the secular stealing the Sacred

As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my
beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a
secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and
promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and
increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation.
Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called
“liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from
our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of
delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn


(vintage Christmas Card)

About a week back or so, I wrote a post about the fact that we actually have two
Christmases…with the truth being that we do…we do have two.

And in turn, we have what seems to be a melding.

One is the secular Christmas of Santa, presents, stockings, commercialism and merchandising.

The other, of which is the original of the two, is the Christmas of a birth.

A birth that isn’t just any kind of birth…but rather it’s the birth of
a Savior…the birth of the Sacred.

So now that we have all of that clear—I should let you know that I have always tried hard
to keep the two separated yet at the same time, trying to keep them as one.

I think that chore is more of a burden that is not merely my burden alone…
but rather a burden that most Christians have struggled with…that being
the balance of the Sacred and secular.

And it seems as if, every year about this time, I jump on a tiny soapbox pontificating this
same ol conundrum…
And every year I tell myself, enough is enough.
I won’t get sucked in…not again.

There’s a lot of work to do for our secular side.
And it’s really a great deal of busy, and even expensive, sort of work.
And oh how we stress over it all.

We fret over the tiniest of details.
We strive for perfection while always falling short as we are then made to feel as if
we did not live up to the expectation our culture has put upon us.

But let’s be honest, we really put it on ourselves do we not?
If put another way, we actually “allow” it to make us feel as if we have not lived
up to the perfection….
However, me thinks there is something more going on here, more than meets the eye…

It’s actually something which many would consider near criminal…
A crime that is actually taking place in plain sight—
yet none of us appears to be any the wiser.

It is the stealing of the Sacred by the secular.

Yep, you read correctly.

The secular is, or certainly is trying, to steal the Sacred.

Yet here’s the thing…we are allowing it to happen.
We are complicit.
We are falling hook, line, and sinker— while all throughout this theft, we’re being dupped.

It is in our defense, that I state for the record, that we are being hoodwinked.
We are being lulled into this crime of complicity by the shiny lights and sounds
of the slick merchandising of the season that now ramps up sometime after July 4th.

So this year, my one small “rebellion” against complicity…

I opted not to send out Christmas cards.

At first, it was going to be the lights.
Then it was the tree, the gifts, the cooking, the decorating….see what I’m saying??
we’re living on an out of control fast rolling snowball turned avalanche.

Every year, early in the Fall, I’d seek out my Christmas Cards.
I did not take the task lightly.

When our son was little, ours was the basic card of a small family wishing
A Merry Christmas to all.
It was always a photo type card of our little boy with a Christmas Greeting from
all three of us.

Yet as time passed and he grew to be a young man versus that of a little boy, I shifted our
card focus from the greeting of a family through the image of their child to now
a card of only the Sacred.

A religious card that proclaimed the birth of a Savior.

It was not to be one of those types of cards with pictures of the whole family at the beach,
or on some exotic trip or some sort of montage of family feats and accomplishments…
nor was it to be one of those letter types of card that is a laundry a list of who, what
and where of the great and grand.

I understand that the simple sacrificial Christmas card morphed into becoming a surrogate
form of communication…
It became the equivalent of filling in the gaps of a year without having touched base
with the list of names on a list.

The Christmas card turned into the catch-up of life, liberally spiked with a heavy dose
of grandstanding.

It became the litany of a brag sheet of trips, events, accomplishments, and milestones…
Nothing about Christmas…that being Christ’s mass.

Nothing about Christ even being hidden in the details of that spectacular vacation to Machu Pichu
or your eldest now graduating top of her class.

Where is Jesus in the tales of where you went, who you saw, or what you accomplished?
Are there any thoughts or reflections regarding your service to Him or his sheep?

I don’t mind the images of the little children or even those of grandchildren as children
seem to be the connecting glue between the Sacred and the secular…
it is the children…or so that is what it should be.
The Sacred is that of a child and the secular is that of collective children.
Or so it was to be…
Innocence and the mystical mixed with the gift of Sacred birth.

So I figured…I’d send out my card here instead.
Just one big card for friends, family, and even strangers…

And since I would have sent them out by now, I figured I should do so here today.

So I offer you this lovely Italian baroque time period painting of the Nativity–also known
as the Adoration with Saints Francis and Lawrence…
a beautiful image for reflection and proclamation.

Yet it is a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio—commissioned in 1609 as an altarpiece
for an oratory in Palermo, Sicily, the Oratorio di San Lorenzo…
A painting with a mysterious past, painted by a rogue of a painter…

It would be centuries following its completion that the painting would be
quietly taken by two men working for the Mafia and in turn
it would be “lost” for nearly 40 years.

A painting of the Sacred, painted by one who was anything but…
A painting that was stolen by those who were perhaps even worse than the artist…

Thus we have an example of the secular literally stealing an image of the Sacred….hummmm

(here’s a little link to the backstory behind the painting and artitst…I’ve written
about Caravaggio before…a very secular rogue of an artist who could paint oh so powerfully
the of the Sacred in a way unmatched by many other artists…one of my favs…
http://art-crime.blogspot.com/2009/12/breaking-news-on-stolen-caravaggio.html )

May we all be blessed as we recall the Sacred birth of Salvation…


The Adoration / Nativity with St. Francis and St Lawrence / Caravaggio 1609)

remnants of the day

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds;
our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The monster was forced onto its knees in agony.
Die, you beast, you symbol of the German Reich.
And Goethe?
To us, Goethe did not exist anymore, Himmler had exterminated him.

Diary of Prisoner 4935


(the remains of a day at the beach /Rosemary Beach, FL/ Julie Cook / 2017)

I don’t know what it is like to steal.
I don’t know what it is like to loot or even plunder.
But what I do know is that stealing, looting and plundering are all wrong and quite sinful…
in that the act of taking that which has not been ‘freely’ given to you…is wrong.

Yet have we not witnessed in most recent months that unrest, demonstrations, riots,
pogroms and even wars have each given way to some unspoken allowance or free license
for those so inclined to act upon the notion of stealing?

I suppose people steal for various reasons however I’ve noticed that human beings
try to, in turn, somehow justify and lessen the intent of those who steal…
giving excuses and passes to those who so choose to steal.

Feeding a starving child is about the only pass I can comprehend as a need to steal.

Yet during the early 1930’s most of the libraries and privately owned book collections
throughout the majority of Europe were plundered, looted and stolen.

“In France alone, the ERR (Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce, a Nazi Party organization dedicated to appropriating cultural property during the Second World War)
confiscated the collections of 723 libraries, containing 1.7 million scripts,
incunabula, and other valuable books and writings.

In Poland, probably the country that was hit harder, it is estimated that 90 percent
of the collections belongings to schools and public libraries were lost.
In addition, 80 percent of the country’s private and specialized libraries disappeared. More or less the entire collection of the polish national library, consisting of some 700,000 volumes, was scattered.
According to one estimate, 15 million of Poland’s 22.5 million books were lost.
(pp32-33)

“In the Soviet Union “one suggestion from UNESSCO lists as many as 100 million books that may have been destroyed or looted.”

“Germany “is believed to have lost between a third to a half of all its book collections,
as a consequence of fires, bombing, and plunder….
In 2008 it was estimated that there were at least one million plundered books in
Germany’s libraries.”
(pp33)

But what an odd thing to steal.
Books and periodicals…both ancient and current.
Items not essential to one’s survival.
Yet items highly prized and pinpointed as crucial in the game of
the spoils of war.

‘For the Nazis realized that if there was something that gave more power than
merely destroying the word, it was owning and controlling it.
There was a power in books.
Words could act as weapons, resounding long after the rumbling of artillery had stopped.
they are weapons not only as propaganda, but also in the form of memories.
(xiii)

Whereas stolen and looted artwork, priceless cultural treasures,
have garnered more world attention over the ensuring years,
it was however the written word that was considered to be the
greater prize.

Why that is, we will explore over the next couple of weeks…as we pursue the tale
of the lost, stolen and seldom reunited in Anders Rydell’s book The Book Thieves /
The Nazi Looting Of Europe’s Libraries And The Race To Return A Literary Inheritance.
Because German libraries are in a race against time as they wrestle with the origins of their current collections…

For “every book carries a story of theft, blackmail, and a tragic fate.
At best, it may be a story of flight, of bailing out on life–
but at worst a story of people who have left no trace behind except for their books.”
(pp58)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.

James 1:22

dubious

Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
And the good suffers while the bad prevails.

Homer,
The Odyssey, Book VI, line 229. Pope’s translation


(a problematic flock of geese, Mackinaw City / Julie Cook / 2017)

Last night, as I was fast asleep,
with sleep being a relative term at this stage of age in my life,
my credit card mysteriously crawled out of my wallet and teleported itself
miraculously to Europe…
And of course with a few jaunts back and forth between the US, the UK and greater
Europe…all for good measure and long before I ever woke up.

It even made a stop in Luxembourg—

I’ve always wanted to visit Luxembourg.
I’m so glad one of us has gotten to go.

I discovered this near mythical adventure upon getting up this morning.

Bleary eyed from my usual tossing and turning, I stumbled into the kitchen to
start the coffee.
I picked up my phone and noticed a copious amount of messages regarding my
credit card.

Huh?

Rubbing my eyes and adjusting my glasses I grabbed my computer and pulled up
my email.

Sure enough…24 messages reporting suspicious activity on my card with
purchase after purchase being declined,
thank goodness…

A dollar here, a pound there and even a euro or two …
all of which was a dead trigger…

But then it became bold and went onwards and upward of $300 bucks to such places
as Domino’s pizza somewhere in Austria, some sort of FaceBook virtual store in Germany, nintendo of Europe, netflix somewhere in the UK….

As it seems as if my credit card was having a mid-life crisis and was attempting to
live someone’s youthful abandon all on another continent…
or perhaps in reality it was something more inline with sorry wonton
wastefulness….

I’ve ridden this merry go round before—seems like I just wrote a similar post..
but that was my debit card—this is now my credit card…
so we are officially 2 for 2.

And no, I don’t buy a lot nor do I order all that much on-line….

I called the nice folks at the credit card company.
She ran me through the gauntlet of security before I delivered my
tale of woe. And from her end, she could see just how busy my card had
been in its jet set ways.

She verified my last purchase—three books from Amazon…hummm I now wonder…
Next it was to all the latest 24 bizarre or so “traveling” purchases,
all of which had been declined, and were now seen for what they truly were—
stealing.

She canceled the card and has issued me a new one which will be arriving
post haste.

After we hung up, I continued receiving notifications that whomever was
out there playing me, hadn’t given up yet…
I don’t know, maybe it would take 30 tries before this idiot figured
declined meant declined.

For good measure I called the credit card company back letting them know I
was still receiving their fraud notifications—
of which they told me not to fret–
the card was no more and the notifications would stop when our rocket scientist
friend figured such out…as he, she, it would then most likely move on to the
next stolen card number…

In all the gallows humor here, there is a seriousness that really leaves me
angry because I loath those who steal…
particularly information, numbers and identities…
because if the truth be told, all of that is really lazy man stealing.

Sit on your arse as it were, hiding behind a computer screen,
trolling and taking….

Nice and neat, or so it would all appear.
No one is physically hurt.
Or so our arse sitting thieves would assume.

What’s a little free Dominos pizza somewhere in Austria or
some Facebook virtual-store crap in Luxembourg??
Or things I don’t even know of in New York???

So before I had even had my first sip of morning coffee, I was mad.

Like you, I try to live life as I would expect others to live theirs…
work, earn, pay….

But life is not easy like that.
Not everyone buys into doing the right things in life.

There are bad people, lazy people, violent people, bad lazy people,
bad lazy violent people…
People who would only sneer at my desire that we all do what is right
by one another.
Think psychopaths, think gangs, think MS13…

As in there are dubious and nefarious individuals who do not consider life
to be a gift, who do not hold love nor honor in their hearts and
who prefer only to serve a darker and more sinister side of life.

And as we now que those out there who will sing the song of lamentation
that this behavior is due to a poor childhood, a less fortunate history,
a lack of this or that, an unbroken cycle…….

The bottom line is choice.

A choice to do what is right and decent
or
a choice to do what is wrong and bad.

And it is those more sinister and heartless out there who scare me.

They scare me because they remind me that darkness continues to walk this earth.
That there is indeed a deep spiritual battle that rages all around us—
whether we are awake or asleep…it rages.

For despite my best efforts at keeping my little world nice and neat,
tidy and safe…
Satan and those who do his work, are busy.

We either choose to serve Light or we choose to serve darkness
It’s as simple as that.

Others would disagree.
There will be excuses…
There are things like victimhood…
and cycles, and disadvantage…
but in the end…
none of that matters because when we choose one over the other…
that choice is on us and us alone.

For no one is telling us which to choose…for the choice,
despite our circumstances is still up to us….
so perhaps then such poor choosing just makes us all victims does it not..?

A troublemaker and a villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
who winks maliciously with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
he always stirs up conflict.
Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:12-19

Hooey and fraud

“They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft,
and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death;
for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding,
may preserve a man’s goods from thieves,
but honesty has no defence against superior cunning; and,
since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling,
and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at,
or has no law to punish it, the honest dealer is always undone,
and the knave gets the advantage.”

Jonathan Swift

dscn4581
(I suppose this little screech owl is an example of something that is fraudulent,
for he is a bit of an imposter…I saw him at a taxidermy museum
and he was just too cute to pass by without a picture/ Julie Cook / 2016)

I don’t think that I can ever say it enough…

I hate technology.

Yea, yea, I know,
it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread as it makes our lives…
so much easier,
so much more efficient,
so much better…
because we are all so….connected….

hummmm…connected, yes….

And when it works, and works efficiently, it is easy…
maybe a little too easy…
But easy is not today’s point.

I had this little notification thing put on my credit card that when it is used,
I receive a text and an e-amil… as in an alert.
It tells me that my card, ending in blah blah,
was just used at such and such for x amount transaction.

As in monitoring fraudulent activity with the card…
to alert me that the card was used and if it wasn’t used by me,
then it’s time to panic.

So this morning, as I was hurrying to get ready to head over to dad’s,
because today was the day hospice was delivering the hospital bed…
the bed dad is adamant about not allowing in the house…which is a post for another day…
I hear my phone buzz.

“Who in the heck is texting me this early?!”
I grouse as I’m in a race to get dressed.

It’s a text from my credit card folks informing me that my credit card ending in blah blah
was just declined over a $900 purchase for a plane ticket to São Paulo.

Now granted I am greatly in need of getting away.
As in leaving all my troubles behind…
As in going away…
Far far away…
As in my nerves are almost frazzled…

And I will confess to having contemplated being a bit, shall we say, irrational…
As in calling my aunt and telling her to grab her passport….
As in we’re out of here….

Yet I don’t recall being so spontaneous as to buying a one way ticket to São Paulo…
And if the truth be told, I don’t want to go to São Paulo…
Maybe Paris.
Maybe Rome.
But not São Paulo…

So I call the number on the back of my card and get the nicest young man named Austin.
I explain to Austin about the text and the email and São Paulo as he pulls up my account.
Sure enough he sees where there was a declined purchase at South American Airlines for
a one way trip to São Paulo…
Thank God for declined!!

A far cry from the typical purchase of jeans from LL Bean…
which is more along the lines of a typical card purchase for me.

So sweet young Austin shut down my account and will be issuing me a new card.
He checked the last five purchases…
$8 for a book?
check…mine
$49 bucks for some shorts and a shirt?
check–mine
mine,
mine,
and mine…

With nothing anywhere near a $900 for an airline ticket.

And with this latest adventure to the land of fraud,
I started thinking….

Technology is good…in a great many ways…yet it comes with a tremendous price…
both figuratively and literally…
but again, I digress….

It comes with grave responsibility and vigilance…
both of which most folks half heartily observe,
as they are lulled into a false sense of security.

It comes with pin numbers,
passwords,
alerts,
rapid alerts,
magnetic security strips,
retina detection,
finger print scanners,
voice recognition
and chip readers…

all things that lull us into thinking we are safe….

This as I wonder what will be next as the security attached to our technology
works hard to always stay one step ahead of those nefarious individuals who take a
retired school teacher’s credit card number
and attempt to buy a one way ticket to São Paulo.

For you see, I try to be safe.
I try to do what I can to protect my savings and my identity
But if those nefarious folks out there really want something,
no matter what I do, they will find me…
and they will find you too I’m afraid.

Well not unless I call my aunt, telling her to grab her passport,
cause we are taking life off the grid…
but again, I digress…

We do everything in our power to protect our cards, our phones,
our smart, and not so smart, things
Yet what do we do to protect our souls?
Yes, you read correctly, our very souls.

For you see we have been fed a lot of hooey in the past several decades,
with the hooey only getting more slick with time.

We’ve been told that God is actually spelled with a little g.
We’ve been told that there are way better gods out there…
forget all that mumbo jumbo religious business…
that’s so yesterday…

We’ve been told that any god with a big G should be all accepting and all loving…
no holds barred, doesn’t matter what we’re loving or accepting…
“it” must agree…

And while we’re at it…
“it” isn’t always a “he”, “it” may be a she or just an “it”…
cause “it,” whatever “it” is, is ours and we like “it” how we want “it”…
Because we don’t want a god with a big G who isn’t on our same page.

We want gods that keep us connected 24 / 7
gods that allow us to instantly buy tickets to São Paulo, with or without our own money.
We’re told that these are the gods that we need to have,
yet they need us to spend lots of money…
cause more money means better gods.

gods that will make us like the folks we see on TV,
cause we are told being like the folks on TV is to be really cool and great and godlike.

We’ve been told that we don’t need a god with a big G because we can be our own god.

We can make babies in petrie dishes
We can make new animals from old animal DNA
We can make boys girls, and girls boys…
We can travel to the moon and beyond…as in we’ve messed up this planet enough,
time to set our sights elsewhere….
We can buy tickets to São Paulo without ever having to talk
to a person all without money that’s not our own…

We can take people’s money and go the São Paulo to do whatever we want when we get there..
again, kind of god like in our own little g godlike way….

We don’t want a god with rules or one telling us how to live.
We don’t want a god who claims to be a creator, cause, heck, aren’t we creators!

So yea…
fraud….
hooey…
and we’ve got all kinds of trouble…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Costly Justification

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

RSCN2711
(flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

‘It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”(1 Cor 6:20) and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship Vol 4 pp 45

We have honed our craft both you and I….
As we have become that which we justify…

For within each justification lies…
the crime,
the hating,
the sentence,
the lying,
the hurting,
the bombing,
the cheating,
the policy,
the stealing,
the taking,
the death,
and even the murder…

Echoed are the causal observations…
“Twas a crime of passion”
“It was a justifiable homicide”
“It was taken in order that they could eat”
“It was hidden for their own good…”
“It was stolen in order to pay…”

There are…
The interestingly tragic assisted suicides…
The abortions due to untimely pregnancies…
The surreal justifiable shootings…
The acceptable culture of death…
The wars to end all wars…
The nuclear deterrents….

Every human act can be justified into being correct…

It was…
the right decision…
a necessary evil…
the only option…

How quickly it rolls off the tongue, as it slips easily from consciousness.
There is no remorse, no guilt, no real sorrow…
because it was something that had to be…

The justification of and for every action and reaction of mankind…

And yet how does one justify the free offering of ones only child…
In order that others may live…

One word….

Grace….

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Lovely waiting

Our Father which art in heaven, we Thy children are often troubled in mind, hearing within us at once the affirmations of faith and the accusations of conscience. We are sure that there is in us nothing that could attract the love of One as holy and as just as Thou art. Yet nothing in us can win Thy love, nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us. Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved. Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us. Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared Thyself to be.
Amen

A. W. Tozer

DSCN1139
(swans at Ross Castle / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Love…a word which rolls easily and readily off the tongue.
Four simple letters offered to one and all with causal abandon.
Yet the question hangs heavy over humankind… what exactly does it mean?
What does love mean within the realm of life for each human being?

The news is rife with the stories of those who apparently have either never known
or have sadly forgotten….Love…
There are those who would argue that theirs, those who torment their fellow man, is but self love…
Love that is self obsessed and self contained…
yet the brazen heinous crimes speak of anything but love…
the lack of
the void of,
the emptiness of,
the opposite of…

As in…
Hate
Loathing
Disgust
Contempt…
of others and of self….

Is it perhaps because certain members of this large family of humankind simply believes themselves unworthy and less than?
Perhaps having never been shown nor having ever witnessed Love being demonstrated?
Is that then to be the argument for our hate, our crimes, our violence?

Yet it is there….
It is there…waiting.
It has always been there.
It was there when the light fell from grace…
It was was there in the garden when the two hid from The One
It was there when the Laws were issued and quickly forgotten
It was there when the innocents were slaughtered
It was there when the blind saw, the deaf heard and the lame walked
It was there after the mocking, the beating, the humiliating…
It was there during the anguish and in the silence of the parting of the last breathe
It was there in the blackness of nothingness
It has been to hell…and back….

and it waits still…

Through the violence, the guns, the pain, the sickness, the loneliness, the selfishness, the anger, the resentment, the isolation, the mob mentality, the gangs, the rapes, the shootings, the stealing, the looting, the psychoticness, the brokeness, the hate…

It is there…
having never left…

It waits.
It waits for you,
for me,
for them…

It waits….

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:16

Returning of the keys

“King of England, and you, duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France… settle your debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France.”
Joan of Arc

DSCN5664
(Julie Cook / 2014)

At some point in time, all those who have taken what is not theirs to take. . .be it land, kingdoms, homes, livestock, possessions, pleasures, time, identities, lives, esteem. . . will have to answer for their actions. It may be in this life or it may be the in the next, but answer, all must.

We often think of the act of taking what is not ours to take simply as stealing— which is something only the “bad” people do.
This comes in many guises.
Fraud, Identity theft, grand larceny, extortion, bribery, forgery, armed robbery, shoplifting, pickpocketing, corruption, money laundering, scams, etc.

Then there is the more insidious forms of taking such as kidnapping, rape, torture, brainwashing, murder, etc

We take liberties, power, charge, control all in the name of our own sense of righteousness and entitlement. Does that sense of superiority and righteousness make the taking any less wrong?

Is one type of taking more wrong or less wrong than another?
We could certainly argue such.
But is not all sin equal in the sight of God?

During the Hundred year war (which was really longer than 100 years), a young French girl had a vision from God that she was to be the voice to liberate France and her weary people from the clutches of what seemed to be the greedy English. This point could be argued depending on which side you ask— does one Nation have the right to “take” another Nation if they do so with justified good intentions or in many a king’s mind, divine right?

In 1429 this young girl dictated a letter, as she could neither read nor write, to Henry VI, the 7 year old King of England, as well as to those who spoke with authority for this young king, her intentions as instructed by God to bring an end to the fighting, the raping, the pillaging and the sheer madness of the English vying with France for total rule–the issue at stake was her people’s land, buildings, treasures, nationality as well as the actual people themselves—as the English were in France against the will of the French leadership and the people.

But try telling the English that, at the time, France was really not theirs for the seizing. The French were having their own troubles trying to determine who should be their rightful king. The best solution in the mind of the English, was indeed, the English.
What a complicated mess. As is the case when it comes to taking. The lines of yours and mine grow very murky when justification comes into play.

joanlettersig
(Joan’s letter to the English as written my a monk but signed by Joan / March 1429)

One sovereign nation usurping another sovereign nation for possession, as in possession equals power. France struggled within itself and England saw this as their duty to swoop in and simply take charge. Is that not what taking is really all about—taking power and possession and in turn eventually taking charge and control and then being the one on top?

And if it had not been England, it would or could have been Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, and at some point later, France itself— or perhaps as it is today with Nations such as Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq or as some in the world would say, The United States— Nations continually vying for supremacy over what is considered to be the lesser—as in less stable, less than, less prepared, less powerful.

Is taking considered ok if it is a Sovereign Nation doing the taking?
It depends on who you ask and it depends on the reason for taking, as it depends on the level of taking—As such taking always has a justification.

We take what is ours by proximity, by heritage, by birthright, by bullying, by might.
Yet at some point, we must give back, return, let off, recant, repent, own up, acknowledge or pay the price.

Our young heroin, St Joan of Arc, was eventually captured by French forces then handed over to be burned at the stake by the English as a heretic. King Henry VI ruled for 38 years before being murdered. France and England went on to continue waging war with one another up until the Revolutionary war when they continued taking sides and vying for control.

And so it goes. . .
Today it may not be the English and the French, but it is certainly other Nations now who are taking from other Nations. This seems to have been the trend of humankind—taking. And perhaps we may trace the taking back to an apple which was told not to be taken or the life of a brother which should never have been taken—the taking has been going on ever since.

From this tiny window or portal into history, lies the history of humankind.
The vying for power, control, charge and the taking of what we want with and by justification.
Nations justify their taking just as the petty thief justifies his—and sometimes God must say enough is enough, I will send one who must sort this out once and for all. Or maybe sometimes He just shakes His head wondering if we will ever get it right.

Thou shall not covet.
Thous shall not steal.
Thou shall not murder.

Perhaps this is a history lesson of divine Commandment.

At some point we will all have to return that which is not ours. We will be held accountable. The repercussions of the taking are endless if not silent at first then monumental in the long run.

May we be mindful of taking that which is not ours for the taking.
And may we be mindful of our justifications.
May we be mindful of our intentions—are they pure and loving or are they egotistical and self indulgent?

Joan of Arc’s Letter to the English
March 22, 1429

King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom France; you William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John, Lord Talbot; and you Thomas, Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, do justly by the King of Heaven; render to the Maid who is sent here of God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good cities that you have taken and violated in France. She has come here from God to restore the royal blood. She is all ready to make peace, if you will deal rightly by her, acknowledge the wrong done France, and pay for what you have taken. And all of you, archers, companions of war, nobles and others who are before you; and if this is not done, expect news of the Maid, who will go to see you shortly, to your very great damage. King of England, if you do not do this, I am Chef de Guerre, and in whatever place I shall find your people in France, I will make them go whether they will or not; and if they will not obey I will have them all killed. I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven, each and all, to put you out of all France. And if they will obey I will be merciful. And stand not by your opinion, for you will never hold the kingdom of France through God, King of Heaven, son of Saint Mary; it will be thus ruled by King Charles VII, true heritor; for God , the King of Heaven, wishes it, and this to him is revealed by the Maid, and he will enter Paris in good company. If you will not believe the news from God and the Maid, in whatever place we shall find you, we shall strike in your midst, and will make so great a hurrah [hahay] that for a thousand years there has not been one in France so great, if you do not deal justly. And you may well believe that the King of Heaven will send more strength to the Maid than you will be able to lead in all your assaults against her and her good soldiers. And when the blows fall we shall see who will have the better right from God of Heaven. You, Duke of Bedford, the Maid begs you and requires of you that you work not your own destruction. If you listen to her you will yet be able to come in her company to where the French will do the finest deed that ever was done for Christianity. And reply to this, if you wish to make peace at the city of Orleans; and if thus you do not do, you will shortly remember it to your great sorrow. Written this Tuesday, Holy Week. [March 22, 1429.]