FREEDOM…redux


(Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the movie Braveheart)

The other day while scrolling through various news feeds, I caught one story’s
headline that made me rather angry.

The gist of the title said something about Americans and their love of freedom and how
they really needed to let go of that love…in other words,
Americans needed to quit focusing on that little hangup of theirs…
that being freedom.

The picture of the gentleman penning the story was that of a non-American or
perhaps an American national at best.
And don’t start with how racist it is of me to see someone’s picture and
“assume” they are not American.

The dude was clearly smug, arrogant and all-knowing as he wrote a piece lecturing Americans
over their obsession with freedom.

I was really quite incensed and opted not to read the article lest my blood pressure rise up
any further than it has, having been on this lockdown now for three months.

And so I immediately thought of Sam Adams.

Yes, Sam Adams and not William Wallace.

Adams being that beer-making colonist and not the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace
as seen above–

It’s just that the image of Mel Gibson as a half-crazed angry Scotsman who led a ragtag
army of clansmen while waging guerilla warfare against the British Army in a frustratingly
failed attempt at independence was just much more eye-catching than the benign painting of
Sam Adams seen below.


(detail of a portrait of Adams by John Singleton Copley /1772)

According to Alphahistory.com, Samuel Adams was a Massachusetts businessman,
writer, and political figure, known for his busy activism and his radical political views.
From the mid-1760s, Adams became the American Revolution’s agitator in chief,
to the extent that the British reportedly declared him the “most dangerous man in America”.

Adams, as a Harvard graduate, was no dummy yet he is more often remembered for being
that of a rabble-rouser and true revolutionist rather than that of a scholar,
statesman, or businessman.
And more sadly— he is merely seen as some sort of father of American beer–
as in the first brewing company.

But Adams was a ‘freedom at any cost’ sort of fellow—
much like our Scottish friend William Wallace.

Adams did eventually go on to become one of those famous band of brothers known as
the Founding Fathers.
His name would go on for eternity to be held in historical esteem with the likes of
John Adams (his cousin), Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

Wikipedia notes that Adams was “a leader of the movement that became the
American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of
American Republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States.”

Yet some historians argue that Adams may have been more of hot-headed renegade versus
that of a level-headed leader as it appears he was one more apt
to promote propaganda and mob violence rather than failed negotiations with a King
and his realm.

I like to think that Adams was more of a spirited revolutionist–the quintessential
example of what makes Americans, Americans.

A man who fought valiantly for the freedom that we Americans enjoy today.

Land of the free and home of the brave.
Home of the free, land of the brave.

Yep we, as a young republic fought, while blood was shed and lives were lost, all
for this land of the free…

And so I am more than perplexed watching our states…our states fighting
amongst themselves as well as their larger government regarding
lockdowns vs soft openings vs tyranny and oppression vs freedom…

Experience tells us that with more available testings for COVID-19, aka Wuhan flu,
the more available tests will, in turn, result in higher numbers of positive cases—
of which will then result in the scary higher numbers which we are now seeing.

Does that, in turn, mean that there will be more gloom and doom
along with death and pandemonium…??
I don’t know…

However, I don’t think statistics and charts will show significant dire straits
are in store for us.

Yet what I am seeing is that these new numbers are now steering leaders to make choices
and decisions based simply on fluctuations.
While we the people remain held hostage.

Does that make for good governing?
I don’t think so.

The one thing I know, the one thing for certain…
we are indeed Americans…we believe in freedom—it’s kind of what makes us, us…
be that for good or bad–

So to tell American entrepreneurs that they must shut their doors indefinitely,
leaving them with no clear picture of when or if they may reopen for business, let
alone how they are to pay their employees who also need to pay their bills and buy those
day to day items that help keep them going, is most vexing.

Are there those among us who are being stupid in all of this?
Yes.
So do we need to have safety measures in place as we begin to wake back up
and resume some sense of who we are as a nation?
Most definitely.

But to stifle our economy and our daily lives just to see if we can wait out
a virus is not the answer—if that is the case the virus will win while
we wither and die—not from a virus but from hiding under a rock.

And those who think socialism is our answer, as we print more and more paper,
which is considered money, money that is simply pulled magically out of the sky to then
be passed around like candy, well, they may want to go live in those countries who currently
live under socialist regimes to see how well that works for the common man or woman.

And as for bigger Government—and Big Brother…
Well, I think we’ll wait to talk about that another day…because for now…
I think I’ll stick with Patrick Henry’s line of thinking—
Give me liberty or give me death…

Bats, civets, pangolins oh my…

“And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time,
it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others;
for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always
the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the
characteristic truths of another.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(PHYSorg)

Faces only a mother could love…right?!

Or maybe a zoologist or a chiropterologist, or a butcher in a wet market in Wuhan…
or perhaps a people with some serious tastebud issues who frequent said “wet” markets…

Wet markets are just that, wet.

Think fishmongers, chicken farmers, duck farmers, eel farmers, scorpion gatherers, exotic
animal farmers…all buying, selling, butchering, gutting, scaling, bloodletting, preparing
right there together on top of one another while waters, bloods, entrails, feathers, scales, guts
skin all slosh and run together underfoot.
Oh, did I mention all the animal excrement mixing in as well?

Ahhh, the aroma… but do watch your footing lest you slip in the toxic slime.

Some of these tasty morsels are actually illegal to buy, sell or trade…
even by Chinese standards…let alone eat.
And yet…this melange of illness and destruction is allowed to continue.

Such markets are a toxic and deadly cocktail just waiting to happen.

Next, let’s throw in a virology lab also located in Wuhan, China

So tell me, do these animals look appetizing to you?


(The Guardian)


(zoo chat)

I didn’t think so.

These critters may be somewhat cute in their own distinct way and yet for some, they
ring of tasty delicacies.
But this affinity for forbidden foods coupled with a worldwide pandemic
have an odd connection—of which is simply not as cut and dry as it may seem.

The simple excuse is that someone ate a bat, or a civet, or a pangolin and in turn got coronavirus and
so now the world has coronavirus…well that cause and effect just doesn’t seem to hold water.

It’s not a simple case of Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick sort of cut and dry.

According to an article from The Guardian,
Prof Stanley Perlman, a leading immunologist at the University of Iowa
and an expert on previous coronavirus outbreaks that have stemmed from animals,
says the idea the link to the Wuhan market is coincidental “cannot be ruled out”
but that possibility “seems less likely” because the genetic material of the
virus had been found in the market environment.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/how-did-the-coronavirus-start-where-did-it-come-from-how-did-it-spread-humans-was-it-really-bats-pangolins-wuhan-animal-market

Yet an even more telling tale of breadcrumbs leading to the root of the current evil that is
circumnavigating the globe is found in an article offered by the National Review

It seems that there is a certain Dr. Shi, aka China’s ‘bat woman’,
who has been studying bats and their diseases…
diseases such as SARS and Coronavirus for over a decade.

It seems that this particular lab earned one of the highest world standards
for the study of immunology and viruses—all but for the section of the lab where
Dr. Shi works.
A high rating is a notch in the belt for China– showing the world that China
is a world stage contender when it comes to the study
of immunology and viruses.

Yet Dr. Shi’s portion of the lab received a far lower safety standard rating.
Meaning it is not as stringently regulated as other parts of the lab.
Think a bit more loosey goosey.

According to a very interesting article from The National Review,
“Some scientists aren’t convinced that the virus jumped straight from bats to human beings,
but there are a few problems with the theory that some other animal was an intermediate transmitter
of COVID-19 from bats to humans:

Analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicate a single spillover event,
meaning the virus jumped only once from an animal to a person,
which makes it likely that the virus was circulating among people before December.
Unless more information about the animals at the Wuhan market is released,
the transmission chain may never be clear.
There are, however, numerous possibilities.
A bat hunter or a wildlife trafficker might have brought the virus to the market.
Pangolins happen to carry a coronavirus, which they might have picked up from bats years ago,
and which is, in one crucial part of its genome, virtually identical to SARS-CoV-2.
But no one has yet found evidence that pangolins were at the Wuhan market,
or even that venders there trafficked pangolins.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-china-trail-leading-back-to-wuhan-labs/

Now one thing we all know, or those of us with any sort of historic sense, is that Communist
nations, and yes even former Communist nations, have never been on the up and up with pertinent
worldwide implication information…

Think Chernobyl…but I digress.

In the mind of China’s Communist Government, it might not be prudent to its world standing interest to
admit a major mea culpa, as in a “my bad” that we kind of let something get out of a lab of ours
that was not exactly of the highest standards.
Rather, let’s blame a nasty farmer’s market and call it a day.

So it might behoove all of us who are now locked down, sick or disrupted to demand China
take responsibility–as well as question why both the US and Canada have provided funding
to such a lab.

More questions than answers if you ask me.
Both articles are very telling and worth your reading.

Overwhlelmed

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(the Sheriff giving in to his being overwhelmed by the day / Julie Cook / 2020)

Trying times overwhelm us.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts to it…

So during such times, we must be ever mindful that it is precisely how we respond
to such overwhelming trying times that will, in the end, define us—

Will we be the better for it or the worse for it?

Will the difference be life or will it be death?

And will it be either life eternal or death damnation?

Because you see, if we cry out for God’s intervention, will we be prepared for what
such an intervention will entail?

Some of us will and some of us will not.

C.S. Lewis reminds what such a cry entails…

“God will invade.
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our
world quite realise what it will be like when He does.
When that happens, it is the end of the world.
When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then,
when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side
we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
God is holding back to give us that chance.
It will not last for ever.
We must take it or leave it.”

C.S. Lewis

It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood….is it? Is it really Mr. Rogers???!!!

“All of us, at some time or other, need help.
Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.
That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–
in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

Fred Rogers


(Fox News)

Here is a great story I caught during a quick foray into doing something novel…
such as actually sitting down, breathing and reading things that were not Disney
or child-related.

And this oh so novel activity took place during the briefest of moments of quiet
when my two wee charges were finally napping simultaneously—

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!

A MIRACLE I tell ya!!!

You do know that the Mayor and the Sheriff, along with their mom,
are here during Coronagedon right?

What is this…nearing the end of week 2 ???
And by the way, what day is this???
Thursday, I think.

So our daughter-in-law is a teacher.

She is now spending 8 plus hours holed up in our makeshift office/ guest bedroom
each Sunday trying to create a week’s worth of lessons for the middle grades
that she teaches—
Social Studies to various grade levels–6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

During the weekdays, she is submitting attendance,
for those students logged in onto the learning platform via the computer each morning.
She is then live on-line for 4 or more hours each day in order to answer questions,
post more webinar assignments while e-mailing with
parents and students— of which is an all-day and night activity.

This is on top of being a mom to two kids who are two years old and 11 months old.

Hence why she’s with us while her husband, our son, is home in Atlanta, working
from home.

The state’s on lockdown so the separation is a little tough on this little family.

And it is beyond my soul as to how two working parents with young children
are managing to work from home during the Coronageden without extended
family to help.

My daughter-in-law is sensing that some parents are getting very testy.
Some have e-mailed words of thanks…
Some, on the other hand, have been downright ugly.
Yet some were ugly before all of this mess, so needless to say,
the caddyness has ramped up exponentially.

It’s as if the parents have forgotten the fact that their children’s teachers
also have children and lives, and are all stuck inside just like they are…
doing the best they can under the circumstance.

Patience seems to be as scarce as toilet paper!

Our daughter-in-law teaches at an Atlanta private school that feeds into the larger
private high schools—so some of these parents are, in a word, a tad uppity
while blessedly some, on the other hand, are more than kind.

As a former educator, I can sympathize greatly.

So let us look at what is happening here with this whole national learning from home
emergency.

Homeschooling has now gone national…as I suspect it has gone global.

We have parents and their children all together in the house
for an extended length of time….as in weeks on top of weeks.

No sports.
No scouts.
No recess.
No clubs.
No nothing.

Just parents, kids and home.

Children are used to having hands-on instructors despite working
on-line or from textbooks…there are still adults in the room
instructing and or assisting.

These are usually trained adults, as in educators.
Folks who know their subject matter readily and fluently.

With schools being shut down, kids are home with “instructor” assistants
who are now their parents…parents working from home and also assisting with schooling.
With the majority of parents ill-equipped to instruct in subjects, they know nothing about.

And all of this just doesn’t seem to be going very smoothly.
Or so the following story seems to explain.

As funny as the story is, I was touched reading it as it seems
that parents all over the country, and I suspect all over our globe, are
now each carrying the educational burden for their children and
they are not carrying it very well.

So my word today to everyone is kindness—as well as patience.
So make that two words.

We are all tired.
We are all stressed.
And we are all in this together.

Here’s the story…

An 8-year-old boy’s hilarious journal entry is going viral for his candid thoughts
on his mother’s attempt at homeschooling during the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is not going good,” says the boy, whose name is Ben.

“My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused.
We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out. And I’m telling you it is not going good.”

Ben’s mom, Candice Hunter Kennedy, wasn’t entirely upset by her son’s remarks,
seeing as she herself shared a photograph of the journal entry to Facebook.

“Y’all I’m dying!!!” she wrote on Facebook last week, adding that she was
particularly amused by “that last sentence.”

Thousands of Facebook users agreed with Kennedy in the comments,
telling her they found it “so funny,” and assuring her she wasn’t the only
parent struggling with homeschooling her kids.

“My kids feel the same way,” one said.

“This will be all of us next week,” added another.

“Dead,” someone else simply wrote.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear initially recommended the closure of schools in the state
on March 12 in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak. All districts soon complied,
with plans to shut down for at least two weeks, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In fairness to Kennedy, though, she knew homeschooling was going to be tough on the very first day.

“We are 39 minutes into [non-traditional instruction],” she wrote in a Facebook post on March 16.
“Papers are everywhere. Kids are panicking. I am stress-eating while trying to keep it
together so the kids can’t see my own panic. Teachers need triple raises ASAP!!”

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/boy-journal-moms-attempt-homeschooling-coronavirus-not-going-good

“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

can’t go back…lessons from the road

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with
Don’t be angry, don’t be sad,
Don’t sit cryin’ over good things you’ve had
,
Lyrics, The Isley Brothers


(the main stairwell in the Biltmore House / Ashville, NC / Julie Cook / 2020)

About a week or so ago,
I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I had cared for sick grandkids who in turn,
unintentionally, gave me their sickness.

It seems that germs just love to travel and share themselves.
Just like the song by the Isley Brothers, you gotta love the ones you’re with…
germs will love any and all… whoever they are with or even near.

But this is NOT another post chattering on about coronavirus or the flu or any other bug.

This post is rather about adventure…
Or better yet…this is a post about lessons.

In that previous post, I had made mention that we had had a little impromptu adventure
while trying to escape all this unrelenting rain…

About two weeks ago, we were sitting in the house… sick and tired of sitting in the house.
It had rained for almost the entire month of February.
It was our wettest February on record.

Let’s get away” I proclaimed
My husband agreed.

We threw some things in a bag and headed north.
About a 4-hour drive north.

It had been years since we’d visited the Biltmore House
and thus that would be our destination.

We opted to stay at the Inn on the property,
spending the following day visiting the house,
then we would drive around the mountains before heading home.
Short and sweet.

And most importantly, it was minus the rain.

But then there was the snow.

However, let’s back up 40 years.

Back in 1980, I was a college student who had no real feel for what I wanted to do with my life.
I thought I knew.
I thought I had known.
I wanted to work with kids.
I wanted to write.
I wanted to work in advertising.
I wanted to meet a nice boy.
I wanted to get married and I wanted to be a mom.

I bounced back and forth between each different course and college major that were
more or less, a flavor of the day regime.

I have written about this journey when I first started blogging.
It was about how I finally made my way into teaching.

It was the summer of 1980 when my angst and turmoil finally came into focus in the
middle of the mountains of North Carolina.
Specifically, Black Mt., NC.

I had taken a job at a Christian summer camp for girls as a camp counselor—
Riflery Director oddly enough.

I spent my summers working at the camp until I graduated and made my
way to my first teaching post.
It was a position that would last 31 years.

So before we set out on this little adventure,
I asked my husband if we could drive over to Black Mt,
find a little inn for a night and spend an afternoon
wandering the little town before going to see the camp.

Knowing how important this place once was to me,
he knew he was now simply along for the ride.

When we started out from home on this northward drive,
we took an off-the-beaten-path route.
Many two and four-lane roads avoiding much of the interstate.
Crossing over into NC from Georgia, just before entering the Nantahala forest,
I caught sight of a homemade sign perched along the side of the road…
sitting boldly in plain sight.

It was a conversation bubble sign.
One conversation bubble read: “God, why won’t you send us someone who will help us?
The response bubble read: “I did, but you aborted them”

A powerful thought to chew on and get lost in while driving.

Our visit to the Biltmore was brief but enjoyable.
It had been meant to be our diversion,
a brief respite from our temperate rainy winter.

But then…it snowed.

The snow was pretty as it gently covered the mountains.
It was a gift from the relentless rain we had left back home.
Soft and silent.
White and muting.
A fitting and tender offering.

The small town of Black Mt. is about a 15-minute drive east from Ashville on I-40 or about
20 minutes via Hwy 70.

It was my home for several summers…a place that had left
and indelible mark upon my heart, soul and on the person who I would grow to be.

My former boss and dear friend, the camp’s director, had passed away several years away,
leaving the camp to now be run by two of his sons.

I had been very close to the older of the two boys.

At the time, he was instrumental in the growth of my Christian faith.

He was one of those individuals who you knew had a relationship with
Christ that transcended both time and space.
There was a depth not normally seen in “normal” Christians.
There was a mysticism.
There was a sense that He was privy to something that was not experienced by many others.
It was so much greater than…

There was a diligence to his faith.
A detachment from the world, yet done so graciously and most willingly.
It was a relationship that had been tried in a furnace…
a furnace so hot that it had burned away all the dross.

It was a relationship that I marveled over from afar.
A relationship that I wanted yet always felt as if it was just beyond my reach.

During that time, I had also become close friends with another counselor.
She and I both were attending the same college,
however, we had not met until our summers working at camp.

She was a hungry and joyous Christian..strong and uncompromising in her faith.

The three of us became quite the trio.
I earned the name slugly…the questioning one who always seemed to be
lagging a step behind.
The one who still had the one foot in the world.

Despite my now almost manic positive spin on life,
I carried a heavy black cloud.

Most often my friend and I both felt like students sitting at
the feet of a master teacher as we learned so very much from our older and wiser friend.

His had once been a hard and rough life.
We were fortunate to have met him long after the darkness.
We were the grateful recipients of the light now shining through him.

Yet as life would have it, we remained as close as we could,
as our lives simply took us each on different journeys.
I married first, followed by our friend then finally my fellow counselor friend,
found her true love.

Three different states, jobs, children, and life, made the years race past with less and less contact.

What might I find after 40 years?

I felt a sense of heaviness and nervousness…a journey of trepidation.
The excitement of what might be was shadowed by both what was and what
had passed.

I knew that the camp had grown and even changed.
A boys camp and also a climbing adventure camp has become spin-offs of the
original girls camp. Things were much larger and not as intimate.

Billy Graham was the camp’s neighbor, living on the neighboring mountain top
and Montreat College was less than a mile up the road.

Graham was now gone but the college was still there having, like everything else,
grown and expanded.

We drove up from the what was once a sleepy mountain town that has since boomed
into a buzzing home to artists, breweries and eclectic eateries–
a top NC mountain must-see travel destination crowned by all things southern
and travel, Southern Living…crowned as one of America’s most charming small towns.

I pulled into the familiar hemlock lined gravel drive leading up to the main house…
and that’s when I stopped the car for the briefest of moments before quickly deciding to turn around…
simply driving back to town.

Just like that.

With all that growing anticipation and wonderment I felt during our drive from home…
in the end, I knew that the girl who had spent her summers in this small part of the world
had, in the end, moved on.

I decided to drive back leaving what was.. simply to be.

Later that evening, once back in town,
we started walking the couple of blocks from our Inn to the trendy new restaurant
that had been recommended to us.

While walking rather briskly, shielding ourselves against the bitter cold,
a group of college-age young folks fell in line behind us on the sidewalk.

All we could hear was ‘F’ this and ‘F’ that as they weren’t but
a few steps behind.
There were no filters, no restraints, no consideration for our obvious older ears,
that was for sure

They were loud and raucous, cursing as if uttering simple words in conversation.
I turned and smiled while giving that knowing look of
“hey, consider the other folks in your surroundings
as your language just might not be suitable let alone appreciated
by those in such close earshot.”

The loudest gal in the group just looked at me, not missing a beat
with her profanity-laced chatter.

Thankfully they veered off to head into one of the local watering holes
while we kept walking.

Aggravated by the thought that the one place I had always held somewhat sacred
and somewhat protected,
as it had been just that for me all these years ago, was now just like any other place invaded by
a youthful, progressive left-leaning, mindset as I saw many a Bernie, pro-choice, coexist, and all
things feminist stickers stuck on the cars parked along the sidewalks.

With the crisp mountain air now laced with cigarette smoke, the sweet scent of weed and stale beer,
I could feel my shoulders slump just a tad.

There was now a heavy dose of melancholy and irony found in being just the other side of
Ashville…the home to the great writer, Thomas Wolfe…

Wolfe was right you know…we can’t go home again.
Home is never the same.
The then is no longer as it is simply the now.

I was clearly reminded that our home is truly not of this earth.
Our peace will not ever be found here despite our constant searching.

For we are indeed strangers in a strange land…
We seek a home where we know our hearts will finally be at rest…
it is our life’s innate quest really.
Seeking a home that is beyond that which we have known…a home
that is eternal and somewhere just beyond those mountains I once
considered my haven of peace.

I think that’s what my friend had known all those years ago…it just took
me forty years to figure it out.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul.
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11-12

I witnessed a crime…

Crime is the price society pays for abandoning character.
James Q. Wilson


(courtesy Publix produce images)

First, let me preface this tale with a small disclaimer…I hate going to the grocery store
on a Saturday.

This tale, however, begins because of my having been gone most of last week,
and half the week prior, and thus my pantry was in great need of re-stocking.

Despite feeling that I should don a surgical mask due to my grandmother crud,
I went on, mask free, lest I send coronavirus shock waves through our small city.

I headed off, much to my chagrin, to my local grocery store of choice.

As I turned onto the drive leading to the parking lot, I noticed a group of about 7
teenage girls. They were walking along the sidewalk and I thought they might veer off,
crossing over in front of me–
crossing over to our city’s greenbelt walking-path near the grocery store
which leads back to our high school—

But no, they continued on the sidewalk up towards the grocery store.

This was not exactly an area of town to be out strolling…
because it is congested and a high traffic area.
Plus it was a cold blustery day.

I continued on my way to the parking lot, figuring the girls were probably walking to the
nearby McDonald’s.

The always enduring high school teacher, who lives forever deep within me,
always wonders when I see a flock of kids, out and about, simply walking where
kids would not normally be walking.
It’s something akin to a teacher’s eyes in the back of his/ her head.
Always watching, always knowing.

I parked, gathered my bags and made my way inside, grabbing a cart.

I started toward the produce section when I saw the same set of teens walking
rather quickly towards me, out from the store towards the door.

“Boy, that was fast,” I thought.
In and out they were as in I had no idea they had even been heading to the grocery store.

They had no bags, no cart, no nothing.

Yet as they rapidly passed by me and the fruit section,
the gal on the tail end of the entourage reached out and grabbed a peach.
She held it tight in a clenched fist while looking back to see if she had been seen.

And yes, she had…she had been seen.

I had seen and she saw that I had seen.

So I did the only thing I thought to do without causing some sort of ruckus—
I simply gave her the death stare of any high school teacher who had just
spied poor behavior.

Part of me wanted to loudly holler out for the young woman to put the fruit back
as I wondered what else had been picked up as they were walking with quite the
quickstep to the exit.

So here are the obvious facts to this little incident…
I am a 60-year-old white woman.
The group of 7 girls consisted of black teens.

Now those two little facts alone should just be obvious observations…
yet they are enough for most of today’s hypersensitive politically correct,
progressive liberal lot to accuse me of racism, as well as something
I’ve just learned about today, “white fragility.”

Yet the only facts are:
I am white and old.
They were black and young.

And from those two obvious facts…our culture will race to pull all sorts of accusations
out of the air.

I later told a friend about what I had seen at the grocery store and her response
was that it was sad they wanted something healthy and probably didn’t have any fresh
food at home.

The rolling of my eyes set in.

Well, I can certainly tell you that the nicked pinched peach was an afterthought while
our culprit was simply passing by an open bin. There was no focused intent on taking a
piece of fruit.
It was just sitting there and she was passing by and simply slipped a hand down to
grab one as in, “oh, let me grab that as I make my way out the door’.

And might I add that any peach sitting out this time of year would be an imported
rock-hard poor excuse for a fruit…not even palatable.

My response to my friend was not to make some sort of liberal excuse for stealing.
Because that was what it was…stealing. It would be the sort of excuse we’d hear
from our progressive left…an excuse for doing wrong.

So okay…to be fair…

I suppose we all recall the days of our own youth…
days of reckless abandon when we too nicked and pocketed something seemingly harmless
like a piece of fruit, a yard ornament, a street sign, a glass from a restaruant…etc.

Yet sadly today, what we now readily give a pass to is, none the less, blatant stealing.

It is always hoped that we will each grow up and mature…learning, knowing and realizing
right from wrong.
Right from wrong as well as learning that the notion of taking what is not ours
is one of those top 10 commandments—as in “DO NOT…”

It is hoped that we grow to have remorse for our past wrongs while we work toward
living a life that is better than…a life of positive morality.
A life of setting wrongs right.

Yet unfortunately, the idea of what was once perceived as wrong is now
perfectly ok…and we make excuses as to why it is now right rather
than wrong.

We have made excuses our demigods…excuses for every ill that befalls
our culture.

We could once justify wrongs as right in those life and death situations.
Situations of war, or of need vs want, or of the necessity of life vs death…

Yet did that make them any more right than wrong?

Probably not…but the taking of some bread or milk lest a child starve
was deemed justifiable…the assassination attempt of a tyrant like Hitler
was justifiable to the pacifist Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer because
the taking of the one life would spare the hundreds of thousands he was annihilating.

However, we now have created the notion of excusing and justifying behavior that is
obviously wrong for simply every day lives…and this notion has been long percolating.
We’ve made an art of turning wrongs into rights and defending such to the hilt.

Our culture no longer desires to call a wrong, wrong.
Rather we make excuses.
We make sad pathetic excuses for needs not being met.

It is a want versus need mentality.

There are excuses for poverty.
Excuses for inabilities.
Excuses for limitations.
Excuses over race.

Had the girls not been racing toward the exit, I could have offered to buy her the fruit.

But then we’d both have been acknowledging what she had done…
and the reality is, she didn’t want acknowledging.

So this little incident brought my thoughts back to an article I had just read earlier
in the day on The Federalist.

How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power Struggles
White fragility theory is counterproductive and divisive.
White teachers should not be discounted, bullied, or shut down during anti-bias trainings in schools.

An article that, as a former educator, I could readily relate to…
For I saw this indoctrination coming down the pike nearly two decades ago.

The article focused on a recent talk given by academic and author, Dr. Robin DiAngelo
to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Atlanta.

She’s written a book and is a bit of a self-proclaimed expert on “White fragility”

Huh?
Who knew, but it seems that white fragility is indeed a thing.

Her book focuses on “why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.”

The answer, she says, is “white fragility,” defined as “a state in which even a
minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”
This “racial stress” is the direct result of “implicit bias,”
which runs so strong in white people that it is a core reason racism persists in America.
This claim is based on a worldview, advanced by an increasingly influential field
called Whiteness Studies, that racism is inseparable from the reign of Whiteness.

What is Whiteness?
It is hard to say, but the basic idea is that all the institutions of society
are “white”—made by white people, ruled by white people,
and kept in place by white people to make sure that white people continue to benefit from “white privilege.”
These institutions are infected by white supremacy,
a result of the long arc of racism in American history.
Whiteness works through implicit bias, which refers to a whole range of unconscious behaviors,
speech, and beliefs that keep white supremacy in place.

Needless to say, I think this sort of thinking is nothing but a bunch of crap.
This sort of mindset leads to only more trouble.
It leads to a deeper misunderstanding.
And even a greater and much wider divide.

But then, I’m white… so…yeah, of course, I would think that.
Or so would say, Dr. DiAngelo.

And therein lies both the rub and the irony.

Let us dare not speak of racism directed toward whites or disdain and vehemence directed
towards Christians or toward pro-life supporters, or towards traditional marriage proponents,
or towards conservatives or towards anything or anyone who embraces traditional values…
especially towards issues of morality…issues of right vs wrong…

Because in this brave new world of which we now created and find ourselves living…
it is a world where wrong is now right and right is most certainly wrong…

There is no true biology.
No boy or girl.
No girl or boy.

There is no God
There is no Savior
There is only the State

We have created an excuse for each and everything…
along with more and more reasons as to why we must dislike and mistrust one another…
We must quiet each and every last one who dares to disagree with the new state’s mindset.

But Believers know that this is Satan’s plan.

To divide and conquer.

We must never forget…the battle may be raging, but the war is already lost.
So let us not be on the wrong side of the winning vs the losing when
it is all finally said and done.
And that will require a constant need to shout the Truth while the
chosen ones attempt to silence anyone who dares to utter such a Truth.

Hate, wrongs, mistrust, division, disdain, oppression…lose each and every time.

Here’s the link to the article.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/28/how-white-fragility-theory-turns-classrooms-into-race-charged-power-struggles/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=01ad0a3f38-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-01ad0a3f38-84149832

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:17