pet rocks

Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.

John Muir

I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s

Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.

Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
early days.

And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.

I can remember wanting a pet rock.

By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…

As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.

Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…

And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.

The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”

Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…

Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Wikipedia

Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…

For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.

The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40

I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…

I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…

Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…

What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??

When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

lord of the flies

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”
Denis Diderot

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”
William Golding, Lord of the Flies


(I used this image back in June, but it fit so well today)

I suppose the reading of certain books during our time spent in high school
lit classes is all a part of the adolescent right of passage.

Most folks my age read such books as Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye,
A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Crucible,
1984 (yes published in 1949 and I read it long before 1984),
The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men…the list goes on and on.

Some books I enjoyed.
Some books I loathed.
Some books left me unsettled.

Lord of the Flies was just one such book.

No happy ending there.

It was a tale that left me terribly unsettled.

Any sort of story showcasing those who are oh so civilized one minute while
quickly falling into barbarism the next,
when all the trappings of modern life suddenly disappear,
leaves me less than happily settled—

Perhaps because it is a blatant reminder of how thin is the veil that separates
modern man from his animalistic alter ego …
and yet that was indeed the author’s intent…
A stalk reminder…..

I was in high school just past those heady days of Woodstock and Flower power.
The early 70’s were to be a time of reemerging.
We were coming up for air from an unpopular war, grave national unrest,
sit-ins, love-ins as a president was preparing to leave office in disgrace…
people wanted to reset and move forward.
Our naiveté was long gone.

Sounds as if I could be talking about today….

We read the works of writers who addressed such feelings..some being current, some
simply ahead of their time.

And it appears as if I am not alone in my recollection of my required reading
of such a tale…

The newly consecrated bishop of the Christian Episcopal Church of Canada and the US,
The Rt. Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, also recalls reading Lord of the Flies.

I found his post Wednesday to be most timely as he touched on an issue I’ve been
referencing in just these past many days…

That being the Nazis and their obsessive need to plunder, loot, and burn millions of books… in an all out attempt to control the thought processes of those they
wished to manipulate and rule while at the same time obliterating an entire
swarth of humanity.

“I can understand why the Nazis burned books.

One book can subvert a whole culture.

Perhaps one of the most subversive books I’ve known was “Lord of the Flies”
by William Golding.
I must have read it when I was 14 or 15.

It tells the story of a group of schoolboys whose plane crashes onto a remote island.
They survive the crash, but descend into violence and chaos and finally murder.
They lose all the trappings of civilisation, inside and out, in a very short time.

This was and is a shocking book.
It called the bluff of moral progress and ethical evolution.
Our civility is just skin deep Golding was saying.
From the moment I finished the book,
I knew that Golding was right and that progressive politics was based on a
misjudgment of human nature.
Our ethical progress was just skin deep, and could be lost in an instant.

I keep on being haunted by images of Nazi book burning and the smashing up of
Jewish shop fronts from Germany in the 1930’s.
Something like a collective madness came on the people of Germany.
It really seemed to erupt almost out of nowhere.
How could such a civilised people, the children of Goethe and Beethoven,
so swiftly become the breeding ground of Nazism, with its book burnings, thuggery
and ultimately the horrifying and very Golding-like final solution?”

The good Bishop goes on to explore the similarites he sees between the current acts of violence taking place on both sides of our collective pond in regards to the
progressive liberal groups and their lack of tolerance, or perhaps allowance would be a better word, with the more conservative and Christian groups over the current battle
lines.

Bishop Ashenden notes in particular a rather nasty incident taking place in Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park when several protesting groups converged.

It seems that a 60 year old feminist sort of protester was punched in the face by a transgendered male dressed as a female type individual,
who after punching said 60 year old woman in the face and knocking her to the ground,
then ran ran off.

Ashenden makes a rather stalk comparison between a now and then sort of moment:
“Mindless thugs beating their opponents in public were not the preserve only of the Brown Shirts in Berlin, of state apparatchiks in Moscow, but it’s odd to find gender activists demonstrating in favour of love, peace, tolerance and inclusion, beating up elderly feminists at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.”

Ashenden goes on…
“A great deal is made by the left that the threat of violence comes from the
‘far Right.’ In fact the press and media don’t bother with the ‘Right’ any more.
Anything less than socialist is called ‘Far-Right, – or Nazi.
There is no near-right, or middle right, or further right; just Far-Right.’

You may read the full post here:

‘Far-Left’ and ‘Far-Right’ need to be replaced by ‘Far-UP’.

The irony of our current thuggery groups behaving so terribly badly while they shout
for rights, proclaim justice, preach love, and of all things, demand tolerance….
all the while commencing to malign and beat to a pulp those who oppose their current
trend of senseless thoughts……

They might do well to reread a book or two from their day’s in lit class.

Barbarism is but a step away from the the civilized…..

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.
Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

status quo

“One day everything will be well,
that is our hope.
Everything’s fine today,
that is our illusion”

Voltaire

edward_collier_-_letter_rack_-_google_art_project
(Edward Collier’s Letter Rack / 1698 / Oil on Canvas /Art Gallery of South Australia)

There are good days…
Days such as Christmas when things like Snoopy and Woodstock flannel sheets,
along with a handmade Georgia Tech teddy bear is all it takes to make
one happy and content.

img_0840
(dad and his grandson on Christmas day / Julie Cook / 2016)

There are bad days…
Days when the weight and heaviness of reality is coupled by the
frustratingly helplessness of a losing battle of body …

img_0829
(dad on a bad day / Julie Cook / 2016)

And yet the turning of the calendar page always brings renewed hopefulness.
A new year,
a new day,
a new month,
a new hope…

The hospice nurse told us yesterday that things with Dad are status quo…
could be worse, could be better, and yet he’s holding his own–so far this day…
On another day, perhaps tomorrow, something else may come our way, something different…
but as for today, we will take “status quo”

Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

Psalm 3:2-6

What the world needs now. . .

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. . .”

Lyrics by Hal David with music by Burt Bacharach

DSC02631
(a wild weed volunteer under the bird feeder / Julie Cook / 2015)

In 1965 Jackie DeShannon’s rendition of What the World Needs Now hit number 7 on the top 100 play charts.
This was two years before the famous, or infamous depending on who you ask, Summer of Love.
It was a precipitous time in our Nation. . .
For little did any of us fully grasp that at this particular tender time, we were on a oneway collision course with what looked to be a National implosion of epic proportions.

It was a time that was pre Woodstock, pre pill, pre woman’s lib, yet post Cuban Missile Crisis, and post JFK assassination. . .
Growing ominously in the distance were the beating drums of war as this was the same year the first US troops found their way to shores of the Sea of China, just north of Da Nang, Vietnam. . .

Fast forward to September 1st 2015. . .Breaking News. . .a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer is shot by 3 assailants and dies from his wounds. He’s a 32 year law enforcement veteran who leaves behind a wife and four children. The suspects are still at large as the entire community is put on lock down.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, which took place over the weekend of a Texas Sheriff’s deputy who was shot while simply pumping gas, filling up his police car. A man approached him from behind, shooting him executioner style.
When he fell to the pavement, the gunman stood over the body, emptying his gun into an obviously dead body—an exclamation point of murder.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, wait, didn’t I just said that. . . of two television journalist in Virginia. . .etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum

There’s been a lot of banter recently about “Black Lives Matter”. . .
However I heard a response from the Sheriff of the deputy who was shot that I think sums up all of this craziness best. . .his response to the press just following the murder of his deputy was, and I’m paraphrasing, . . .’that there has been lots of talk surrounding the Black lives matter conversation but we all need to drop the qualifiers and understand one thing. . .that ALL lives matter—doesn’t matter black, white, brown, yellow. . .ALL lives matter. . .’

For you see, in this one man’s grief over the wasteful loss of life, he gets it–he can actually see to the core of what is yet just one more divisional line to so many divisional lines in this Nation of ours. . .

. . .for in the heart of God, there are no distinctions. . .
there is no line of separation, no color, no status, no sides, no qualifiers. . .all that exists is a Love that is as wide and tall as it is deep. . .as in never ending.
It does not discriminate, nor does it look twice. . . it does not set limits nor does it demand anything in return. . .It is equal, all inclusive, welcoming and offered to each and everyone. . .who so chooses to accept it—and that’s the kicker. . .choosing to accept it–choosing love, forgiveness, surrendering of self, of pride, of ego, of hate, of suspicion in exchange for Love. . .a Love that has been offered from a Father and bought with the ultimate price by a son, so that you and I could stop the madness and live a life that finally lets go of the hate—

Which brings me to what exactly this world of our seems to need. . . NOW. . .

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Blackbird

DSCN1682
(photograph: Red winged black bird perched on a park bench in Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Those of us, shall we say, of a certain age, live a life that is forever linked to a particular musical group or genre….as are other generations, both those who came before us and those who are pulling up the rear…as it seems music most often defines us—as belonging to a particular age group. There was the whole Woodstock generation. You know, the whole make love not war movement—we just won’t mention that whole little Hell’s Angels incident in Altamonte –I think they missed the memo on the love and peace movement.

For my mother, it was Elvis. Mother died in 1986 at the age of 53 (the same age I am now). Elvis died in 1977 at the age of 42. They were about the same age. She adored Elvis. I suppose it was that boyish grin, the gyrating of those hips, and that country boy naiveté persona of his. I could take or leave Elvis but then again, he does not define my generation as he did hers.

My defining musical masters consisted of a group of, at the time, relatively clean cut lads sporting, however, a bit of a “mop top”, that at the time, was not looked upon favorably by the “older” generation. They were a cockney group of young boys who grew up in a working class neighborhood. Nothing terribly refined or sophisticated about any of them but for the sheer fact that they possessed the ability to play, and play well, musical instruments–they also possessed the ability to sing harmoniously as well as individually, and the fact that they were cute and coy certainly helped.

“I want to hold your hand”, “Revolution”, “Day tripper” all spun round and round on my little portable 45 record player day in and day out. I stood on my bed dancing and singing, albeit greatly out of tune, the lyrics to these simple songs that would one day define me and my generation.

I’ve written before about the story of my grandfather, a wonderfully jovial man, who sadly died when I was but 7, who took all of his grandkids down to the Fulton Country Stadium (the precursor to the Ted, aka Turner Field) in order to attend a concert performed by this motley crew of boys. At the time I was the youngest grandchild tagging along with my teenage cousins. A trio of attractive young black girls opened up the show….these girls also, eventually, went on their own way to finding fame and stardom, adding one more component to my generation’s defining moments.

As the events of that time became most fluid and inflamed, an entire generation began to write with growing pains. The music following suit, matched mood for mood and became not only a rallying cry for a generation but a soothing balm as well. Lyrics, rhythms and beats echoed the turmoil, angst and painful metamorphic state of a nation embroiled in too much at one time—

The boys from Liverpool, following suit, morphed as well. The hair grew longer, the “recreational actives” became cloaked in shadow, lawlessness and wanton debauchery—only matching so much of what a generation was involved in. Thankfully I was still the younger tail end of this particular era, thank goodness. The lyrics were clouded with intrigue—was Paul really dead? What was that if you played the record backwards? Why did Lucy in the sky with diamonds have to an acronym for LSD, who was the infamous Eggman and the Walrus? Coo Coo cachoo…. The visual images of the “growing pains” of the time, bordered on tragic—as they were indeed tragic and deadly for many of what had become known as a psychedelic generation.

The song Blackbird, whose lyrics are posted above, was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1968. The music based in Bach and the lyrics based in racism. I heard Paul McCartney give an interview not long ago regarding Blackbird—he said it was basically a tale about the struggles a young black girl would be enduring during such a turbulent time.

Blackbird is one of my favorite songs of the Beatles. Oh there are others that I love…those with perhaps more poetic lyrics or better rhythm and beats but there was always something a bit mystical about Blackbird. Maybe I likened it a bit to Poe’s The Raven—this black specter that appears as a harbinger of things to come. Yet the difference between the Raven and Blackbird is that I feel a sense hope—hope steeped for a Blackbird that sees the opportunity of flying freely away, as its moment has arrived….

I do not feel the same kindred spirit for today’s profanity laced, sexually explicit lyrics. There is anger in today’s music—more so than the music of my day. That is not to say that musicians and the youth of my day were happy with the circumstances of our times—the anger and frustration was simply channeled differently. A message could be conveyed without the degrading of woman, the arrogance of racial indifference, or the use of profanity as if there were no real words to be found and utilized rather than the use of the hate filled dribble of today.

Perhaps this generation does not know how to deal with the anger that they wish to express. I see that daily in the hallways of schools and in the buses that transport children to and from school all across this nation, as fighting is rife and most violent. Frustration seems to be at an all time high and yet it is not dealt with constructively towards change but rather destructively towards death. Violence seems to be almost acceptable– or– is it because all have become desensitized or jaded or perhaps both?

I know that it is common for an older generation to bemoan those of the following generations, but I feel there is something more ominous and sinister going on in our society concerning our youth. The innocence and naiveté is gone, or simply never existed. Which makes me wonder what my generation did or did not do, has or has not done by this generation’s kids to have them going the way in which they are going…and sadly taking all of us with them.

A wise friend once told me that what one generation tolerates, another accepts. I hear the same mantra over and over again of noted experts rattling off to parents the “wisdom” of picking one’s battles. Let some things go they say…but have we let too much go? Are we tolerating too much? Too much hate, too much violence all in the name of tolerance. I was taught that racial slurs were unacceptable but yet we allow them in the music and lyrics our kids listen to and chalk it up as “ok”–they can say that because of who they are—I don’t buy that.

May we be mindful of the road we are paving—as the late Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa often were heard to lament–our’s has become a society of death.

Let us remember that it is never too late to find the moment to arise and take flight for the things that are right–turning from the death and destruction which seems to be taking hold of our world. What will it be that defines you and your generation? Life, respect, order, or death, degradation, anarchy–choose wisely–lives depend upon it.