change vs tradition and why some things just seem to matter

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


(then and now—an enduring relationship—Elizabeth and Philip)

Change, they say, is the one constant we can always count on.
A constant that we human beings do not always embrace.

We all like knowing that some things will always be there.
Anchors, if you will, that help keep us tethered in the often tumultuous sea of life.
Life, it seems, is a place where we are often tossed about like a rag doll.
We yearn for the sights and sounds of those things we know and have known
that call out to us of the familiar.

I think we often call them “roots”…

Now granted a few of us embrace change, the truth is that most of us loath it.

Doors close while windows open—and yet trying to convince us that the closings
can be a good thing is an entirely different matter.

In yesterday’s post, I touched on the notion of tradition—
for me it was a bit of a family tradition…
Granted, it might be a tradition that is rooted in some good ol southern grease,
it’s a tradition none the less and one I’m glad to be able to pass on and share in.

I found that yesterday’s quote by Somerset Maugham, tradition is a guide and not a jailer
actually speaks volumes to the times in which we are now living.

And we are indeed living in some very strange times!!!

We have been pleading for life to become “normal” again, yet at the same time,
we are in the full throws of the birth pangs of unchecked helter skelter change.

It is a time when we see a society throwing out both the baby and the bathwater
along with anything else that speaks of where we’ve come from and of
the things that “they” deem as unnecessary baggage.

Tradition, to our society, is no longer seen as a warm embrace but
rather that of a jailer—a set of chains that must be severed and cut.

Be it a statue…
the name of a street or school…
a television show…
a movie, music, actors, actresses, musicians
values, morals, religion, et el.

If it was, it is to be no more.

And so it was with the recent death and passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, that
I was once again reminded of this notion of tradition and change.

For all of my 61 years, there are but a few things in this world that have remained constant.

Institutions really…

That of family,
Our Nation,
our three tier form of governing of check and balances,
the Seat of Peter…that of a pope guiding the Catholic Church,
and that of the British Monarchy.

And for those 61 years of mine, whereas various leadership has come and gone,
family has sadly come and gone, the map of the world constantly remains fluid,
the Queen, along her Prince Consort, have been what seems to be the only two worldly constants.

They wed 12 years before my birth.
She became queen 6 years before my birth, the same year my parents wed.

As far as I was concerned, she, and they, simply always…were.

Over the years the Royal family has ebbed and flowed in the fickled minds of “the people”
The relevance of a monarchy has often been questioned.
It is no secret that the Windsors are certainly a fractured family lot.
And why Americans should even care is an entirely different conversation.

And yet, Elizabeth and Philip have remained.

Philip, a bit of a curmudgeon, was known for having a wicked wit,
a twisted sense of humor who enjoyed telling off colored jokes and whose comments
would be often better kept unsaid.
Many often felt he possessed a sense of apparent arrogance.

He was assumed to be one of the haves in a world of have nots.

Yet I dare say that most generations after mine probably have no idea that Philip
was truly a product of the school of hard knocks.
His life really was that byproduct of a terrible dysfunctional upbringing.

Born royal, yet as a child he was stripped of home, throne and identity.
His family exiled.
His mother was institutionalized.
His father ran off with a paramour.
And his four sisters married Germans, moving to Germany and supporting the Nazi cause.

Philip would be left literally alone as a child.

He had no money, no home and no family to speak of.
He was the definition of a latch key kid…a kid with neither latch nor key.

He joined the Royal Navy at age 18.

He had no choice but to become a strong self made man—it was either that or
simply succumb to a cruel world, turn over and die.

I myself was not always a keen fan of Philip but this is coming from a person who
had never met nor known the man—so my perceptions came from things read and images seen.
No personal encounter so no real reason for a like or dislike.

But what I do know is that Philip believed in tradition–he was a staunch believer
of tradition and being disciplined by such.
Yet oddly, he was one who could also readily embrace change.

He demonstrated such an adaptation to change with a proclivity for the
rapid growth of technology.
Something that many of his generation often found confounding.

He also demonstrated his ability to change when the stability he had so yearned for,
found finally in his marriage and quickly growing young family, would be forever transformed.

Philip was a part of that Greatest Generation, having served as an officer in
His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
He loved the ocean and felt most at home when at sea.

He was athletic, dashing, smart and keenly disciplined.
He was a man’s man— a trait that this current culture of ours does not deem as
much of a positive trait.

Yet on the other hand, I for one find strong masculinity a refreshing and a most positive trait.
I believe in the importance of strong male figures in the lives of our growing children.
Our children so desperately need examples and guidance—they hunger for it.
They need to know and see what it means to be willing to go the extra mile.
They need to see sacrifice and even disappointment while one manages to keep that oh so
British stiff upper lip. Watching as one opts not to complain or whine…
but rather watching as one rolls up sleeves and jumps in with both feet…
and just starts doing.
Being proactive and not reactive.

Sadly and even oddly, it seems one grandson was lost despite having such a personal
stalwart example.

Philip demonstrated such perseverance when he gave up the Naval career he so dearly loved
in order to support his young wife as a newly crowned Queen.

Going from the head of his household to suddenly having to spend the remainder of his life
always walking one step behind his wife must have been demoralizing…
and yet he never skipped a beat.
We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but what we do know is that when
it mattered, Philip did what had to be done.

He had to renounce who he was, in order to become a young queen’s servant and consort–
renouncing himself only to have to reinvent himself.
That’s what true men do—

Elizabeth did not lord this over her husband, but rather keenly understood the mix
of emotions that came with the sudden death of her father the King and how that now
altered her marriage forever.

The important lesson here for all of us is that both Elizabeth and Philip each knew that
there was something greater than themselves…and that was
the wellbeing of a Nation and that of its people.

People like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip matter because they teach us lessons.
They teach us that one often has to let go of self and selfish wants in order to
do for and serve others.
True leaders lead by example—not by agendas nor by self-seeking interests.

This couple has demonstrated a depth of perseverance for over 70 years.

I think we are all the better for their example…

What others offer is up to us as to what we opt to receive.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

worthy of bearing the name?

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one.
Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch

“He does not come down from Heaven each day to stay in the gold ciborium.
He comes down to find another Heaven He cherishes infinitely more than the first,
the Heaven of our souls, made in His image, living temples of the Most Blessed Trinity!”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 31
An Excerpt From
Meditations with the Little Flower

our journey

“Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

St. Gerard Majella


(two little cousins on their own little journey / Savannah, Ga, 2020)

“This is the difference between a journey on earth, and that which leads to Heaven.
For in the former, not only may we stop without fear of going backward,
but rest is necessary that we may sustain our strength to the journey’s end;
however, in the latter journey which leads to perfection,
our growth in strength is proportionate to our advance,
inasmuch as the inferior appetites which throw all possible obstacles in our path to Heaven,
grow gradually weaker while our good inclinations acquire new strength.
Thus as we advance in piety, our early difficulties fade into the background,
and a certain delight, with which God sweetens the bitterness of this life,
increases in our souls.
Going cheerfully on from virtue to virtue,
we finally reach the summit of the mountain.”

Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, pp. 117-18
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Combat

gifts

“What you are is God’s gift to you,
what you become is your gift to God.”

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer


(Michael Davenport, a handicapped Athens street artist)

It was almost a year ago…
We were still living on the western side of Georgia when I caught a news story that was
taking place on the eastern side of our state, in the city of my alma mater.

There was a street artist in the Classic City of Athens, Ga. named Michael Davenport.

Street artists in Athens are nothing new.
I was an Art Ed. major in Athens 40 years ago…artists in any college town tend to
prevail upon the streets.

This story however is not a typical artsy story.

Rather this is the story about a handicapped middle aged man who had lost
both of his arms as a teen.
There was some sort of electrical accident.
Michael lost both of his arms at the age of 13.

Eventually Michael taught himself to write and draw by using his mouth.

I learned about this talented young man about a year ago when there was a news story about
Michael being attacked and robbed.

It seems that some low life thug cold-cocked Michael while he was in a Athens
parking lot doing his art.
Michael was knocked unconscious and robbed of both his earnings and art supplies.

I made a mental note– I wanted to support this young man–I wanted to eventually buy
one of his UGA bulldogs drawings.

Fast forward to yesterday.

My husband and I make almost daily runs to the Lowes and Home Depot in Athens as we continue working
on our new “home” project.
This new home of ours is about 10 minutes outside of Athens.

And as life would have it, it just so happens that Michael stands in front of
the Athens Lowes where he is set up out in the parking, drawing his UGA art.

As I pulled into the parking lot, my husband noted that “‘my artist’ was over there
making his pictures.”

WHAT??

I practically leapt out of the car racing across the parking lot toward Michael.

“Michael, Michael, my name is Julie, I saw you on the news…”

Michael began to tell me his story.

He explained how he was still healing from the brutal attack almost 11 months ago.
Still going to doctors.

He was just finishing up a bulldog that he drew using various Sharpies on a white canvas.

“Michael”, I began, “I don’t have much cash on me, but I would be honored if I could
buy one of your drawings…could I come back tomorrow or would
you be willing to take a check?”

Michael thought for a minute and eventually told me that he would indeed accept my check.

All the while various shoppers were stopping and patting Michael on the shoulder.
Cars would pull up, arms stretched out of windows, each offering cash in hand.

Michael told me to undo the the canvas from the easel and take the pictures he had just finished.

People like Michael remind us all what it means to persevere.
He shares a gift.
A gift that emerged from tragedy.
A gift that has been tested and tried but a gift none the less.

How blessed I was today.

Thank you Michael.
Thank you God.

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/athens-artist-without-hands-inspires-national-audience

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/video/858408

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

nuggets

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget,
that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man,
all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas

(image from the series Oak Island on the History Channel)

Nuggets, and no, I’m not talking about chicken nuggets.

Rather I am talking about those tiny morsels of wisdom that often
push their way up to the surface along our life’s path…
just like a tiny treasured object emerging from the scattered debris underfoot.

Something shiny catching our eye… something that magically captures a ray of sun,
redirecting that glimmer upward which grabs us by the shoulders and shouts
“hey, look…I’m here!!”

I have to admit that for the past couple of months, I have been consumed by this move
of ours.
The culling, the packing, the schlepping, the hauling, the unpacking, the cleaning, the painting,
the repairing…on and on it’s been going—so much so that my senses have been void of
almost all and any news as well as being rather barren here in blogland.

Sparse on news is not a bad thing.
Sparse on blogland is more frustrating as I so enjoy reading posts.
I learn when I do so.
However unfortunately, skimming has been my recent MO.

So there have been a couple of things that have stuck with me throughout this
recent journey I’m currently traversing.

The first little nugget was the advice “trust the process”

Sounds simple enough…but is it really??

This was said to me when we first began toying with the notion of selling
and buying homes.
I had no idea whether the selling and buying process was truly the right thing
for us to do.

Remember, we were taking this on in full pandemic stride.

There were pros and cons on both sides of the aisle.

The cons often stood tall against the pros.
Then suddenly, that would all flip.

Hopes would both rise and fall…
there was excitement, trepidation, exhilaration, remorse…over and over
this roller coaster would fly.

But yet the voice of a friend kept ringing in my head…“trust the process
Over the course of days, weeks, months…it became a sort of mantra.
A leaning onto and into something else other than myself,
something greater, grander and beyond my mere limitations.
Something without limits or boundaries.

Job had to trust his process.

He may not have had much peace throughout his process…but he knew that the source leading
him to the end of the process was the only thing he could trust—
Omnipotence laced within a process.

And so, in turn, we trusted.

The next little nugget that was offered…
“this may not have been the house you needed, but this house needed you”

meaning– we always tend to think that we are the ones needing and wanting—
it’s the typical egocentric approach to life.
We think that we are at the center of the universe while everything else gravitates
around or to us.

But in actuality, we might just be on the outskirts circling around
something greater than ourselves…something where we are an input and not
the recipient.

So as things continue to literally fall into some semblance of place…
God keeps speaking…the question is…am I listening…

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

revisiting a 6 year old post (Turning Point)

What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in
turning yourself to prayer.

Thomas a Kempis


(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

** I made a terrible mistake last evening…I watched the news.
It was Fox, who since the election, I’ve just kind of cut ties with,
just as I’ve cut ties with all major news outlets…
I am more than disheartened with the “conservative” news program’s seemingly
feeble attempts to stand up against the growing national oppression of our freedom
of speech and thought…
yet sadly, they fall woefully short…and still….I watched.

I was quickly reminded as to why I now avoid all news.
It is sickening.
It was a startling reminder that we are living George Orwell’s 1984.
We are living Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Maybe we are even living in the midst of the Book of Revelation…

And if that’s the case, things really are scary, but thankfully in that
most frightening of thoughts, there remains hope for those of
us with weary souls because we know Our Redeemer will reign supreme
and this nightmare will end.

We are living in the midst of a massive Spiritual battle..
a battle of light vs darkness.

A place where Americans view one another as their own worst enemy.
Free speech and thought as not free or even allowed.
We have forgotten our past, our history, our ideals…
We have become our own worst enemy.
And it all began when we turned our back on God.

So as I watched, I felt sick to my stomach.

And since we are living life in the Twilight Zone…
I decided to cast my thoughts backwards…tumbling back in time.
I went back 6 years ago…6 years ago to a time that was pre-Trump.
It was life during Obama’s reign.
And oddly what I wrote those 6 years ago did not speak of calm, peace and a kumbiya existence–
but rather it was a shadow of things to come…it’s just that we had no idea of knowing
how bad it would all become…

Here is that 6 year old post….

As a tale-end Baby Boomer and child of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USSR,
The Federation of the Russian Republic or simply Mother Russia,
has always been an uncomfortable shadow over my shoulder,
just as it has for most everyone my age and older.
The enigma known as Russia, who most graciously hosted the world last February
for the Winter Olympics only to turn around and shock us all a few months
following with the “invasion” of Ukraine, has remained a conundrum for the free world
since the Russian Revolution of 1917 which gave way to birth of Communism.

When I was in high school, which seems to be many lifetimes ago,
I had the good fortune of taking a Russian History course—with the most memorable
experience being of my introduction to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I had the good fortune of reading several of his books…
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago and Cancer Ward.

Now all these many years later I find myself drawn back to the writings
and words of Solzhenitsyn,
of which I find more prophetic than I had ever imagined.

For those of you unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn, in a nutshell,
he was a Russian soldier (WWII), Gulag prisoner (for nearly 10 years),
writer and novelist, historian, Soviet dissident,
Nobel Prize recipient and finally, again, Russian citizen.

As a life long member of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Solzhenitsyn was guided by a deeply spiritual moral compass.
He was a very loud and vocal opponent of Totalitarianism,
of which expedited his forced exile from the Soviet Union,
yet he could also be equally critical of the West and its obsession with Capitalism,
Consumerism and Materialism. All of which reminds me of the chastisement the West
often received from Pope John Paul II,
as well as Mother Teresa—as perhaps those who have suffered more grievously under
the Socialist and ultra Nationalistic Regime of the Nazis and then that of
the Communist Soviets, have perhaps a clearer perspective of our
often blind view of what we consider to be “the good life”

I am poignantly reminded of Solzhenitsyn, his words and wisdom as well wise counsel
and rebukes of those who have witnessed first hand the sinister wiles
and atrocities of Evil, particularly during this time of year as it seems
the world always appears to crescendo to a heightened sense of madness–just
as the holidays come into focus. I don’t know why that is except that
as the world seems to not only witness an abundance of joy and goodwill,
there seems to be an equal measure of evil and chaos.
Perhaps it is because Christians are drawn to the birth of the Savior and Jews
begin the celebration of the miracle of light and the rededication to the Second Temple–
a time of a tremendous pull of people toward God—as it seems Evil
must have its share of the pie by unleashing its part of unimaginable
pain and suffering in order to create some sort of sadistic counter balance.

Perhaps our senses are on hyper drive this time of year as we keenly
feel the highs of Joy and Wonder along with the bottomless pit of despair
and suffering as they each roll in to one. These thoughts reverberate
in my mind just as Sydney, Australia was held hostage Monday
by a radical Islamist madman leaving 3 individuals, including the gunman, dead.
Then on Tuesday, Pakistan witnessed an unimaginable attack on a school
leaving 132 children and 9 adult staff members dead all at the hands of the Taliban.

We currently have a menacing cyber attack taking place at Sony as North Korea
is suspected to be retaliating to the release of a tongue and cheek movie
which sadly mocks an attempted assassination of an, albeit, unhinged world leader.
Sometimes I think we, those of us in the West with our often sophomoric
entertainment industry, have lost our sense of what is considered off limits or
morally wrong when it comes to the exploitation of movie making and entertainment–
but I suppose a moral compass would be needed in the first place in order to be
reminded of such. . .

We have just marked the tragic anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
as we continue reading headline after headline of local, national and global tragedies.
Just as the world tries to come together in some sort of unity marking two
very sacred holy times of the year as well as the secular merry making
of Santa, Papa Noel and Kris Kringle’s arrival.

In reading Solzhenitsyn’s book Warning to the West,
which is actually a brief composite and compendium of the texts to three
separate addresses made in the US in the late 1970’s,
it is startlingly frightening noting the parallels of then verses now.
I am keenly reminded of the relevance of Solzhenitsyn’s words which were uttered
almost 40 years ago as they could very well be spoken on the world stage today
regarding today’s global state. I will leave you with a few pieces of his
excerpted texts in order to ponder and ruminate the relevance and warnings
which echo across our prosaic landscape as we wrestle to make sense of the
tragic events which continue to unfold before our very eyes this holiday season. . .

“Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have
suffered to those who have yet to suffer?
Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not?
Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?
How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last sixty years?
How may waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here.
You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation,
their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their
accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries,
without consulting with one another, they have brought out exactly the same experience;
They tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking
place and of what has taken place in the past.
But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky, and say:
It will never happen here. This will never come to us.
It is not possible here.”

“In addition to the grave political situation in the world today,
we are also witnessing the emergence of a crisis of unknown nature, one completely new,
and entirely non-political.
We are approaching a major turning point in world history, the the history of civilization.
It has already been noted by specialists in various areas.
I could compare it only with the turning from the Middle Ages to the modern era,
a shift in our civilization. It is a juncture at which settled concepts
suddenly become hazy, lose their precise contours, at which our familiar and commonly
used words lose their meaning, become empty shells, and methods which have been reliable
for many centuries no longer work. It’s the sort of turning point where the
hierarchy of values which we have generated, and which we use to determine
what is important to us and what causes our hearts to beat is starting
to rock and may collapse.
These two crises, the political crisis of today’s world and the oncoming spiritual crisis,
are occurring at the same time. It is our generation that will have to confront them.
The leadership of your country,
which is entering the third century of existence as a nation will perhaps
have to bear a burden greater than ever before in American history.
Your leaders will need profound intuition, spiritual foresight,
high qualities of mind and soul.
May God granted that in those times you will have at the helm personalities
as great as those who rested your country . . .”

(excepts taken from a speech delivered in New York July 9, 1975,
at a luncheon given by the AFL-CIO)

monkeys throwing nuts

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide.
If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts
at each other out of separate trees.”

T.H. White, The Once and Future King


(Born in the USA album cover)

Long ago and far away, I was once a ripe and tender 25 year old teacher.

This was about my third year teaching and I was teaching high school art,
art history and science of all things…
(they were shy a science teacher that year and I was the lucky one tapped to take that on)

Always having a deep and abiding love for all things Renaissance Art,
I got the bright idea that I should take a group of students and adults on an educational tour
of the art capital’s of Europe for a few weeks during summer break. We would go to the great museums
and the architecturally rich historic treasures of about 7 countries.

Great ideas do not always turn out so great…but that’s a different story
for another day.

I’ve written about this bright idea before and won’t bore us today over the tales of
my first and last major trip of responsibility with teenagers abroad—
however there is one moment that I vividly recall and
it seems rather applicable to share given our current divisional crisis taking place
in this nation of ours.

Did you catch the Super Bowl Sunday evening?
Maybe you saw the new Jeep commercial featuring Bruce Springsteen?

But before I go on with that thought, let me back up to the tale of that 25 year old teacher.

When I took that group of folks, both young and old on that trip,
I was newly married and found myself rather homesick half way into the trip.
Probably just homesick for a lot of reasons.

We had made it to Venice and our tour guide took us that evening to a disco as he
thought the kids would love to see an Italian style disco.

I was just ho-hum about it all until the DJ began playing the song Born In the USA.
One of the hallmark songs by “the Boss.”
Springsteen was the epitome of Americana.
Or so it seemed back in those heady day’s of the early 1980’s.

Hearing his song blaring throughout the disco, we all immediately took to the dance floor,
those in our group who were in their 60’s along with my young teen charges.
All singing united, gleefully proud to be Americans.

Yet sadly over the years, musicians, actors and entertainers have become more and more vocal
regarding their political leanings—going so far as to expressing vehemence for
anyone who takes a different view of things from their own.

It has become a ‘my view or no view’ mentality within much of the entertainment community.
So much so that even going all the way back to the election of George W. Bush,
many an entertainer, etc, was loudly proclaiming,
practically threatening, the decision to move from the US should Bush win.

Well, he won and yet they all seemed to stay.

Flash forward to this last election…there was once again a rising crescendo of those folks
singing the same old song…”I’m out of here if “he” wins!—this time, he meaning Trump.

Bruce Springsteen announced during the previous election that if Trump won,
the Boss would be moving to Australia.

Well, the election turned out in the Boss’s favor—so he could stay in the US, making his
big US dollars.

And so now Mr. Springsteen has the audacity to star in, as well as narrate, a Jeep ad—
an ad for a vehicle that screams Americana…it was an ad that oozed with the notion
that we may now all be able to be united…because we all know that liberal democrats unite
while conservative republicans obviously divide.

So… it really doesn’t seem that the Boss truly represents us as Americans…
Sadly, he has drawn a line in the sand and half of this country, it appears, is on the other side of his line…
his line and the line of most of our Nation’s leadership, entertainers, and sports figures
has smugly excluded one half of these ‘united’ states…

Something sounds quite divisive about all this new unity….

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be
no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

expect the unexpected

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city,
spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:13-14


(the back of my dads old Philco radio/ Julie Cook / 2021)

Some of you might be old enough to remember that radios, televisions, and other pieces,
of so called old school electronics, all once required vacuum tubes in order to work.

Wikipedia offers us a small history lesson:
A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America),
is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes
to which an electric potential difference has been applied.

The type known as a thermionic tube or thermionic valve uses the phenomenon of
thermionic emission of electrons from a hot cathode and is used for a number of
fundamental electronic functions such as signal amplification and current rectification.
Non-thermionic types, such as a vacuum phototube however,
achieve electron emission through the photoelectric effect,
and are used for such purposes as the detection of light intensities.
In both types, the electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the
anode by the electric field in the tube.

The simplest vacuum tube, the diode, invented in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming,
contains only a heated electron-emitting cathode and an anode.
Electrons can only flow in one direction through the device—from the cathode to the anode.
Adding one or more control grids within the tube allows the current between the
cathode and anode to be controlled by the voltage on the grids.

These devices became a key component of electronic circuits for the first half
of the twentieth century. They were crucial to the development of radio, television,
radar, sound recording and reproduction, long-distance telephone networks,
and analog and early digital computers.
Although some applications had used earlier technologies such as the spark gap transmitter
for radio or mechanical computers for computing,
it was the invention of the thermionic vacuum tube that made these technologies
widespread and practical, and created the discipline of electronics.

In the 1940s, the invention of semiconductor devices made it possible
to produce solid-state devices, which are smaller, more efficient, reliable,
durable, safer, and more economical than thermionic tubes.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, thermionic tubes were being replaced by the transistor.
However, the cathode-ray tube (CRT) remained the basis for television monitors
and oscilloscopes until the early 21st century.
Thermionic tubes are still used in some applications,
such as the magnetron used in microwave ovens, certain high-frequency amplifiers,
and amplifiers that audio enthusiasts prefer for their “warmer” tube sound.

As a young man hoping to tune into his favorite radio program during the early 1940’s,
The Shadow, my dad would eagerly await the week’s latest new episode…
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

Yet if the radio suddenly blew a tube, there’d better be a replacement or there’d be no
new episode but rather, there would only be silence.

Recently rummaging through dad’s old attic, I actually found an old box
of replacement tubes.
Dad always wanted to be prepared lest he miss an episode of his favorite show.
He never felt the need to toss the tubes despite the advancements in technology.
He wanted to be prepared…old school or not.

And just like Dad, I prefer to always be prepared for the unexpected.

So imagine this move…

We only thought we had everything plotted and planned…but this house,
this new nemesis, is testing our mettle on preparedness.

A leaking roof…
a need for an electrician…
a need for a plumber,
the need for a painter…
throw in a few trees that needed to be cut from around the house…
and the list of needs has grown exponentially.

Nothing that had been anticipated.

Just today, we experienced yet another unexpected surprise.

A gentleman came out to grind the stumps from those cut trees—
the trees that were only adding insult to the house and roof,
and as he worked his grinder, he hit the main waterline.

The sun was quickly setting, the rains were moving in,
and we had big problems on our hands.

Yes, we did think to have the utility lines marked…
but…
somehow, someone forgot to mark the water line.

Ode to the unexpected.

So the one thing we do know…life is not neat nor tidy…
no matter how much we plan or wish it were.

So my advise… always expect the unexpected!

That Unexpected Last Day
Would it not be good for us to put away the vain dream of countless earthly days and face
up to the blunt fact that our days on earth may actually not be many?

For the true church, there is always the possibility that Christ may return.
Some good and serious souls hold this to be more than a possibility,
for it seems to them as it seems to this writer that
“the earth is grown old and the judgment is near,”
and the voices of the holy prophets are sounding in our ears.

And when He comes, there will not be a moment’s notice,
not an added day or hour in which to make frantic last-minute preparations.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation,
drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen,
and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).

A.W. Tozer
https://www.cmalliance.org

where or when did it all go wrong

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(Time Magazine cover from 2007 / Julie Cook / 2021)

So many boxes.
So many books.

The heavy dead-weight boxes of books are categorized by genre…
history, political, spiritual…Bibles, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis, Mother Teresa,
presidential biographies, WWII, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, The Holocaust,
saints, cookbooks…on and on it goes…

Unpacking this unending mountain of boxes, I stumbled upon my collection of books
regarding Ronald Reagan.

I gingerly pulled out the books and magazines from this latest deep abyss,
taking stock of what I wanted to keep readily available and what could be stored away.

In the treasure trove, I found the above Time Magazine.
It was dated 2007.

I was still teaching at that time and I remembered that I had the magazine sitting on my
desk in the classroom.
A student saw the magazine and had a knee jerk reaction…
they scrawled a written response to the title of the story line…

I had a fit as I can’t stand to deface something I want to save…

The cover image was powerful…the scribbled black ink “GWB” was nothing more
then graffiti.

Sigh.

“How The Right Went Wrong”

This student penned GWB—as in George W. Bush

At the time, in 2007, some of my young charges were less than pleased with then President
George W.Bush.

We were embroiled in a seemingly endless war in the Middle East.

And so I now wonder…where and when exactly did the Right go wrong?

I suppose once life slows down, I will re-read that article–
looking back to what 14 years ago we wondered what might be the problem with Conservatism.

In 2007 we wondered what went wrong.
In 2021 we now consider such a word as pariah.
A taboo sort of mindset.

It seems much more has gone wrong than merely the loss of the right verses the wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20