,
officially left the Church of England and his teaching post at Oxford University
and was received into the Catholic Church. He was quickly ordained as a priest and
continued as an influential religious leader, based in Birmingham.
In 1879, he was created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in recognition of his services
to the cause of the Catholic Church in England.
He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854,
although he had left Dublin by 1859.
CUI in time evolved into University College Dublin, today the largest university in Ireland.

Newman came to his faith at an early age.

At the age of 15, during his last year at school,
Newman was converted, an incident of which he wrote in his Apologia that it was
“more certain than that I have hands or feet”.
Almost at the same time (March 1816) the bank Ramsbottom, Newman and Co. crashed,
though it paid its creditors and his father left to manage a brewery.
Mayers, who had himself undergone a conversion in 1814,
lent Newman books from the English Calvinist tradition.
It was in the autumn of 1816 that Newman “fell under the influence of a definite creed”
and received into his intellect “impressions of dogma, which, through God’s mercy,
have never been effaced or obscured”.
He became an evangelical Calvinist and held the typical belief that the
Pope was the antichrist under the influence of the writings of Thomas Newton,
as well as his reading of Joseph Milner’s History of the Church of Christ.
Mayers is described as a moderate, Clapham Sect Calvinist,
and Newman read William Law as well as William Beveridge in devotional literature.
He also read The Force of Truth by Thomas Scott.

Although to the end of his life Newman looked back on his conversion to
evangelical Christianity in 1816 as the saving of his soul,
he gradually shifted away from his early Calvinism.
As Eamon Duffy puts it, “He came to see Evangelicalism,
with its emphasis on religious feeling and on the Reformation doctrine of
justification by faith alone, as a Trojan horse for an undogmatic religious individualism
that ignored the Church’s role in the transmission of revealed truth,
and that must lead inexorably to subjectivism and skepticism.”

According to a news article on the Washington Post,
Pope Francis on Sunday will canonize John Henry Newman,
a Victorian-era intellectual, Catholic convert and cardinal.
A self-described “controversialist,” Newman was an early leader in the Oxford Movement,
an attempt to reinstate ancient forms of faith and worship in the Church of England.
After converting to Catholicism at age 44,
Newman went on to found a Catholic university and a religious community,
as well as a school, and he clashed with authoritarian,
or “Ultramontane,” Catholics over the issue of papal infallibility.

Newman called liberalism “false liberty of thought,”
or the attempt to find truth through reason alone independent of faith and devotion.
He characterized his life as one long campaign against this view in his spiritual autobiography.

The Wall Street Journal continues Cardinal Newman’s story…
noting that he could well be known as the patron saint of the lonely…

On Sunday Pope Francis will officially recognize as a saint the
British clergyman and Oxford academic John Henry Newman (1801-90).
Nearly 130 years after his death, Newman’s writings still offer readers
incisive theological analysis—and practical wisdom.

A theologian, poet and priest of the Church of England,
Newman found his way to Catholicism later in life and was ordained a
Catholic priest in his 40s.
Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in 1879.

Cigna, a global health service company,
surveys feelings of social isolation across the U.S. using the UCLA Loneliness Scale.
Last year Cigna released the results of a study of 20,000 Americans.
It found that adults 18 to 22 are the loneliest segment of the population.
Nearly half report a chronic sense of loneliness.
People 72 and older are the least lonely.

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job,
and the results don’t surprise me.
I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other.
I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby.
Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames.
The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of
solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone;
we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes,
noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship.
Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people,
but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship.
The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic,
someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality.
Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial,
thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble.
Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful.
Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that
we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness.
He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism,
at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence,
some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

In one of his sermons, delivered on the feast of St. John the Evangelist,
Newman reflects on the Gospel’s observation that St. John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
It is a remarkable thing, Newman says, that the Son of God Most High should have loved
one man more than another.
It shows how entirely human Jesus was in his wants and his feelings,
because friendship is a deep human desire.
And it suggests a pattern we would do well to follow in our own lives if we would be happy:
“to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately about us.”

On the other hand, Newman observes that “nothing is more likely to engender selfish habits”
than independence.
People “who can move about as they please, and indulge the love of variety”
are unlikely to obtain that heavenly gift the liturgy describes as
“the very bond of peace and of all virtues.”
He could well have been describing the isolation that can result from
an addiction to digital entertainment.

When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he chose as his motto
Cor ad cor loquitur.
He found the phrase in a letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal from St. Francis de Sales,
her spiritual adviser:
“I want to speak to you heart to heart,” he said.
Don’t hold back any inward thoughts.

That is a habit of conversation I hope we can revive among our sons and daughters.
Real friendship is the cure for the loneliness so many young people feel.
Not the self-referential stimulation of a cellphone or iPad;
not the inauthentic “friending” of Facebook; not the superficial hooking up of Tinder,
but the honest, intimate, lasting bond of true friendship.

Mr. Garvey is president of the Catholic University of America.

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

John Henry Newman

critical mass

I actually don’t think it matters how early or late you are as long as you
hit critical mass.

Drew Houston


(someone is hiding / Julie Cook / 2019)

According to Merriam Webster:
Critical mass, [is] in nuclear physics, the minimum amount of a given fissile material
necessary to achieve a self-sustaining fission chain reaction under stated conditions.

Critical mass is a term most familiar in the world of physics but it is also now a key
term found in the world of business, retail and even social media.

Having recently returned from spending a bit of emergency time with the Mayor,
I have come to the conclusion, along with her parents, that she has reached critical mass…

That being the state in which the chain reactions, under stated conditions, are self-sustaining.

In laymen’s terms, we call this phenomenon the ‘terrible twos.’
A tantrum of the utmost extreme as demonstrated by the only age that can do justice
to such…that being the toddler.

We have all decided that the Mayor is obviously highly gifted as she is demonstrating this
most profound attribute actually 4 months before officially turning 2.

Meaning, given just the right conditions…such as a heightened sense of anxiety,
extreme irritability, cutting teeth, being under the weather, overt frustration and the
lack of not getting one’s way…all creates the perfect storm of emotions.

A complete meltdown ensues.

Wailing, flailing, streaming tears, screaming, snot, drool, kicking, hitting, slapping…
and what we have my friends is not a pretty picture but rather the example of critical
mass as demonstrated by one of the most powerful forces on the planet…
that of an angry toddler.

So opting rather not to capture those red alert critical mass moments from this
recent visit of caregiving, I chose instead to focus on those calmer
and happier moments as they just seem so much more fun…and so less stressful
for this said caregiver / grandmother.

The Sherrif is channeling his inner “Pops” aka my dad by donning his driving cap…

irrational ideology vs logos

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

David Roberston


(detail of Christ from Michaelangelo’s Final Judgement / The Sistine Chapel)

λόγος
Logos

According to Writingexplained.org, the Greek word Logos is a rhetorical device that includes
any content in an argument that is meant to appeal to logic.

In other words, Logos equates to a logical discourse when opposing sides engage in conversation
regarding the difference of opinions.

The explanation goes on…
Logos is one of the three Aristotelian appeals.
A writer utilizes the three appeals in order to convince his audience of his argument.
The other two appeals are ethos (ethics) and pathos (emotion).

Appeals to logos are those that involve or influence the logical reasons an audience
should believe an argument.

Logos often shows up in an argument in the form of facts and statistics.
However, any logical statement could be an appeal to logos.

According to Wikipedia…

Ancient Greek philosophers used the term in different ways.
The sophists used the term to mean discourse;
Aristotle applied the term to refer to “reasoned discourse “or “the argument”
in the field of rhetoric,
and considered it one of the three modes of persuasion alongside ethos and pathos.
Stoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading
the Universe. Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC – c. 50 AD)
adopted the term into Jewish philosophy.
The Gospel of John identifies the Logos,
through which all things are made, as divine (theos),
and further identifies Jesus Christ as the incarnate Logos.
The term is also used in Sufism, and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung.

There was a time in the educating of children when the classics were the common line
of curriculum.

According to ARISTOI Classical Academy, a classical education consisted of the following:

Truth –
Classical education values knowledge for its own sake,
which is to say that the body of knowledge under study itself helps students to
discern that which is true and good and beautiful,
rather than having an external definition of these things imposed upon it.

Guidance for Modern Life –
Classical education holds that the study of the liberal arts should yield the
perspectives that ought to inform and provide direction to the sciences and to
social constructs, not vice versa.

Western Civilization –
Recognizing that “American Civilization” is the product of the
millennia-long project known as Western Civilization,
classical education teaches the standards of moral virtue and character that
created Western culture, and which allow students to assess and understand other cultures.

Civic-Minded –
Classical education upholds the value of responsible contribution
toward family, community, and governments.
Students are able to connect the civic life and political experiences of historical
societies to present-day cultures.

Eloquence –
Classical education teaches standards of excellence in communication
that are embodied in the great literary works of the Western canon.
For generations, these works have exemplified greatness in that they present important
events and persons, and interpret these events and persons through abiding values and concepts
in language marked by precision, beauty, and power.

Unity of Knowledge –
Classical education trains students to recognize the relationships between the various fields
of inquiry and knowledge (such as history, science, and literature)
and to organize these varied fields into an integrated,
logical and systematic framework.

And as a former Art teacher, it should be noted that the Arts…be that music,
the visual arts, drama, as well as classical languages such as Latin and Greek
which were also included in a well rounded “classical” education.

Then at some point during the educational course of children, something happened…
we dumbed down the curriculum while we convinced ourselves it was greater, broader
and grander.

Yet in this fallacy, which we sold ourselves, over the expansion and re-do of education,
we actually dumbed down our curriculum which in turn lessened the learning and in turn
shortchanged our kids.

And in so doing we now have a culture that has no idea how to converse regarding their
thoughts or ideas…nor do they even have the whereto all to have original thoughts let
alone the knowledge of how to defend them with logic versus their go to brute force of
bullying and intimidation.

I say all of this after having read the latest offering by our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson and of his being recently banned by Twitter.

My other favorite across the pond, tell it like it is cleric, the former Church of England
Bishop Gavin Ashenden has also been banned from Twitter…
each for their Christian hate-speak.
Did you read that…Chrisitan hate speak…
If ever there was an oxymoron that is it…Christian + Hate + Speak…

Oh those Christians…they’ll get you every time.

As I am not one to tweet nor foray out into social media other than this little blog,
I say be glad and don’t look back…
brush the dust from your feet as you press forward fighting the good fight.

As David reminds us in his open letter to Twitter…
he will go forward…forward in both love and logic—and the love of Logos…

Dear Twitter – Why Have You Banned Me?

hospitality while staying the course

“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.
And this happens although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do not seek to be regarded as somebody,
don’t compare yourself to others in anything.
Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things,
shake the dust from off your feet.”

St. Barsanuphius


(a tiny ladybug rumaging about the hydranga blosoms / Julie Cook / 2018)

June, albeit already being known as National Icecream month, is quickly becoming
my national babysitting month…
This as I am here and there, acting as said keeper of the wee one, as work schedules and
summer workshops are currently on a collision course.

However, you won’t hear any complaints coming from me…more than happy to oblige…

But this balance of both distance and time, of which are each keeping me overtly busy and
currently stretched thin, is hindering my ability to fully contribute and offer meatier
and tastier posts… as well as forcing my unintended negligence to those day to day interactions
with those of you who are my friends and kind enough to offer your own thoughtful reflections,
feelings and words of wisdom.

And speaking of interactions…

I suppose I’d like to say a word or two regarding some rather interesting interactions
I’ve had with those who have been wandering into cookieland…
wanderings taking place from say, a week or so ago.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before.

As it’s an odd occurrence really.

Let us reflect a moment on the notion of hospitality.

I’m Southern born and raised and those of us who hail from the South are usually known
for our Southern Hospitality.
A graciousness in opening our doors, our homes, our lives our hearts…welcoming and inviting
others to ‘come sit a spell’…inviting others to come rest while we offer a
bit of respite from the pressures of life.

I shared this very notion, just the other day with Tricia, from over on
Freedom Through Empowerment.

I explained to Tricia that years ago I had read a small book that had actually been
written centuries prior.
It was actually more of a manual rather than a book.

The book is known as The Rule of St Benedict and it was written by Benedict of Nursia
in the 1st Century.

Benedict wrote the book as an instructional manual for those who were wishing to follow
in his footsteps…living life as a Christian monk…
an order of Christian monks known as the Benedictine Order.

It was written for those Christians living during the persecution of the Roman Empire…
a time not known for its hospitality toward Christians.

The little book has had amazing staying power as many a Fortune 500 company has their upper
management read the book as a lesson in how to work with others as well as how to treat others.

According to Wikipedia “The spirit of Saint Benedict’s Rule is summed up in the motto
of the Benedictine Confederation: pax (“peace”) and the traditional
ora et labora (“pray and work”).
Compared to other precepts, the Rule provides a moderate path between
individual zeal and formulaic institutionalism;
because of this middle ground it has been widely popular.
Benedict’s concerns were the needs of monks in a community environment:
namely, to establish due order, to foster an understanding of the relational nature
of human beings, and to provide a spiritual father to support and strengthen the
individual’s ascetic effort and the spiritual growth that is required for the fulfillment
of the human vocation, theosis.

However, there was one rule in particular that spoke to me more so than the others…
it is the Rule of Receiving Guests.

All guests who arrive should be received as Christ so that he will say,
“I was a stranger and you took me in” [Mt 25:35].
Show honor to them all, especially to fellow Christians and to wayfarers.
When a guest is announced, let him be met with all charity.
Pray with him, and then associate with one another in peace.
(Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer has been said, in case of satanic deception.)
Greet guests with all humility,
with the head bowed down or the whole body prostrate on the ground,
adoring Christ in them, as you are also receiving him.
When the guests have been received, let them be accompanied to prayers.
Then let the Abbot, or some he chooses,
sit down with them.
The divine law be read to the guest for his edification,
and then you should show him every kindness.
The Abbot should break his fast in deference to the guest,
unless it is a day of solemn fast,
which cannot be broken.
The other brothers however should keep the fast as usual.
The Abbot should pour the water on the guest’s hands,
and the whole brotherhood should join him in washing the feet of all the guests.
When they have been washed, let them say,
“We have received your mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple” [Ps 48:10].
Let the greatest care be taken, especially when receiving the poor and travelers,
because Christ is received more specially in them.

Chrisitianhistoryinstitute.org

In other words, how to be a gracious host.

Benedict admonished those managing the various monasteries to always be willing to
open their gates and doors to all who would venture to knock…
no matter the time day or night.
He told the brothers to get up in the middle of the night if necessary in order
to warmly welcome both stranger and friend should anyone come knocking with a need.

The brothers were to open their doors, offering food and drink as well as a place of rest to
wayward travelers.

That one “rule” made a strong impression upon me because early in our marriage,
my husband would often call me at the last minute to inform me that he’d received a call
from a “friend” who just happened to be passing through and informed my husband
that he wanted to come for a visit.

Such news would usually leave me grousing as I scrambled to tidy up,
put out fresh linens while rushing to prepare an impromptu meal usually after
I had worked all day.

So much for feeling very gracious.
Rather, I reluctantly confess, that I selfishly felt put out.

Yet over the years, I’ve come to understand that the giving of ourselves,
our time, our attention,
our skills, our food, our home, our possessions are really not so much about “us”,
but rather it’s about something far greater than ourselves…

And so it’s with St Benedict’s Rule in mind that I have faced a bit of a conundrum here
in my little corner of the blog world.

For you see, I tend to write about mostly Chrisitan related content.
Content that I’m pretty passionate about.

Be it my sharing of the insights and observations from two of my favorite clerics
from across the pond to my serious concern over those ancient Middle Eastern Christian
sects that have come under violent attacks by ISIS, to my dismay over
living in what has quickly become known as a post-Christian society to
the unraveling of what we call Western Civilization.

And yes, I am often outspoken as well as passionate about my concerns.

But the thing is, I’m writing a blog…small as it is.
There is no social media tied to this blog.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Pinterest…
Why?
Because I don’t participate in “social” media…only that of a blog.

Therefore my little corner is small and limited, yet passionate none the less.

I’ve always found that I like to learn, share and grow in my own faith…
as I still have so much to learn.
I like to do so by reading and learning from what others teach.
I consider my blog, and those I enjoy reading, an extension of a Chrisitan
Community.

I grow in the Spirit by reading and learning from other Chrisitan Spiritually based
individuals.
I don’t go looking for trouble.
I don’t go trolling.
I don’t care for those who do.
Trolling is a waste of time.
Nothing good comes from such.
Why waste life’s precious time by doing such?
I’ve yet to figure that out.

And at times I do believe that I am a bit of a Christian Apologist…
a defender of the Faith as it were.
God’s Word being God’s Word.
No mincing.
No rewriting.
No twisting.
No changing because we as a people feel the need to change.

Speaking what I sincerely believe to be Truth.
God’s universal Truth.
Speaking His Truth here on this blog.

All here on a blog that is here if you want to read it…
or not.

And that’s the key…or not.

Meaning no one has to come here and read anything I write.
That’s kind of the magic of a blog…you have a choice…
to read or not to read.

In fact, that’s how I do it.
I seek to read those who teach me and fulfill me with that which is edifying….
meaning it is rich in the Word as it offers up a hearty offering of Life in the Spirit.
Offering the positive because why would I want the negative?

Not the hostile.
Not the angry.
Not the hateful.
But rather that which is edifying, uplifting, and even liberating.

So imagine my surprise when I was hit by a barrage of those doing just the opposite.

Professing agnostics and atheists who had come visiting, en masse,
speaking of indoctrination, dinosaurs, lies, falsehoods, contraception, abortion,
young earth creationists, the Bible as fairytale, no Noah, no Moses, no flood, Jews,
science…as the list and comments grew and grew in number.

As cordial as I could be while standing my ground, the sneering, the questioning,
the snideness, the belittling, and the vehemence only escalated or rather more
accurately devolved into a swirling quagmire of running in circles.

Demands of justification, clarification, debate, arguments, proof, and defense
continued not over the course of a few comments but rather such ran on and on for days.

Verbal attacks and the pushing downward into the unending rabbit holes of nothingness…
down into the black abyss of nonsense.

Other’s jumped in, in defense.
Words grew heated and even ugly.
The word was spread by the nonbelieving to rally because the Christians were now
proclaiming.

A real shame.

But I hear that is the plan.
Divide, confuse, conquer.
Or so they say.

My thinking…you don’t like what you’re reading, go find what it is you do like.
Don’t berate.
Don’t harangue.
Don’t belittle.
Don’t be smug.
Don’t be snide.
Don’t be divisive.
Don’t be hateful.
Don’t be crude.
It benefits no one…especially yourself.

But don’t pretend you’re confused and that you don’t understand.
Don’t pretend you truly want explanation and clarification because all you want
is to publicly mock, accuse and berate.
You are sly and cunning…as those are the pages that come from your playbook.

However, my door will remain open to anyone who comes to visit.

The invitation will always be extended to one and all to come…
to come put up one’s feet and to sit a spell.

But come because you want to come…
Come because you want to visit, feast and fellowship.
Come because you want to share, to learn, to grow.
Come because you want to offer to others…
Come because you want to offer more, not less.
Come with peace, not hostility…

Or simply don’t come…

Don’t come but go elsewhere…
Go where you find your fulfillment because obviously, you’re not finding that here.

As St Benedict so wisely instructed, “Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer
has been said, in case of satanic deception”

So, therefore, may we pray for discernment over deception while we continue to extend the hand of hospitality.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

loneliness or alone…a matter of perspective

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses
the glory of being alone.

Paul Tillich


(somebody’s watching you, or acutaly they were watching me / Julie Cook / 2018)

You may remember about a week or so ago I posted a curious image of a pile of bluebird
feathers beneath one of my bluebird boxes.

I surmised from the mass of scattered feathers that something bad and somewhat
tragic had taken place during the veil of darkness.

I also knew we had marauding raccoons who often came to visit the yard at night,
scavenging the stale bread I often throw out back for the birds.

And I knew that raccoons were notorious for stealing bird eggs.

A quick internet search also revealed that they are not choosy when it comes to their
need for a meal.
They are equally notorious for snatching whole birds.

I was rather crestfallen when I thought that the poor bluebird family this year was not
to be thanks to my four-legged black masked visitors…

That was until I walked past the same box where previously a pile of feather lay…
and I suddenly felt that odd feeling when you realize you’re not exactly alone.

I turned toward the bird box and saw what I thought to be an eyeball staring at me.

Watching me ever so closely.

Over the course of a few minutes, the eyeball became two eyeballs…

And then an entire head…

And so it appears that Mrs. Bluebird is alive and well, yet I fear she just might
be a widow.

And as I stood staring at this lone little head peeking out of a birdbox, the notion of this
lone bird now having to sit on a nest of eggs, hatch said eggs and in turn work
like mad to feed the now filled nest of hungry mouths…filled me with a bit of melancholy.

And so I found myself overcome by the odd thought of loneliness and of being alone.

And whereas I know that birds don’t necessarily look at the circumstance of life as I do…
it’s just the fact that I have the knowledge of knowing how hard things will be for
her raising a brood without the help of a mate sharing in the endless search for food
for wanting little mouths.

It reminded me of my own bit of emptiness when it’s time for my little
granddaughter to go home.
Such as she did Sunday.
I find myself with such a lonely ache in my soul.
Not that bird’s heart’s ache or that they have a soul for that matter…

Yet despite these thoughts of a bird’s loneliness and of my own feelings and sense
of a lonely ache, I recalled reading recently an interesting article about
the skyrocketing epidemic in this country centering around loneliness.

The title of the article was
“God may have put you in a lonely place for an incredible reason”
by Pastor Rick McDaniel

Now I know that lots of folks will scoff at the linked thoughts of loneliness
to what we believe
to be a loving, all knowing, all powerful God…
I also know that there will those who will scoff at any sort idea of a God…
Plus that there will be those who will scoff at the notion of our being alone
as an impetus for our, in turn, reaching up and outward from ourselves…
oblivious and unaware of what gifts may actually await us just beyond our
aching empty hearts…

I know how hard it can be when one is in the midst of feeling so utterly
void and alone to imagine that God’s hand could or would be ever so close…

However, I have always been comforted by the words of Padre Pio, that mysterious Capuchin monk
who taught that it is in the depths of our greatest suffering in which God is actually the
closest to us.

There are many who will question such a statement…
but in the hindsight of my own life, I have seen the truth behind his words.

Yet for many, it is the depths of loneliness when there is a real feeling of anger and
resentment toward the unseen God who in our suffering, believe is choosing not to
“rescue” us from our plight of loneliness thus our belief that that is cause for
our feelings of anger.

Yet as Pastor McDaniel points out,
“Sometimes God causes us to seek him by driving us to him through the loneliness we experience.
We can get angry, depressed or we can see it as a gift.
Loneliness is a great benefit if we have drawn closer to Christ.”

While at the same time, I find this whole notion of skyrocketing loneliness an odd result
from the advent of social media where anyone can be connected to everyone with just
the click of a button…

And while our obsession with technological engagement has created a generation of
folks who more often than not feel utterly isolated,
albeit for the screen of an electronic device,
it is that very sense of isolation that can either lead us up and out of ourselves
to something much greater and so much more…or cause us to sink into despair…

I think it’s a matter of perspective…

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/05/26/god-may-have-put-in-lonely-place-for-incredible-reason.html

the monkey of generational angst

“America isn’t breaking apart at the seams.
The American dream isn’t dying.
Our new racial and ethnic complexion hasn’t triggered massive outbreaks
of intolerance. Our generations aren’t at each other’s throats.
They’re living more interdependently than at any time in recent memory,
because that turns out to be a good coping strategy in hard times.
Our nation faces huge challenges, no doubt.
So do the rest of the world’s aging economic powers.
If you had to pick a nation with the right stuff to ride out the coming
demographic storm, you’d be crazy not to choose America, warts and all.”

Pew Research Center, The Next America:
Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown


(a young Macaque courtesy the web)

(*****yesterday’s post had quite the typo—commandant verses what I actually meant,
commandement…thanks David!! Sadly, I can look at something a thousand
times and still see it as what I meant rather than what I typed…
such is an aging brain—onward and upward!)

A life long friend and I can often be heard grousing about this current generation’s
sense of entitlement, self indulgence, whining, progressiveness, liberalism, irresponsibility, lack of morality….
all the while as we fuss over their ‘addiction’ to all things social media
and materialistic….

And it goes without saying that I am convinced pervious generations groused
about us…however I’m wondering if perhaps their grousing was more so with a
deep and very real sense of foreboding.

For I am a baby boomer. That blossoming group born post war—
as I was post Korean war.

After my friend and I have gone on a bit, trading lamentations, I tell her that
“You know, this is really our generation’s fault…”
“What?!” she’ll exclaim….
“Yep, it’s our generation that is really to blame…”
“We are the ones who did this to them.”

“But shhhhhhhh,” I’ll warn, “we don’t want to give them the satisfaction of
having one more person, place or thing to blame
as they love to cast off any and all culpability for their actions…”

“We were made of tougher stuff” she’ll counter indignantly

And while we’ll both admit that we are not nearly as tough as say that of the generations of our grandparent’s and parent’s, those of the “Greatest Generation”…
one thing is certain, we are tougher then this current bunch of whining
“snowflakes”—-that is a truth!

And as much as I fuss about millennials, my son continues to defiantly insist to me
that he is not, nor has he ever been, a member of this millennial generation
of which I am constantly fussing, cussing and complaining about….

However according to those who figure out such statistics and numbers,
the millennial generation falls between the ages of those who are between
18 to 34….so sorry Son, but you are on the wrong side 34 by almost 4 years.

And so I often wonder exactly when it was we went so wrong….with them….

So as I ponder this latest conundrum…our Wee Flea friend is at it again….
offering tantalizing morsels for sample…
and it is right along this notion of generations and their dysfunction that he
is happily taking us.

Our friend the Wee Flea has read a book that, whereas it was not written by a
Christian and is not necessarily a book for Christian audiences, David did find
the book most enlightening….
he does warn however that the F word is frequently used.

Now this is where David will venture more bravely than myself as he has read
and seen those things that I will readily and quickly cast aside as rubbish
as I have a low tolerance for crude language, hedonism, vileness,
defamation or sarcastic flippancy…..

Yet David is good and diligent to sift through the spoils in order to find
the buried gems….

His latest offering is a book by a fellow named Rod Liddle…who happens to be a
journalist and contributor to The Spectator
and I will say that what I have read from The Spectator, I have greatly enjoyed.

The Spectator is a British conservative weekly publication with a focus on all things
political and of current affairs. It’s been around since 1828 so it must be doing something right. I’ve looked into subscribing as an ‘across the pond subscriber’
unfortunately the cost would be exorbitant….
so I settle to just catch the random article here and there….

The book by Mr Liddel is entitled
Selfish Whining Monkeys…
how we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy

David was kind in that he tells us that if we don’t feel like reading the book,
he’s identified 25 main characteristics of our generation and offers them in his blog.

and oh how it stings….

The Lost Generation –

“It is hard to argue against longer life expectancy, greater affluence, safer workplaces, the freedom to escape from a hopeless marriage, the rights of women to be treated equally, and so on. But a certain moral code has been lost along the way, which has contributed largely to our country becoming close to bankrupt, a nation of broken families clamouring about their entitlements siring ill educated and undisciplined kids unfamiliar with the concept of right and wrong, where there is an ever diminishing sense of community and belonging, a perpetual transience, if you fancy a cheap oxymoron.”p. 10

“peace has made us complacent, freedom has made us irresponsible, affluence has made us acquisitive, comfort has made us neglectful of others, and security has made us – oddly enough – tremblingly insecure.” Page 11

12) The Divorced Generation

“beyond that, though it was a betrayal of my boys. Having made the decision to have children, I should have stuck with it. But I didn’t; my personal happiness seemed to count for more than anything else.” Page 75.

“The loosening of the divorce laws, and the swift removal of stigma from those who have been divorced, came from the top down. It was designed to enable the more affluent in society to continue to pursue that most compulsive of post-1960 pastimes, serial monogamy.” Page 76.…

Like so much socially liberal legislation presented to the electorate as a wonderful means of acquiring those most liberal of things, freedom and equality, divorce reform benefited only the well-off, by and large. It was legislation designed to enable the affluent to XXXX around with impunity, (no fault, remember!), And hang the rest. Hang the kids. Children from broken homes make up 80% of the population of Britain psychiatric units……. Whoever the 1971 divorce format was brought into ‘enable ‘, it was certainly not the children. It was not the children, and it was not the poor.” Page 77.

13) The Sexualised Generation

He talks about the 1970’s and Gary Glitter singing to 14 year old girls – ‘Do you wanna touch me?” What do you think he was referring to…?

This as I hear Rod Stewart singing somewhere back in my shadows in my head…
do I think he’s sexy or Mick Jagger singing about wanting to spend the night
together…
sigh…..

Anywhooo, this is but a few of the gems I plucked out of Davids’ list which I
found most telling.
David has only offered 1 though 13 in today’s post as he’s divvying the list up
into a Part I and Part II posting—tomorrow he will offer us Part II–

I can hardly wait to see how much lower we will sink into the truth…
to be continued…..

Rod Liddle – Selfish Whining Monkeys.. A Review – Part 1

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100:5