A prophetic voice… “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness”

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging
everything on earth-—imperfect man, who is never free of pride,
self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not
been noticed at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our
experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity
which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(image courtesy the web)

In 1970 Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature.
At the time, the Soviet State viewed Solzhenitsyn and his writings as both controversial and
threatening to the Communist State.
Thus Solzhenitsyn was prohibited from leaving the country in order to receive his award.

It wasn’t until four years later in 1974, after he was expelled from the USSR for treason,
only to find a new life in the United States, that Solzhenitsyn finally officially received
his award in person.

At the time the Swedish Academy noted that it was due to ‘the “ethical force” with which
he pursued the traditions of the Russian people,

which helped to lead the jury to bestow such an honor upon the Russian writer.

Even today, more than 100 years following Solzhenitsyn’s birth, he remains rather
an enigmatic personality.
In fact, Solzhenitsyn continues to be a controversial figure in both modern-day Russia along
with her alter ego the former Soviet Republic, as well as in the democratic West—
as he was vocally critical of both governing ideologies.

Yet I’ve often written about the importance of Solzhenitsyn and his prophetic words which remain
brilliantly relevant for those of us traversing this precarious 21st century.

In 1978 Solzhenitsyn had been invited to deliver the commencement speech at Harvard.

According to the Solzhenitsyn Center, “Solzhenitsyn’s June 8, 1978,
commencement address at Harvard was the most controversial and commented-upon
public speech he delivered during his twenty-year exile in the West,
for he critiqued the spiritual crisis of both East and West.

Solzhenitsyn is not without controversy as he was critical of both East and West…
and perhaps more so of the West as he saw in the West wasted hope.

But far from being inspired by hostility to the West,
Solzhenitsyn refuses to break faith with a civilization still capable of
drawing intellectual and spiritual sustenance from
“the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their rich reserves of mercy
and sacrifice.

Dialetika.org adds that “in that speech,
he criticizes the two central contending systems during the Cold War:
Communism and Western Capitalism.
His argument centers on what he calls “despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.”
The problem, according to Solzhenitsyn, lies in the predominance of these forces
at the base of all modern societies.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth —
imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity,
and dozens of other defects.
We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed
at the beginning of the journey.
On the way from the Renaissance to our days, we have enriched our experience,
but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain
our passions and our irresponsibility.”

If anyone knows the evils of Socialism, Communism, regimes run by the oh-so
sacred ‘state’, and a life lived in a labor death camp for voicing free-thinking and thought,
it is Solzhenitsyn.

In his award-winning book The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn’s non-fictional
and auto-biographical investigation into the survival of life inside a gulag,
a Soviet forced labor camp,
Peruvian Nobel laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa noted that through this book,
Solzhenitsyn is “the man who described hell to us.”

Solzhenitsyn’s words remain as a polestar…acting as both a warning and a guide—
Words that continue to warn and remind us about what it means for mankind to lose
his/ her humanness. Words that warn about the loss of morality.
Words that warn about man becoming his own god while both forgoing and failing to yield
to a power greater than his own.

It would behoove this Nation of ours to recall the words of Solzhenitsyn.
His observations and warnings over our own arrogance and smugness especially
as we find ourselves moving into the final steps towards our November election.

With a swarth of Democratic contenders dangerously courting and even embracing
all things Socialism, Americans must never forget the suffering of those who
lived through the nightmares produced by previous nations who also
courted and embraced Socialism.

Should we even wonder why a senator and his wife would opt for a honeymoon in the
USSR? Not Russia but Communist Soviet Union long before its fall?

Should we wonder if a young congresswoman really understands the concept between
democracy vs socialism and how each system effectively or ineffectively governs when
she says things like…“When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’
I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity
and our economic, social, and racial dignity.
It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over
their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

Should we be concerned when a US congresswoman questions that radical Isalm
is to blame for the attacks on 9/11 and simply thinks that “some people did
some things”?

Should we wonder when certain candidates promise to pay for everyone to go to college
while forgiving all existing student loans with money that simply doesn’t exist?

What when homelessness runs amuck? What of major US cities becoming dens for
crime and blatant drug abuse and where streets are considered unsafe both night and day?

What of free healthcare for all—who actually pays for free?

The list goes on and on…

So before you consider a dangerous dance with Green New Deals and the
new Socialistic state…you might want to recall the wisdom of those who actually
lived in, under and through such notions and saw them for what they really are
both dangerous and eventually destructive…

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them.
But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power —
he’s free again.

doves, hawks and the passage of time…

I guess my biggest failure was not getting re-elected.
And I learned two things; one is that you ought not to ever let
American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them.
I did the best I could, but I failed.

Jimmy Carter


(Prime Minister Chamberlain, upon his return to England on September 30, 1938,
holding the Munich agreement bearing his own and Adolf Hitler’s signatures.)

Are we the same world we were 82 years ago?

Obviously not.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

Did we learn anything from Neville Chamberlain’s pipedream of brokering peace with Hitler?
When voices, such as Winston Churchill, were those proverbial lone voices in the desert,
calling out and proclaiming the actual truth.
The world chose to ignore such truthful warnings…and the results were disastrous.

Neville Chamberlain was what some would call a dove—a person who would rather
negotiate or bargain before ever considering conflict or war.

Churchill is what some would call a hawk.
They thought him to be a rable-rouser and one to beat the drums of war.

Yet perhaps most preferred wearing the rose-colored glasses of the doves.
We wanted to ignore trouble.
We wanted to think others thought like us.
We wanted to believe that the words of other people mirrored our own.

Yet in the end, we learned the hard way.

What of 1979?

Are we the same America we were 41 years ago?

No.

But is that a bad thing you ask?

In many ways, I think that perhaps it is.

In 1976 we celebrated our bicentennial.
American pride and patriotism were both at their highest since WWII.

We had come out from under the heaviness of the Civil Rights movement as well
as the angst produced by the Vietnam war.
The Summer of Love had come and gone and people seemed to
be regaining their senses.

I was soon headed off to college.

I was a news junkie even back then, so that hasn’t changed.
My dad and his older brother were both news junkies up to the day they each died.
My memories of my grandfather, their father, is of his constantly reading the newspaper–
even when the family was gathered for weekend retreats at the family farm in North Georgia.

Current events, world happenings, foreign policy…have always been in my blood.


(political cartoon from 1979)

The above political cartoon, which is rather crass, is one I actually had in a
scrape book saved from college.
It was a current event of the times.
I also have several news articles and political photos in that scrape book…
Images of Menachem Begin, President Carter and Anwar Sadat all locking arms following
the longed awaited peace accord, as well as articles regarding the later assassination
of President Sadat.

I had deeply admired Sadat—

I had known how he had cut his teeth as a young Muslim soldier,
having been on an opposing side of the Allies during WWII.
Later he was a chief military leader bent on fighting Israel.
As the ranking Egyptian general turned President, he called for
the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

None of that should be things that would ever endear such a world leader
to the likes of someone like me but it was because of
those very things that mixed with the actions of his later life that
would indeed leave a lasting impression upon me.

He began what appeared to be odd strides to reach out to Christians—
both Evangelical and Catholic.
He had a vision and seemed to know what he had to do to make it work.

When he had come to visit the US in late 1975, he personally asked Billy Graham to come
meet with him. Later he reached out to the Vatican, inviting Pope Paul VI to visit Egypt.
He seemed to understand the importance of having Christian support when considering
making peace with Israel.

And it was that vision and desire for peace that eventually got him killed.

Back then in those late years of the ’70s, even my art produced in my classes focused on
what was happening in the Middle East.
It seems that way back then, I knew the importance of the West’s relationship
with the Middle East.

Being a history major for more than half of my college life,
I was more than aware of the importance of the Middle East dating back to the time
of the Crusades and as a Christian…well we all know about that link.

Last week, I wrote a post where I recalled the Iran Embassy Hostage Crisis.
It cost Jimmy Carter his re-election.

Iran seems to remain a thorn in our side.

Recently we’ve been witness to a rising crescendo, in oh so many months, from Iran—
They have been personally responsible for a multitude of US military deaths.
They have been very vocal in the rankling of anti-US rhetoric—
And now we have the recent attack by Iran on an embassy that was actually sitting in a
neighboring nation.
We have a precarious and deeply troubling relationship with what was once
considered the land of Persia.

And so I found it most interesting that just the other day, our friend the Wee Flea,
made an interesting prediction on his blog regarding the US and Iran…

Quantum 75 – Predictions for 2020

In the past, David’s Quantum 75 predictions have been pretty much on the money…
I somehow fear this one will also come to fruition.

In the link that David provides to the BBC article regarding US / Iranian relations,
I found the following quote telling given that it was offered days before the bomb strike
killing the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—

President Trump has threatened Iran after blaming it for Tuesday’s attack,
in which no US personnel were injured. Mr. Trump tweeted that Iran “will pay a very big price”
for any damage or loss of life. “This is not a warning, it is a threat,” he said.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded by saying the US “can’t do a damn thing”.
Anti-American sentiment was widespread in Iraq, he added.

The President later offered the following tweet after the storming of our
Embassy in Iraq by Iranian interlopers:

Replying to @realDonaldTrump
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost,
or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.
They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.
Happy New Year!

It appears the President kept good on his word.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50966958

The previous President and his administration paid what was, in essence, a ransom–
millions of dollars paid in cash money–primarily under wraps and done quickly.
It was an ill attempt at brokering, or more accurately buying, what was thought
to be peace.

And so we saw, and have now lived with the aftermath, of how futile that all was.

Thus we now have a President who has repeated his warnings.

He first opted for the usual route.

He applied sanctions.
He reached out.
He stated what would be acceptable and what would not.

Then there was an Embassy attack.

It was noted that one of the individuals pictured in the crowd of attackers
had actually visited the White House as a guest of the previous president, Barak Obama.

Since there was very credible intelligence gleaned for future attacks,
President Trump acted…turning his words into actions.
No more payments, no more appeasement.

It was now known that America will no longer play games at the cost of American lives…
despite many now arguing to the contrary.
They have on the rose-colored glasses.

Be you a dove or be you a hawk, you have a president who makes good on his promises.
He puts American interests first and foremost and he also understands that appeasement
does not work.
But that doesn’t mean things will be any less precarious or any less perilous.
For there will always be nations who will hate our ideologies.
Nations who will hate who we are.
Nations who hate what it is that we stand for

And the sad thing, or rather make that the frightening thing, is
that there are now many within our own nation who now join the hatred.

As Abraham Lincoln reminds us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

And so our prayers continue for the coming days, weeks, months and years.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors
you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:2-3

loving as God loves, no matter what…

We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ, by his incarnation,
his death and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange:
in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly,
so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely.
God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving,
with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness, and inexhaustible
patience that belong to the divine love.
It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that,
by virtue of God’s grace working in us
(if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments),
the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day
making them capable of loving as God loves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom


(St Sebastian tended by St. Irene / HT Brugghen/ 1625)

Bet you didn’t see the following story.

I hadn’t heard about it or seen anything about it either…
that is until I finally sat down, at the end of a long busy Friday, and decided to scan the
various news sites I usually scour to see what’s happening in the world.

Way down toward the bottom of one news site, following all the typical stories about
impeachment, elections to be, and entertainers talking about their sex lives,
was the headline :
ISIS savages behead a dozen Nigerian Christians at Christmas

We haven’t heard much regarding Daesh lately…
I think a few months back, the President basically proclaimed that ISIS was
pretty much toast.
Meaning they had been basically defeated…
That news was then hit with an exclamation point when the latest story broke of the
tracking down of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi and his subsequent taking
of his own life vs being caught.

Triumphant we all thought.

The scourage of the West, and particularly that of the Christian West,
had been defeated.
We need not fret or fear any longer.

Or so we were told and reassured.

Since the news media does not seem to think these sorts of stories
are significant or overtly worrisome…well, that in turn, worries me.

Over the years, since first blogging nearly 8 years ago, I’ve written so many posts about
the vicious attacks on Christians around the globe at the hands the likes of
Militant Islamic groups such as ISIS, Boku Haram, the Taliban, Abu Sayyaf,
Al-Shabaab et el—so much so that it makes my head spin.

Kidnappings, brutal rapes, the burning of villages, tortures, beheadings, bombings…

And it appears that there are strongholds that remain.

Chances are that these groups that hate all things Christian, Jewish and Western,
will always dwell among us…because much like the mythological beast, the hydra,
when one head is cut off, another remains or even grows back.

So as long as Islamic militants persist in building their armies of hate and murder,
and our leadership in the West continues to pretend that there is not a strategical
focus on destroying all things Christian…well, I will continue bringing awareness
to the globally conducted atrocities targeting the Christian faith.

Just like the days of the Roman persecutions, Christian martyrs continue
dying for the faith…
And the single difference between a Christain martyr and that of an Islamic martyr
is simple…it is the single matter of love vs hate…

ISIS released a video Thursday that purportedly shows militants in black masks beheading
10 blindfolded Christian men and shooting an 11th in Nigeria,
as part of a grisly campaign to avenge the deaths of its leader
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the group’s spokesman.

The militant group’s video was produced by its own so-called news agency, Amaq,
and was released the day after Christmas.
The 56-second video has Arabic captions but does not have audio.

In the video, ISIS soldiers wearing beige uniforms and black masks are lined up behind
the Christian men.
One captive in the middle is shot while the other 10 are pushed to the ground
and beheaded.
Not a lot of details were given about the victims other than they were male,
Christian and “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State.

In an earlier video seen by Reuters, the captaives pleaded for the
Christian Association of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to save them.

“We killed them as revenge for the killing of our leaders,
including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and (ISIS spokesman) Abul-Hasan al-Muhaiir,'”
said a member of the terror group’s media unit, according to journalist Ahmad Salkida,
who was first sent the video shot in an unidentified outdoor area.

In October, Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. raid on a compound in northwest Syria,
seven months after the so-called ISIS “caliphate” officially crumbled as the terrorist group
was defeated in its final swath of Syrian territory in March.

Raphael Gluck, the co-founder of Jihadoscope, which monitors online activity by Islamist extremists,
told Fox News that ISIS affiliates are rising across Africa – almost unchecked.

“We saw a terrible ambush of U.S. forces in Niger in 2017,
that played into ISIS propaganda for months and really put Africa in focus,
it has only grown in strength since,” he said.

Calls by Fox News to the Christian Association of Nigeria for comment were
not immediately returned.

Fox News’ Hollie McKay contributed to this report.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-beheads-christians-nigeria-baghdadi

don’t put a squashed pine cone in your mouth…

“the ‘task of the conscience’– a word of great value in Western civilization,
is to determine what that divine purpose is and then to live
it out irrespective of the cost”

observations about Pope John Paul by George Weigel
excerpt taken from The Divine Plan
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

The above image is a picture within a picture…or rather, it’s a still-shot from a video.
And the title is a quote I actually uttered yesterday…
as in, “DO NOT PUT THAT SQUASHED PINECONE IN YOUR MOUTH!!

However, that story will have to wait as I simply needed an
the attention-grabbing title today…
As in I wanted your full and undived attention.

I’ve been spending time with the Mayor and the new Sheriff the past several days,
helping out…and I hate that I’ve not even had the chance to share with you about their
charming encounter with the ocean…
But it seems as if the world has tilted just a bit further off her axis and has needed
a tad more of my attention than merely my chattering on as a doting grandmother
who’s droning on about her grandkids…

But first a quick word to the wise…it is not prudent nor is it wise to pick up a run over
and flattened pinecone and proceed to poke it into your mouth and then bite down…just saying.

But now to the matter at hand.

It seems that there has been a lot of talk as of late…here in the blogosphere, FB
(or so I’m told) as well as on various Christian media outlets about more and more
big-name Christians announcing their seemingly sudden withdrawal from the fold
so to speak.

As in there appears to be a slight uptick in the number of those recanting their faith
all in very public places and on very public platforms.

Odd to want to grandstand over losing one’s faith.
Opting to be vocal and in the spotlight rather than introspective, sad and
living the loss.

Or as IB so aptly noted the other day, in the words of the famous band out of
Athens, GA—REM—grandstanding over ‘Losing My Religion’…

And to be honest…not being one who runs in the evangelical or other
protestant denomination’s circles or one who keeps up with the current mega-church craze,
I can’t say that I’m familiar with many of these recently fallen sheep.

But as I’ve been reading…there is indeed a long, sad, public and very vocal fall
taking place.

I have, however, on the other hand, been a bit more focused on the sexual abuse scandal
rocking the Catholic Chruch as well as the naming of a few notable and now long deceased
Anglican priests whose names have been sullied by the same accusations.

And so as I look out over the horizon of our collective Christian faith—
our denominations far and wide, I can see Satan being very busy as work.

I’ve written about this so many times before that I think I must just be beating my head
against a brick wall but there is a divide and conquer mentality being applied to the
Christian fold and it is being applied fast and furious…
And the thing is… nobody seems to “get it”

I’ve also written that this is indeed a mad world—a mad mad world on so many levels.
Mad as in crazy nuts and mad as in viscerally angry.
We have troubles my friends and I do indeed fret for my darling grandchildren.

The slick lies that are being tossed about fast and loose as truth
from things such as children’s tv and music, to what defines a family, to
legalized murder in delivery rooms, all the way to the odd notion of fluid genders…
it is enough to make me want to grab up my babies and run and hide.

But we cannot hide.

We cannot ignore it any longer.
We cannot turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.

We are being spoon fed lies as truth.
Lies as legalized truth.

As a once overly zealous teen, when reading the stories of those early Christian martyrs in
places such as Rome and Judea, I would often imagine having been there and how I would have
hoped to have stood up so bravely as those countless men and women who suffered
grievously under torture, mutilation and even death—
suffered almost readily rather than giving in and recanting their faith.

Because their faith was precious.
It was dear.
It was sacred.

Today it seems to be more passe, victimized and tired.

And so when I read of these modern-day Christians recanting their faith
so flippantly and arrogantly, apologizing to the masses of those seemingly innocent souls
who they feel as if they had helped to lead astray, I am more than saddened, I am sickened.

For they have bought into the culture gods hook, line and sinker…
They are now the poster children of a hedonistic and self-absorbed culture…
selling a bad bag of goods to an innocent fold.

There are thousands around this world of ours who continue to die for the Christian faith.
They worship in secret and in whispered tones.
They live in places such as Russia, China, Africa, Myanmar, Yemen, Iran, Iraq…
They love Jesus and are willing to pay the ultimate price for that love.

Their worship is not easy nor is it easy to come by…
not as it is here in the West.

And yet here in the West, we too indeed suffer as well.
It’s just that we suffer on a quieter level.

Our suffering is on a more insidious level.
Our suffering is often more psychological than physical.

We are shunned, ridiculed, threatened with legal action and told we may not utter
the name of God or Jesus as we once did…
Words spoken, along with the right to speak those words, was simply taken for granted.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.
We’ve taken for granted the Precious and the Sacred.
We trivialized our God and made that which is Great, small.

And now Satan is working overtime.

Time is running out.
He knows this.

So, therefore, be not quiet.
Speak up and speak out.
Because it is a mad world…
in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways…

Reflections, thoughts and books


(one of the bronze dancing cherubs at the city cemetery Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

Recently, over on a fellow blogger’s site, I read a most wonderful post written
about our dear friend Dietrich Bonhoeffer…
The following passage jumped right off the page,
right at me as it spoke to me about faith and as it challenged me to consider
what type of faith do I actually possess….
inward or outward….

Faith does not look upon itself but takes hold of that which is outside
itself, Christ.
Bonhoeffer draws on a Latin phrase from an early period of Protestant dogmatics,
actus directus,
as distinguished from actus reflexus,
to characterize the nature of true faith.

The difference here is between a faith that attends to God,
entrusting itself to God to be watched over and kept,
versus a faith that is constantly concerned to oversee itself,
ensuring its own vitality.

For Bonhoeffer, this is a way finally of avoiding faith –
for like Peter in the sea of Galilee,
it takes its eyes off of the living Christ who is the source of our life.

This emphasis upon the outward direction of faith that lays hold of Christ
in pure intentionality,
in a kind of passive reception where the self is kept out,
structures much of Bonhoeffer’s later reflections on ethics.
While we do not see him returning to this phrase,
the concept remains operative.

excerpt from the blog post Freedom in Orthodoxy
http://freedominorthodoxy.blogspot.com/2017/07/bonhoeffer-and-role-of-moral-reflection.html

“A faith that attends to God…”

I looked up various synonyms for the word attend and found the word dwell
which I like here as it fits in perfectly…
it fits in such a way that it reminds us that our faith should be such that
we are to dwell in to God….to be a cohabitant within….

Verses a faith that attends to self….
and if we are to use the same word of “dwell” here,
then we are saying that it is a faith that dwells within self…
and somehow that does not sound like faith at all but mostly a self
centered inclination…something much along the lines of today’s culture of the
religion of self.

Bonhoeffer is reminding us that we must constantly work to strive to reach out of
self, out of ourselves…out to the living God…so that we may then, in turn,
dwell within Him and within Him alone…..

Then next, on the same day of perusing, I read another great post by our good
friend the Scottish Pastor David Robertson.
This time he was offering a two part reflection regarding a book that he
most recently read…a review of sorts that due to his often verbose ways, he
opted to review over a period of time.

The book is entitled The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray.

From all outward appearances Douglas Murray and David Robertson are probably polar
opposites of sorts and not exactly on the same page in life…
as Mr. Murray is an openly avowed homosexual as well as ardent Atheist and we know that Pastor David Robertson often writes about both topics…
as to why homosexuality and or atheism, from the Christian perspective,
are both wrong and sinful.

Yet Pastor Robertson read, enjoyed and whole heartedly agreed with Mr. Murray’s
observations regarding Europe and her mad dash to committing a ‘political suicide’
of sorts as she has forgotten,
or better yet recklessly thrown away with ardent abandon,
her Christian roots….

Replacing those long standing roots with a new religion…
that being the religion of humanism, materialism and human rights.
Because isn’t that what this has all become…
that for the majority part of the West, it is the religion of Human Rights…

In all the current melee, Europe is now lost as to what to do with the massive
Islamic influx that is currently and literally sweeping in with the tide….

One passage that Pastor Robertson highlights as brilliant on Murray’s part is the following observation:

in order to incorporate as large and wide number of people as possible it is
necessary to come up with a definition of inclusion that is as wide and
unobjectionable as possible.
If Europe is going to become a home for the world it must search for a
definition of itself that is wide enough to encompass the world.
This means that in the period before this aspiration collapses our values become
so wide as to become meaninglessly shallow.
So whereas European identity in the past could be attributed to highly specific,
not to mention philosophically and historically deep foundations
(the rule of law, the ethics derived from the continent’s history and philosophy),
today the ethics and belief of Europe—
indeed the identity and ideology of Europe–
have become about ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’ and
(most self abrogating of all) ‘diversity’.
Such shallow self definitions may get us through a few more years,
they have no chance at all being able to call on the deeper loyalties that
societies must be able to reach if they are going to survive for long.”
P.7

And I for one see that his observation is not merely a European problem
but rather an American dilemma as well as we are also striving to “redefine” who
and what America actually is and means…
trading our true foundation and founding principles for something vastly
other than…
something humanistic, materialistic and oh so smugly human rights oriented…
As one reviewer wrote about having read Mr Murray’s book and of the dismal
position the West seems to have taken over the current identity crisis…
as in it has no real answers or position because
“modern culture has little to offer a person other than entertainment.”

And it is here where the good pastor leaves us until he comes back for part 2
of his review.

In the meantime, I’ve put the book on my order list.

Here’s a link to Robertson’s full review post…

Douglas Murray – The Strange Death of Europe – Part One – Meaningless Shallowness

So I will leave us today with these various interesting thoughts—
thoughts on faith–inward and outward…
and thoughts on the West’s seemingly mad dash to Western Civilization’s demise…

a conflicting conundrum indeed….

Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
For everything in the world—-the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—-
comes not from the Father but from the world.
The world and its desires pass away,
but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John:15-17

Morality

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who,
in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

DSCN0271
(an empty sarcophagi deep within the bowels of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the cracks in our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall”

In his book, Winter is Coming
(Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped)
Garry Kasparov makes a compelling argument as to why it is dire that those of us in the West should be on our guard…as he truly believes the harsh reality of a very cold unbearable winter is soon to be falling upon our fragile democracy.

The single raised rampart of defense is to be morality.

“We need new, morality-based frameworks to confront the dictatorships in Russia and China now that they have so thoroughly become a part of our globalized world…
These frameworks and alliances must be based on moral principles, the only weapon the enemies of democracy cannot match.”

Yet, as I look around our western societies, I look very hard for what remains of a morale society.

Secularism has taken root and spread like a deadly poison weed…reaching deep within the fabric of society. Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa each observed that western societies now live, as well as embrace, a culture of death.
Even mainstream media reports on the self-centeredness and perpetual quest of all things materialistic and self gratifying within our millennials.

Morality has never been trendy, convenient nor chic.

Excuses are made as to way morality is so passé and out of step with a modern society.
Abortions, Gay unions, declining traditional marriages, rising divorce rates… all work at whittling away at the traditional family unit…the once true anchor and underpinning of a society’s morale fiber.
As today’s society is just too busy with its focus and quest of self fulfillment to be bothered by something as cliche and outdated as morale fiber.

With the current trend of FaceBook, social media, smart phones and all things technological vying for top god position, the quest for this hoped for champion of democracy is growing ever more difficult and elusive. Self satisfaction is raising the victory flag of satiation instead.

Warnings have been issued before to a slumbering world more interested in appeasement and the total denial of Truth….ending every time with deadly and grave consequences…
Things such as Truth, Morality and even God have each become victims in the endless quest of self…

Time is of the essence to heed these current warnings, once again, before we all begin to feel the icy reach of winter….

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

Turning point

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

DSCN8758
(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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