a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

Once upon a book…

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)

Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.

And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.

As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.

Books, books everywhere a book!

So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.

A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.

I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.

Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.

Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.

My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.

Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.

So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.

“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”

I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.

They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.

So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.

Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.

But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:13

what will you risk for what is right?

If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats.
But if you take no risks, you win no victories.

Richard M. Nixon


(a picture I’d taped to my classroom door of Mikhail Gobachev being driven through East Berlin)

As I continue to clean out what was my former life…out of the myriad of boxes and bins
buried in our basement, boxes from my life of teaching, I found a box of things
I’d pulled off my classroom door when I was cleaning out my classroom upon retirement.

I also had this picture of Mother Teresa’s feet…
I’d placed the photo on my door, backing it with a simple black sheet of mat board.
I had written on the mat “these feet never complained—they just kept moving in the name of Love”

Many of the kids commented that they thought the picture was “gross”.
Such comments afforded me the opportunity to explain to them as to why someone would allow their
feet to get in such a sad state of affairs.

I wanted to challenge my kids, as well all the other kids who would pass by my door,
with such issues of truth, life, sacrifice, love, conviction, bravery and the notion
of looking beyond self to things that were much greater…

My prayer is that we continue to seek that which is greater than ourselves.

If we do so, we might just erase the current senseless violence besieging our cities.

nip it in the bud vs the good bits

NIP IT!
NIP IT IN THE BUD”

Barney Fife


(Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show)

You remember Barney right?
Barney Fife?
From back in the early 1960s?
The hapless deputy helping to protect the imaginary town of Mayberry, NC?

Thank goodness for his even-keeled, laid back boss, Sheriff Andy Taylor.

When Barney wanted to make a point of how certain things needed to go, in what direction
his long-suffering boss should proceed…all the while emphasizing the need for
no further discussion on his part, he was famous for using the quip,
“Nip it…Nip it in the bud.”
“Ya got to nip it, Andy, nip it in the bud now!”

According to the dictionary, the expression means:
suppress or destroy something at an early stage

Meaning cut it off at the source before it, whatever it might be, spreads and thus
creates a deeper tangled mess.

Such an expression could be used, say, toward gossip…stopping idol hearsay before
it becomes so distorted that folks get unnecessarily hurt or unfairly maligned.

And so now we have it…we know our troubles…

Our trouble is that we are currently living in a sea of irony…
a sea of nipping things in the bud.
I hate to say it but we are living in a culture lead by those who are nipping anything
everything, anyone, and everyone in the bud.

As in, get rid of it, get rid of them… now!

In other words, cancel it out.

I’ve never really been a big fan of comedians, I think I’ve mentioned that before.
I’ve never been one to enjoy amusement derived at the expense of others.

Now I can be self-deprecating as the day is long…but I just find
many of today’s comedians and their schticks to be either laced with foul words
and or imagery and simply tasteless, offensive and irreverent dribble.

Of course, those like Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr.
Dean Martin and even Flip Wilson were of a different generation of comedians.
They could make me laugh.
They often laughed at themselves or laughed at things we could all relate to…

But I must say, that whereas he’s never been high on my list, I am finding
that I can actually readily appreciate the British comedian Ricky Gervais.

He has not shied away from going after those whose circles he has run in
or at least run around.

Recently, he let loose on the Hollywood elites when he hosted the last Golden
Globe awards. Yes he can be foul and irreverent, which is why
I don’t much care to watch him, but he has, however, been candidly truthful.

And it is his truthfulness that I can certainly appreciate.

I caught a news story yesterday about Gervais speaking out
against today’s cancel culture.

I found his observation to be most telling…

“Everyone’s got a different definition of cancel culture,” the 59-year-old explained.
“If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don’t like them, that’s everyone’s right.
But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion
about something that’s nothing to do with their job,
that’s what I call cancel culture and that’s not cool.”

He added: “You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship.
You trying to get other people to turn off their TV because you don’t like something
they’re watching, that’s different.”

“I did a tweet a month ago about freedom of speech, quoting Winston Churchill.
Someone came back with, ‘You know he was a white supremacist?’
And I wrote back, ‘Not in that tweet he isn’t.’
It’s like if someone did something once that’s wrong, everything they did was wrong,” he said.
“You are allowed to have things in common with bad people as long it’s not the bad things.
I’m a vegetarian and I love dogs, like Hitler.
But the only thing I have in common with Hitler are the good bits!”

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/ricky-gervais-speaks-out-cancel-culture

So it seems our culture has lost the notion of the good bits
while they mindlessly race to nipping both you and me in the bud!

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29

Kristallnacht, we will try to live through it…

“Our father took me and my little sister in his arms that night,
and said, ‘this is the beginning of a very difficult time, and we’ll try to live through it’.”

Ruth Winkelmann remembering The Night of Broken Glass


(United States Holocaust Museum)

The greatest gift that all of us can give to our country as patriotic Americans
is to live out our lives as faithful Catholic Americans who have been entrusted
with the fullness of faith and the fullness of divine life and the fullness of power
without which our country will not endure.

Dr. Scott Hahn
from A Father Who Keeps His Promises

I don’t think Dr. Hahn would mind me substituting “faithful Christian American”
in place of “faithful Catholic American—as I think it is a most fitting assertion…
in that, it is a gift that all Believers should be offering—
as in a gift given from ourselves to ourselves and to our fellow countrymen…
those who are Believers as well as to our non-believing kinsmen.

What better example could we the faithful be but that of good and patriotic Americans!
Those who possess humility, kindness, charity, and that of a law-abiding zest for living.
As in, we the people, who have been the entrusted caregivers of this Nation…
a nation founded 244 years ago. We are her stewards.
As that was the legacy and hope of our Founding Fathers.

Yet, in most recent weeks, we have been witness to a life far from that of caring…
a life far from one of stewardship.


(Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House/
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)


(Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG/ Long Beach, California)


(Minnesota protesters topple a statue of Christopher Columbus)

Even our cousins across the great pond have gotten in on the act.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) “was a racist” written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, most of the countries which make up our 21st-century Western Civilization
have devolved into a disastrous maelstrom of violence and hate.

Last week when I wrote a post lamenting this current reign of madness, a fellow blogger
commented that we are actually experiencing our own Kristallnacht…
the night of broken glass.

I was dumbfounded.
It was as if I had been struck by lightning.
It was a revelation.
And I was amazed at the eerie similarity.

And so for those of you who are unfamiliar with Kristallnacht or for those who do not
know their history…and particularly since this current cultural civil war seems to be
falling woefully short any sort of knowledge of history or the past…
let me share with you a brief look backward.

When one googles “history repeating itself” a myriad of sites pop up dedicated to the notion
that history does indeed repeat itself…no ifs, ands or buts.

Many scholars and historians both believe that this phenomenon takes place after a
4 generational time frame.
Meaning, it takes four generations to see a re-cycle of time and events.

And according to Wikipedia “a generation is
“all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.”
It can also be described as, “the average period, generally considered to be
about 20–⁠30 years, during which children are born and grow up,
become adults, and begin to have children.”

According to the United States Holocaust Museum,
Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, took place during two nights
in November, the 9th and 10th, of 1938.

1938 is 82 years ago—a division of 4 being 20.5 years

The term ‘night of broken glass’ comes from the fact that the streets of numerous cities
across Germany, those two nights in 1938, were littered with millions of shards of glass coming
from the smashed and shattered windows of storefronts, synagogues, and homes…all properties
of the Jewish population—a result of riots instigated by Nazi Party members
and the Hitler youth.
The Jews were blamed collectively for what was at the time was an apparent
wrongful death.

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members
of the SA (Sturmabteilungen: commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted
as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination
of Ernst vom Rath.
Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris.
Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938.
A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship
living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents,
residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry
into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near
the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.
Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently
sought revenge for his family’s precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy
and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting.
The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch,
an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership,
assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext
to launch a night of antisemitic excesses.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms,
suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit
the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that…
demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party,
but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

Now, let us look at a few similarities…
The “spontaneous” riots in 1938 were the result of the outrage over a wrongful death.

In the case of Germany, it was an assassination of a low-level government official.
In the US it was the death of an unarmed petty criminal.

In both cases, riots were instigated under the pretext of these wrongful deaths.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who we know is credited with instigating
Germany’s “riots”, noted that Hitler had called for no organized demonstrations by
Party officials but that if things happened spontaneously…well, then so be it.

The turning of the blind eye.

And so we ask ourselves, how many in our own government raised a voice during the past
month decrying the civil unrest taking place across our nation?
What of those in our media?
What public figures raised their voices crying out that enough is enough?
Other than the President and his inner circle, what elected official has denounced
the violence?

Rather, our media and leadership are siding with and even encouraging the agitators–
they claim that nothing is wrong with the destruction of businesses, livelihoods,
churches, or monuments.

Now whereas some claims have been made that when Hitler came to power,
he defunded and disbanded the German police—
but in actuality, the opposite is the case.
But it was at a dire cost.

The United States Holocaust Museum continues…
Nazi state in fact alleviated many of the frustrations the police experienced
in the Weimar Republic.
The Nazis shielded the police from public criticism by censoring the press.
They ended street fighting by eliminating the Communist threat.
Police manpower was even extended by the incorporation of Nazi paramilitary organizations
as auxiliary policemen.
The Nazis centralized and fully funded the police to better combat criminal gangs
and promote state security.
The Nazi state increased staff and training, and modernized police equipment.
The Nazis offered the police the broadest latitude in arrests, incarceration,
and the treatment of prisoners.
The police moved to take “preventive action,” that is,
to make arrests without the evidence required for a conviction in court and
indeed without court supervision at all.

Conservative policemen were initially satisfied with the results of their cooperation
with the Nazi state.
Crime did indeed go down and the operation of criminal gangs ended.
Order was restored.
But there was a price.
The Nazi state was not a restoration of the imperial tradition.
It was at its core thoroughly racist.
The Nazis took control and transformed the traditional police forces of the Weimar Republic
into an instrument of state repression and, eventually, of genocide.

The Nazi state fused the police with the SS and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD),
two of the most radical and ideologically committed Nazi organizations.
Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, also became the chief of all German police forces.

But the most egregious capitulation actually came from an unlikely organization—
that being the Chruch.

From the beginning of Nazi rule and the fateful years leading up to them,
Germany’s traditional spiritual and moral leaders failed to speak out against
hateful speech, violence.
After 1933, they failed to speak out against legal measures that progressively
stripped Jews of their rights.
Some church leaders, particularly within the more nationalistic “German Christian”
movement of the Protestant Evangelical Church, enthusiastically supported
the Nazi regime.

Only a small minority of religious leaders, ministers, and priests,
usually in isolated parishes, spoke out against Nazi racism, gave Sunday sermons
decrying the persecution of Germany’s Jews, provided aid, or hid Jews.
Without the support of their leaders and institutions,
voices of dissent had little effect.
Churches in communities across Germany also facilitated the implementation of racial laws
by providing baptismal records,
a proof of non-Jewish descent.

Church responses to the persecution of Jews were shaped by traditional forms of
religious antisemitism with deep roots in Christian history.
Clergy and church leaders were also influenced by larger political and social trends
in Germany after World War I, including rising nationalism and of special importance for the churches,
the fear of “Godless Communism” after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia,
which led to left-wing revolutionary activities in Germany.
Support for the repression of communism and the need to restore Germany’s economy
and status as a world power usually outweighed church leaders’ distaste for the
“un-Christian,” racialized thinking, and “paganism” many of them saw in Nazism.

By the time of Kristallnacht, the violent assault on Jews of November 9-10, 1938,
no church leader of influence spoke out to protest and in this,
they shared the complicity of university, business, and military leaders who were also
silent during events of which many disapproved or had qualms.
By this time, as the orgy of violence and terror of Kristallnacht showed,
it was probably too late. The Nazi regime had total control of public discourse and
spaces and of the tools of repression which became even harsher once war began,
from imprisonment without trial in a concentration camp to execution.

So where I have been going this week with all this talk about callings, vocations,
civil unrest, radicalism, capitulation, Nazi’s, police, The Chruch, the madness???
I’ll tie this all together tomorrow…

Off with their heads!

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat.
“We’re all mad here.”

The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland


(a toppled statue of St Francis / Julie Cook / 2020)

No, my little St. Francis statue is not the victim of our current hate-fueled madness but
rather it was the victim of a severe thunderstorm.
He toppled over onto the sidewalk and literally lost his head.

Yet, to be honest, seeing poor ol St. Francis having lost his head,
stung my senses a bit.

And so if an old worn garden statue I’ve had for years can prick my emotions, imagine how
I feel watching American monument after monument being defaced or destroyed?

Imagine my dismay over our suddenly removing the names of those more famous among us,
those who are now long gone, being removed from buildings or airports all because their only crime
was having lived generations ago.

What of those now screaming that all white European images of Christ be removed,
or better yet, destroyed?

What of those in the LGBTQ communities exclaiming they don’t wish to co-exist with Christians
but would rather prefer seeing Christianity as nonexistent.

But more about that nonsense later…

Have you ever found yourself pondering the notion of your existence?
As in a ‘why am I here’ sort of pondering?

I know that there have been those amongst us who have felt a keen sense
of purpose for their lives early on…a sense of destiny.
It is a sense of knowing, even as a child, that they were destined for something
so much bigger and so much greater than simply being themselves.

Karol Wojtyla, later the first Polish Pope and Saint, John Paul II felt such.
George Patton, later 4-star general, also felt such.
Winston Churchill, later the UK Prime Minister during WWII, again, felt the same.

As a young boy, Churchill is noted for telling a young schoolmate that he knew
that greatness was in his future.
This coming from a precocious young boy who struggled in his schooling.
A boy who was shipped off to boarding school and was often an embarrassment to his
famously prestigious father.
Greatness was not the initial thought that came to the mind of those who knew
the boy before there was to be the man.

There have been countless others who have also felt the very same sense of purpose.

A feeling that their life was a calling.
A calling to something greater than.

Such callings are often referred to as vocations.
With vocations being vastly different from mere jobs.

A vocation requires a deep sense of dedication—up to and not limited
to one’s very existence.

Those who become members of religious orders and even those who are lead to become teachers,
doctors, policemen, firefighters, nurses…they are but a few of those who we consider as
being called to vocations rather than 9 to 5 jobs.

Those who seek vocations rather than the average job have often felt such calls
early on in life.
An invisible pulling to something so much more than…

If you were ever a kid who attended any sort of Sunday School,
chances are you heard stories and tales about ‘the saints’ —
those brave men and women who dedicated their entire beings to serving God
and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Those who were willing to face the dire consequences of doing so.

Gruesome tortures with eventual death being the inevitable.

Some of these men and women had been average folks but many had been roughnecks,
criminals and most often the worst amongst us…
yet God had tapped them early on for something so much greater.

And once the scales had fallen from their eyes and their hearts broken,
their true mission began.

And so, we know…
there is indeed a calling.
And there will be no denying this calling.

Some of us already know this very keenly.
Others of us come to this knowledge reluctantly…but come we do.
And when we do so, we do so resolutely.

So tell me, have you heard it?

Have you heard or felt the calling?

I have.

And so now I know…

This thought will be continued…tomorrow.

Call to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:47

lunatics at large!!! Where have all the sane people gone?????

“Sane people did what their neighbors did,
so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch


(edvard-munch.org)

About 8 years ago, when I first began this little blog of mine, I posted a little disclaimer …
that being—as a newly retired teacher, I still felt as if I had a few things left
in me to teach..things that still needed to be studied…

Two key components to that need of continuing education were–
A) the history of our Western Civilization and that of her Judaeo Christian bedrock
on which it was built—as well as…
B) the importance of knowing from whence we came in order that we could know where
we were going.

There were also other pressing issues but knowing one’s history,
as well as one’s foundation, were the lynchpins.

And yet we are currently watching our culture throw that proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
All because our oh so woke world cares not about her past but rather only about her
own selfish agenda.

And that my dear students, is what we call ignorance.

Or maybe it’s what we call stupidity.

Or maybe it happens to be both—ignorant stupidity.

Madame Speaker has demanded that all the portraits of all Civil War era
Speakers of the House be removed from public view.
Much like that crazy uncle who needs to be hidden away from the guests during the holidays.

Statues around our Western Civilization…statues of Columbus, Winston Churchill,
and all Confederate leaders are being defaced or toppled.

Rioters are commandeering our cities, claiming swarths of city blocks as new sovereign lands.

Our police have lost all due process and are leaving their posts.

Lawlessness rules supreme.

Face maks are mandated.

Rioters do as they please.

Where is our sanity in the midst of this chaos?

Your history matters people.
It defines you–for better or worse.
We pray that the worse part is what will serve to make you better.
But if you continue to stick your fingers in your ears, ignoring the facts,
then you are bound to the ties of failure.

Let me share an intimate look at history.

When our two-year-old granddaughter comes to visit…in order to
consolidate the hurried pace of getting ready for bed, she and I
will hop in the shower together.

If ever a kid loved water, it is her.
She could stay in a tub or shower all night if possible.
Happily turning into a wrinkled prune.

She will sit on the shower bench telling me to sit beside her,
this as the warm rainfall showerhead gently rains down over our heads.

I’ll scrub her little feet and lather her head as we style
soapy hair into fun and fanciful shapes.

She asks that I cup my hands together, filling my hands full of water so
she can try and take a drink.
She asks that I fill her pink water pitcher full of water so I
can pour it over her head.

I think of us sitting together in this shower, warm and happy…
an intimate setting when everything seems right in the world…
all within our happy little world.

And then I think of a different time…
a time when other women and their children and grandchildren
huddle together, all awkwardly and yet intimately naked, thinking that this
was to be their last sacred time together.

They had been herded into “the showers” ridiculed, naked, and afraid.
Holding tightly together in a final intimate last moment before
the deadly ‘showers’ began.

I am removed from their nightmare by 75 to 80 years.

At this moment, I am happy and feel a deep sense of gratitude to be able to
share in this rather intimate night-time ritual with my granddaughter…

Yet there were other women who would have also relished in such an opportunity…
but rather theirs was to be a final solution to a culture’s perceived problem.

Madness.

Yet madness still prevails.

Learn from your history and your past my dear students.
Do not repeat the same errors of previous “woke” generations.

However, I fear your pride has blinded your eyes and chilled any hope of compassion
from your heart.

Continue on this path and we are all doomed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar,
and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved,
and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought
you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming
of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved,
and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise
we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:10-13

keep going…by all means, keep going…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill


(my Penley of Winston Chruchill /Julie Cook/ 2020)

My best-laid plans…

I started this post about 4 days ago…
such is my life right now…

Such is most of our lives right now…

So maybe I need a little pep talk.

Maybe you need a little pep talk.

I think that I might rather prefer a slight swift kick in the pants…

Swift kicks seem to leave a more lasting impression.
Plus they make for immediate forward motion.

I know we are all sick and tired of living in these “uncertain” times.
All you have to do is watch any commercial…be it for cars to credit cards…
every last one now speaks of ” these uncertain times.”

Some of them may use the word uncertain while others use challenging
and some opt for difficult or trying
but no matter what, it is all most precarious.

But if you ask me, ever since that little apple-eating incident, we’ve long been in
“uncertain times”…but I digress.

If you don’t already know this about me, I live in Georgia.
And our governor announced earlier in the week a plan to begin “re-opening” our state
starting this Friday.

Now there is a tremendous amount of brouhaha ensuing following this executive decision.
All the way from the national level to a local level—
Georgia is now being scrutinized.

Are we crazy?
Have we lost our minds?

I, myself, am a bit torn about it all…yet I am all for jumpstarting our economy.

I’m torn mainly because a stagnant economy makes for a stagnant people,
and a stagnant people makes for a stagnant nation…and a stagnant nation makes
for a sitting duck.

And the flip to jumpstarting an economy is that of our health and wellbeing.

Start or wait then start?
Too soon?
Too late?

The apocalypse, of which was forecast in all of this, did not materialize.

No trumpets.
No horsemen.
No booming voices from on high.

However we do know that people have gotten sick, people have suffered and people have died.

So I’ll admit that we do need to go about all of this mess aggressively but also very smartly…
However, we as a people and as a nation, don’t want to knee jerk ourselves into a fetal position
of Henny Penny, the sky is falling and the end is near.

That’s not who we are.
We are home of the brave remember.

We know those who have suffered…those who have lost jobs…
those who have lost loved ones and those who have simply lost their sense of security—
all from a virus…
And thus for some, there seems to be no solace…
and that, my friend, is one key reason as to why we need to propel ourselves forward…

Yet—we are afraid.

We are fearful.
And frighteningly enough, there are those of us who are even afraid to breathe…
as in literally breathing… as we are fearful of what is in the air.

But at some point, we will have to breathe, otherwise, we will all die.

So I wonder… where will we find the correct balance?

Do we press forward or do we continue to wait?

I’d like to think we need to press forward…
but at what cost, what time?

And so that is when I recall those immortal words…
‘when you find yourself in hell, [you mustn’t stop but instead]
you must keep going!’

Those of you who know me, know that Winston Churchill is a bit of a hero of mine.

So when life, be it my own or the larger collective thing we call Life,
proves to be difficult, daunting, trying, or even challenging, I often recall the
wisdom, tenacity, and even the panache of dear old’ Winston.

I will find myself imagining what Winston might do given the same circumstance…

So while I currently find myself so very tired, worried, bewildered, confused
and even mad about the current circumstance for which we are now finding ourselves,
I imagine Winston would bellow gruffly that we must trudge forward…
because forward is the ONLY way to go.

So while I was perusing several articles about dear old Winne,
I found an interesting piece written 8 years ago by Geoff Loftus for Forbes Magazine.
The gist of the article was written basically for business management and overcoming
various obstacles but I found it most applicable to our current world…
I’ve offered a portion of the article but the link to the full
article is listed below…

May 9, 2012

Seventy-two years ago tomorrow, a chubby, stoop-shouldered,
funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job.
The man was 65-years old and until a year earlier was generally considered
to be a crackpot and a political has-been.
His taking the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20th Century.

The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished.
They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.

Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war,
and 340,000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk.
The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe.
It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.

In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance.

“We shall never surrender.”
When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have.
Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry V,
Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was
still alive in the British people, saying, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led
the British people to victory:
“Never, never, never give up.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2012/05/09/if-youre-going-through-hell-keep-going-winston-churchill/#5ed52e2d5490


(one of my several chalk filled figurenes and collectables of Winston)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

our resolve

“It is not enough that we do our best;
sometimes we must do what is required.”

―Winston S. Churchill

I have never lived through a world war, although I have lived through wars.
I have not lived during a pandemic, although I have experienced illnesses.

I have not physically wandered through a wilderness, though I have known
the loneliness of the wilderness.
I have not experienced a physical death, but I have known the loss and isolation of death.

I do, however, know paradox because we are currently living in such an anomaly.

Our current situation is not typical nor is it one that we can fully comprehend.

On some levels, life remains as we know it.
On others, not so much.

I still find great frustration in the cars I see driving constantly on the roads.
I am frustrated that we are told one thing and most choose to ignore the mandates.
The consequences of ignorance puts us all at great peril and risk.

Yet what of economics and loss?

What is the correct wisdom?

Stay in and isolated or open up and encourage commerce?

I agree with what I read from a fellow blogger’s post:
I have a sense of shame for myself which is natural.
How much more should I have been prepared spiritually for such an event as this?

(https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/are-we-entering-the-false-world-of-virtual-reality-virtual-truth-and-virtual-church/)

And I greatly enjoyed the speech offered yesterday by The Queen of England.

Whereas the Queen gives her usual Christmas greeting to her Commonwealth,
this particular speech was one of only a handful that she has delivered to her Nation
during times of grief or need.

I respect her words of wisdom and resolve, in part because I know she has lived in
times that I have not.
She has maintained, now for her 93 years, a resolve that some would find harsh
while others would find stalwart and actually comforting.

I am of the latter thinking…

A few highlights—

“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.”

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,”
And, those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,
that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humored resolve,
and of fellow feeling still characterize this country.”

“The pride in who we are is not part of our past.
It defines our present and our future.

“We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us,” she concluded.
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return.
We will be with our friends again.
We will be with our families again.
We will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”

doves, hawks and the passage of time…

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

Jimmy Carter


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

Are we the same world we were 82 years ago?

Obviously not.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

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

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

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

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

Yet in the end, we learned the hard way.

What of 1979?

Are we the same America we were 41 years ago?

No.

But is that a bad thing you ask?

In many ways, I think that perhaps it is.

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

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

I was soon headed off to college.

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

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


(political cartoon from 1979)

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

I had deeply admired Sadat—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran seems to remain a thorn in our side.

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

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

Quantum 75 – Predictions for 2020

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

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

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

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

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

It appears the President kept good on his word.

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

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

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

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

He first opted for the usual route.

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

Then there was an Embassy attack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 12:2-3