we the people

“where there is a crime, there is an investigation…
where then is there an investigation hoping for a crime?”

Charles Krauthammer

I have been arguing for years that our society is becoming more intolerant,
not less and that in rejecting our Christian roots we will end up
rejecting our Christian fruits (including tolerance).

David Robertson

“Their common enemy is now an illiberal and feral anti-religious movement
which wants to criminalise faith.”

Kevin McKenna


(a tiny plucked fig rests on a bed of freshly picked herbs / Julie Cook / 2017)

Since today is Sunday, the Christian sabbath, I thought it timely, and perhaps
rather important, that I use today’s post to remind us, the Faithful,
that as we now rest and enjoy this holy day, that we should remember that there
are those who are waiting in the wings for our undoing….
and lest any of you think me daft or suffering from
the heat, all you need to do is look around your world….

The following excerpts are from an article written by journalist Kevin McKenna
which appeared in a recent column in The Guardian.
The Guardian being an odd place to find an article written by a journalist
who is alarmed by the brewing trouble he sees on the horizon for both
Christianity and our Western Civilization…
for The Guardian is known for its more left and liberal offerings.

The article is based on the current situation in Scotland but I believe we could
pull out the word Scotland inserting rather say Boston or Atlanta
or London…maybe New York, Berlin, San Francisco,Paris…or…well,
you get the idea….as it the sentiment is one of a global scale and not
merely localized to Scotland.

So maybe, just maybe, we see a bit of common sense actually filtering out of the
proverbial turnip….

Thus, if you sincerely believe that a human life in the womb is
deserving of as much protection as any other human life you are considered
an extremist and obviously (if you are male) a sexist who is guilty of
crimes against feminism. If you sincerely believe that the sacrament of
marriage is “a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between
themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by
its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education
of offspring” then there are people in Scotland who would wish to have you
jailed for homophobic hate crime.
And if you support the concept of faith schools then you are fuelling
sectarianism, despite there never having been a scintilla of evidence
to support such a specious claim.

It’s this insidious campaign of intolerance against Christians in Scotland
that Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia sought to address in a recent essay
for the US online publication Crux which is influential in Vatican circles.
The archbishop claimed too many Catholics had become “wishy-washy”
about their faith.
They were being challenged by robust secularism,
according to the archbishop,
which was hostile to believing “in anything supernatural;
in anything they can’t see or touch or experience;
or in anything beyond modelling and encouraging decent behaviour”.

The Reverend David Robertson,
former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and perhaps the most influential
Christian thinker in Scotland today,
knows what the archbishop is talking about.
The Rev Robertson has been the victim of a sustained campaign of abuse for many
years now simply for re-emphasising Christian teaching on the
sanctity of life and the meaning of marriage.
One of the big lies that have been allowed to take shape in modern,
diverse Scotland where all are apparently welcome is that failure to sign up to
the mainstream view of society and what it means to be human is evidence of hate.

If you are anti-abortion you must hate women;
if you are against same-sex marriage then you must be homophobic.
It’s a falsehood and a pernicious one at that.
Hatred of gay, lesbian and trans-gender people and hate crimes against women
are serious and ugly issues.
But knowingly to manipulate ignorance around these issues to make false
accusations against people whose religion you resent is an equally serious and ugly matter.

Kevin McKenna

Please find the full article posted here on the link to The Wee Flea—
whose author just so happens to be one of the victims of today’s
ugly and hate filled anti-Chrisitan rhetoric….

Kevin McKenna – It is time to stand up to those who wish to criminalise faith – article in The Herald

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own;
but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

forgiveness

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because
God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Out of the depths, I cry to you, Lord”
Psalm 130:1

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(Pope Francis walks through the gate at Auschwitz. Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock)

This past July,
July 29th to be exact,
Pope Francis journeyed to Oświęcim,
a small industrial town in southern Poland…
He next ventured a bit further to the small village of Brzezinka…

He had come to Poland to meet with an excited and joyful throng of young people
who had journeyed to Krakow in order to celebrate World Youth Day.

Yet it was to Oświęcim and Brzezinka that Francis made a solomon detour.
For in this once obscure and quiet area of Poland, 76 years ago,
the first of 23 concentration camps was opened to receive its first prisoners of war…
This was the beginning of Hitler’s incomprehensible final solution…
this was Auschwitz…

There were major camps…camps where exterminations took place,
of which were scattered throughout Poland,
And there were sub-camps…camps where hard manual labor was the focus.
But it was at Auschwitz that an estimated that 1.5 million people
died during the 5 years it operated.

Six million jews and an additional 11 million individuals
lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis, most of which died in the camps.

And it is estimated that 80 million people lost their
lives during the course of the war.

Pope Francis came to Auschwitz to reflect and to remember…
to remember what the world must never forget…

Yet like all of us who claim Jesus as our Savior,
that Savior who, when nailed to a cross, lifted
his face toward Heaven and asked His father to forgive…
to forgive those who knew not what they were doing…

to forgive us…all of us…
over and over and over…
for our egregious sins…
sins that are unfathomable,
sins that are horrid,
sins that are unspeakable,
sins that are unthinkable,
sins that are inhumane….

All of which leaves us…you, me, the Pope…
charged with that same living and dying example…
to forgive…to forgive those who have sinned against us,
just as we have sinned against others…

It is the most difficult and challenging action of the human ego…

Seventy-five years ago, when Francis was a four-year-old boy
called Jorge living in Buenos Aires,
this cell at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp was occupied by prisoner number 16770,
Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar.

When 10 fellow inmates were selected to die in punishment for the escape of another prisoner,
Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered his life instead of that of Franciszek Gajowniczek,
who had cried out in anguish for his wife and children. Kolbe’s offer was accepted.
He was thrown into the starvation bunker for two weeks and finally given a
lethal injection on 14 August 1941.

The pope came to Auschwitz on Friday to pray in silent memory of Kolbe and the
other 1.1m people the Nazis exterminated there. Jews made up the vast majority-
960,000, including 185,000 children–
but thousands of Polish Catholics, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war were also put to death.

He had signaled his intention to visit the memorial “without speeches, without crowds”.
His simple plan was:
“Alone,
enter,
pray.
And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

In the shadows of the cell, his long silence was an eloquent tribute to the suffering of so many and a profound condemnation of evil.
At the end of his prayers, he raised his head, crossed himself,
stood and left.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/29/no-words-as-pope-francis-visits-auschwitz-death-camp-in-silence

“Lord, have pity on your people.
Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Pope Francis

The conundrum

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”
Leo Tolstoy

“He is fond of enigmas, of conundrums, of hieroglyphics; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension preternatural. His results, brought about by the very soul and essence of method, have, in truth, the whole air of intuition.”
Edgar Allen Poe

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(an ancient wall to St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“We live in dangerous times…”

And yet what individual, throughout the course of humankind, has not waxed the same morose sentiment?
Has not our history on this planet been steeped in danger…albeit it primarily of our own making?

Today is no different than of perilous ages past.

Having read several articles in recent weeks, with the latest being today while perusing the BBC, as well as The Guardian, I have noted with rising alarm the palpable fear amongst many French Jews, most recently of those living in the southern port city of Marseille—France’s 2nd largest city that has the second largest French Jewish population after Paris.

In recent years many of France’s cities have seen a wave of rising violence, with many of the incidents directed toward French Jews. Marseille is the latest city in a long list of cities to witness attacks directed at her Jewish population with the most recent being carried out by a machete wielding 15 year old Kurdish Muslim boy against a male Jewish teacher. The boy, who succeeded in slashing the man’s back and arms, when apprehended lamented his shame in having failed at killing the teacher but was proud of his attempt. A student with good grades and a stable family who had come to France 5 years ago with his family from Turkey proclaimed that he had acted in the name of Allah and IS.

Such recent attacks have prompted French Jewish leaders to issue warnings to those men who choose to wear the traditional kippa, otherwise known as a skullcap. A telltale distinct indication of a more devout Jew.

France lives with the painful memory of the dark days of WWII when a compliant French government agreed to the Nazi “request” of rounding up and deporting her Jewish population–who were to be “interred” at “detention centers” (aka death camps) in Germany and Poland. More than 75,000 Jews were shipped out of France.
Victims of Hitler’s final solution.

It is with both troubled hearts and minds that leading Rabbis are making the request of the hiding of one’s identity as a means of safety and actual survival… as such warnings bring back the traumatic memories of events from those terribly troubling days of the Holocaust.
With insanity seemingly having returned, as once again Jews must hide being jewish.

see the full articles here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35445025

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/13/teenager-to-appear-in-court-over-marseille-jewish-teacher-attack

I don’t know whether to be mad and angry or simply resigned and sad.

I know that at times, throughout some of my travels within this world of ours, I have found myself dropping the cross that I wear around my neck, never one to take it off, down into my shirt as to discreetly conceal the fact that I am a Christian as the area I may be finding myself is known for being “hostile” towards Christians.

Yet I question myself as to why do I find it necessary to hide the fact that I am a Christian.
Just as the Marseille Jews now believe it is a matter of safety and survival to hide the fact that they are indeed Jews.

Do I want to live in a world where I have to hide those small things of my faith that speak to my devotion…?
Be it a necklace, a head covering, a skullcap, a prayer rope…

I find it a bit ironic that Muslim women, who by French Law have been banned from wearing the burqa, the full head and face covering, are currently being defiant by wearing them anyway.
When in Paris just shortly after this law went into effect, I can remember almost coming unglued passing Muslim women on the street who were defying the law by blatantly wearing the full covering. Being a stickler for the law, I was mad at the blatant show of defiance and disrespect for the law, as well as the country of France, with the thought that if you want to live by Muslim law, live in a Muslim country.
It should be noted that the law is indeed a safety issue as terrorists, even males, have been known to hide underneath the cloak hiding suicide bombs.

In our western society we are accustomed to seeing the faces of those people who we pass on the street, sit alongside on the tram as well as conduct daily business with. Those who hide their entire face could be hiding so much more than simply adhering to strict Muslim law by not being visible in public.
Muslim women may still cover their heads and bodies, all but their faces.
Yet many continue to take a defiant stance to the law, with oddly little to no repercussions.

Muslim defiance verses Jewish and Christian fear….hummmmm

As a Christian I am keenly aware of my historical relationship to the Jewish people.
My Savior just so happens to have been a very devout Jew who some historians even believe to have been of the more Orthodox branch, a Hasidic Jew.
I for one have never blamed Jews, as some throughout history erroneously have, for having been complicit in Jesus’s death. I find that to be a ridiculous thought as such is clearly steeped in ignorance of the history and time period.

I am also very aware of God’s special bond with the Jewish people. The Jews are indeed God’s chosen as is the land of Israel.
I am merely a child by adoption and Grace.

I am also an ardent believer that God has stated that He will show no favor to those who do not honor his children or the land of their ancestors.

All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:11-13

I am therefore torn with this whole idea of being bold in one’s faith as opposed to being safe by hiding any visible signs or identification…
Should not my life be a reflection and witness to that very faith?
Wearing a cross around my neck, small and not large and gaudy as has become sadly the fashion trend in the hiphop culture, but rather a small tangible bond, as well as a symbol, of being marked as Christ’s…

Yet I can understand parents worries as they send their children off to school or simply out in public wondering whether or not they will be targeted for wearing the kippa or a cross? Will they be victimized for praying the rosary or reading a bible?

Here in the States there has been the occasional story of the business or governmental agencies that have banned all employees from wearing any religious symbols…a cross or star of David…
Sadly as this country of mine wrestles with itself over separating itself from any reminder of faith…
Where is the honoring in that I wonder…..

Yes, we are sadly living in troubling times and those of us who wish to profess or save our faith are indeed in a bit of a conundrum….

“The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded.”
C.S. Lewis

Snowbirds

A snowbird is someone from the U.S. Northeast, U.S. Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or Canada who spends a large portion of winter in warmer locales such as California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt region of the southern and southwest United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.
Snowbirds are typically retirees who wish to avoid the snow and cold temperatures of northern winter, but maintain ties with family and friends by staying there the rest of the year.

(a lovely Wikipedia explanation)

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(watering time out back for the three snowbirds)

Meet the snowbirds:
One kumquat tree, which just might just have an identity crisis as there is question as to whether or not it might just be a calamondin tree.
One recovering meyer lemon tree—recovering not from addiction but rather from a near death experience.
And a bare naked small peach tree.

This threesome is “over wintering” in my basement. Do you recall the post back in September “Don’t you know this isn’t southern California?” The post in which I was near sheer panic due to the fact that the kumquat / calamondin tree had really big nice round green fruit and that in just a few short weeks the first frosts of the season would be upon us?

And as fate would have it, those pretty little green orbs were not about to change before the frost hit—therefore sending me and the trees on a wild race of transportation down to the depths of the basement. Ever tried lifting giant potted trees into the back of a small trailer which is pulled by a Four wheeler, then lowering them down on mini dollies all in order to “roll” the trees inside for the duration of winter? Do you know what a hernia happens to feel like?!

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Well today was a lucky day for these little winter birds—the temperatures were such today that the trees could actually be rolled outside for a bit of much needed fresh air, a good hose watering minus the watering can, as well as the pleasure of actually enjoying a little bit of warming sunshine. According to the forecast, I think it’s safe for them to remain outside until later in the week—when freezing temps return. Boo hiss—please remind me to bring them back inside!

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All of today’s in and out business has made me mindful of the importance the sun plays for all of us living creatures. Not only will a little time outside, in the sun and fresh air, be beneficial for my little trees, it is certainly beneficial to me and my own winter blue mood. There is much truth about this sun business, especially for those who suffer from S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Be it a very real Vitamin D deficiency or simply the blue mood feeling of a tinge of depression that you just can’t put your finger on or pin point exactly why. . .
A lack of sun and fresh air is vital to the well being of most living creatures–with the exception being, perhaps, the naked mole rat, but I digress.

Nowhere else do we see the important role sunlight plays in our lives more poignantly acknowledged than in the small Norwegian town of Rjukan. A small town similar to other small towns worldwide but it is here in Rjukan where the mayor worries over the overt paleness of the town’s children.

For more than half the year, the 3400 residents of this small town, nestled deeply in the Scandinavian mountains, are without any direct sunlight as the sun rays are blocked by the tall lumbering mountains. Day in and day out the residents of Rjukan live literally in the shadows.
If townsfolk want to see and feel the sun, traveling out of town is the only remedy.

It wasn’t until 3 large reflective mirrors were installed that the residents of Rijukan realized just how much they’ve missed the sun. As the reflective mirrors redirect sunlight down onto the town’s central square, residents have noted how much they are not only warmed physically, but more importantly they are “mentally warmed.” There is even a YouTube news spot showcasing how the mirrors work—

But to me, what is notably telling about how well the mirrors are working is most strikingly observed by how local residents are now congregating in the square just to sit, feeling the sun warming their faces—relishing in the simple act of enjoying the sun which so many of us take for granted. Young mothers now push baby carriages into the sunny area of the square as older couples come to just sit together basking in the warmth as they rekindle their own warm memories. . . all while the sun beckons the weary eyed individuals to come find a warm spot of color in the otherwise grey world of shadows.
(here is a copy of an article appearing in The Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/06/rjukan-sun-norway-town-mirrors )

So if you’re finding yourself a bit out of sorts, feeling overwhelmed by this never ending winter of snow and ice or if you simply feel as if you’re living too deeply in the shadows. . .take heart— remember the sun will shine again, there will be warm days ahead and if all else fails. . .find a sunny spot, turn your face skyward and soak in a little vitamin D.

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Fruits of my labors, still gathering kumquats / calamondins in February!! Crazy tree!!!