heresy 101

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make

lyrics from In The End
The Beatles


(statue of the sacred heart of Jesus, Kylemore Abbey / Connemara, County Galway, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

Surely it’s time for a new story, a new thought, a new distraction in this land
of the distractable??!!

Yet Wedding Gate 2018 just keeps on keeping on.

And so I find myself needing to share one more observation and one more offering
offered by those wiser than myself…

Now I totally understand that most folks are more than ready to move on and away from
the chatter over this past weekend’s big wedding…as well as away from the chatter that
continues to reverberate over the guest speaker at said wedding.

Chatter that is causing a new rift within the Chrisitan community.

The 2 billion folks, yes you read the number correctly…of which is according to the networks,
who tuned in and watched said wedding, for the majority, seem to be totally enamored
with the sermon offered by the guest speaker Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry.

The bishop has been catapulted to the forefront and is now the darling poster child for
all things progressive and cultural.
And I suppose that should be only fitting as he is the leading voice behind the
promotion of Gay marriage within the Episcopal Chruch.

And now many folks, most folks it sadly seems, don’t understand why there is any sort
of controversy, brouhaha or criticism over Bishop Curry’s speech because who in their right
mind can or would criticize the concept of love?

Because that’s what the speech was about right?
Love?
And isn’t a wedding the perfect place to talk about love?

So whereas I’m indeed ready to move on as well, I’m opting to linger ever so slightly because,
as you see, the speaker and the cleric presiding over the wedding, the Archbishop of Canturbury,
just happen to each be cogs in the wheel of a Christian denomination in which I grew up.

The Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Chruch is where I was raised and where I came to
know Jesus as both Lord and Savior.

Times, however, have greatly changed since those early days of my youth.

And I would not be doing justice to those Anglicans and Episcoplains out there who
continue in the orthodox tradition of faith, just as I do, clinging to the knowledge
that God’s word is just that…God’s word.
I would not be doing justice to those who continue to cleave to that Word of God’s own
spoken Truth.

It would not be justice to those who choose not to condone the rewriting of scripture and
now the promotion of that rewritten scripture…
A new scripture that is being touted as the new age Chrisitan mantra…
that being simply put, Love is love.
And that notion of love is all one needs.

And if that’s love is between a man and woman, great.
If that’s love between two men, great.
If that’s love between two women, great.
If that’s simply a love of self, great.

Because love covers a multitude of sins we’ve always been told.

And so what if the Bible said love between one man and one woman???
We’ll just rewrite that to make things more applicable and current.
So what if the Bible says to beware of a love of self…
don’t we want to love ourselves??

And so as Bishop Curry was proclaiming love for love’s sake, he proceeded called up those
immortal words of John Lennon.
Maybe because he was in England, maybe because Lennon’s words seem more timely than not.

Imagine.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You…

Throw love in that mix and love becomes the newest culture god.

Yet what everyone seems to be missing is that this love, this romantic, erotic
love that Bishop Curry spoke of is a far cry from God’s love.

Bishop Curry speaks of a narcissistic and egocentric love.
A love that is not grounded in the Blood of the Lamb despite throwing out the name of Jesus
for good measure.
This is not the love of utter sacrifice.

But who these days wants to hear of sacrifice?

And so our dear rogue cleric Bishop Gavin Ashenden offers a wonderful observation of his own
over what basically boils down to a tale of heresy 101.

Bishop Ashenden cautions that we need to be able to use the repentance test when listening
to a speech such as Bishop Curry’s.
Is there talk of the need of repentance?
Or of the fact that God’s judgment is real and that the consequence of not repenting,
with that being hell, is also very real.
Did we hear any of that?

No, we didn’t hear about that.

We didn’t hear about when the fires of romantic and erotic love fade leaving people standing around
just looking at one another, somewhat bored and wondering what’s next.

Did we hear about the dire need of ours to be saved?
Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ?

No, we didn’t hear about that either.

We didn’t hear about the devil being real and that he battles for each of our souls.
We didn’t hear about the cross and the cost on that cross.

No we didn’t hear about that.

Rather we heard about love, sex, attraction, open arms, acceptance and more love.
Because isn’t love all we need??

And so I leave you with the latest clip from Anglican Unscripted, as well as two posts
written by our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson.

Both of these men heard, or perhaps didn’t hear is more appropriate those same things I didn’t hear.
And I for one am glad that each man is voicing concern over what was missing and why this sudden
hysteria over Bishop Curry is a very dangerous thought for all of us, Chrisitans as well as non believers.
For it is indeed heresy 101

The good news of Jesus Christ…that is what we need in the end

“Let me stress the importance of this another way.
The cameras lingered a lot on the Clooneys, Oprah and the Beckhams.
What struck me was the haunted, sad and lonely look on Victoria Beckham’s face.
I have no idea what was going on – but I know this.
Whatever the problem, the cure is the good news of Jesus Christ.
It’s such a shame that she did not hear it.”

David Robertson

The Wedding, the Sermon and the Reaction – Article on Christian Today

Ravi praises, Curry explains and Cranmer Spins…

Day is done, gone the sun…

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

(lyrics from In My Life
attributed to John Lennon)

DSCN2988
(my father-n-law, 1942–An enlisted man who eventually was charged with the care of B-52s / stationed in England during much of the war)

I don’t know if you have ever attended the funeral service for either a current or perhaps long passed member of our armed forces….

I had not.

Oh I had seen the countless individual tributes as well as the way too soon and excruciatingly painful farewells endured by families across this great Nation of ours…those funerals and services caught in the headlines or in the papers, or in the news…victims of the countless wars and conflicts which have plagued this land of ours…
or perhaps they were merely the victims of the ambiguous passage of time…

Those solomon yet heart wrenching ceremonies where the smartly dressed and impeccably precise service members slowly and resolutely perform the age old necessary, yet painfully dreaded, task—
the final task afforded all members of the service…

That being the final overseeing and demonstrative act of respect freely given to one of their own.

It matters not whether these current young men and woman of service know the person for whom they have come as acting military representatives.
It matters not if they know the grieving families.
What matters is that they come…

As the two young Airmen waited, at full attention and salute, that already hot Spring Sunday afternoon..
waiting at the freshly dug deep hole, in the heavy red Georgia clay…
waiting with a fixed anticipation for the approaching casket of their comrade…
the silence was palpable, broken only by the muffled sniffles offered by those falling tears.

Slowly and painstakingly borne on the shoulders of grandsons, who are now the same age if not older of this once proud soldier, is a man who was simply known to them as “Papa.”
They knew he fought, but that was all.
His generation was not one to dwell on what had been…
There were not the stories of exploits or adventure..
merely that a job had been done…
that was all.

Many volunteered long before our Nation was involved.
Perhaps they sensed it would not be long…
that the all-call would soon be sounded.
The choice had not been for a career of service..
Life simply had worked out that way.

They went with no expectations…
They had learned from the prior war, the war touted to end all wars,
that glamour was not to be found in the battles of man.
Men had returned home, if they returned at all, broken.

They simply knew that now, at this crossroads of time,
that it was merely a matter of right verses wrong, good verses bad.
They went to make things right.

Today we have lost that sense of right verses wrong, good verses bad…
as we so often find ourselves drowning in the details.
The lines are blurred as the sides are skewed.
The distinctions between the good verses the bad have been lost.
We no longer seem to know our direction nor purpose or of that which is of
right or wrong.

This is not to say that war and fighting are just or right.
No war is just.
Yet it is in the end goal in which justice lies.
Freedom verses tyranny
Democracy verses oppression

They were not perfect individuals.
They were young, energetic yet flawed…
but they were ready and equally willing…
To do what was not particularly wanted or desired,
but rather to do that which was needed and necessary.

This was a time before the knowledge of PTSD or of the aftermath of trauma to the psyche.
These men and woman saw things, smelled things, heard things, did things…
that would haunt them for a lifetime.
Just as those who who have gone on since…have equally suffered,
Yet it was with this generation that those secrets were to remain..
to be held silently close and not to be freely divulged.

It was rarely spoken of once it was all over.
A job had to be done,
it was done,
and now it was over…
that was that….

They came home, often broken within,
but went on with life without looking back.
Lives grew, families grew…
as lessons were lost with time…

The two young Airmen this warm April Sunday afternoon had come to do their job,
their duty.
After the final Amen was breathlessly whispered…
Silently, yet in precise mirrored rhythm,
a flag was removed from a lone casket.

Over and over, tightly folded,
pure white gloves meticulously went about their task.
Creases were reverently straightened as a final salute was offered.
A lone solider turns then kneels with flag held tightly to his chest.

He kneels before my husband, a living mirror of the man now in the casket.
“On behalf of the President of the Untied States…”

It matters not of ones political affiliation.
It matters not whether one voted for said president…
What matters is that a timeless act is playing out…
That others may see and know of the sacrifices made by those who have gone before.

War is now mocked while our soldiers belittled.
Respect is withheld…
As a Nation now turns upon itself.

The number of the grateful who can understand are shrinking
as the number of those who served shrinks ever still.
Selflessly, patriotically, willingly…
they gave, he gave,
they served, he served.

There are those who will now say that patriotism is a lie
There is no justice in defense.
And there are no answers to be found in aggression.

But had this generation not acted as they had…
Had this generation, this greatest of all generations, not risen to
an anticipated need…
Our lives, both yours and mine, would be vastly different today…

With trembling heart, yet resolute acceptance, a son’s hands receives the flag
so lovingly offered.
Received and accepted on behalf of a man who had not been perfect,
who had not been proud but
who simply did what he thought was right for those of us who
he had no idea would reap the reward of his “gift”
A gift he never considered to be a gift.

His gift, his legacy, his memory will continue on…
through the lives of both his children as well as grandchildren.
Whereas the life of a once breathing and living human being…
that of a soldier, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a businessman, is now silenced…
His gift to all us continues on…

It is to be found not only in the aching hearts of a family
who remains broken, picking up the pieces…
yet rather it remains, as it is found, in a meticulously folded piece of cloth.
A piece of cloth he was so very proud to fly.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

Hello Goodbye

You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello
Hello hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello

(Hello Goodbye-The Beatles)

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

― Alfred Lord Tennyson

DSCN0077
(fresh flowers for sale, Grafton St / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I wish you flowers.
I wish you blue skies
I wish you sun
I wish you warmth upon your face
I wish you peace of heart and peace of mind
I wish you health
I wish you joy
I wish you contentment
I wish you happiness
I wish you love
I wish you God’s Grace until the end of time….

I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
God’s power to guide me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s eyes to watch over me;
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to give me speech,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to shelter me,
God’s host to secure me.

St Bridgid of Gael

“you say you want a revolution. . .”

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank

DSCN4606
(detail of an antique fire bonnet/ Julie Cook / 2014)

Whoa retired art teacher. . .those are some pretty strong words are they not?
I suppose you’re right dear reader, the word “revolution” does evoke all sorts of radical connotations.
Just posting the word on the blog probably has some government top dog out there curious as to the tom-foolery this retired educator is trying to stir up. . .

With the ongoing escalation of tensions between the US, Europe and Russia regarding the state of the free and democratic country of Ukraine, the continuing saga in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel–peace talks on, peace talks off. I’m 54 years old— these “peace” talks have been ongoing and the tension ever present. . .long before I ever entered this world and it has all been going on almost since the beginning of time. Even before Israel became an independent state, the discord has existed, and will continue as the biblically minded among us simply nod in a sad understanding. . .it does seem that the world at large is indeed in need of some sort of Revolution.

And then there were the headlines out of Chicago this past week. . .

I was fortunate to have visited the toddling town this past August, falling in love with life on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city itself is full of delightful green space, attractions for the eyes, the intellect, the tastebuds, the sports minded, as well as for the outdoor enthusiast. We walked to most destinations and took taxis for those out of reach. We felt safe and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

I am also quite familiar with Chicago’s darker past of the bygone days of Speakeasies, Gangland activity and Government corruption. Sadly it seems, however, that the past may never have truly been eradicated and redeemed as news from this midwestern hub of commerce and charm appears most dire and grim.

Over the course of the Easter weekend, there were a reported 45 shootings in the city, out of which there were 45 wounded or dead.
(see the full article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/22/how-chicago-became-chiraq.html)

Many of the victims were children. Reportedly, involving one most disturbing incident, when a car pulled up, at a park were young children had gathered after Easter Church services to play— a passenger in the car points a gun at a group of kids, with the oldest child being age 11, asking if they were members of a gang. Before the children could respond, they were all shot.

I should have suspected something was a rye when, on the morning of our final day in Chicago, I had flipped on the morning news. It was a Monday in mid August, the first day back to school for the kids of Chicago. The lead story was of the neighborhood safety watches, with individuals literally posted along sidewalks, in order for the kids to be to able to walk to school without fear of gun violence. “Wait a minute,” I silently muttered, “we did not see anything like this during our visit!. . .” The teacher and parent in me filed this away as most unsettling.

The city, of which I have recently learned, has the dubious nickname of “Chiraq”—a butchered mixing of the words Chicago and Iraq—and with 45 shot dead or wounded during the course of a single weekend, I can understand the war zone distinction. But I suppose we could say the same for the streets of Compton, Detroit, Atlanta. . .as the list goes on and on.

We can argue that all of this is a direct result of guns or that it’s because of the drugs, or it’s because of the gangs, or it’s because of the broken family unit, or it’s because of welfare, or it’s because of unemployment, or it’s because of race, or it’s because of the social structure, or it’s because all of the above and them some. . . etc, on and on, ad infinitum, as it does go on and on.

We can tout that if we simply eradicate, educate, communicate, placate, eliminate, etc, then we can fix our mess of violence in this country as well as in this world.

Did any of that intellectual rumination matter this week in Kabul, Afghanistan when the man chosen to guard, defend and protect 3 American doctors and medical volunteers, who were in that country to help save the lives of woman and babies, thought it better to shoot and kill these selfless aid workers at point blank range?

How simple was it to understand that their mission was merely one of service and aid, yet even that didn’t seem to matter to one who convinced himself that their death outweighed their service.

Who thinks like that?!
Who thinks it’s ok to shoot kids?
Oh I best not start with the questions, as we’d be here all day. . .

The revolution of which I speak is a not a Revolution of unrest, violence and destruction but rather a Revolution of Love.
Not some dippy hippy, day of yore, let’s make love not war, mubmo jumbo. . .but an actual revolution of Agape.

Agape–ἀγάπη, agápē
Greek for unconditional love.
Not a romantic love, not a sexual love, not an obsessive love, not a self love, but the love of one human begin for another–the same love of the omnipotent God for His creation and in turn, His Creation for Him.

Unconditional, meaning without strings attached–the concern of another human being without regard to self and self’s wellbeing—just like what those doctors in Afghanistan possessed. . .

But Julie, how can one love others when staring down the barrel of a gun, when one is holding a dead or dying loved one in one’s arms, when all one has spent a lifetime working for and building is destroyed and or taken. . .? Does not violence, hatred, death and destruction beget only more of the same?

Examples are indeed all around us—as they have been down through the ages.
Notable examples of such are the Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe who voluntarily gave his life in place of a jewish man in the death camp of Auschwitz. Mother Teresa who spent a lifetime picking up the diseased and dying Hindu and Muslim in the streets of Calcutta. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian Dutch resistance underground worker whose family spent much of the War hiding Jews in their home, who were all eventually arrested, sent to Ravensbruck Concentration camp, where she alone survived. Her book The Hiding Place documents this harrowing and dark time of the world’s history.

We can also say that individuals such a Mahatmas Ghandi and even Martin Luther King Jr were also shining examples of what peace and the demonstration of Love can accomplish when staring at violence and death head on.

I for one have grown weary of the gangs, the drugs, the wars, the hate, the resentment, the needless killings, the disregard for human life and human dignity.

When will enough ever be enough?

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?
All right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right, all right!
All right, all right!

(Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

Blackbird

DSCN1682
(photograph: Red winged black bird perched on a park bench in Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Those of us, shall we say, of a certain age, live a life that is forever linked to a particular musical group or genre….as are other generations, both those who came before us and those who are pulling up the rear…as it seems music most often defines us—as belonging to a particular age group. There was the whole Woodstock generation. You know, the whole make love not war movement—we just won’t mention that whole little Hell’s Angels incident in Altamonte –I think they missed the memo on the love and peace movement.

For my mother, it was Elvis. Mother died in 1986 at the age of 53 (the same age I am now). Elvis died in 1977 at the age of 42. They were about the same age. She adored Elvis. I suppose it was that boyish grin, the gyrating of those hips, and that country boy naiveté persona of his. I could take or leave Elvis but then again, he does not define my generation as he did hers.

My defining musical masters consisted of a group of, at the time, relatively clean cut lads sporting, however, a bit of a “mop top”, that at the time, was not looked upon favorably by the “older” generation. They were a cockney group of young boys who grew up in a working class neighborhood. Nothing terribly refined or sophisticated about any of them but for the sheer fact that they possessed the ability to play, and play well, musical instruments–they also possessed the ability to sing harmoniously as well as individually, and the fact that they were cute and coy certainly helped.

“I want to hold your hand”, “Revolution”, “Day tripper” all spun round and round on my little portable 45 record player day in and day out. I stood on my bed dancing and singing, albeit greatly out of tune, the lyrics to these simple songs that would one day define me and my generation.

I’ve written before about the story of my grandfather, a wonderfully jovial man, who sadly died when I was but 7, who took all of his grandkids down to the Fulton Country Stadium (the precursor to the Ted, aka Turner Field) in order to attend a concert performed by this motley crew of boys. At the time I was the youngest grandchild tagging along with my teenage cousins. A trio of attractive young black girls opened up the show….these girls also, eventually, went on their own way to finding fame and stardom, adding one more component to my generation’s defining moments.

As the events of that time became most fluid and inflamed, an entire generation began to write with growing pains. The music following suit, matched mood for mood and became not only a rallying cry for a generation but a soothing balm as well. Lyrics, rhythms and beats echoed the turmoil, angst and painful metamorphic state of a nation embroiled in too much at one time—

The boys from Liverpool, following suit, morphed as well. The hair grew longer, the “recreational actives” became cloaked in shadow, lawlessness and wanton debauchery—only matching so much of what a generation was involved in. Thankfully I was still the younger tail end of this particular era, thank goodness. The lyrics were clouded with intrigue—was Paul really dead? What was that if you played the record backwards? Why did Lucy in the sky with diamonds have to an acronym for LSD, who was the infamous Eggman and the Walrus? Coo Coo cachoo…. The visual images of the “growing pains” of the time, bordered on tragic—as they were indeed tragic and deadly for many of what had become known as a psychedelic generation.

The song Blackbird, whose lyrics are posted above, was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1968. The music based in Bach and the lyrics based in racism. I heard Paul McCartney give an interview not long ago regarding Blackbird—he said it was basically a tale about the struggles a young black girl would be enduring during such a turbulent time.

Blackbird is one of my favorite songs of the Beatles. Oh there are others that I love…those with perhaps more poetic lyrics or better rhythm and beats but there was always something a bit mystical about Blackbird. Maybe I likened it a bit to Poe’s The Raven—this black specter that appears as a harbinger of things to come. Yet the difference between the Raven and Blackbird is that I feel a sense hope—hope steeped for a Blackbird that sees the opportunity of flying freely away, as its moment has arrived….

I do not feel the same kindred spirit for today’s profanity laced, sexually explicit lyrics. There is anger in today’s music—more so than the music of my day. That is not to say that musicians and the youth of my day were happy with the circumstances of our times—the anger and frustration was simply channeled differently. A message could be conveyed without the degrading of woman, the arrogance of racial indifference, or the use of profanity as if there were no real words to be found and utilized rather than the use of the hate filled dribble of today.

Perhaps this generation does not know how to deal with the anger that they wish to express. I see that daily in the hallways of schools and in the buses that transport children to and from school all across this nation, as fighting is rife and most violent. Frustration seems to be at an all time high and yet it is not dealt with constructively towards change but rather destructively towards death. Violence seems to be almost acceptable– or– is it because all have become desensitized or jaded or perhaps both?

I know that it is common for an older generation to bemoan those of the following generations, but I feel there is something more ominous and sinister going on in our society concerning our youth. The innocence and naiveté is gone, or simply never existed. Which makes me wonder what my generation did or did not do, has or has not done by this generation’s kids to have them going the way in which they are going…and sadly taking all of us with them.

A wise friend once told me that what one generation tolerates, another accepts. I hear the same mantra over and over again of noted experts rattling off to parents the “wisdom” of picking one’s battles. Let some things go they say…but have we let too much go? Are we tolerating too much? Too much hate, too much violence all in the name of tolerance. I was taught that racial slurs were unacceptable but yet we allow them in the music and lyrics our kids listen to and chalk it up as “ok”–they can say that because of who they are—I don’t buy that.

May we be mindful of the road we are paving—as the late Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa often were heard to lament–our’s has become a society of death.

Let us remember that it is never too late to find the moment to arise and take flight for the things that are right–turning from the death and destruction which seems to be taking hold of our world. What will it be that defines you and your generation? Life, respect, order, or death, degradation, anarchy–choose wisely–lives depend upon it.