dizziness, spectacles and extravaganzas

“This is quite a fight.
Orthodox Christians believe that we are caught up in a very serious struggle between Good and evil,
and evil tries to trick us and hide the good from us;
usually by dressing up something corrupt which pretends to be goodness itself.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

“It seems to me that there is ‘a spirit of dizziness’,
not only in the hysteria of the mob culture we live in,
not only amongst the liberal anti-Gospel leaders in the Church (such as Bishop Curry);
but now sadly even amongst good and faithful evangelical leaders,
who seemed to swallow the Bishop’s hook, line and sinker.”

David Robertson


(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cashel,
County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I am amazed more and more each day the way in which Satan is at work.

Yet here’s the thing…
most of us don’t like to acknowledge Satan because if we do, we scare ourselves.

Or if we do acknowledge him, we try to make him very small…for that same very reason…
that we tend to scare ourselves with such thoughts.

However we should know, he likes that.

The smaller the better…
An out of sight out of mind sort of approach.

Christians and most folks in general, don’t like being reminded of things
like Satan…that whole ying-yang business of Christianity, faith and a belief in God
countered by an acknowledgment of darkenss, evil, sin and Satan.

For where there is God, there is the polar opposite of God.
But we aren’t keen on the polar opposite of anything other than good, happy
or feel good.

So instead of filling our minds with the negative of bad things,
we prefer to just go about our daily business with little to no thought
of a devil, or evil, or names such as Lucifer or Satan.

That is until something really bad happens, forcing us to take notice…
But then we will, just as abruptly and quickly, turn away as a child with our fingers thrust
in our ears refusing to hear or acknowledge the truth for what it is.

So it is those quiet little day to day advances that Satan takes great pride in…
a stealthy approach to our demise.

I use to always remind my students to be careful about leaving the back door open…

That being the back door of their lives.

I would remind them that Satan does not like to use the front door…
because he does not like to be so obvious nor readily announced.
Rather he prefers using the back door.
A door that is most often overlooked, most often unlocked,
and if the truth be told, left propped open for easy comings and goings.

Elder Paisios, who was a well known Eastern Orthodox ascetic monk who spent the majority of his
life living in a monastery on the holy island of Mt Athos just off the coast of Greece,
once wrote that
“The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware,
those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict
them with self-assurance, logic, thinking criticism.
Therefore we should not trust our logical minds.”

And it is indeed along the lines of this spiritual affliction of ours,
or more aptly, this insidious spiritual warfare which is currently besieging Christianity,
that both our friends the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, and our favorite rogue Anglican
bishop have each addressed in separate posts offered in just so many days apart.

In the last 48 hours, both clerics have been asked and have offered a few thoughts regarding
the gala which took place this past weekend in the UK.

And in case you missed it…the gala in question was a small wedding that transpired between
one of the Queen’s grandson’s and an American bi-racial, once divorced, actress.

It has been quite the fodder for the tabloids as well as all things news.

Let all of that sink in.
A British Royal former bad boy playboy and a divorced, bi-racial American actress.
Oh the cultural kumbiya found in such a union! Why then shouldn’t the Archbishop
opt to use a wedding as a commentary for the progressive culture wars?!

And whereas the spectacle itself was enough to send all of the entertainment industry,
Hollywood’s ilk and kin, as well as all things newsy into a royal dither, the Archbishop
of Canterbury had to add his own special touch by inviting an American Episcopal cleric,
an invitation mind you that was unbeknownst to the happy soon to wed couple, to come
participate in the ceremony and whip up the already salivating participants and the news
anchors into a higher level of a spinning tizzy then whence they previously were.

Bishop Ashenden notes that “The dear couple had no idea who was being asked to
preach at their wedding.
It was an idea that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
had suggested to them.
They were hardly in a position to know or refuse…

So when Justin Welby suggested Michael Curry as the preacher on this astonishing
world-wide stage, he was also signing up one of the most effective street fighters
for progressive, distorted Christianity who – with great charm and verve –
presents his own preferred version of Jesus to the real one we find in the Gospels.

And yet many folks will have missed the full impact of such a speaker at such an event.
The good bishop reminds us that by having such a speaker as a Bishop Curry this
“matters very much.”

Curry spoke of fire, love, slavery, sex and yes, Jesus in a very lively, entertaining and
most animated fashion.
In other words, he was the entertainment.
However entertainment that many mistakenly thought to be great Gospel teaching…
but the problem was that his “teaching” was anything but that of Holy.

Bishop Ashenden observes that “Curry’s Jesus is preoccupied with social Justice and the
celebration of romance and sexual love wherever it finds you.
The real Jesus warned that social justice would never happen in this world,
that heterosexual marriage was to be between a man and a woman,
and that equality had nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Curry twists that round and turns it upside down. He says Jesus likes homosexual marriage
and favours the quest for equality that left-wing politicians have made their life’s work.
Curry says wherever you find ‘love’ you have found God.
But when Jesus defines love it sounds very different from Curry.

Love for Jesus starts with honouring and obeying the Father who created us and
renouncing anything that displeases Him and pollutes his holiness.

Jesus warned his followers time and time again against people who would come in
His name and teach different things.

What we have in the Anglican world at the moment is a struggle for the soul of the Church
and a struggle to tell the truth about God and present the real Jesus.

There is a wonderful saying from Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity,
that our aim ought to be ‘to stand before the real God with the real self with our mind
in our heart’.”

And so what we have is just another back door we’ve left open.
The back door to a very worldly and cultural event in which we’ve allowed to become
something it is not…that being a sanctioned and ordained act of God.

And whereas I am not inferring that an Archbishop nor a Bishop are of the devil, I do
believe however that their own personal backdoors have been left wide open as they
work very hard to twist and rewrite the Gospel to suit today’s most progressive
agenda-

Could we, in our wildest imagination and dreams, think that those who wear collars or
those who stand in pulpits or those who hold bibles could ever be capable of a
distorting, twisting or even changing the very doctrine of our faith,
our beliefs or rewrite the very words of God???
Surely not.

Yet were we not warned that even the devil’s own can easily quote scripture?

“In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin,
from evil, from the devil.
It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all,
in fact, slavery.”

St. Justin Popovich

Links to both posts here:

The struggle to tell the truth about Jesus. Welby, Curry and the integrity of the Gospel.

Right Royal Preaching

storms will rage

“I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is,
the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it.”

St. Faustina


(early signs of change / Julie Cook / 2018)

March enters like a lion and exits like a lamb…
while April showers bring May flowers…

or so we are reminded.

Spring is a tumultuous time here in the South.
It might snow one day while tornados wreak havoc the next.
A good two months of a seasonal roller coaster ride.

I’m beginning to feel much the same with regard to our Christian faith.
Our lives have become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs of attacks and assaults—
physically, verbally, mentally, and of course, spiritually.

It is the season of our times as Believers as we are reminded:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

Ephesians 6:10-12

That we may be ready, come what may…

“Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find that when God’s people fast,
the power of their prayers is increased, especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would
‘loose the bonds of wickedness … undo the thongs of the yoke…
let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6)…
In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the
wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan,
who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2)…
If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened.
It’s the spiritual muscle that,
when exercised regularly,
strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”

Paul Thigpen,
Manual for Spiritual Warfare p. 42

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Meat and potatoes

One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.

Robert Graves


(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)

Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”

I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….

I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..

Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….

And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.

Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.

So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…

And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—

A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…

And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.

And I for one delight in that.

In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….

Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
itself.

The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….

Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….

And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…

All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..

But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.

Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
Advent.
As in The Coming….

I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.

The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.

He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.

Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.

The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.

So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.

And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….

John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…

The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.

Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!

Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.

We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.

Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
our focus.

Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
things….

Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.

For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.

Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
aside.

We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…

None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?

I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…

Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….

A bookstore, a war and a reunion….

“Be swift as a gazelle and strong as a lion to do the will of God in Heaven.”
(as seen on the ex libris of a book looted by the Nazi’s, a reference to
a line form the Mishnah, the Jewish redaction of oral traditions:
Andres Rydell The Book Thieves)


(the interior of a book store in Padova, Italy (Padua) / Julie Cook / 2007)

Today’s tale began many years ago, when my aunt and I found ourselves wandering
and weaving up and down the snake-like alley streets twisting through the old historic district of Padua, Italy…
better known to the Italians as Padova.

We were actually en route from Milan to Florence and opted to stop over for 3 days
in order to explore this deeply rich historical city.
And it just so happened that during our stay, during this particular mid June,
it was the height of the city’s yearly commemoration of Saint Anthony.

Padua is home to the Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio di Padova, or the Pontifical Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua—a massive and beautiful church built to honor the Portuguese born saint who settled in Italy, making Padua his adopted home.
The building of the basilica was begun  in 1232, a year following Saint Anthony’s
death, and was finally completed in 1310—with modifications taking place in both
the 14th and 15th centuries.

It was a wonderful experience being a part of such a festive atmosphere, as
thousands of Catholics worldwide flock to this small Northern Italian town for
the June 13th feast day—
The city goes all out to make a colorfully vibrant yet equally respectfully spiritual
time for the thousands of pilgrims and tourists who flock to this city just south of Venice.

There are parades where the various ancient guilds are dressed in period costume as children, nuns, priests, monks and lay people march solemnly through the
narrow ancient streets all carrying flags as residents drape banners from their windows.

Yet Padua is more than just a spiritual hub, it is also very much of an intellectual
hub as it is home to the University of Padua, one of Europe’s oldest universities,
having been founded in 1222.
It is here where Galileo Galilei spent 18 years, of what he has described as being
the happiest years of his life, while he was the head of the Mathematics Department…
teaching, studying, lecturing and writing.

Italy, so rich in history, also happens to have a wonderful history with
paper making as well as bookmaking.
And Padua has its fair share of both fascinating and beautifully rich paper
as well as book shops–shops selling books, antique lithographs and rare prints.

It is said that after Spain, Italy is where paper making actually had its start.
It was most likely introduced to southern Italy by the Arabs who had in turn first
learned the craft from the Chinese.
Arab influence, particularly in architecture, can still be seen in and around the
Veneto region.

So it was during our visit, as we were wandering about one evening following supper,
that we saw the book store I’ve included in today’s post. The store was closed for the night and as we were going to have to be at the train station bright and early the following morning, I knew I would only get to visit this store by pressing my nose
to the window.

All these many years later, I still think about that store.

It had a wealth of what I surmised to be rare antique and ancient books.
Books, despite the language barrier, beckoned for my further investigation.
I would have easily considered giving up my train ticket to Florence just to be able
to wander in, dig and explore….
but it would take years for me to actually understand the draw as to what I would
be digging and looking for….
And as Life so often has her way, time has simply afforded for my wistful musing of
what might have been.

Having finally finished reading The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell,
the image of that book store in Padua has drawn me back time and time again
as I made my way through Rydell’s book. There is a very strong pull to go back
to look, to seek and to wonder.

There are not words nor adjectives enough for me to do justice to the meticulous story
Rydell lays out as he recounts the Nazi’s scrupulous, maniacal and highly
calculated quest to en masse the books of the all of Europe and Russia with
a keen penchant for those of the Jews.
Not only did they attempt to eradicate an entire race of people, they wanted
to hold, own and control the entire literary word of man—
particularly that of religion, science and history.
As they saw themselves as the new keepers of the history of humankind.

Millions and millions of books, both precious and random were taken…as myriads
are now lost or destroyed for all of time.

The Nazis had a detailed system for categorizing the stolen books.
And many of the books that are now scattered across the globe…
be they in large University libraries or small college collections,
to the random bookshop or second hand store—
many of those books still bare the labels of the Nazi’s numerical filing system.

The long arduous journey of Rydell’s very sad, horrific and overwhelming tale ends
in England with his actually reuniting a granddaughter, Christine Ellse, with a lone
little random book that had belonged to her grandfather–
a man she had never known personally but knew he had died in Auschwitz.
There were never any photographs, no sounds, no memories of a the man
this now grown woman so longed to know.

“Although I’m a Christian I have always felt very Jewish.
I’ve never been able to talk about the Holocaust without crying.
I feel so connected to all of this,” says Ellse,
opening the book and turning the pages for a while before she goes on.

“I’m very grateful for this book, because…I know my English grandparents
on my mother’s side.
They lived and then they died.
It was normal, not having any grandparents on your father’s side.
Many people didn’t, but there was something abnormal about this.
I didn’t even have a photograph of them.
There was a hole there, an emotional vacuum, if you see what I mean.
There was always something hanging midair, something unexpressed,”
Ellse says, squeezing the book.

“You know, my father never spoke about this.
About the past, the war.
But my aunt talked about it endlessly, all the time.
She was the eldest of the siblings, so she was also the most ‘German’ of them.
She coped with it by talking;
my father coped with it by staying silent about it.
I knew already when I was small that something horrible had happened.
I knew my grandparents had died in the war.
Then I found out they’d been gassed, but when you’re a child you don’t
know what that means.
It’s just a story—you don’t understand it.
Then I learned they’d died at Auschwitz. Only after I grew up did I begin to understand and get a grip on it.
It was very difficult when I found out they’d been murdered just ten days
before the gas chambers were shut down.
It was agonizing.
I imagine myself sitting on that train, experiencing the cold and the hunger.
And then straight into the gas chambers.
I’ve never able to get over it.”

Historian Patricia Kennedy Grimstead, a woman with a mission to see that war plunder is eventually reunited with families, notes that “millions of trophy books–although no one can say how many there are—will remain as ‘prisoners of war,”
Today, in Russia, there is no willingness to return books to the countries or families
that were plundered. But we still have to know what books are still represented there
from Europe’s cultural inheritance, a monument to the libraries that were destroyed
and scattered as a consequence of the most terrible war in human history.”

And so my mind wanders now back to that bookstore in Padua—
what book, if any, was there that had once been someone’s personal book
before madness took it away…
a book I now wish I could have found, in order to have brought it back home
to its rightful family.

The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.
At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark.
You will be unsuccessful in everything you do;
day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you….

All these curses will come on you.
They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed,
because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands
and decrees he gave you.
They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever.
Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly
in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst,
in nakedness and dire poverty,
you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you.
He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Deuteronomy 28:28-29, 45-48

Spiritual man

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

img_1287
(a small framed image of Jesus that my dad has had his entire life sitting on his
dresser from the time he was a young boy until now)

Sitting with my dad who is just shy of 89 and is indeed dying…
who despite my small attempts of diversion when he hangs his head low in despair
and utters a forlorn…
“I’m on my death bed…with this terminal cancer.
I just don’t have much longer….”

As I find myself countering with a rather matter of fact “well Dad,
I suppose we could say that all of us are terminal to some degree or another…”

And it is not my intent to be callous or flippant in my reply but rather to stave off
the black places Dad has always gravitated to.
For you see that not only has Dad been a glass is half empty kind of guy…
his glass has always been nonexistent…
He is A.A. Milne’s character Eeyore come to life

He continues…
“Reckon man just made all this business up about heaven?
How do we really know we go to be with God?
How do we know there really is a God…”

as his warbly voice trails off as his heavy lids flutter over the now glassy tired eyes…

Despite being raised a Southern Baptist, who years ago jumped ship for the
Episcopal Church, and despite serving on the vestry and serving for years as
an usher at church…
Dad has always played the role of doubter…often bordering on the ludicrous.

And always oddly seeming to enjoy drawing my ire when, after watching countless
shows about extra terrestrial life and sweeping galactic space shows,
muses about aliens coming and going verses the foundations of our faith….

He even got caught up in more lunacy after watching a show about the missing
years of Jesus’ growing up…
the what ifs of what happened in those years following a youthful Jesus of 12 being lost
from the family during the pilgrimage for the Passover,
while finally being found in the Temple,
to the next part of the story, years later, as he meets John at the River Jordan….

Dad’s mind wandering to what Jesus did in those 21 yeas in between.
He watched a show that claimed the young boy Jesus took it upon himself to travel to
India to be enlightened during those missing 21 years…
Dad buying hook, line and sinker into the nonsense….

I would get so frustrated wanting to know why in the world he would watch such crazy
farfetched shows…
and for heaven’s sakes…
why on earth would he buy into the foolishness…

And just as easily as I share my disgruntlement over Dad’s willingness to dip deep
into the well of snake oil and falasies,
there are those who are currently reading this post, who in turn are thinking…
“Julie’s dad has a point.”
How do we know?
How does anyone know?

And that’s when I looked at Dad, who is now swiveled and shrinking and racked with pain
in his little hospital bed which has long replaced his regular bed,
as I tell him, “we simply call it faith Dad…”
“Yeah, that’s what John Bruster use to tell me”
John Bruster being Dad’s former parish priest.

“We’ll Dad, it is the foundation of Christianity…
the underpinning as it were…
faith…

Which brings us all back around full circle to the quote by Father Teilhard de Chardin…
that man is indeed a spiritual being.
And he, man, yearns, nay aches, to be connected to that which he seeks.

Many people spend a lifetime seeking to quell the ache.
It is sought so falsely…in so many dark corners of our lives.
Empty and fleeting.
Always grasping for the tangible proof, we run a lifetime into the empty ground of
conjecture while being placated by magic…
wanting, seeking…yet always coming up empty.

It is found in the faith of the God who offered a piece of Himself to be born
into our misery,
Who chose to bear our burdens,
the darkest and most foul reassess of our diseased and blackened minds…
who took upon himself the sickness and brokeness and shortcomings of our bodies…
who faced depravity, deception and falsehoods…
who suffered…
who died and was buried…
Who vanquished hell…
And who rose again…
and is now seated at the right hand of His Father
And who will indeed truly come again…
Who will judge both the living and the dead
And who will welcome us home…

It is that which we claim although our eyes do not see…
For it is in that which we rest our hope in…
our Faith….

“Compel yourselves;
say the prayer;
stop idle talk;
close your mouths to criticism;
place doors and locks against unnecessary words.
Time passes and does not come back,
and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit.”

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

prophetic spirit….

“I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me”
Jeremiah 33:8

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(image of the prophet Jeremiah by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel)

Despite the distress of our time, we have lost touch with this prophetic spirit.
In fact, the inmost nature of prophecy has become an enigma to us.
We no longer grasp its primary source anymore.

Eberhard Arnold

Where are the voices…
those strong, confident and defiant voices that portend the fate of man?
Those ancient distant voices which proclaimed, declared, lamented, warned and foretold…
Those quixotic ones, from the days of old, whose words spoke of both power and truth …

In this oh so modernly smug time of man, believers are left to silently wonder,
as the non believer ridicules and scoffs.
Taunting the faithful while arrogantly puffing their chests.
For modern man has declared himself his own deity and god.

As Eberhard Arnold pragamatically observes, we have lost touch with that part
within ourselves which allowed us to hear those prophetic voices.
We have grown cold to our spiritual nature…
As we have distanced ourselves to the point of total disregard,
For that innate piece of the Divine that was once very attuned…
Allowing rather the void to be filled by our haughty sense of self.

Those voices however have never been silenced…
Never stopped or cut short over the windswept history of time…
they have not grown cold as the hard stones of earth…
but rather it is man who has grown cold, having lost his ability to hear them.
For man has turned a deaf ear to the apocalyptical.

Yet it is in that same breath of disheartened resignation that
Arnold offers us a bit of hope…

“The attitude is [still] possible only when a different heart beats within us,
different from that which has been in us so far, and when God’s spirit dwells in us,
as Ezekiel promises for these last days (Ezek.11:19).

If the earth is to be filled with the glory of God,
then the triune Spirit must fill and pervade the people who dwell on it.
Only when the Spirit gains influence over us, a sovereignty thus
far completely unknown,
can we expect the social and moral transformation that Mary sings about…”

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

The Magnificat
Luke 1:46-55

“Maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always”
Hosea 12:6

This time of year….

Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

William Shakespeare

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Scottish saying

Halloween Pumpkins, Witch, Devil, and Black Cat
(vintage halloween card)

What is it about this time of year…
This time of year when we seem to crave the supernatural?
Is it in our nature to lean-in, ever so closely,
to those ancient tales of the “other side”?

Halloween,
what once was an evening relegated to the innocence of the imaginations of children,
has grown to become the second largest commercial “holiday” following Christmas.
No longer is All Hallow’s Eve a single night for young children to don costumes…
all the while as they canvass their neighborhoods, singing trick or treat,
as they amass a small mountain of candy…

Adults have gotten deep into the act.
With Halloween merry making and party going exceeding that of New Years Eve…
For it has now become a month long event….

Yet aside from candy and costumes, which innocently afford one the opportunity to play
dress up as some alter ego,
Halloween has become, more or less, a spiritual excuse.
An open invitation allowing ourselves to taste a bit of a spiritual realm…
But the trouble…
for that is what it becomes, a trouble…
lies in the choice of realms…

Bemused, you may wonder if there is a problem with this yearly interest,
of which borders on obsession,
in this revelry of the realm of the spirits…

And I fear that…yes, perhaps there is.

For you see, we are indeed spiritual beings…
with spirituality being hardwired into our DNA—
And history has proven that it is not necessarily always a need
for a monotheistic God that we seek,
but some sort of spirituality none the less.

Hollywood has long jumped on the bandwagon of our desire to examine spiritual realms,
while at the same time allowing us to exert that odd need to be frightened.
Spook and Horror movies, as well as those tales of witchcraft,
demon possession and specters, have long topped box offices
as we have an almost sick obsession with such.

It is as if cultures worldwide use Halloween as some sort of green light,
a go ahead in affording ourselves permission to dabble in the art of
fortune telling, tarot cards, palm readers, seances, Ouija boards,
paranormal hunting…the supernatural.
All coupled with jaunts to places that are supposedly haunted, creepy and even perhaps dangerous…
and lest we forget the trips to the myriads of haunted / horror houses
which open throughout the month.

Even Disney and Six Flags have each gotten into the act…

So we tell ourselves that that makes it all perfectly safe and harmless.

And yes Halloween, and the thought of spirits,
does indeed course through the blood of humankind….
With those roots traveling far back to Celtic Europe, the ancient Pagan Middle Eastern Kingdoms,
ancient tribes of the Americas, Asia and even Africa—
as every race of people has had that aspect of the supernatural and mystical tied
to their very beginnings.

So maybe we’ve just deem it as all innocent fun as we explore this need of the mystical.

Perhaps we merely convince ourselves that it’s simply wired
deep within the ancient core of our brains…
this odd desire to be scared and frightened…
all the while as we parle into a realm different from our own…

Maybe it’s just something we simply enjoy…

“So what,” we grouse, if it morphs into something else…
something other…
“I’m not scared, I don’t believe in that
hocus locus business…it’s just harmless fun…”

Yet there is just something troubling about it all…
Something actually quite unsettling…
Something actually very dangerous..

For in the naiveté of opening seemingly harmless doors,
we enter into an on-going battle…
an ancient battle for which we are simply not prepared to fight…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13