“provoke to love and good works”

Here also is security for the welfare and renown of a commonwealth;
for no state is perfectly established and preserved otherwise than on the
foundation and by the bond of faith and of firm concord,
when the highest and truest common good, namely, God, is loved by all,
and men love each other in Him without dissimulation,
because they love one another for His sake from whom they cannot disguise
the real character of their love

St Augustine


(poor example of spontaneous note taking / Julie Cook / 2018)

Well….
it happened that before I could elaborate on last week’s video offering
by the Scottish pastor David Robertson..that being a video posting from his
Wee Flea Blog and the SOLAS conference talk given in 2010—
during the course of the weekend here came another posting.

It seems our Wee Flea friend is faster at offering tasty morsels than I am at
digesting them and then in turn sharing the nourishment of the morsel with you…..

This time the posting is from a 2013 SOLAS conference which focuses on education
and the poor.

Very powerful, sobering and collar grabbing kind of stuff.

And well, you didn’t think a retired educator, a Christian retired educator,
one who taught for 31 years in the secular public educational system of the
United States could actually pass over such a tempting morsel without stopping
to take it all in did you??

Despite this latest SOLAS (remember Gaelic for Light) offering running for
nearly an hour…I couldn’t let it pass without giving it my undivided attention.

During last week’s video offering, I wrote down two quotes of David’s…

“When you remove Christianity from a country, [its] education declines”

“Secularism doesn’t educate you—it dumbs you down.”

I was struck by both of those statements.

And as I am also a faithful reader of Citizen Tom’s blog (https://citizentom.com)
as Tom often points out the dire and dismal state of the educational system in the
United States, I knew these two statements were indeed onto something….

And before I could properly digest and share my copious note taking from the previous
posting, here came this latest posting over the weekend.

My weekend was such that I had to put off watching this particular video until
this Monday morning when I could carve out an hour’s time…
in order to properly sort things out.
Yet on top of just watching the video, came the sorting of the notes and then the
turning around and offering to you a proper post regarding David’s talk…

So now picture me holding my hands to my head in a bit of a tizzy while visions of the
National Football Championship dance dizzily around my head…
There are homemade cookies and homemade pizza preparations to get underway all
for this evening’s big game festivities…..GO DAWGS…while my head was still
swirling with what I’d gleaned from David’s talk.
(well, I wrote this before the big game obviously—now, we won’t talk about it)

But back to the SOLAS clip….

Do yourself another favor—carve out the time to watch this.
Especially if you are a teacher, have children or grandchildren who attend schools
or are simply worried about our youth and their future…..

You should note however when watching the video that there is one huge difference
between the educational system in Scotland verses the educational system
in the United States.
The educational system in Scotland is considered a state Christian System by law
verses our very separate and secular school system in the US.

But the message remains the same—as there is a growing gap between rich and poor
in educational opportunities in both of our nations.

David noted an example….
The more affluent families can easily afford after school and out of school tutors.
Whereas a finer tutor, say in London, might fetch 400 pounds an hour—
such a tutor in Dundee, Scotland might command only 15 pounds an hour—
but no matter, as both kids, be it from London or Dundee, those who can afford a
tutor already have a step up the ladder from those disadvantaged kids from lower
income families who can’t afford any sort of tutor….

If you’ve never heard of Thomas Guthrie, it’s worth clicking on the following link for
a bit of background on a man whose life has played a rich part of the
educational system in Scotland other than that of John Knox himself who boldly
stated that “wherever there is a church, there shall be a school.”

https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1801-1900/reformer-thomas-guthrie-11630341.html

Guthrie (1803-1873), a man who studied to become a doctor but became, upon graduating college, a minister instead held as his mission statement…
regarding those he ministered to in Scotland, that education was essential to saving
the less fortunate from a life of ignorance, squalor, disease, idleness and poverty.

He saw that education and learning were the keys to opening doors and turning away
from the vicious cycles of hunger, alcoholism, crime and poverty that was rife
within the families of the poor and disadvantaged…
Guthrie therefore petitioned Parliament to make compulsory education mandatory
in order to help save the children and future children from an assumed destiny
of misery.

Yet Guthrie maintained that such an education had to have Christianity as its root.
How else would morality anchor itself within society.
As we bewildered watch the secular movement today creating its “social engineering”
of the masses.

The physical threshold of each school Guthrie founded was to be fashioned with the
carving of an open Bible with the motto written, “Search the Scriptures”

Yet David notes that there will always be secular resistance as the secular world
pushes ever closer to ultimately having a society without God.
However David holds firm to the notion that without Christianity,
we will destroy Education….
***and in turn destroy our civilization…
(*** my 2 cents)

And David presents this polestar thought with laser precision in this talk.

David admonishes us all…those of us who confess the Faith of Jesus Christ…
that as Christians it is our moral obligation that we should be making education
and our schools a top priority…be it here in the States or there in Scotland.

Yet I don’t see that happening here anytime soon.

He reminds each of us not to simply leave it to the schools to educate our kids
as to what is a Christian worldview—but it is up to us…us being the ones who need
to chiefly see to that responsibility.

And I dare say, that most of us have grown rather complacent here in the States.
The upper tier pay exorbitant yearly fees to upper crust schools for a
private education, that even though some of the private institutions claim a church denomination’s backing…as I dare ask is that a worldly looking denomination???

Leaving everyone else to the charge of the state and federally funded school
systems—schools, many of which, are woefully lacking and are stymied in
their ability to lay a moralistic foundation…due greatly in part to the fact that
we have erased our Christian heritage from the very system our founding fathers state
as being an important component to the fledgling new nation’s growth and development.

Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.
Proverbs 4:13

chasing monsters

“We are each other’s harvest;
we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Gwendolyn Brooks


(the setting sun in a western Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2017)

Like most folks I imagine, here on the east coast, I awoke yesterday to learn that a horrific tragedy had unfolded while I had slept..taking place out west.
In Las Vegas to be exact.

Shock, disbelief, raw and numb…
were just a few of the words used to describe my initial bleary eyed
reaction.

Readying for the day I gravitated between the television and my phone just
trying to glean the latest news coming in as I tried making sense of what
I was hearing, reading and seeing.

My son and I had a day of traveling on our agenda so once in the car, with me driving,
he pulled up the local Atlanta Channel 2 Action New’s live feed so we’d be able to
see and hear the President address the nation.

All I could think about was here was one more president coming before a somber Nation,
once again, to offer words of solace and comfort in the face of madness.
How many times has Trump already done this?
How many times had President Obama done this?
How many times had President Bush……

Below the streaming live feed my son kept watching and reading the scrolling comments
coming into the station from its viewers. He read some of these to me….
and I was sickeningly appalled at the words he shared.

There were no words of bereavement, no words of sorrow but rather words and feelings
from viewers expressing disdain and mockery.

From disgusting, vile and derogatory remarks about the President and his family to the
notion that this latest massacre equated to mere payback to whites….
I was quickly reminded why I shun social media.

One viewer finally expressing what I was feeling—“is there a way in which I can turn
off these terribly offensive and insensitive comments and just listen to the President?”

My son turned his phone off as the comments were simply too distracting…
too inhumane really, too monstrous…so we continued our drive mostly in silence as our minds worked to absorb the enormity of these latest events.

Later in the afternoon, as I finally made my return journey home alone,
I did something I normally don’t do while driving…I turned on the radio to the news.
I usually prefer to drive in silence, lost in my own thoughts sans any music or chatter..
but today was different… I wanted to hear and feel what the Nation, my Nation,
was experiencing.

I caught the live press briefing from the White House.

There is a big difference when listening to something verses watching it—

With the visual imagery being non existent, the words take on more of their true
intended purpose.

The White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, came to the podium and offered words of both sorrow and condolence.

She began the briefing by talking about Puerto Rico and The US Virgin Islands and of the ongoing efforts to offer the necessary aid and support to help in the recovery efforts
for these islands following the deadly assault by the hurricanes.

Next her voice began to waver and crack as she began to speak about our common bond
as Americans and the unity of our shared humanity.

She addressed the current unfolding events coming out of Las Vegas.
She shared the various stories of the heroic acts offered during the melee.
The selfless sacrifices freely offered from stranger to stranger throughout the
surreal shooting.
The stories of those who offered their own bodies as shields in an attempt to protect others.
Such acts she noted recalled the verse John 15:13….
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Once finished she turned the remaining time over to the gathered reporters fielding their questions.

I don’t know.

One would think that the heaviness felt from this emotional observation would have been enough to take the wind out of the sails of that most caustic room of reporters.
One would have thought the enormity of what had recently unfolded, just as it continued
to unfold, would have been enough to soften even the most callous and anti-Trump
reporter. One would think, that while our Nation was currently experiencing a tragedy
of epic proportion, it would be reason or should and would be reason enough to have a quieting effect…
but it didn’t.

They did wait until the second question however before falling into their typical
patterns.
The questions began immediately over gun control.

Ms Sanders quickly reminded those in the room that this was a time of National
reflection, National mourning, a time of coming together in our collective
sorrow all the while as the investigation was currently active—it was all too fresh,
too raw and it was NOT the time nor the place to begin the questioning of or for
revisiting policy decisions or for the attacking of a president….the tit for tat of typical partisan politics.

And yet question after question, reporter after reporter began the litany…
There were those who pushed Hillary Clinton to the forefront of conversation with her
less than sympathetic knee jerk tweets regarding the NRA, there were those who revisited the President’s comments from 12 years ago regarding gun control….
on and on they went.

It all reminded me of a friend of mine who just won’t ever take to hearing the word
“no” for an answer.
She’ll turn and twit her query ever so until she gets the answer she wants to hear…
and that’s what this Q & A reminded me of—-someone determined not to hear the word or words “no” or “not now” as they turned and twisted their words over and over,
again and again as they desperately worked to have their affirmative moment…

And yet time and time again, Ms Sanders stoically redirected the focus to the current moment—
to the pain we are all experiencing….not to the what ifs, not to the would haves,
nor to the should haves….

I think I would have just thrown my hands in the air and walked away.
They just didn’t get it—they didn’t get that this is not the time nor the place….

There is however a time and a place…
but today, right now, was / is not that time nor that place for bickering over policies
failed or not. It is not the day to point the fingers.
It is not the day to be accusatory.
It is not a day of politics.
Not the time nor the place for right or left or anarchist…

For today is the day we sort through the shock as we allow ourselves to grieve.
Today is the day we mourn the lives lost and the lives forever changed.
We allow the pain and yes we even allow the anger…
As we mourn another lost piece to the puzzle of our American innocence.
As we digest that life once again, will never be the same as we knew it.

Yet as a Nation, we seem to have forgotten to allow ourselves our own grief.
The press leads the way, our politicians follow suit as now an angry and hate
filled Nation begins the ugly rhetoric.

Did we better grieve or mourn more honestly before this social media of ours—

Before the distractions and the million of tiny soap boxes we each now
climb upon offering up our hateful and accusatory 2 cents as if anyone is really listening…

When was it exactly that we became this way…?

I ponder these thoughts as I hear of the gut wrenching yet heroic tales of selflessness
offered from stranger to stanger—
sheltering, protecting, offering aid to strangers in the crowd… each
caught in the middle of a nightmare.

As a Nation we must allow ourselves time as well as permission for our collective
sorrow, for the shock, for the disbelief and for our own very humanness…
rather than heeding the call by those now jaded and who have forgotten that we are
more than right, more than left, more than anarchist…eschewing their cries in the meida or on social media to gather the pitchforks in pursuit of the monster—
because in our haste, we might just be chasing after the wrong monster…

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort
and relieve your sick servants, and give your power
of healing to those who minister to their needs,
that those for whom our prayers are offered may be
strengthened in their weakness and have confidence
in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Come thou long expected….

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear
a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly
waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28


(Cross outside Drumcliffe Parish Church, County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Our son, daughter-n-law and grand dog have all come to stay with us as a good
portion of Atlanta has been in the dark since Irma’s visit.

Atlanta is the type of city where they say a squirrel never has to touch the ground.
The trees are old and plentiful…which is such a huge part of the city’s charm and beauty, but is also a grave trouble during storms…
be it hurricanes, tornados or ice storms.

A tree fell on a neighboring street, taking out a transformer and so therefore we
now have company.

As I was busy in the kitchen last evening, I caught a bit of an interview with Bill
Bennett, otherwise known as Willian Bennett, the former Secretary of Education under
President Ronald Reagan.

I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Bennett’s sound wisdom.

Mr. Bennett was being asked about the growing violence currently coming from
the group Antifa…
A radicalized anarchist styled militant group that favors violence over anything
else as they claim to be fighting against fascism—
Yet the troubling issue at hand is that this group has decided the sitting
President of the United States is just such a person of just such a group and he,
as well as anyone who voted for him needs to be violently taken out….

Bennett notes that there is a growing and troubling support base for Antifa
now coming from a wide range of folks…
with post secondary educators being right in the middle of the mix.
While the latest vocal support is actually coming out of schools such
as Dartmouth college.

It seems this upper crust Ivy League school had a professor who had written a very
public letter expressing his support for Antifa, endorsing their violent tactics.
Dartmouth’s president in turn wrote a letter denouncing any such sweeping
support coming from his school for such groups as Antifa.

This in turn lead to a letter being signed by 100 faculty members who
expressed their support for not their College President but rather for Antifa
and the supporting professor.

And these are the very people educating our youth!!

Dejected, I turned my attention back to the dishes…
lost under the burden of thought.

Suddenly out of the blue I hear a long forgotten familiar tune…
and I’m the one humming it….

Come thou long expected Jesus….

Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
By: Charles Wesley

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Born your people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all-sufficient merit
Raise us to your glorious throne.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5574320618001/?playlist_id=5410209611001#sp=show-clips

shame healing

“I cry, I cry and I cry again…the religion of Christ, the true faith,
has fallen so low that it is an object of scorn not only to the devil
but to the Jews and Saracens and pagans…
these keep their law, as they believe it;
but we, intoxicated with the world, have deserted our law.”

Pope Gregory VII

Healing and miracles have been a mystery to men of all times.
To some, the phenomenon is frightening, while others find it exhilarating.

Mother Angelica

christ_pantocrator_mosaic_from_hagia_sophia_2240_x_3109_pixels_2-5_mb
Christ Pantocrator / Hagia Sophia / Istanbul,Turkey)

“Our nation will not know healing in any measure through the work of mutual shaming.
There is no life to be found in it, only anger, depression
and the continued darkening of our culture.
Only light gives life.
Creating is difficult, careful work.
Destruction is easy – child’s play.
Forgive those who do not deserve it.
Forgive before they ask.
Forgive as though it is Judgment Day and your own soul will be held to the scrutiny
you extend to others.
It’s ok.
You won’t lose anything through forgiveness.
In holding onto the shame of others you will only increase your own.
Speak kindness.
Be generous.
Set your prisoners free.
No more shame slaves.”

Fr.Stephen Freeman

Moral obligations

“Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
― Catherine of Siena

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Sigmund Freud

DSCN8599
(ornaments / Julie Cook / 2014)

Does the ability to be creative and expressive give license and free rein to the one being creative or expressive to work without limits, boundaries or parameters?

Does the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America state that freedom of speech, as well as what some equate to be the right of creative self expression, equate to the ability to say everything and anything about anyone and anything regardless of what may be said and as to how it may be said?

Does the “right” to free speech and what is interpreted as the freedom of creative expression, as is often considered to be a subcategory to the continuum of the concept of freedom of speech, bare any responsibility to what is therefore spoken or “created”?

Just because someone may believe that it is an inherent right to say and create what is believed to be funny and / or a parody and / or that which is offensive to others–does that “right” and freedom therefore make it ok to do so? —Even if it is making fun of or mocking another or what another finds important or sacred?
Does it make it ok if the one being mocked and made fun of is considered to be a bad person or not a nice person?

Such questions now swirl throughout this country following the hacking onslaught of Sony Pictures.

“Oh but sure, this is America (you now can heard saying)–we can say and do whatever we want about anybody we want whenever we want and we can do it in any fashion we so choose. We want to laugh so therefore we can make fun of whatever and whomever we so choose and pay good money doing so–because we can. Hey it’s ok, they’re the bad guys, so we can say whatever we want, right? And who cares if someone “over there” gets mad. This is American, we can and will do as we please.”

This of which now seems to be the sad battle cry of those who feel as if the gauntlet has been thrown down over Hollywood’s freedom of expression.

Perhaps there is more to this “right” and freedom business then just the sake of the “right”. . .
Might the idea of responsibility come attached to our rights and freedoms?
Might a moral responsibility to others not play a role?

Just because we can do and or say something, does that necessarily make it right?
Just because they’re “bad” does that make us better and therefore affording us the “freedom to say whatever we want when and how we want?

Yes, I agree. . .I’m mad. How dare they, whoever they are, or anyone for that matter, “hack” us (as in Sony, and all things Hollywood, now seem to represent everything we stand for as according to the news) with an insidious attempt to intimidate, threaten and cripple.
How dare they threaten us, or any other nation for that matter.
Of course we keep telling ourselves that we are America, therefore we are better than them, whoever “them” is, and we, as Americans, always take the high road on the world stage, right?
We are the good guys.
So how dare they do this to us.

Yet if we are supposedly the good guys and they, whoever they are, are the bad guys, does that not mean there should be some sort of moral approach associated with taking the proverbial high road and of being the good and better of the two?
So perhaps the making of movies that depict, albeit a tongue and cheek, assassination of a world leader, is not exactly taking the high road.
The movie is a parody yes.
Something made to poke fun of.
Not making any attempt to use any bit of “make believe” or masking of the true identity of the real country when creating the story line, allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions as to who was the intended subject, the script writers rather took the bold approach of straight up writing a farce about sending a couple of idiots to kill a real world leader, albeit a bad guy world leader.
Somehow I don’t see the humor in that.

The North Korean Government is indeed part of the bad guys on the world stage–there is no doubt about that, however making fun of them or any other evil leader and / or country in our movies, doesn’t seem to lessen their menacing regime and the very real threat they pose on a global scale—try getting South Korea to laugh as they live under the North’s bullying threats on a daily basis.

I fear Hollywood may have forgotten that there was never an ending to the Korean War, which was actually known as a police action, as there was merely a “cease fire”— which means, in the odd twisted mind of North Korea, they are still at war. . .and perhaps, like a hornets nest, it is not wise to take a stick to the nest, banging on it, antagonizing said hornets. Yet sadly we allow our bravado and ego to give courage to our taunting of the hornets.

A moral conscious obligation.

When we Americans learned of the harsh and perceived inhumane tactics conducted by our National Security and Intelligent communities towards our enemies, we were heard to shout “that is not us, we are better than that! This is America, we are the good guys!”

It seems as if we want to task our Government and Governmental Agencies with the responsibility of doing the “right” thing by others. . .yet. . .
should we also not also demand and task other aspects of our society with the same responsibility of a moral high ground? Such as our entertainment industry?
Humor is one thing but when it is cruel, invokes murder plots, underhandedness, lies. . .it seems to somehow lose the humor—especially when we think of the very real human lives which have been lost to this and other “evil” nations throughout the history of wars, tortures and captivity.

Are we not a nation tasked with setting the ultimate example of what it is to live in a nation steeped in democracy and the freedoms and liberties that come with that democracy? Should we not take such responsibility seriously and understand that being “free” comes with a moral obligation and deep responsibility not only to ourselves but to others around the globe? We are the standard bearer of democracy and what it is to live in a free nation— therefore we are expected to do the right thing by ourselves and others, respecting the mantle that has been placed upon our humbled shoulders.

Perhaps we need to reconsider what it means to lead and what it means to be a global example of freedom, remembering that with such gifts and “rights” come grave responsibility—not to do and say whatever we please rather sophomorically out of our arrogance or based upon ego but rather we are to be the example of living out an entrusted responsibility–one entrusted to us for over 200 years.

I rather think any Korean War veteran who fought, was wounded, or to those countless soldiers who lost their lives fighting, would ask that we remember what it is to be a part of this very nation, the country of freedom and democracy, the very things they fought and scarified everything for by setting an example to the rest of the world.

Sadly I know there are those who will argue that our ability to make such idiotic movies and to then see said idiotic movies is all a part of our rights and freedoms, of which I agree, saying that yes it is—but I also then say that just because we can doesn’t make it wise or right. May we be the examples who rise above petty humor and parody, who rise above ego and arrogance, as we take the high road being the example of responsibility to and with our freedoms and liberties.

Rights to entertainment or moral obligation, that’s the real question.