hidden danger in the rotting apple

All badness is spoiled goodness.
A bad apple is a good apple that became rotten.
Because evil has no capital of its own,
it is a parasite that feeds on goodness.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen

“Do not suppose that after advancing the soul to such a state God abandons it so easily that
it is light work for the devil to regain it.
When His Majesty sees it leaving Him, He feels the loss so keenly that He gives it in many
a way a thousand secret warnings which reveal to it the hidden danger.
In conclusion, let us strive to make constant progress:
we ought to feel great alarm if we do not find ourselves advancing,
for without doubt the evil one must be planning to injure us in some way;
it is impossible for a soul that has come to this state not to go still farther,
for love is never idle.
Therefore it is a very bad sign when one comes to a standstill in virtue.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.99
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

P.S.
I came home for the weekend for a bit of R&R and now I’m off again…back to Atlanta to help tend to
the children…
Here is to The Mayor and her Sheriff!!!

it isn’t rocket science

“In keeping silent about evil,
in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface,
we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future.
When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers,
we are not simply protecting their trivial old age,
we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Voices from the past…
voices not so long past…
continue reaching out…
Their words remain drifting along the currents of time.
Individuals from a different life are now born into the prophets of our day.

Their words…
now more urgent…
now more critical…
No longer merely mentioned in a speech or interview…
but rather crying out for our attention.
This now lost and stumbling generation…

Will the scales fall finally from our eyes,
Will we turn our hearing their way…
Opening our hearts and minds to the Truth

Or have we now all gone simply too far…
drifting further away from that offering of Salavation

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical
confrontation humanity has ever experienced.
I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society,
or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully.
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church,
between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the Antichrist.”

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, 1976

snowflakes

“The paradoxes of today are the prejudices of tomorrow,
since the most benighted and the most deplorable prejudices
have had their moment of novelty when fashion lent them its fragile grace.”

Marcel Proust

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(image courtesy Favim.com)

There’s a lot of talk currently in my neck of the woods about snow.
In fact the “talk” is more like a warning of an impending National disaster.

Yesterday while driving into Atlanta to Dad’s…those matrix boards above the interstates
alerting drivers to accidents, etc. were all running the same ominous and foreboding message…
Winter Storm Warning

For much of this hearty country of ours, such approaching weather systems
are no big deal…
it’s just more of the same ol typical winter weather…
but in this tender southern state, those signs might as well have read:
THE END IS NEAR AND WE ARE ALL DOOMED!!!

So this morning, with all the local news forecasting the Apocolypse,
I figured that maybe I should run out to the store to grab another half gallon of milk…
Lord knows I’d hate to be iced in, snowed in or both,
without ample milk for my coffee or any sort
cake or recipe that I may want to whip up while being stranded and cut off
from all civilization…

The shopping center looked like it did a couple of weeks ago during the
Christmas shopping frenzy.
I had passed school buses running basically backwards…
as in they had just taken the kids to school
and now they were bringing them all back home due to the early dismals
in observance of the impending disaster.

While I was making my way through the maze of shopping carts frantically filling up
with survival foods such as chips and sodas…
I debated about picking up something different for supper.

The chicken section was almost empty with only a few errant packs of thigh / leg combos.
When did chicken make the list of the typical disaster foods besides bread and milk?
Of which I am happy to report that the milk section was fully stocked…
or should I make that restocked…

Next stop, the bank.

Fridays are never a good day to go to the bank as everyone is getting paid and
in turn, heading to the nearest bank.
Add impending doom…
and shades of 1929 come racing to mind.

While standing at my teller’s counter there was a couple in their mid 20’s at the teller next to me.
They were loudly lamenting to the gal behind the counter,
and everyone else in line, that they were “tired of being adults.”

Really? ( thought in a monotone of sarcasam)

I chuckled and turned to look at this forlorn lamenting duo.

They continued on about how they were ready to trade in their “adult cards” wanting,
I suppose, to return to the Land of Nod and innocence.
“How,” had they known, “that if life would be like this,”
whatever “this” may have been,
“would have squandered more of their money while trying to “enjoy life” …

I kid you not.

I offered, rather bemusedly, that it doesn’t get any easier…
which certainly didn’t offer any comfort to their sense of gloom and doom…
but then again I am a realist and one who is a believer in the phrase
“aging is not for sissies”

Later back home,
I stumbled upon the reference of snowflake being used with regard to this
same mid 20’s aged group, twice!

Once on a news program discussing the impending inauguration being akin to another
type of apocalypse to many, and that colleges are providing their tender charges
places of calm and comfort, in hopes of soothing their mounting fears.

Another reference came while I was reading the blog of a Scottish pastor waxing on
about today’s colleges which are providing warnings (trigger statements)
to students that biblical studies will have graphic imagery regarding the crucifixion and
veterinary studies will have to discuss such topics as dead animals,
while the forensic students will be seeing, wait for it, dead bodies.
Obviously things all too gory and disturbing for these tender “snowflake’s” sensitive likings.

They are a most fragile lot are they not?
And will certainly melt at the drop of a hat…

Or so it seems as many adults, especially those in higher institutions of learning,
fear as they race to coddle their youthful charges.
And so it is as I am now hearing it first hand with my own ears, while at the bank…
That many of these snowflakes are actually already tired of the real world and
simply want to go back to being “irresponsible kids”….

Hummmmm….

This coming on the heels of the news of that now infamous and most heinous viral Facebook
story coming out of Chicago…
the story about those 4 young people who were arrested for kidnapping, beating and torturing
a mentally handicapped young man.
Ranting on and on at him about F’ing Trump and F’ing white people while cursing him,
cutting him, taunting him as he was tied up and had his mouth duct taped shut….
They filmed their antics while boasting that they wanted this recording to go viral…
they wanted the world to see what they were doing while laughing all the while doing it.

Chicago’s police chief said that these sorts of horrendous incidents from young thugs would,
in the future, only escalate.

Here we have not so much snowflakes, but rather icicles…
cold and dangerous youth living without
regard for the sanctity of human life.

So maybe those interstate signs should read:
“Warning and Shame”
“We’ve let our youth run amuck and now we are left trying to pick up the pieces”

As our same Scottish pastor laments that the Church herself is as much to blame as anyone for
the wailing of these youthful generations as she has dumbed down Christianity into
a Disneyesque sort of happy fun thought…
where things like sin and death…that whole ransoming of our sins with payment coming
in the form of death on a cross,
being just all too much for this up and coming youthful generation
who are either too sensitive or too callous for the reality of life, death and faith.

Shame indeed.

Here’s to the impending snow storm…
may we have enough milk, bread and now chicken, to survive….

Snowflake Theologians Given Trigger Warning about the Crucifixion

Authority vs Power

“Another time of testing has come.
Another day of reckoning is here.
This is a testing and a reckoning…
that could prove even more decisive than earlier trials.”

Os Guinness

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(statue of St Peter stands looking over St Peter’s Square, The Vatican/ Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“The Kingdom of God is the realm of true authority; the kingdom of Satan is seen in the tyranny of raw power.”
(God and Churchill/ Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley

In his 1931 essay, Fifty Years Hence, written long before Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, the then former Chancellor of the Exchequer penned his bleak yet precautionary predictions for the future of not only Western Civilization, but the world at large.

Churchill’s essay was written post WWI, while the destructive images of a devastated Europe raged fresh in his mind just as the rumors of new wars festered along the horizon….

“Without an equal growth of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, Science herself may destroy all that makes human life majestic and tolerable. There never was a time when the inherent virtue of human beings required more strong and confident expression in daily life; there never was a time when the hope of immortality and the disdain of earthly power and achievement were more necessary for the safety of the children of men.”

Churchill’s opining of predictions were but a stone cast into a pond whose ripples were to reach to what he saw to be 1981…
however his words and thoughts, those ripples, continue to be relevant to our own day and time these 85 years later…well past the initial envisioned fifty years.
In fact his words ring more true today than they did in 1981.

I think we’d all agree that our times are exceedingly precarious.
Many an observer notes the almost tangible and even palpable fear that is presently running as an electric current throughout the world.
Radical Islamic Extremists,
global terrorism,
coups,
civil wars,
our own racial divide and unrest…
all of which has rocked this 21st century world.

There are many, myself included, who can’t help but to see the mirrored comparisons of a rising Adolph Hitler and his Nazi death machine compared to today’s current menacing death machine of Islamic fanaticism and its declared war or caliphate against the West and the Judeao / Christian foundation…of which has stood since the days of Constantine…

“We are confronted with another theme. It is not a new theme;
it leaps out upon us from the Dark Ages–
racial persecution, religious intolerance, deprivation of free speech,
the conception of the citizen as a mere soulless fraction of the State.
To this has been added the cult of war.
Children are to be taught in their earliest schooling the delights and profits of conquest
and aggression.
A whole mighty community has been drawn painfully, by severe privations,
into a warlike frame.”

(except of speech broadcast to Britain and the United States October 16, 1938)

Reading these words, not knowing they were spoken 78 years ago, in a different time and place, one would imagine them to be easily written today…
If we listen carefully we hear the ominous warnings…
warnings concerning the madrassas of today with their radical teachings to the youth of Islam…
we hear of the ongoing global teachings of intolerance for Western society…
we hear of the hate for the Christian and Jewish communities throughout the world…
warnings and reminders being echoed of the soulless citizens having lived or who are currently living under the blankets of communism, totalitarianism, dictatorships and the growing rise of socialism….
anything but democracy….

It would behoove us, as we stand on the cusp of the dire decisions and votes being cast…
with their often ominous results–
not only on a national level, but to the choices, votes and decisions being made globally,
to understand the difference between what is true authority verses what is power merely cloaked in a false authoritative shawl.

Authority shows itself in constructive power, whereas raw power is inevitably destructive, as Hitler and the Nazis amply demonstrated. Authority is granted from the higher to the lower, but power is seized.
Authority is given to the humble, those under authority; power is snatched by the proud, who acknowledge no authority over themselves. Authority is sustained through relationship, which is why Churchill devoted so much time to communicating and to being among the people. Raw power, on the other hand, is sustained through four control mechanisms: manipulation, condemnation, intimidation, and domination, skills that Hitler and the Nazis honed to a sharp point”

(God and Churchill / Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley)

Again, words written regarding a past time yet even more relevant today…

May we open our ears to the past as we open our eyes to the future as we currently wrestle with seeking
new governing leadership…
May we be mindful to look to those individuals who seek not to grab power but rather to those who seek to lead under the authority that has been granted from the only One who can truly grant authority to those who seek His counsel for those who which they are charged to lead….

The whole world is upborne and sustained by God’s Love, and each person was created as an act of love. This is truly incomprehensible to us because we can’t see clearly the breath, and depth, and enormous scope of such great love. God looked at each stage of Creation and said clearly that it was good: the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the earth, the animals, the birds, the fish, and the plants. All is good, all is blessed, and all is an outpouring of Trinitarian love. When we were created, then God said that this was more than good, but very good. Very good! When will we live up to such a great calling, to such a great love: personal, intense, and giving the power to also create around us an expression of God’s goodness and love. Help us, O Lord, to fulfill Thy precious love in us and in all we touch and see.
Amen.
(offering prayer from the monks at St Isaac’s Orthodox Skete)
(http://www.skete.com/index.cfm)

Signs of the times

Our heart oft times wakes when we sleep, and God can speak to that, either by words, by proverbs, by signs and similitudes, as well as if one was awake.
John Bunyan

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(deer crossing sign located on the road near Cong, County Gallway / Mayo Border / Julie Cook / 2015)

You’ve seen the signs, plain as day.
A visual word to the wise.
Slow down
Be careful
Be mindful
Keep a watch
Be vigilant
Caution

Yet you don’t pay much attention.
Maybe you take a quick check of your peripheral vision…
Sensing nothing out of the ordinary on either side…
All the while, you stare straight ahead with both hands fixed on the wheel–
Assuming you’re good to go…as you merrily zip down the road.

As far as slowing down and exercising the advised caution, well, that ain’t happening.
You’ve been down this road a million times, and you’ve got places to go…
You flippantly play the gambling odds in your head, figuring chances are on your side…
Deer?
No deer?
Hummmmm
You go with no deer…as you’ve never seen a deer on this stretch of road.
You continue scooting mindlessly down the road.

But ironically the odds are not in your favor.

That lone buck, chasing that lone doe, darts out from the woods and crosses your path.
You’re clocking 70 mph, if not more.
You see the deer running right in front of you, just out of your right eye, right before you slam on the brakes…
You and the deer meet as one…
There’s a sickening thud and a high pitched screeching that won’t stop.
It slams into the windshield, shattering the glass, sending shards everywhere…

Blood and fur now cover your vision.
Reflexes have you stomping, pushing as hard as you can, down on the brakes as the car slides to the right, spinning.
The tires hit the shoulder of the road, which is nothing but soft earth…
Your tire mares in the soft dirt sticking and flipping the car over, sending you, the deer and almost 5000 pounds of metal, glass, rubber and plastic on a merry-go-round of madness.
Will you survive?…the last thought before you black out as you head slams into the door window…as you flip and flip and flip…

You were given a sign for a reason…
Yet you chose to ignore it…
You egotistically chose to play the odds.
You were invincible, in a hurry with places to go remember…

Obviously those odds were not in your favor….

God has given us all the signs.
He continues offering…
Yet you, me, we just keep continuing playing the odds…

Maybe it’s just that we’re opting to ignore any and all signs for some stupid selfish reason, hoping the inevitable will just go away…
or better yet…
Won’t ever happen…
Cause really, we’re just all too busy zipping down Life’s myriad of roads to pay too much attention to any benign sort of sign….

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
John 4:48

What’s in a sign

So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.
Judges 6:17

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
David Eddings

“Is not the gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this a miracle of miracles, that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish’? Surely that precious word, ‘Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely’ and that solemn promise, ‘Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out,’ are better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be believed. He is truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the veracity of One who cannot lie?”
Charles H. Spurgeon

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(the sign in the clouds of perhaps a thunder cloud brewing / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are sign people.
We always have been and will most likely always be such.
We have looked to the skies, to the heavens, to the earth, to the depths, to the seas, to the wind, to the fire, to the mountains, to life and to death. . . you name it. . .
since the beginning of time we have looked for. . .
A sign. . .
A warning,
A signal,
A clue,
An indication,

Some sort of information. . .good or bad. . .

I’ve been living my life, as of late in my car, driving the backroads, the main streets, the highways and the interstates as I’ve been making my way to Dad’s.
2, 3, 4 times or more a week.
Back and forth from here to there.

I’m pretty certain I know every billboard, advertisement, road sign, speed marker, hiding spot for every State Patrol within a 70 mile shot.
And yet today, on my way home, on a lone and isolated stretch of interstate there was a small hand painted sign tacked to a tree which sat a ways back from the busy and perilous roadway, which was new to me and my sweeping driving vigilance.

“The End is coming soon,
be sure not to miss it”

Now we’ve been seeing signs stating information such as
“The End is Near”
“The Rapture is Coming”
“Jesus is coming”
“Are you ready?”
On and on and on with such predictions, omnitions and bold assumptions being posted for decades.

Signs that are hand painted to those professionally printed. . .
Signs posted on stakes in the ground at the end of road junctions, signs hung on telephone poles, signs held by the “faithful” . . .
This as I recall the famous song of the early 70’s. . .
“Signs, Signs everywhere a sign
blocking the scenery, breaking my mind. . .”

So this particular little white sign with red painted letters should have just been another blip
on the radar on my road-sign weary mind. . .
But yet it wasn’t.
There was something that made me want to do a double take, to actually stop, being able to read its red words while digesting them more slowly rather than swallowing them hard and fast within the 1/10th of a second exposure I had while racing along at my near 80 mph clip.

It wasn’t the first half of the sign that struck me, “The End is coming”, but rather it was the latter half, the “be sure not to miss it” half which made more of an impression.

“Now that’s an odd thought” I mused as I merged right toward my exit.

When THE end does come, which I’m thinking means Jesus appearing. . .
That’s to be something, I would think, which will be really, really, really BIG.
Something brilliant and spectacular. . .frightening to some, while overwhelming to others.
As in loud, triumphant, mind blowing, earth shattering, boat rocking, out of this world EPIC!
“How could anyone who has eyes and or ears miss such a display?! Miss it, really???
I practically snorted aloud with my smug and incredulous rhetorically silent questioning.

And then it hit me. . .

What if it is actually subtle, quiet, unassuming?
Wonder if one could really miss it?
The End that is. . .
Maybe, just maybe. . .instead of playing the role of the faithful who are all too assuming and therefore a bit jaded in our “waiting”. . .
maybe we should be more active, more vigilant, more attuned. . .watching, listening and waiting. . .
Not like the Henny Pennys among us who dash about frantically wailing that the sky is falling, but rather more subdued perhaps even a bit somber as we listen more closely, chatter less while putting down our clanging gongs and beating drums. . .silently,reverently. . .
stopping, pausing, waiting, watching and listening. . .

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13

Will it or won’t it ?? Oh, and a happy anniversary to us. . .

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(the ominous forming of icicles / Julie Cook / 2015)

Perhaps it derives from a sense of solidarity with our northern kinsmen—
Those hearty New Englanders who are currently burdened, as well as heavy ladened, by the 9 foot and growing mountain of snow which has beset misery and woe upon our northern brethren in oh so many weeks.

Perhaps it is because of the still painful memory of the debacle of Atlanta’s SnowJam 2014 with
visions of the interstates as frozen parking lots and children camping out in their frozen-in-place school buses. . .

Perhaps it is because we are simply tired of the abundance of cold dreary rain and are, by sheer force, willing this miserable liquid to be something different. . .

Today marks the 3rd day in recent weeks that our school systems, at the behest of the Governor, have canceled school due to snow. . .might I add that there has been no snow.

This being a cancellation of anticipation.
Hummmmm. . .
Have you ever had a snow day without any snow?

Our weather woes and worries have become a much ado about nothing sort of affair. . .as in we have been warned for days and days in advance that calamity is soon to be riding in on the snow packed Northerly winds as the southern streaming Gulf moisture rides up to meet it. . .a scenario for the perfect Winter Snowstorm meeting in the middle—it’s just that nothing really seems to ever meet in order to materialize. . . other than up in the north Georgia Mountains where such happenings are expected.

As mere mortals, we are constantly trying our utmost best to corral the fickled wiles of Mother Nature. We study radar and charts, we compare highs and lows, we listen, we watch, we probe, we dig, we explore, we enlist the myriad of satellites circling the earth like lonely buzzards over head in search of calamity and catastrophe. We pat ourselves on the back when, by chance, we actually hit the forecasting nail on the head and then are quick to point fingers, while casting blame, when we’re caught by surprise.

So on this day of standing on the periphery of will it or won’t it, while I mindlessly join the masses who are making the dutiful pilgrimage to the grocery stores in search of the vastly fleeting and survival necessary bread and milk, as once again we stay glued to the windows in search of the elusive snowflake, I want to take a moment to wish both you and I a warm and loving Happy Anniversary. . .

Anniversary you ask?
Yes, yours and mine, as in ours. . .
Two years ago on the 25th of February 2013 you and I began this little blog journey–together.
Well actually I started the journey relatively alone and by myself–as in I ventured out into the unknown blogoshpere not even knowing what a blogoshpere was. . .

But two blessed years and 859 posts later here we are. . .you and I. . .together!
What a Blessing. . . and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

You bring me joy daily as you allow me to wax and wane, grouse and sing, vent and create. . .we support one another and we share. . .
We share the ups and downs of life–of which none of us are exempt. . .
And so it is on this 2nd anniversary of this journey we call Life, as visited via the blogoshpere, I thank you for walking by my side—it always makes a journey so much more meaningful, bearable, fun as well as magical walking side by side don’t you think. . .so thank you for taking this journey with me, by my side. . .

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26

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