the various degrees of a world…safer or less safe…

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.
It was here first.”

Mark Twain


(historyhit.com

You see this picture of Winston Churchill?

You can clearly see the Prime Mister, along with several commanding officers,
surveying some of the British troops.

Off to the far right of the photograph walks Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery,
the senior serving officer to the British army during WWII.
General Montgomery was crucial to the success of Allied forces
defeating Hitler and his mindless Nazi murder machine.

And here we see another picture…


(AP photo 1959)

It’s an actual photograph the was used by the AP Press and taken
the year I was born, 1959.

I’m fortunate to have several actual photographs of Churchill that were used
in both magazines and newspapers throughout his life.

I think they call these first edition or simply original photographs with documentation.

The picture I have was taken 19 years following the initial
photograph from 1940.

In the first photo, we see two leaders, along with their troops,
as they were all preparing to embark on a world war that would
determine the course of Western Civilization’s democracy.

An embarkation for the betterment of the free world.

The second picture shows two older, yet no less formidable,
men greeting one another before attending a meeting of Parliament regarding
the Suez Debate.

19 years had passed and they and their input were still considered viable
and even necessary.

Both of these men were from what we consider a first world country.
81 years ago they were preparing to do battle against men also from
first world countries. As well as second and even third world countries.

Today we hear a great deal about a first world and her “problems”—
spoiled problems really.

Problems that consist more of want rather than need.

Problems about such things as to where we might wish to go out to eat?
“What do you mean the movie I wanted to see is sold out?”
“Why can’t I get my new appliances in when promised?…
You know the current ones I have are outdated!”
“Why can’t the dentist get me in this afternoon vs tomorrow?”

On the flip side, third would problems are based primarily on a basic need
of survival—
it is not so much based upon wants and whims but rather upon survival needs.

“We need to find clean drinking water.”
“The drought has destroyed our family’s only source of food.”
“We must walk 25 miles in order to find a doctor in the neighboring
town to help the baby get well.”

On my end, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about first world problems.

“A mother laments that her daughter can’t find a dress in her correct size
for the homecoming dance—
there seems to be a production and material shortage.”

“This house we’re building is taking much longer than we anticipated
because our builder can’t get the lumber.”

“I really wanted that new couch for the den but it would blow the budget.”

These are problems more of want and convenience rather than that
of need and survival.

So I got to thinking…

We know there are first world problems, if you can call them problems–
and we know there are third world problems—problems about basic needs…
shelter, protection, medicine, food, water…

But…wait…what of second world problems??
Is there even such a thing as a second world?

After a little investigating, I discovered that there is indeed a
category of a 2nd world…but we never really hear about it do we?

According to Investopedia.com

What is Second World?
The outdated term “second world” included countries that were
once controlled by the Soviet Union.
Second world countries were centrally planned economies and one-party states.
Notably, the use of the term “second world”
to refer to Soviet countries largely fell out of use in the early 1990s,
shortly after the end of the Cold War.

But the term second world has also been used to cover countries
that are more stable and more developed than offensive term
“third-world” countries but less-stable and less-developed
than first world countries.
Examples of second-world countries by this definition
include almost all of Latin and South America, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa,
and many others.
Investors sometimes refer to second world countries that appear to be
headed toward first world status as “emerging markets” instead.

By the first definition, some examples of second world countries
include: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
Russia, and China, among others.

With regard to the second definition, according to geo-strategist
and London School of Economics doctorate Parag Khanna,
approximately 100 countries exist that are neither first world (OECD)
nor third world (least-developed, or LDC) countries.
Khanna emphasizes that within the same country there can be a
coexistence of first and second; second and third;
or first and third world characteristics.[1]
A country’s major metropolitan areas may exhibit first world characteristics,
for example, while its rural areas exhibit third-world characteristics.
China displays extraordinary wealth in Beijing and Shanghai,
yet many of its non-urban regions are still deemed developing.

So I find it interesting that nations such as China and Russia, our
long hard fraught archnemeses, our adversaries, can be first,
second and even third worlds all within one…
whereas here in the US, Canada and much of Europe,
we consider ourselves first world.

Perhaps we should consider the land mass of each of these countries.
In Russia there are 11 different time zones compared to our 6..
yet oddly France claims 13 given their country proper along
with their sovereign lands.

It is an odd conundrum.
Land mass equating to first, second and third worlds.

So whereas there were once men who were determined to defend and protect
the freedoms of not only their first worlds but that of all worlds…
A globe where the chance for freedom for all worlds, no matter their “status”,
could be attainable.

Yet sadly we find very few who are now willing to defend and protect
those very freedoms…freedoms for all of our worlds…
freedoms that men, only 80 years ago and less, were readily willing to die for.

It appears that the agenda of both democracy and the freedom has gravely shifted.

So—let’s ask some of our older citizens or those now citizens who have immigrated
from the 2nd and 3rd world nations…
Are we more free, safer and secure under our current leadership than we were
80 yers ago?

I think I know the answer…

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Galatians 5:13

zen to hell and maybe one day back

“I realize as never before that the Lord is gentle and merciful;
He did not send me this heavy cross until I could bear it.
If He had sent it before,
I am certain that it would have discouraged me…
I desire nothing at all now except to love until I die of love.
I am free, I am not afraid of anything,
not even of what I used to dread most of all…
a long illness which would make me a burden to the community.
I am perfectly content to go on suffering in body and soul for years,
if that would please God.
I am not in the least afraid of living for a long time;
I am ready to go on fighting.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 122
An Excerpt From
The Story of a Soul


(a lovely look at The Highlands Botanical Garden’s trail at Lindenwood Lake /
Julie Cook / 2021)

Close your eyes.
Breathe out slowly.
Feel the weight lifting…
ahhh the zen of life….HA!

Today’s image is that of a zenful moment.

And yet, there is no such thing of zen and life–
the two are simply incompatible.

We stepped away from life for a few days, headed northward about 2 hours toward
the North Carolina mountains…taking a belated anniversary get-a-way.

38 years of wedded bliss (cough cough) needed to be celebrated.
And the particular inn that we wanted to visit only had a first available
room about 2 weeks after the fact, so we took what we could get…
and thus off we went.

This escape came at a time when our nation was / is at a such a juxtaposition.
And yes, there is just oh so much to say…
so much dismay, so much pain, so much sorrow, do much disappointment, so much anger…

I looked forward to tuning out for a couple of days.
But how do you tune out the pain you feel for 13 families who just
lost their children, spouses, siblings because of a president who
is nothing but inept?

If you can do so, you have no empathy in your heart.

I am absolutely seething under the surface.
Disgrace does not speak strongly enough.

How in the world could a president have no clue?

We, the average US citizen, all knew that an attack was imminent,
we all received the notice via our various news outlets.
Heck, I received a push notification.
If I got it— if I get it…how come the President didn’t and still doesn’t?

An attack was coming and yet he sat back and basically waited.

So it appears that the deaths of those remaining service members
closing out our stay in Afghanistan could have been readily and easily avoided.
Throw in the 90 billion dollars worth of American war equipment that has been abandoned–
all of which could have been readily evacuated…
had there been a cohesive plan….but there was no such plan.

A plan.

As a longtime educator, I totally get the concept of a cohesive plan.
I know all too well that how you finish is just as important as how you begin.
And yet sadly this administration does not comprehend such.

Stand down from a lengthy occupation…stand down from being in a place
much longer than we ever should have been…yes, by all means, stand down…
but to stand down without precision, order, or a well calculated plan…
well even we simpletons, call that pure negligence.

So off we went Saturday on our little trip all the while Afghanistan
swirled within both our thoughts… a sick heaviness lingered in the pit
of my stomach.
13 American service men and women were killed needlessly.
ABSOLUTLEY NEEDLESSLY!!

Add to this the hundreds of Americans, their Afghani partners, US babies,
and US military service dogs who are all now stuck behind enemy lines…
Yes– left stranded, Jen Psaki…as in stuck in harms way…no thanks to
our President.

Yep, we little people actually comprehend this notion…we call that stranded.
You can’t sugarcoat stranded.

And you can’t sugarcoat what will happen to those left behind.
Think torture, abuse and twisted delight in the demise of any
human or animal associated with the Americans…
but we don’t like to think about such…we don’t like the uncomfortable…
we don’t like that which makes us feel out of sorts.

Explain being out of sorts and uncomfortable to the families of those
Americans who are now hurting today over tremendous loss.

I will be the first to tell you that I agree with the fact that the
length of time we have spent in Afghanistan has been well past its prime.
Pulling out certainly needed to be, however, the manner in which we pulled out
should have been paramount.

Start strong, end strong.

Oh there’s just so much to chat about isn’t there?
However, today, time does not permit those lengthy sort of conversations.

We’ll look at masks, mandates and Covid dilemmas tomorrow.

And of course we’re coming up on 9-11…
so much to say, so little time.

Stand up my friends.
Time is not on our side.

normal

“A perfectly normal person is rare in our civilization.”
Karen Horney


(courtesy the Web)

We try to walk about an hour every morning.
And during our morning jaunts, we see an array of creatures
both great and small.

Deer
Rabbits
birds of every shape, size and description
bugs
dogs
cats
squirrels
chipmunks
and then there are a few oddities…
several fox squirrels along with several species of snakes..
the pictures offered today are of a black headed fox squirrel and a grey rat snake— the first image is taken by a photographer–my pictures are below…

The fox squirrels and the snakes wandering out along the neighborhood roads
appear a bit out of place…not exactly the normal animal fare.


(fox squirrel spied while out walking / Julie Cook / 2021)

And suddenly normal takes on a new meaning…

Due to my recent babysitting hiatus, I’ve been playing catch up here in blogland.
As I was reading over the various blogs that I oh so enjoy, I noticed an underlying
thread weaving its way throughout each post…it was the word normal

So I thought that it would be best if I looked up the word
to see what a dictionary might offer in the way of explaining the word…

adjective: normal
conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

MEDICINE
(of a salt solution) containing the same salt concentration as the blood.

noun: normal; plural noun: normals
the usual, average, or typical state or condition.
“her temperature was above normal”

mid 17th century (in the sense ‘right-angled’): from Latin normalis,
from norma ‘carpenter’s square’ (see norm).
Current senses date from the early 19th century.

conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern :
characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine

according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule,
procedure, or principle

occurring naturally

generally free from physical or mental impairment or dysfunction :
exhibiting or marked by healthy or sound functioning

So it appears that ‘normal’ is a standard.
It’s routine.
It’s centering.
It’s sound, stable…
It’s not out of the ordinary
It’s a means of measure.

It’s the starting point while anything deviating outward, upward, downward
or backward moves away from the standard, the norm, the home place.

And so as I consider the word normal, I can’t help but look at what is
currently transpiring around this country regarding
our public schools…a three ringed circus full of everything but that
which is normal.

Abnormal is actually more accurate.

It was in the mid 19th century that the nation’s leaders determined that
our youth needed to be educated.
Not merely the upper crust whose families could afford private educations
or tutors…but education for each and every child.
(and no that was not an example of white privilege–it was a matter of
aristocracy vs the average citizen…hierarchy has been with us through
the ages…
hence why the Marxists are hard at work to “level the playing field”
and that, mind you, is a key educational phrase…but I digress)

With a booming growth taking place in our cities, along with
a growing influx of immigrants, coupled with an upward spiraling industrial
revolution, we had transitioned from being that of a nation based solely
upon an agricultural economy to one that was of an
up and coming economy of technological growth.

Our wealthier children had tutors and private schools…
yet the general populace needed rudimentary basic educational skills.
Thus a free public education would focus on what was thought to be
the most important basic needs when it came to “educating” children…
reading, writing and arithmetic.

Eventually science, literature and history entered the picture.

And as the nation grew and expanded while young men were sent overseas to wars,
it was determined a wider depth of knowledge was needed and so courses in
geography, latin and civics were added.

Throw in courses such as drafting, the fine arts, music and we
had a full well rounded education shaping up

Now granted this is all just a simplified look at the the inception and growth
of our nation’s public schooling…
however somewhere in the 20th century, things took a turn.
And that turn was not necessarily for the better.

Sex education came onto the scene.

Mainly because the ‘powers that be’ were concerned about all the young
men who were being sent overseas to fight in wars and yet were contracting
a variety of sexually transmitted diseases at a rapid rate.

Fast forward through prohibition, a depression, a post war world,
an iron curtain, the growth of baby boomers, a police action,
rock and roll, civil rights, a sexual revolution, women’s liberation,
a space race, a drug revolution, assassinations, flower power,
a summer of love, an endless war, an angst ridden youth…
all the while, our public educational institutions were quietly
changing.

Normal quietly became a casualty of the times.

And other casualties of this generational madness…

Our:
Reverence
Respect
Parental authority
Nuclear family
Judaeo/ Christian corner stone

We are now being sold a sorry sack of lies…
Our schools, school leadership, school boards have all given in to the lies…
lies such that our original normal is now a new normal…
and thus we must teach to a new normal…

any deviation from normal, according to each definition of normal,
means that things are not normal.
Normal is the standard.
New is not.

so tomorrow lets explore this new normal notion…
that of the abnormal

You believe that God is one; you do well.
Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James 2:19

Memorial Day 2021

“But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream.
The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if
we fight for it, protect it,
defend it and then hand it to them with the well-thought
lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same.
And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend
our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(the mayor enjoying a face painting / 2021)

This new community that we now call home hosted a Memorial Day family
community pool party and cookout bash.

And so naturally we had our son and daughter-n-law bring up the Mayor
the Sheriff for the festivities.

There was great food, good music, face painting, balloons along with a much
cooler day than desired in order to spend one’s time in the pool
with the grandkids.
But we do what we must right?!

Last night I noted out loud how much I had enjoyed this year’s Memorial Day…
the other most memorable Memorial Day was the time when we went to Savannah
to scope out our son and at the time, future, daughter in law’s wedding.

This weekend was actually what I would call normal.
Meaning, I readily and unconsciously fell into a sense of what we call
normalcy…life as we once knew it to be.
There were no masks, no social distancing…no limitations…
only kids and parents enjoying a kick-off day to summer.
There were real visible smiles.

Kids lined up to get their faces painted.
Adults stood in line to ‘build’ their burgers and hotdogs.
Balloons were shaped into animals.
Ice cream was plentiful.
The sun peeked in and out from behind the clouds.

And whereas our family celebrated like many American families celebrated
this opening weekend of a new summer…celebrating with cookouts and dips
in the pool…the real meaning of this day has not been lost on my heart.

Years ago when I was teaching, our high school usually had graduation on
the Friday night of the Memorial day weekend.
We’d then start our post-planning on Monday…the official day for Memorial Day.
The nation was observing Memorial Day while our faculty was busy closing
out the school year.

We had a football coach, a man who I still consider myself very fortunate
for having had the opportunity of calling colleague, who was a former
Army officer.

I can remember this ball coach standing up to address the entire staff
on that somewhat fateful Monday morning following graduation…
that Memorial Day morning that we, as a school system, was gathered
together working verses celebrating.

He offered a blistering admonishment.

Many of us had groused at not being able to spend the day
being with our families to help usher in summer…
however this football coach, this former Army Officer and West Point
graduate, took his colleagues and administration to task.

He reminded us why we really should not be at work this particular day.

That our being at work was rather a slap in the face of every armed
service member who had ever served our Nation.

What was wrong that we could not pause for a single day
in order to simply say thank you….

Suddenly it seemed as if the air left the room.
It was a struggle to breath the heaviness that hung in the room.

There was a sense of guilt racing through the room.

Whereas the teachers felt badly for simply wanting to be off with their families
to enjoy a day of cookouts and swimming…I could only imagine that our
administration team was really feeling a sense of oppressive guilt.

Needless to say, for as long as I continued working at the school, we
never worked another Memorial Day.

My daughter in law sent me this lovely reminder of where our thoughts
should actually be on Memorial Day….

John Guy writes:
“What God did at Pearl Harbor that day is interesting and I never knew
this little bit of history.

Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes.
I went into a small gift shop to kill time.

In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled,
“Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941— Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a
concert in Washington, DC. He was paged and told there was a
phone call for him. When he answered the phone,
it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone.

He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the
Commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.
He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941.
There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–
you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of
the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.
Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters
everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock,
the young helmsman of the boat asked,
“Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”

Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.
Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes
an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America.
Which do you think it was?”

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked,
“What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes
an attack force ever made?

Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one:

The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning.
Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave.
If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–
we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two:

When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row,
they got so carried away sinking those battleships,
they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships.
If they had destroyed our dry docks,
we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired.
As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised.
One tug can pull them over to the dry docks,
and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have
towed them to America.
And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater
of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill.
One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.

That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest
mistakes an attack force could make or, God was taking care of America.

I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book.
It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it.
In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan,
born and raised in Fredericksburg, Texas — he was a born optimist.

But any way you look at it —
Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation
and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.
We desperately needed a leader that could see silver lining
in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.

There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

Why have we forgotten? PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY! IN GOD WE TRUST.”

the dark night…and we were made for this

“The soul, however, cannot be perfectly purified from these imperfections,
any more than from the others,
until God shall have led it into the passive purgation of the dark night,
of which I shall speak immediately.
But it is expedient that the soul, so far as it can,
should labor, on its own part, to purify and perfect itself,
that it may merit from God to be taken under His divine care,
and be healed from those imperfections which of itself it cannot remedy.
For, after all the efforts of the soul,
it cannot by any exertions of its own actively purify itself
so as to be in the slightest degree fit for the divine union of perfection
in the love of God,
if God Himself does not take it into His own hands and purify
it in the fire, dark to the soul.”

St. John of the Cross, p.14
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul


(courtesy the web)

I can never remember a time when I have felt so desolate,
so angst ridden, so forlorn and dare I say, depressed.

And it’s because I no longer know this Nation of ours.

I don’t recognize…us.

There is so much that I want to say.
So very much that needs to be said.

So much I want to say about the lies, the indoctrination, the falsehoods,
and the division—

I want to scream…”Don’t you get it???
He’s doing this…he’s nothing but thrilled that we are tearing
one another a part…

And so, again, don’t you get it…don’t we get it?
This is exactly what he wants…
it’s what he’s planned now for eons.

We are in the midst of a tribulation.
A time of division.
A time of lies.
A time of sinister diversion.

We know that this is currently his battle because
this is his realm.
Yet at the same time we know the ultimate
victory will be ours because our Savior lives.

Yet the frustration remains, that this battle must be fought.

And it feels like a raging maelstrom that has us all
in the center of its grip.

However we, both you and I, have been made for this time.

God has prepared both you and me…
The task at hand is not easy.
It will not be easy.
It will not be kind.
The Father is asking us for our all.

The question is…will you give your all…
or will you ignore the coming storm?

Will you face the enemy head on, telling all who
have ears to hear that he is a liar?

Or will you turn and pretend nothing is happening.

So the question remains…will you speak?
Will you act.
There is little to no time in which to decide.
Time is of the essense
The goats have been cast to one side while the sheep to the other.

Give us strength oh Lord…

Luke 21:9-26:
New International Version

When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened.
These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be great earthquakes,
famines and pestilences in various places,
and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you.
They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison,
and you will be brought before kings and governors,
and all on account of my name.
And so you will bear testimony to me.
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you
will defend yourselves.
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries
will be able to resist or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters,
relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
Everyone will hate you because of me.
But not a hair of your head will perish.
Stand firm, and you will win life.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies,
you will know that its desolation is near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,
let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.
For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment
of all that has been written.
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women
and nursing mothers!
There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners
to all the nations.
Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

where or when did it all go wrong

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Ronald Reagan


(Time Magazine cover from 2007 / Julie Cook / 2021)

So many boxes.
So many books.

The heavy dead-weight boxes of books are categorized by genre…
history, political, spiritual…Bibles, Pope John Paul II, St. Francis, Mother Teresa,
presidential biographies, WWII, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, The Holocaust,
saints, cookbooks…on and on it goes…

Unpacking this unending mountain of boxes, I stumbled upon my collection of books
regarding Ronald Reagan.

I gingerly pulled out the books and magazines from this latest deep abyss,
taking stock of what I wanted to keep readily available and what could be stored away.

In the treasure trove, I found the above Time Magazine.
It was dated 2007.

I was still teaching at that time and I remembered that I had the magazine sitting on my
desk in the classroom.
A student saw the magazine and had a knee jerk reaction…
they scrawled a written response to the title of the story line…

I had a fit as I can’t stand to deface something I want to save…

The cover image was powerful…the scribbled black ink “GWB” was nothing more
then graffiti.

Sigh.

“How The Right Went Wrong”

This student penned GWB—as in George W. Bush

At the time, in 2007, some of my young charges were less than pleased with then President
George W.Bush.

We were embroiled in a seemingly endless war in the Middle East.

And so I now wonder…where and when exactly did the Right go wrong?

I suppose once life slows down, I will re-read that article–
looking back to what 14 years ago we wondered what might be the problem with Conservatism.

In 2007 we wondered what went wrong.
In 2021 we now consider such a word as pariah.
A taboo sort of mindset.

It seems much more has gone wrong than merely the loss of the right verses the wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20

be rich in the next life…

“Since love completes all, makes all hard things soft, and the difficult easy,
let us strive to make all our acts proceed from love.”

St. Arnold Janssen


(a dewy turkey feather /Julie Cook / 2020)

“The Devil didn’t deal out temptations to Our Lord only.
He brings these evil schemes of his to bear on each of Jesus’ servants—-
and not just on the mountain or in the wilderness or when we’re by ourselves.
No, he comes after us in the city as well, in the marketplaces,
in courts of justice.
He tempts us by means of others, even our own relatives.
So what must we do?
We must disbelieve him altogether, and close our ears against him, and hate his flattery.
And when he tries to tempt us further by offering us even more,
then we should shun him all the more…
We aren’t as intent on gaining our own salvation as he is intent on achieving our ruin.
So we must shun him, not with words only, but also with works;
not in mind only, but also in deed.
We must do none of the things that he approves,
for in that way will we do all those things that God approves.
Yes, for the Devil also makes many promises, not so that he may give
them to us, but so that he may take away from us.
He promises plunder, so that he may deprive us of the kingdom of God and
of righteousness.
He sets out treasures in the earth as snares and traps,
so that he may deprive us both of these and of the treasures in heaven.
He would have us be rich in this life, so that we may not be rich in the next.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 152-3
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

Lessons from the Blitz and four essential human freedoms

Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is,
and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present,
and from the present, to live better in the future.

William Wordsworth


Blitz damage in Coventry, November 1940 (© IWM)

Throughout much of the past couple of months leading up to last week’s
debacle, I mean election,
I’ve been slowly making my way through my latest read…a book by Erik Larson.

I had read other books by Larson in years past, and I expected this current read to be right
on par with his previous books…books that look back to a past of darker days…
darker than the days of our current time…
As in yes, there have been darker times…if you can imagine such.

The book is titled The Splendid and The Vile:
A Saga of Chruchill, Family, And Defiance During the Blitz

I can’t even begin to do justice here, within my small reflections, as to what it was like
for the British people to live through the nightly bombings of their cities, towns
and villages by the German Luftwaffe.

For 8 long months, every single day—hundreds of German planes filled the skies
over the United Kingdom dropping tons upon tons of explosives and incendiary deceives
indiscriminately over an innocent people–only to leave destruction and death in their wake.

When the bombings stopped, over 32,000 civilians had been killed.
Over 87,000 had been maimed, burned, and injured.
Of those, 7,736 children were killed and 7,622 were seriously injured
while many were left orphaned.

London alone endured 57 straight nights and days of bombings.

The bombings took place predominantly at night but would, at times, happen both day and night.
As in a double whammy of insult and injury.

Sirens would sound, people would run for shelter as their world, bodies
and lives were literally shattered.

In just one single night, November 14, 1940, 16,000 bombs were dropped on the
city of Coventry.
The ancient 14th-century Cathedral in Coventry was just one of many churches
which would take a direct hit


(Death from the skies: An aerial view of the wrecked cathedral / The Mirror)


Winston Churchill and the Mayor Alfred Robert Grindlay visiting the ruins of Coventry Cathedral in September 1941
Horton (Capt)-War Office official photographer-This is photograph H 14250 from the collections of the Imperial War Museum

In London, the fickleness of war was clearly evident when after
London’s worst day of bombing, St. Pauls Cathedral appeared triumphantly and
miraculously to rise up from out of the smoke and ash.


St Paul’s Cathedral survives the Blitz, December 1940 (© IWM)

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33314462

Yet, as with all wars, the human toll is unimaginable.


(Upper Norwood, London, 1944 (© IWM) )

In early 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address.

In his speech, the President spoke of the lend-lease act that he was
going to be presenting to Congress…
a plan intended on assisting the British people without the US technically involving
herself in a war that the United States wasn’t keen on participating in.

“The future and the safety of our country and of our democracy
are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders…”
the President noted.
According to Larson, Roosevelt described a world to come that would be founded upon
“four essential human freedoms” :
speech, worship, and freedom from want and fear

It has been 79 years since Roosevelt’s speech.
Since that time, there have been other wars, police actions, along with a myriad of
perils that have each threatened both our democracy and that of the
pillars of Western Civilization.

And yet throughout it all, those four essential freedoms have stood the test of time…

They stand in part because of the foundation found buried deep in the fortitude
of the human spirit…along with that of determined and clear-minded leadership.

Those were dark and dire days and yet Western Civilization prevailed over the
chokehold of fascism, socialism, and communism.

My hope and prayer for our world today is that none of those past perils shall
be forgotten or tossed aside as today’s leadership and her people seem to be
giddily racing to embrace that which we once fought so hard to defeat.

‘Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this
world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except
for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

Everyone is in favor of free speech.
Hardly a day passes without its being extolled,
but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like,
but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Winston S. Churchill

Captain’s log: Do more!

“There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what He was doing
through those many years of heartache or how the pieces would
eventually fit together.
He had no ways of knowing that he would eventually enjoy a
triumphal reunion with his family.
He was expected, as you and I are, to live out his life one day at a time
in something less than complete understanding.
What pleased God was Joseph’s faithfulness when nothing made sense.”

James C. Dobson


(1942 patriotic poster from WWII)

Captian’s Log, Day 3 of the mandated social distancing…aka stay at home!

There once was a time when each member of this country was asked to do their part.

The world was at war and we had joined in.

Many had enlisted in the various branches of service in order to go fight.

There were those who stayed home to tend to the importance of running a nation.

We had women, wives, mothers, young and old, all working in factories since
most of the men had left to fight.

We had ration books to use when going to the store.

We had to limit what we could buy and when we could buy it…
most fresh foods were going overseas to support the hungry troops.

People planted victory gardens–growing their own produce.

We were asked to donate metals, silver, gold, brass…
metal that could be melted into ammunition or the making of necessary equipment.

We were asked to buy war bonds.

People were encouraged to be supportive.

People had to use blackout curtains at night lest the enemy should see
their way to bomb us at home.

People were asked to monitor shortwave radios.

Gasoline was in short supply so travel was limited.

Sacrifice was a given.

We were each asked to help in our own small or big way.
It was a nation of folks ready to roll up their sleeves to lend a hand and do their part.
The goal was the same.

Victory in unity.

It was not easy.
It was lonely.
It was scary.
It was sad.
It was hard.
It was difficult.

But everyone knew it had to be done…the alternative of not doing would be disastrous.

And so as my family now does what it has been asked to do…
of staying at home as much as we can.
Working from home if at all possible.
Limiting our exposure to those outside of our home.
Washing our hands.
And not hoarding grocery items…

I am disheartened when I see, read and hear of those who throw caution to the wind.
I am troubled by the stories of those who say that they will keep doing as they wish.
My own community remains very much busy and on the go.

People such as the American ex-pat cookbook author who calls Paris home, David Lebovitz to
Megan McCain, to my own family and friends…there has been a great deal of concern that
the mandates of limiting our social contacts are simply falling on deaf ears…
as it is all going largely unheeded.

David Lebovitz, in his food blog, has offered some great “stuck in the house” recipes
we might like to try.
David lives in Paris and is the author of several cookbooks, French travel books as well as
a great food blog.

In David’s blog post yesterday he shared his frustration, given the French government’s
mandate, much like Itlay’s, to stay indoors and to limit all social gatherings—
his frustration came from seeing so many of the younger French congregating in the streets,

We are on day #1 of a fifteen-day confinement.
Bars, cafés and restaurants were closed Saturday at midnight
(which were packed in my neighborhood, as usual, with twenty- and thirty-somethings),
and people were told to keep a distance between them and avoid public places.
But the revelry continued on the streets around here through the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Later in the morning, people waited in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, shopping at the Bastille market,
and Sunday afternoon, people filled parks in Paris, or sat by the canal to have a beer with friends.
To be honest, it was disheartening, and a little frightening,
to watch the news and hear people being interviewed, talking about how they didn’t care,
that they were going to do whatever they wanted.
So here we are, with talk of the military coming in to make sure people stay indoors.

https://www.davidlebovitz.com/stay-at-home-recipes-confined-confinement/

And so now the French government now considers marshal law…hmmm

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/macron-invokes-war-europe-goes-213419878.html

Even Megan McCain, daughter of the late Senator Joh McCain and conservative commentator, has
joined the bandwagon by echoing a similar concern…

https://www.foxnews.com/media/mccain-de-blasio-millennials-coronavirus

And then there is the following link of a story about a message gone viral from an Italian
who utters a dire warning to the US. A message that we must heed the warnings given to us
before things spiral into the disastrous mess Itlay has found herself in as the virus
cases multiple faster than one’s head can spin and the death rate becomes staggering.

https://currently.att.yahoo.com/lifestyle/creators-behind-viral-video-of-quarantined-italians-share-coronavirus-warning-161158583.html

So, while I’m beginning to feel as if we are the only Americans hunkering down…
I pray that my fellow Americans will take heed, doing their part by joining the fight…
the fight against an unseen but very real enemy.

Yes, I think more people have died from the typical flu but this sinister bug is effecting
us on a multitude of levels that I have never seen in my lifetime.
Why that is, I am not certain…but the effect is real and it alone is proving
just as deadly and catastrophic..

Our shops and stores are closing.
All of our sporting events are being canceled.
Graduations are being canceled.
Weddings are being canceled.
Our travel industry is a ghost industry.
Churches and Synagogues are closing their doors.
People are losing jobs.
The stock market is falling.
And people only thought Russia would be our undoing.

It might just be that we will be our own undoing if we don’t join together to put an end
to the madness.
And the faster we work together, the faster this all can be put behind us!

So please, do your part!

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when
he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together,
they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone,
two will withstand him—-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

we can do this!

We’ve been asked to curtail our usual comings and goings.
We’ve had to close our schools and universities.
We’ve canceled our church and worship services.
We’ve canceled our beloved sporting events.
We’ve canceled all international travel.
We’ve been told to avoid any sort of “gathering” together…
We’ve emptied the shelves of our grocery stores.
Weddings, parties, reunions have all been either canceled or rescheduled.

Unfortunately, it seems that there are many folks who are taking all
of this an open excuse to have parties or hit the bars.

The whole idea behind the sacrifices is to curtail the number of new cases of Covid19.

This is accomplished by limiting our exposure to one another.

This means we need to practice our best hygiene skills by washing our hands
and using disinfectant when needed.
This means we limit our time out and about.

It isn’t what we’re used to.
It isn’t what we really enjoy doing.
But it is a sacrifice of us as individuals that we are making for the whole.

The sacrifices we are making pale in comparison to the sacrifices made
by those generations who have gone before us.

They willingly gave up their wealth, their wellbeing, their comforts, their lives
not merely for themselves or their own generation or their own time…
they did it for us…
And we, in turn, are doing this for ourselves, but more importantly, we are doing
all of this for those who will be…

We can do this.

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers,
by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2