21st century iconoclasm… it’s all about color

To [Shuan] King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or
oppression is to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan Stone


(Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli/ Julie Cook / 2018)

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about Pope Paschel I and Iconoclasm…
you may find the link to that post here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/pope-paschal-i-iconoclasm-and-hospitality/

I went back to read that post today, in part because of a dangerous trend
I see happening these 6 years later…
This trend has been taking place over the past two months or so and it’s been happening
on both a national level as well as a global level.

The trend is that of vandalism—vandalism directed toward Chrisitan Houses of Worship.
As in… that of churches, stained glass windows, and even statuary.
There has been a call to vandalism by Shaun King, the leader of Black Lives Matter.
A call to eradicate any and all depictions of a light-skinned Christ

In yesterday’s post, a post based on an article by Nathan Stone, Stone wrote
extensively about why King would call his “followers” to arms…a call to
bring destruction to Churches, stain glass windows and images of Christ, Mary
and the saints.

Recently, Shaun King, a champion of the Black Lives Matter movement,
called for the destruction of Christian iconography, statues, and stained glass,
if they represent Christ, His mother, or any of the apostles as white.
This, according to King, makes the iconography nothing more than a
“gross form of white supremacy” and “racist propaganda” created
to be “tools of oppression.”

To King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or oppression is
to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan continues…
True Christianity Was Never About Race

The idea that Christianity is or has been infected with white supremacy
is not new.
Susan Abrahams, the dean of faculty at Pacific School of Religion,
blamed “White Christians” for Charlottesville.
Jeannine Hill Fletcher wrote a book in 2018 that purportedly showed racism was a
natural outgrowth of Christianity, springing from “Christian superiority.”

This premise is wrong, first because of the existence of black saints.
There is a rich tradition of African Christianity.
Many of the earliest fathers of the church hailed from Africa,
including Cyprian and St. Augustine of Hippo.

Furthermore, multiple men and women are recognized by the Catholic Church
as saints who were black, including St. Moses the Black, St. Benedict the Moor,
and St. Martin de Porres.
It is a strange racist and oppressive system that recognizes the sanctity
of people from across the world, regardless of their color,
and bequeaths upon them the title of “saint,” a moniker that designates
all who possess it as attaining ultimate equality before the throne of God.

All this is a reminder that skin color doesn’t make an ounce of difference
in Christianity. As St. Paul wrote in Galatians,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Pigmentation did not matter in Christianity; what mattered was faith in Christ.
This is also why, contrary to the implication in King’s ridiculous tweets,
Christianity often adapted itself to the environment of indigenous peoples.

To buttress this, we even have proof that Africans were accepted in medieval Europe.
There is evidence that Christians from Ethiopia pilgrimaged to Spain and were
present in medieval Rome to the extent that the church of
Santo Stefano degli Abissini was built, and rebuilt,
specifically for Ethiopian Christians.

The Radicals Want to ‘Cancel’ Christianity.

Stained glass and statues do not show Christianity to be racist.
A quick Google search would have shown this to King.
So why King would make a statement that could be so easily refuted?
The answer is that this outrage over white portrayals of Christ and the apostles
is a blind meant to detract us from the real goal: canceling Christianity.

Just a year ago, believing the radical left had such a goal would
have sounded conspiratorial. Within the last four weeks, however,
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was vandalized.
Across from the White House, St. John’s Church was attacked twice.
Neither church nor the statue was involved in any way or form with
the deaths of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks.

More recently, in the Polish city of Breda, a memorial to World War II Polish
soldiers was vandalized with BLM graffiti. Never mind that the memorial
features a replica of the Virgin Mary as a black woman,
the soldiers the memorial heralds were fighting fascists,
and Poland has no history of colonization anywhere.

Recently “The Catholic Church in the United States experienced a series of
attacks this weekend all over the country.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles saw a fire in an eighteenth-century mission church,
San Gabriel, founded in 1771 by St. Junipero Serra. Firefighters
responded to the call at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Archbishop José Gomez tweeted about the fire,
asking for the intercession of St. Junipero.

St. Junipero has become a point of attack during recent protests
in the United States.
The Spanish Franciscan priest converted thousands of native Californians
to Christianity. Pope Francis canonized him while in the United States in 2015,
recalling how the saint “defended the dignity of the native community.”

Meanwhile, in Ocala, FL, the Marion County Sheriff’s office reported
someone set fire to Queen of Peace church just before Sunday morning Mass on July 12.

The police allegedly found a car crashed into the front of the church.
The suspect then poured gasoline in the narthex and lit it on fire,
before escaping in the same vehicle. No parishioners were wounded.
The suspect was arrested and is in Marion County jail on no bond.

The Boston Police Department is currently investigating an arson of a
statue of the Blessed Mother at St. Peter’s Parish Church in Dorchester
on Saturday, July 11.
They report an unknown suspect lit the plastic flowers in
the Madonna’s hands on fire, resulting in burning on the statue’s
face and upper body.

Another statue of Mary was vandalized on Friday, June 10 at 3:09 a.m.
at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in New York. The statue, which had
been at the entrance of the all-boys school for more than 100 years,
had the word “IDOL” written on its front. It was cleaned Friday morning by staff.
The Diocese of Brooklyn announced that the New York Police Department
is currently investigating the case.

These acts of vandalism come as Catholics are returning to churches
in many states, after the lockdown and closure of parishes due to coronavirus.
The actions also coincide with protests and the removal of various historical
statues across the United States, spurred by the death of George Floyd.

https://www.romereports.com/en/2020/07/13/churches-burned-and-statues-of-mary-vandalized-in-catholic-churches-across-us/

And then there was the fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre-et Saint Paul in Nantes, France

A fire at the cathedral in the French city of Nantes is believed to
have been started deliberately, prosecutors say.
Three fires were started at the site and an investigation into suspected arson
is underway, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.
The blaze destroyed stained glass windows and the grand organ at
the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th Century.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53455142

And so finally, it seems that someone in Washington is taking notice…
Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks is demanding federal authorities
at the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate mob attacks on Christian statues
and churches in their continued purge of human history in the name of “social justice.”

“Over the last two months as Americans have seen statues of American heroes
toppled and memorials dedicated to our national memory desecrated,
those responsible for these acts have also in their sights Catholics,
statues of saints and churches,” an email from Banks’ office read Wednesday.

Let us pray for The Chruch, the global Christian family…

won by One who makes imperfection perfect

Satan has a kingdom here on earth.
It’s called the culture of death, but his kingdom has an expiration date.
That’s good news.
Jesus has a kingdom as well.
There is no expiration date.
It will last forever.
Remember, Church, we have been won by One.
The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Jesse Romero
from The Devil in the City of Angels


(deer moss / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Do they desire to join me in thanksgiving when they hear how, by your gift,
I have come close to you, and do they pray for me when they hear
how I am held back by my own weight?

A brotherly mind will love in me what you teach to be lovable,
and will regret in me what you teach to be regrettable.

This is a mark of a Christian brother’s mind, not an outsider’s—
not that of ‘the sons of aliens whose mouth speaks vanity,
and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity’ (Ps. 143:7 f.).

A brotherly person rejoices on my account when he approves me,
but when he disapproves, he is loving me.

To such people I will reveal myself.
They will take heart from my good traits, and sigh with sadness at my bad ones.
My good points are instilled by you and are your gifts.
My bad points are my faults and your judgments on them.
Let them take heart from the one and regret the other.
Let both praise and tears ascend in your sight from brotherly hearts,
your censers. …
But you Lord…Make perfect my imperfections”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

loss in blogging

“Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things?
it’s certainly not through me that You know them.
But I’m stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say,
great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised.
I tell my story for love of Your love.”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions


(Robert Cottrill)

I often find myself wondering why it is people feel compelled to “blog.”

Why is it that ordinary people create a personal space,
out there someplace on the interweb, and then proceed to spend precious time writing
about whatever it is they opt to write about?

It really is a rather odd phenomenon.

My own personal story started with retirement.

I started my blog a little over 6 years ago, almost 9 months after I retired from a
lifetime of teaching high school.
I thought a blog made sense because I still had things I wanted to share, or more aptly,
things I wanted to teach.

And so that’s what I’ve decided… there is a wealth of people out there who want to share
and in essence, teach.
They want to teach about travel, food, cooking, health, books, music, art, politics, faith, religion,
or the lack thereof, photography, sports… you name it.

People feel compelled to share and “teach”

When I first started this blog, I touched on a bit of all of that.
I loved to travel.
I was a teacher.
I was an art teacher.
I was adopted.
I loved to cook.
I was a wife, a mother, a Christian…on and on it went.
Obviously a wealth of topics to share and teach about.

On one of my early posts, I wrote something about one of my most favorite hymns,
Veni Veni Emmanuel—or—Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.
It is a typical hymn sung during the season of Advent.
I always preferred its original Latin context.

After that posting, out of the blue, I had a gentleman from Saskatchewan, Canada
comment about my post regarding the hymn.
It seems he was a retired minister who was in the process of building a blog about hymns
and their history.

He was a living wealth of knowledge.

His name was Robert Cottrill.

I thanked Robert for his comment and from that, a lovely friendship developed.

Robert would touch base, ever so often, via email—informing me about what he and
his wife were up to.
He shared about his son and his son’s family living in Mexico as missionaries and of
his pride in his young granddaughter being a budding artist. And he always included
photographs from around his home.
Snow when we were settling into heat, blooms when we were beginning our decline.

Robert usually posted a new hymn, along with its history, each Monday and I, in turn,
would read and click like to his post.

There wasn’t a great deal of generated likes on the history of hymns so Robert
was always thankful for my interest.

He emailed a few months back that he and his wife had moved from their home to
an assisted living community there in Saskatchewan.
He was upbeat and positive as he shared pictures of their new digs.

I noticed that for the past couple of Mondays, Robert hadn’t posted anything.
And then this morning, out of the blue, his site popped up on my reader with a disclaimer.

Robert’s son reported that after a short illness, his dad had gone home to be with the Lord.

Just like that, Robert was gone.

There has been what seems to be a great deal of loss in the blogging family as of late, and
Robert’s death is just one more peg in the loss column.

His son notes that the blog will be maintained as it offers a wealth of history for
any and all who have an interest in the development and history of Christian hymns.

The blogging world will miss Robert.
May his light, the light he reflected from his love of Jesus,
continue to shine on generations to come

https://wordwisehymns.com

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

Veni, veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.

Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae.

Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de specu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri.

Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.

Seize us oh Lord

“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.”

St. Augustine


(flower stall / Zurich, Switzerland /Julie Cook / 2018)

“When you sit down to eat, pray.
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you.
If you drink wine,
be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness.
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes.
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars,
throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way.
Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises,
when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God,
who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know,
love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great

looking for saints in all kinds of places

This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.

St. Augustine


(St. Augustine of Hippo painting by Philippe de Champaigne, 1650)

Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise;
your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning.
And so we humans, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you –
we who carry our mortality about with us,
carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud.
Yet these humans, due part of your creation as they are, still do long to
praise you.
You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy,
because you have made us and drawn us to yourself,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

The passage above appears to have been written by a person who was painfully aware
of his own mortality and sins yet yearns, nay longs,
to be in the arms of the Beloved Creator.

And so perhaps it might be hard for those of us reading these long ago penned words
to imagine that this person was not always so deeply attuned to
living life worshiping the Triune God.

For the past couple of days, my posts have veered toward the idea of saints.
No particular reason really…and when there seems to be no real rhyme nor reason for my
ramblings, that usually just means the Holy Spirit is at work and not so much
me.

Yesterday’s post offered two quotes summing up the notion of sainthood quite nicely…
yet it was especially the Kierkegaard quote which serves to remind us that God’s mastery
of creation is one thing, but to be able to make saints from sinners…
well, that’s something else altogether.

Augustine of Hippo…
a giant when it comes to thought and theory has been studied down through the ages by
all sorts of students—from theologians and philosophers to literates and historians…
many of whom have been Believers and many who have not.

Yet Augustine was not always one of Christendom’s most learned and revered theologian
turned saint.

According to Wikipedia,
“His first insight into the nature of sin occurred when he and a number of friends stole
fruit they did not want from a neighborhood garden.
He tells this story in his autobiography, The Confessions.
He remembers that he did not steal the fruit because he was hungry,
but because “it was not permitted.”
His very nature, he says, was flawed.
‘It was foul, and I loved it.
I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.”
From this incident, he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin
and in need of the grace of Christ.”

Augustine went on to have a long-lasting affair with a woman who bore him an
illegitimate son.
He later broke off that relationship in order to marry a 10-year-old heiress but had to wait
two years until she was of legal marrying age.
During his wait, he took up with another concubine.

Yet the time came in which Augustine abandoned all concubines and fiancees alike
lamenting“that he was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust”

Eventually, at the age of 31, Augustine broke off all his relationships with these
various women because he, like many before and after him, had his Road to Damascus moment.
He was struck from his lofty, self-absorbed, carnal way of living by the
One True Omnipotent God who literally called out to him..

As Augustine later shared
“his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to
“take up and read” (Latin: tolle, lege), which he took as a divine command to open the Bible
and read the first thing he saw.

Augustine read from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans –
the “Transformation of Believers” section, consisting of chapters 12 to 15 –
wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers,
and the believers’ resulting behaviour.
The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13,
verses 13 and 14, to wit:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness,
not in strife and envying,
but put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

It was at this moment that his life turned.

Augustine eventually penned an autobiography of sorts which many of us,
trained in the classics were at some point, required to read— Confessions.

It is from the pages of his Confessions that we read these beautiful and deeply
haunting words:

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou wast with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispel my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
And restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.

And thus what we have learned is that many of those who are known to us today as saints
seem to have, at some point or other figured things out.

Namely, that life isn’t all about them.

But life, rather, is a yearning…and that yearning is the created’s longing to be
one with the Creator.

Some seem to understand this better than others.

Many have been rogues and scallywags.
Some have been liars and drunkards.
Some have been rich and arrogant.
Some started out as cowards and turncoats yet became brave and true.
And some will simply be known only to God and God alone.

And so with all this talk about saints and sinners, I am struck by a current circus of sorts.

Brett Kavanaugh, the latest Supreme Court nominee, has been in the center of a maelstrom.

I don’t know much about him, but from what legal experts and judges on ‘both sides of the
aisle’ have said, he is a stellar wealth of legal prowess.
A fair and just man who is deeply knowledgeable with regards to right and wrong.

Yet his experience, his record, his knowledge, his examples don’t seem to matter to
this pack of hearing committee members who are foaming at the mouth,
as they rip into this man for the simple reason that they hate the man who nominated him.

Desperate Democrats are grasping at ugly straws to do their darndest to stop this nominee’s
chance of confirmation…even resorting to highschool hearsay.

And in so doing…these very politicians who so vehemently cling to the separation of
Church and State and find themselves cringing over the notion that their precious
Roe v Wade would be overturned… these worshipers of all things cultural and secular
now seem to be seeking a saint…a saint who doesn’t exist.
As all of this is just one more example of the irony of man standing at odds with
his blinding self-serving pride.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micha 6:8

Not a pretty picture

“If you believe what you like in the gospels,
and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe,
but yourself.”

St. Augustine


(leaf-footed bugs, both adults and nymphs, feast upon the dregs of the tomatoes / Julie Cook / 2017)

Coreidae are a family of sap sucking insects.
In North America these insects are called leaf-footed because of the leaf-like
structures on their back legs.

They are a growing nuisance and attack
or feast upon, depending on one’s perspective,
various plants and fruits by sucking out the juices.

Here in my neck of the woods, these leaf-footers predominately “attack” tomatoes.
A tomato that has been visited by the leaf-foot bugs will have what appears to be
a severe case of the measles…or rather a massive covering of tiny discolored spots.

Not very appealing nor appetizing…
and in essence, seeing a fruit or vegetable covered with a hoard of
sap sucking insects is not a pretty picture….
something akin to a science fiction movie.

Looking at the sad end of a season, with those few reaming dying tomatoes
clinging to the brown and withering vines…
all the while as the leaf-foot insects literally cover the fruit,
sucking out the residual living juices…
I can’t help but think of the current situation of our world.

For the season is quickly fading while only a few straggling fruit remain…
All the while a scourge descends upon the land.
We’ve grown weary, even weak…while there are those who wish to use our
vulnerability to their benefit as they work to take our remaining resolve.

But we are busy, too busy fighting amongst ourselves…
fighting over things of no consequence, things that
have no bearing, things that only have us using our
remaining energies needlessly…the minutia of what is.

While a legion of vermin wait to feast upon our remains.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be preoccupied by
a limited vision as an infestation is taking place.
Before we know it, we’re covered by those who wish
to cause harm before discarding us, leaving us to wither on the vine.

If we persist on reaming within this current season, our
demise, which in essence will be by our own hands, while those who wait to
take advantage of our distraction will feast upon what remains,
will only be a matter of fading time….

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke,
and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,
but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers
to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth
and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:2-4

sanctification of time

“My soul is like a house, small for you to enter,
but I pray you to enlarge it.
It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it.
It contains much that you will not be pleased to see:
this I know and do not hide.
But who is to rid it of these things?
There is no one but you.”

Augustine of Hippo


(purple salvia / Julie Cook / 2017)

The act of faith that gives the time and space to such contemplation says that
no time is wasted in which God is served.
The service of God is the sanctification of time.
No time is sanctified more than when it is a pure gift, given in faith with no other
expectation than to “be” in the presence of God.

Gregory Stack
Archbishop of Cardiff
Excerpt from the book In God’s Hands

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this crossroads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

a vision of Lent

“Contrary to what might be expected,
I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful,
with particular satisfaction.
Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in
my seventy-five years in this world,
everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence,
has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained…
This, of course, is what the Cross signifies.
And it is the Cross, more than anything else,
that has called me inexorably to Christ.”
Malcolm Muggeridge

dscn2555
(Bonaventure Cemetery /Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook 2016)

Lent…
giving up
sacrificing
doing without
fasting
denial
hard
difficult
arduous
abstinence…

But what is it about this Lent…this entering into the desert…
this time of isolation and self denial….
What brings us here?
Why are we here at this cross roads…
Where is it that we are now bound…
What will be the point of this…
longing,
introspection
and intent of focus…

As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs.
We see his blood as he dies.
We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.
He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were,
in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you.
His whole body is displayed for your redemption.
Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind:
as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you,
so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.

St. Augustine

img_0373
(detail/ painting by Julie Cook)

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

dscn0509
(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