our confliction…

“Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

“History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.”
Zbigniew Brezezinski

As people of faith we learn to be bi-focal.
We look through the eyes of secular newsflashes,
and we look through the eyes of spiritual and theological discernment.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

Anytime a Western coalition is mounted against “the bad guys”…whomever
those bad guys may currently be…more and more questions abound…
more questions than there may be answers.

Maybe it’s because I grew up during the Vietnam war.
A horrific conflict and war where thousands were killed, maimed, scarred and lost…
leaving no clear win or victor.

The bad guys were still bad and we were left limping back home…
home to a Nation now divided…and still dividing as we speak.

For Christians, the notion of war is a tough call.

The Koran makes no bones about the allowance for war and killing.

Our faith, on the other hand, admonishes those who opt not to turn the other cheek
or refuse to offer the shirt when the tunic is first taken.

For the Believer there is an inner turmoil…a conflict of both faith and righteous indignation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pacifist German theologian, lived this turmoil.
It also lead him to the gallows.
A walk he took decidedly confident because he knew his faith secure.
He looked to the words and teachings of St Thomas Aquinas when he agreed to be a part of
an assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler.

The moral issue here is that of tyrannicide…
the killing of a tyrant, and specifically, the killing of a tyrant by a private
person for the common good.
Technically, there are two classes of tyrants: a tyrant by usurpation
(tyrannus in titulo), a ruler who has illegitimately seized power;
and a tyrant by oppression (tyrannus in regimine),
a ruler who wields power unjustly, oppressively, and arbitrarily.

The key conditions for a justifiable act of tyrannicide in this case include
that the killing be necessary to end the usurpation and restore legitimate authority;
that there is no higher authority available that is able and willing to depose the usurper;
and that there is no probability that the tyrannicide will result in even greater evil
than allowing the usurper to remain in power.

However, if the tyrant by oppression attacks the citizen,
jeopardizes the welfare of the community with the intent leading
it to destruction or killing the citizens, or commits other evils,
then a private citizen can morally commit an act
of justifiable tyrannicide.
Moreover, if because of the tyrant’s rule, a nation cannot defend itself,
is on the course of destruction, and has no lawful means to depose or to condemn the tyrant,
then a citizen may commit an act of justifiable tyrannicide.
Interestingly, many modern political philosophers would posit that a leader who abuses
power and has become tyrannical ipso facto loses legitimacy and becomes a usurper.

(Catholic Resource Education Center / Fr William Saunders)

(see the previous post:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/the-seeds-have-been-planted/)

And so it is with interest that I’ve read a couple of the most recent posts by our friend
Bishop Gavin Ashenden regarding his feelings and thoughts about the coalition attack
on Syria.

The necessity, the truth, the need, the deception, the compassion, the empathy,
the indignation is each woven into the fabric of our confliction as human beings.

The conflict between right and wrong, defending the undefended, the truth versus
the deception…
that which is right versus that which is wrong,
the need for freedom versus the oppression of tyranny…

What are our roles, our responsibilities, our culpability…

The good Bishop offers one more perspective, one more layer to the fabric we
Christians continue to weave…

Do I agree with his doubts, his concerns, his pointed questions?

I think his questions lead us all to a place of asking even more questions.

Yet the real question found in the Bishop’s concern is simply leading us back to wondering
where the real true answers rest…

So Syria has been much in the news.
But to the community of faith, Syria is not just a place.
It is both a birthplace, and an end-place.
Theologically, for Christians it is the birth place of the Church.
It is the place where in Antioch, we first became known as Christians (Acts 11.26);
for Muslims the place at the end of time, the apocalypse.
This dual identity lies at the heart of the present secular conflict and how we unders
tand it.

And yet, it is clear in geo-political terms that what is taking place in Syria
is a proxy war fought over future energy sources and types of Islamic hegemony
between Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other.
The opposition to Assad was not a plea for regime change by democratic Syrians,
but an attempt to remove a non-Muslim ruler and replace him with a Muslim regime by
Saudi backed terrorist groups.
Twice now chemical attacks have been attributed to the Assad regime with the
immediate effect of inducing in the West a moral indignation that led to a call
for bombing the Assad regime.
But though the video footage was provocatively emotive, the hard evidence that laid a trail
back to Assad was always just missing.

Syria and the Western Christian conscience.

lest we never forget….

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke (or George Santayana depending on what sources you read)


(image courtesory the Buffalo News)

I’m pretty much a creature of habit—and I suppose I’ve turned my husband into one as well…
That being for either good or bad…well…the jury is still out on that.

Yet for the majority of our marriage,
we have been pretty much ritualistic in our daily routines.

When I was teaching, I almost always beat my husband home from work.
That was if I wasn’t having to taxi our son someplace following school or stay at meetings
longer than expected.

Once home, hot tea steeping, I’d usually start supper shortly upon arrival home
and we’d eat not long after my husband got home around 7PM or so…

And this was always just in time for the national news.

We’d flip on the news in the den as we’d be having supper in the kitchen—
If something big had happened in the world, we’d then usually balance plates on our laps
as we’d eat while watching the latest world crisis unfold.

I’m not a huge ‘television in every room’ sort of person but growing up,
my dad, on the other hand, was an all-out electronic junkie…
something about being an engineer I suppose.
So growing up, when smaller televisions hit the market, my dad bought one for our kitchen…
along with one in the den and one for everyone’s bedroom…he was overzealous.

So every night while I was growing up, Huntley and Brinkley joined our evening supper table.

This was during the time of the war in Vietnam, so there was always news of the war and the
ensuing protests here at home…and of course,
there were those other stories of life in Washington and news on the president…

News was always current, crucial and informative…delivered by near emotionless professional
individuals who would occasionally smoke on air, as in everyone smoked back then…
including my mom…but that’s another tale for another day.

This was how we learned all about what was going on in the world,
all from the nightly news—as there were no other news outlets other than the newspapers…
None of this current day 24/7 madness.
No breaking alerts emanating from cell phones or computers because there
weren’t any cell phones or home computers…thank the Lord.

And so I offer this little walk down memory lane because my husband and I have happily
given up watching any sort of network national news.
Something about falsehoods and bias….but I digress.

And so the other evening when my husband got in from work,
while I was still putting the finishing touches to supper,
he flipped on the television and there was some sort of war documentary currently airing…
of which was dealing with the war in the Pacific and how we obviously eventually won that fight.
I suppose this was the last channel that the television had been on the night prior.

We opted to keep it on this channel—that being AHC—American Hero Channel—which I
had assumed was just some sort of history type of channel…
that was until I looked up the full name.
Following the show about the War in the Pacific, there was a series of hour-long segments
regarding the war in Europe–with a focus on Stalin and the relationship he had with Churchill,
FDR and later Truman.

The show featured declassified information that wasn’t known, let alone made public,
until after the fall of Communism.
And might I just say, as I’ve said it before, it’s a wonder any of us are even here…
let alone speaking either German or even Russian.

I spent three hours after having finished the dishes watching 3 back to back segments.
Because I was hooked as it was an excellent and thorough history lesson.

I learned more than what I had already known…and I do consider myself well read
when it comes to World War II.

I say all of this because I am once again keenly reminded of the history of what once
was in this fractious world of ours, and where we, as a global community, were back then
once upon a time, and as to where we currently are now and just how hard it was for us
to actually get from there to here…
and I just don’t think this current world of ours, this postmodern, post-Christian
world…gets it.

History, especially that of our Western Civilization history,
is a subject most students will roll their eyes over.
It is also a history that is frighteningly being altered and neutered due to
the current society’s obsession with triggers, homosexual and transgender frenzies,
a fanatically growing feminism, and its distaste for a Nation’s past growing pains
along with the struggles the Nation faces while attempting to find pride in the knowledge
of who that Nation once was.

I worry that our youth will soon forget or cease caring about what was, concentrating instead
on what is or what will be as they have deemed what was as  simply being bad…

And so in reading the story of Edith Fox, I am reminded that I am not alone in wanting
the story of what was, to never be forgotten.

Yet Edith’s story is a horrific story…a story one might imagine anyone who experienced it
would want to forget…
Yet Edith knows that as horrible as her story was, remaining silent and forgetting it would be
even worse…

Edith’s tattooed number on her now 90-year-old arm has long faded, but the memory of her life
spent in Auschwitz is still as startlingly clear as it was when she was taken prisoner
as a young teen.

Please click on the link for her story, as she does not want either you or me to ever forget.

http://buffalonews.com/2018/01/27/holocaust-survivor-breaks-decades-long-silence-to-share-her-horrific-story/

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction,
that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

No ifs

“Everything in this life passes away–
only God remains, only He is worth struggling towards.
We have a choice:
to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us,
and thereby find ourselves outside of God;
or…
to choose the way of life,
to choose God Who calls us and for Whom our heart is searching.”

Seraphim Rose

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(remembering blooms / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Don’t say it Corrie!
There are no if’s in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety—-
Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!”

(Betsie ten Boom to her sister Corrie during the German occupation in Holland)

Laying awake each night now at 3AM, my mind shifts back and forth between Dad
and to the current unrest sweeping this Nation of ours.

I lay there wondering if this will be the night that the phone will ring commanding me
to hurry to Atlanta.

Trying not to think about that,
trying to settle the rising nervousness,
I shift my thoughts to
what is currently taking place in and around the country…
as I have a growing sense of real concern.

I had grown up during the Vietnam War…during the Civil Rights movements,
all the while, having grown up in the South for heaven’s sake…
I know all about news and trauma…
bad news, troubling news…
complete with its pictures and individual stories…

But this is now all different…
this is not a war weary Nation,
this is not a Nation learning how to be both black and white…

No, this is not ‘that’ Nation…

Rather this is an angry Nation….
angry for all the wrong reasons….

So I found myself now turning to read a story that I had known about for most of my life
as the book was first published in 1971. I should have read this in high school or
even college but for some reason, I never did…

It is Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’
The story about an unassuming 50 some odd year old Dutch Reformist spinster’s
work with the Dutch underground’s resistance against the Nazi juggernaut…

A story I knew but for whatever reason had yet to read.

I began the book about a month ago.
Reading a page or two each evening…as much as I could muster after spending
each day with Dad.
I now find myself immersed in the story written by a woman who could have
been my friend.
Her writing is such that one feels as if an old friend is merely reliving
a tragic episode of life.

While I currently hear and see angry people, mostly women, screaming like
crazed individuals at television cameras about Nazis now taking over this country
all due to the election of a new president…
And after reading Miss Ten Boom’s story,
I am again keenly reminded as to who the actual Nazis really were and that they,
along with their leader Adolf Hitler, have nothing in common with our country’s current
new presidential administration.

But more importantly I am profoundly reminded about what it means to choose a life as a
true follower of Christ.

Corrie and her entire family had been arrested by the Nazis when it was discovered
that they were working as part of the Dutch Resistance.
Corrie and her Sister were subsequently beaten and imprisoned,
eventually being sent to the Death Camp Ravensbruck.

At one point after enduring severe brutality, hardships and heartbreaking loss,
such that my mere words fail to recount, Corrie is struck by her sister’s Christian focus.
Despite deprivations, ill and failing health as well as being treated no better than
herded cattle, Betsie sees God’s hand….
Where Corrie only had seen evil and hate,
here was her sister Betsie, who had endured so very much seeing not so much hate and evil
but rather humans, much like herself,
who were also victims…
victims of the same evil…just like them…

“This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it.
Perhaps only when human effort has done its best and failed,
would God’s power alone be free to work”

And there in the dark and frustrating silence of those wee morning hours…it struck me
Are any of us truly living the life of what it means to follow Christ…
to honestly follow Christ…not the Christ we imagine or model in our own image…
not a Christ who places limits or demands…
Not a Christ who has all of life’s endings working happily to
our own personal fairytale closure…
but rather the real Christ, the God made man whose words were pointedly specific and seemingly,
as assumed by much of mankind, as harsh and almost impossible to carry out…

Or are we simply following our own focus…deferring to our twisted idea of how
a world should run according to the Gospel of self…..

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

An overdue thank you to P.O.W. Lt. Col. James Young

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I am a tail-end baby boomer. Seems as if most people 45 and up equate their existence with being some sort of post war child…. be it WWII, Korea- as in my case, or Vietnam. An entire new generation will, no doubt, look to Desert Storm and the continued “wars” on terror as defining birthing moments of their own.

I grew up in the shadow of a deepening Cold War which helped to spawn the Korean War—oh, let’s not forget to call it by it’s politically correct name shall we…”Police Action”…hummm…a war is a war is a war…. no matter how you try to paint it, but there I go digressing…
Which then spawned the Vietnam War; oh pardon me, Vietnam Conflict…and so forth and so on…

When I was in the 6th grade, it became a popular trend for us (as I suspect it was for the adults) to all buy and wear POW bracelets. The one pictured above is mine, the one I wore for almost two years—never taking it off. If I remember correctly, one could pay $3.00 (I found the receipt for my bracelet in the box mementos…it was $2.75) to whom and where the money went evades this memory of mine—- in return you would receive a stainless steel “bracelet” / band engraved with the name of a serviceman who was currently being held captive by the North Vietnamese. You might have received the name of a POW or the name of a serviceman who was currently MIA / missing in action. It was just kind of the luck of the draw as to the serviceman’s name, rank and branch of service you received.

I received the bracelet of a Lt. Col. James Young who had been a prisoner since 1966, taken captive just two days following the 4th of July—already imprisoned 6 years when I received his bracelet. To me and my young mind, the best way to comprehend that length of time was to think of how many Christmases he must have missed being from his family…. which was something, to me, absolutely inconceivable—a true affront to all I considered sacred—Christmas with your family. How dare they keep our American soldiers like that!! It truly struck a chord deep in my young impressionable heart.

Every night, for what seemed most of my young life and of the memory of that time, as we ate supper, we watched a small black and white television set perched in our kitchen of the nightly news conducted by the deans of nightly news, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Those were the days of real news and real reporting…none of this stuff of today’s biased argumentative dribble passed off as news—no hokey sappy feel good “anchors” who seem more concerned with lifestyle choices, entertainment and droll government bickering than what truly constitutes real news. It was delivered professionally and basically unemotionally. Eric Severid or Charles Karualt would report from Vietnam.

The journalist would give the number tally of the day. Staggering numbers, unheard of numbers, the numbers listing each day’s deaths, those taken prisoner, those simply missing—ours, theirs, both. By the time I was in the 7th grade the newspapers were running the lists of names of those killed, wounded, or missing. Each day of our 7th grade year we would all scan the newspaper in search of word of our “soldier, airman, marine or sailor”—I suppose our teacher saw this as what is known as a “real teaching moment” something far more lasting than the lesson at hand, as she allowed us the time to scour a paper, to hope and perhaps even mourn.

I can remember very clearly, as if I am back in that classroom standing over the desk pouring over the paper, the day my friend found the name of her “soldier” on the list of those declared deceased by our government. We were all of the age of 11 and 12 and yet we felt a tremendous burden—a heavy sadness—rooting and cheering for men we had never met and most likely would never know personally, and yet how devastating it was to “lose” them to a death that was so foreign to us– as this drama played out so very far away from our sheltered world. The bracelet would then come off.

I also remember most vividly the day it was announced that this “war” was declared “over” and a peace accord was being signed by both our country’s two governments. On Valentines Day, most appropriately, 1973 the many American prisoners, many wounded and on stretchers, would slowly begin to transition from captivity to freedom, being loaded in batches of approximately 40 or so onto air force transport planes which were to carry them all, finally, home. Seven years just past the first day he was taken prisoner, Lt. Col. James Young headed home.

Warm tears are welling up in my eyes as I type this recalling, all these many years later, these most heartening of events. The bitter sweetness of the moment still very real, very palpable, very emotional. Coming home.

Our teacher checked out a television from the library, the ones perched on top of carts pushed to the room by the boys who volunteered to go get the carts long before this practice was deemed unsafe. She set the cart in the front of the room so we could all see the special news reports of those first prisoners landing at Clarke Air Force Base. I can still see, in my mind’s eye, Capt. Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., the first POW to disembark the plane—his wife and daughter running, arms outstretched, to embrace him as he made his way down the ramp–now home on American Soil.

My POW, Lt. Col. Young, also came home—home to his family in Hollywood, Florida. Once he had returned, I wrote to Lt. Col. Young and his family. I can’t remember how I found his address. I in turn received two letters complete with pictures of Lt. Col. Young and his lovely family. His eldest daughter, Carrie, who was in her early 20’s when her dad finally returned home—she was but my age (at the time) when he was captured. She asked if I could have my name engraved on the bracelet that I had worn those two years, sending it to them as they were going to make a plaque of his bracelets.

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My mom took me to a jewelry store where I had my name engraved besides the name of Lt. Col. Young. I placed the bracelet in a zip-lock bag, writing one more letter. However at the last minute, I just couldn’t mail it. Something inside my young heart wanted to hold on to this tangible reminder of what this war had meant to me—a young 7th grade girl in Georgia.

All these many years later, I still have the bracelet, always knowing where it is. I recently did a Google search, attempting to discover where Lt. Col James Young was now—Sadly I learned that he had passed away a few years ago, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. A tortured prisoner of war, Lt. Col. James Young had seven years of his life stolen, only to lose his final battle to a cruel and unseen enemy. Life never seems quite fair.

On this 4th of July, as this country of ours has troops spread out all over this globe, risking everything they have to protect, defend and serve each of us here back home…as we enjoy a slice of watermelon, swimming or watching baseball, spending time with our families, enjoying the fireworks this evening—may we all give pause this day in order to say a silent prayer for their safety, for the comfort of their families and a grateful thanks to all the veterans, past and present, who have sacrificed so very much for the one important thing that makes us who we are—our Liberty.

Thank you Lt. Colonel James Young.

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