Archive for the ‘Christian Analysis’ category

March 28, 2017

winking
(I hope I didn’t melt any Snowflakes in that previous posting ) 

I really was just musing about how important that “warrior” spirit is to building up and maintaining a  ccivilization.      Included in that term “warrior spirit”  is a very high system of ethics and morality,  without which warriors would devolve into barbaric free-for-alls.   Might makes right, etc.

In a nice serendipitous point on our calendar,  we are directed today to look at St. Gontran.   I never heard of him.  (Or I probably read about him before as I cycle through the yearly saints – I simply don’t remember him.)

St Gontran de Bourgpgne
In that last post,   I had just referenced my study of Merovingian kings,  and here is one for today!    Gontran was the son of that first great Merovingian king,  Clovis, a pagan Frankish warrior  who converted to his wife’s Christianity to save his life in battle  and then went on, with God’s help,  to establish a stable Frankish kingdom which contributed to the development of Western Civilization as we  know knew it.

His son, Gontran, was raised Catholic from  birth and probably had an even  better understanding of Christianity than his father.    He was devoted to Christ,  and when grown was given the land of Bourgogne to rule,  that is,  the big area we call Burgundy,  which played such an important role in our  history.

St Gontran king of lotsA dignified and respected leader, King Gontran

Although King Gontran has an interesting biography,  I’ll just give you this partial  summary   from  Butler’s . . .  “The prosperity of his reign,  both in peace and in war,  condemns those who think that human policy cannot be modeled by the maxims of the Gospel,  whereas, in reality,  nothing can render a government more flourishing.  . . .  He was the protector of the oppressed and a tender parent of his subjects.     He gave the greatest attention to the sick.   He fasted, prayed, wept, and offered himself to God night and day  . . .    He was a severe punisher of crimes . . .   and by many wholesome regulations he restrained the barbarous licentiousness of his troops.”   He lived to 68 years of age, after reigning for 31 years –  a great long life span!

Note that this freedom from the godless barbarism of the day came with the application of the Christian notion of the warrior of high moral conscience.   Fighting for what is right.      Only a people who are willing to be free and who are willing to defend their freedom will be free.

Now, today,  as we saw,  that warrior spirit is on beer bottle labels.    Or we put our warriors in the land of make-believe and give them  imaginary, unrealistic and superhuman faculties, confining them to  movies or games.     If  warrior spirits dare to emerge in elementary schools,  we suspend those young boys.   Even if their “weapon” is a munched-on Pop-Tart!  College males go around apologizing for who they are.   We’re content to come home from work or school,  kick off our shoes,  and rest in an electronically induced somnolence, while our Rulers silently consolidate their power over us.

deep

Again,  freedom isn’t free.   Freedom didn’t come to us for free.    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”   Not just a sentimental phrase from history.  And though we don’t know for sure who first stated it,  the truth of the matter is that  we won’t keep our freedom without paying a price.     Perhaps we only need to pay attention – and do our duty appropriate to our station in life and to the circumstances around us.

Perhaps we’ll be called on to do more.

Not necessarily with battle-axe and sword.

So,  I’m not sure,   but it would seem that  if a  foreign “warrior spirit”  threatens our freedoms or even our very existence, . . .

Slay and Butcher

        . . .    then it ought to be matched by an equal or great warrior spirit coming from us.

Unless our culture is suicidal.

History will record . . . .

WHAT IS LOVE.

March 25, 2017

Period.  Not a question mark in that title.  We owe the invention of the question mark to Charlemagne and his renaissance of Christian learning which helped to create the European civilization we’ve inherited  (and perhaps squandered).   Charlemagne notwithstanding,   I choose a period after “LOVE”) 

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On this day,  a  Saturday,  Christendom keeps in mind that one Saturday long ago when Love Itself was defeated.     It was mocked, ridiculed,  demonized, crucified,   done away with – finally! –  then shut away in a tomb – boom! –  out of sight forever!  It seemed that Love had been conquered.

tomb

Friday evening,  Saturday, into the wee hours of Sunday morning,  three calendar days;   it certainly seemed like a defeat for the Gospel.    A dark time for the followers of Jesus  in which all that “religion talk” from God’s chosen people  ended.

That Man,  that Son of Man,  had talked of  love between God and man,  God’s love to man through man,   and an eternity of Love, loving and being loved.

Humans  have always been  capable of the motivating factors  which we’ve called “love”:      parental love,  filial love,  friendship love,   spouse love  —  the love we have for a certain kind of pizza!!        Apart from God, the source of Love,    we can get quite distracted with loves of various kinds.

Should I give the four  Greek categories?     Storge,  Eros,  Phileo  . . . 

freud long (Beware:  the “modern” lists of “Greek”  love using six words from popular culture or seven words from  psychologists who seem to be trapped in the perspective of 20th century agendas.    They elevate minor subcategories into unwarranted importance and are certainly not time-tested throughout human experience.)

. . .    And the fourth:     Agape,     which human beings do not seem to be capable of – on their own,  on their own strength,   on their own willpower.

We need no instruction in the first three categories.    dad and sonBiological forces,  affections fondnesses,   familiarities make these first three loves common and natural to us.

They can be  very powerful,  of course,  overwhelming us sometimes.

I’ve just finished another book by Michael D . O’Brien, the last in his series which speculates whether our current events and personalities might indicate the formation of the last one-world governance with the antichrist at its head.   It’s a deeply thoughtful book – I’m going to have to read it again and take notes this time! –  but I was struck by his definition of that Agape love:

     Dr. Abbas  (the blind Christian Arab)   paused to clear his throat.  He then resumed his story:   What is love,   . . . ?   Do we not love most what is best in another but lacking in ourselves?  to see in someone else what we should be?     That is a part of it.

Another part  is to have one’s eyes opened to the gift that each person is. Subtract him from existence and the world is poorer.   When he is present, the world is richer – and full of wonder, really, if we can sustain that vision.    I’ve had glimpses of it . . .    (from Elijah in Jerusalem)

 

Yes,  this thought from Dr. Abbas is only a glimpse.    He  knows he’s seen only a glimpse of Love.    Love from the Christian definition is to desire the best and highest good for another – and to be always ready to act on it.

It is a deep-seated self-sacrificing commitment to that other person.     “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for another.”

(“It is a far, far better thing . .  .  than I  have ever done.”)  —

tale of two

 

And:  “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”   How did Christ love the church?    He died for it.

To step up and die for the good of another?     Yikes!    Occasional heroic acts of self-sacrifice to save the life of another occurs,  of course,  but it is especially Christian to  die for the good of the other person’s eternal soul.

Or to live for the good of the other person’s eternal soul.   Most of us are not required to prove our love by our deaths;  but we’re required to live with that kind of love.       This kind of original Christianity is not for half-hearted sissies, but it is rather the defining characteristic of a true follower of Christ.

not afraid to love

Nor are we capable of it without  that gift of Love being first given to us.   The Bible puts it simply:  “God is love.”      God created out of Love.  God loves His creation.   Dr. Abbas had a glimpse of this:  “. . .   to have one’s eyes opened to the gift that each one is.”   God opens our eyes;  he gives, we receive.

Perhaps the Bible, Charles Dickens,  and Dr. Abbas can say it better than I can,  but I do try to frequently explain it to my classes this way:    God is.   God is love.  Before the universe was created,  He thought you up.   He liked the idea of you!   And then, after He created the universe,  he created you and put you down into the best and most optimal time and place so that you’d be able to find your way back to Him, and to His love.

anthony

Hold Him.    Hold Him in your heart.

You love God back,  and you love all the human beings that He loves, and hold each one  in your heart so that you can act,  with sacrificial love,  for their  welfare, here and now.

Period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIKI AND THE SWORD OF DESTINY

March 17, 2017

 

(I have to repeat this yet again:  “There is something wrong with the passage of time!  It is speeding by too fast” —  too fast to take in all the things that each week offers us.)

And so this post is still thinking through the things of March 15 . . .

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March 15,  on this day we remember the life and martyrdom of St. Longinus –  the name given to that Centurion who thrust the spear into the side of Jesus after He had died on the Cross.

Longinus Card 220

      The story makes sense:    The Jews in Palestine at the time knew the Law:  “Cursed is anyone who hangs from a tree”  (i.e.,  a criminal, executed);     and if the criminal is allowed to hang there overnight,  then the whole land is cursed.

       The three men executed had to be killed before sunset and taken down from their  “trees”     or else the large Jewish population would revolt against the Roman authorities.

      The Jews in Palestine would also have known that any lamb to be sacrificed had to be perfect,  unblemished,  and never to have any broken bones, before, during, or after.

To fulfill the Law,  then, the Roman authorities sent out the order to the Centurion in charge to break the bones of the three so that they would die quickly, before sunset that day.    But the Centurion found Jesus already dead.   Probably.   It looked like it.   To make sure,  he thrust his spear into the side of Jesus.

The Catholic Church was born that day,  from the water and blood,  (the spiritual meaning of the Water and Blood)  that gushed out of the side of the dead body of Jesus.*      Eerie, un-explainable phenomena had taken place in the natural world that day;  and now at the sight of this Water and Blood,  it was remarked, then,  “Surely this   (actually) was the Son of God!”

All parts of this Day have been preserved and recorded –  including  the part that this Centurion played and the lance that he used.    The tale was told in Greek and Latin and in subsequent languages of Europe.    Thus, in Greek:   λόγχη   –   meaning “lance”  which is not too far from the name  “Longinus”  now given to this Centurion.  For his part and for his conversion to the faith of Christ,  he is called St. Longinus.      The remark attributed to him,  (surely, this was the Son of God!)  has confirmed the faith of many.

It’s a tale well worth pondering – and internalizing.      My Roman Martyrology for March 15th begins with this short statement about him:  ” At Caesarea in Cappadocia the martyrdom of St. Longinus who is said to have pierced our Lord’s side with a spear.”   

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SED CONTRA   (but contrariwise):    (just in case you haven’t joined the cynical modern-day scoffers,  religion-wiki offers you that chance!)    —

I had time to look around on the Internet for some more information –  and eventually came to the odd and sometimes untrustworthy site of Wikipedia,  which carries the predictable words:  doubt, doubt, doubt,  unreliable sources,  apocryphal,  legend, pseudopigraphical,  perhaps,  been asserted to,   folklore,  local tradition, etc., etc.

And then this odd statement:   In the Roman Martyrology he is mentioned, without any indication of martyrdom, in the following terms: “At Jerusalem, commemoration of Saint Longinus, who is venerated as the soldier opening the side of the crucified Lord with a lance.”

Wait!  But my Roman Martyology  said he WAS martyred.

He was mentioned along with an indication of his martyrdom . . . .

It’s not a big thing, except as it is part of a subtle rewriting of the history of Western Civilization that is going on all over, all around us, and at breathtaking depth and speed.

We truly live in an age of Fake News,  Fake Information,  just about Fake Everything.  There is a reason for this,  a methodology,  but that’s not my point here.      Right now, these days,  I am more concerned with something called The Tipping Point,  as well as the growing  movement towards Totalitarianism.

The stakes are high.

spear of destiny

We have this spear from almost two thousand years ago.      It was the “Spear of Destiny” given all sorts of supernatural powers by those who believe in . . .   anything.    (“When one stops believing in God, one doesn’t believe in Nothing;  one will believe Anything!”  (GKC))

And such we have personified by the man who last led a portion of our world into Totalitarianism.    Hitler.   He truly believed that the two   “spooky, supernatural”  items from the time of Christ  (the Christ Figure, I suppose),  which are the Spear and the Holy Grail, would give him the godlike powers he tried so hard to attain.

The bridge to our day and a new totalitarian way of thinking?

Hitler (and his companions) were masters at managing the attitudes and enthusiasms of millions of people.     He was a master of propaganda  and mass mind control (of the “scientific”  or “psychological”  kind – I’m not referring to any spooky supernatural mind-control),   and of manipulating the minds of crowds and masses of German people.  There were subtle changes made to their history,  their culture,  their “destiny.”

Studying the minute details of how this was accomplished day to day in Hitler’s Germany will reveal chilling similarities to what is being accomplished today.    From  subtle and not-so-subtle changes in our textbooks and other sources of information,   to entertainment which entices us to enjoy the new morality and agree with the new mindset,   to  Fake News that knows it’s Fake but also knows its lasting effects even when it gets caught out,  to the “children” on campuses who will not allow any other opinion but the one they’ve been propagandized with – and will become violent to shut out any diverse opinion . . ..

We have it all – and so much more.

I watch this growing trend towards the Group Think of the totalitarian mindset –  and I wonder:  When are we going to reach that Tipping Point – and experience the fulfillment of consequences that we didn’t even realize we were forming.

The Tipping Oint towards the full reality of Totalitarianism.

Bar Cross in middle

.*    It was His death that was the Sacrifice, offered to the Creator,  God the Father,  that enabled the many benefits of salvation and grace to pour out into the world.      (This Teaching has been a bit mangled in the last few decades – but that is our fault,  it’s not the Teachings that have changed.)

  To Abraham it was said that one of his descendants would bring Blessings upon the whole world.”    These Blessings refer to the future one-time Sacrifice of Christ which effected the  sure possibility of Salvation offered to anyone in the world who wants it.     Thus, at the time of His death,  Christ’s Church begins.

Quicumque !!!     

QQ 150

  (for those of you who have visited my house and seen the wall above my computer!)

………

WINTER PHOTOGRAPHY

March 14, 2017

 

A hint of Beauty this week:

Snow stars on cars 380

It was a cold morning, and I had left Hubbie’s car outside of the garage, but I needed to get going anyway.   It was routine . .  .  mumble mumble mumble . . .  gotta get going . . .  mumble mumble . . .   get those car keys in . . mmb . . .   start up the engine  . . .

And THEN —  I looked up, out, through the windshield!    There,  right in front of my face I looked, I really looked at the windshield, and saw the beautiful pattern the frost had laid down on the glass.

It was fascinating.   It pulled me up out of my routine and I just had to stare and appreciate and “feel”  the little snow stars.

Snow Stars 380

Fractals.   I’m sure there are mathematical formulas to describe those patterns with numbers;  beautiful  formulas to describe the beautiful material patterns!

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We’re created for Beauty.     We’re created with the capacity to recognize Beauty.  We’re created to find enjoyment in Beauty.      We’re created to desire the Source of Beauty,  the Creator Himself.

I’ve been reading from that book on Heaven  *  to my Monday class.  It says we’ll see our Creator, face to face, in all His glory. Our intellects will be glorified and we will see things in all their glory and splendor and beauty.  We won’t see just reflections of Beauty,   hints of Beauty,   we’ll see the essence of Beauty itself, and we will see our own soul as the beautiful creation that it is.

We will know ourselves clearly.     We will see ourselves as we really are.     Quote:

“We shall see (our soul)  clothed with a surpassing Beauty, adorned with gems of grace and good works,  and shining in the presence of God like a bright star.  This sight of ourselves will kindle in us sentiments of unbounded gratitude to God who is the giver of our existence.”

Enough.

An encounter with Beauty can take our breath away.

But with our intellects clarified and glorified (in Heaven)   we will live forever within the full enjoyment  of surpassing,  enchanting Beauty that is the Presence of God, Ever-Beautiful, Ever-Glorious,  Ever-Lovely.

Heavens Gate

And we will know and love and possess Him and all that He has for us.

It’s enough to make one want to seriously begin preparing!!!

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.*    The Happiness of Heaven   by  F.J.  Boudreaux

(easily available at Amazon and as an eBook elsewhere)

THE SCIENCE OF WHIMSY

February 21, 2017

“True Science is whimsy.”

speeding-thoughts

There was a young lady named bright
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned the previous night.

Science is whimsy,  for God made the world out of Love and Joy!    It is the serious pudding-faced “science practitioners”  of our day who put a heavy weight to science –  and dare you to disagree!

If you cannot find fun and admiration and joy and gratitude in the science you know,  then you have not done science at all!

studying-outside

I took my studying 0utdoors today –  it was 61 degrees, for goodness’ sakes!!!    That’s a pretty warm February day here in the Far North!   I did my work right in the middle of nature with the sounds of many seriously happy birds, the  water in the  creek  babbling over the rocks,   and the wind soothing itself through the trees.

So enjoyable,  this science of  meteorology.

Speaking of which,   WHERE IS MY GRANDSON AGAIN?

truckee-snow

White-out in the High Sierras

Cooper lives in the Sierra Nevadas where they’ve had  five feet of snow one week, six feet the next, five feet again the next week,  and one time it was eight to ten feet.   Today and yesterday they are having a three to five feet snowfall –   not so much –  but the wind gusts  nearby were measured at  199 m.p.h. (Alpine Meadows)  and 193 m.p.h.  (Squaw Summit.)   Fascinating.      Intimidating.       My son-in-law works up there at times!

Haven’t received any recent photos of Cooper.    Probably don’t have cell phone service again.  Or electricity.

I think they could use a little science and technology help out there.

snowflakes

Science is delightfully beautiful but it’s probably not a good time to teach Cooper that “each little snowflake has six points and each one is different from every other snowflake   . . .”  They’re not seeing  “flakes” out there.

Amazingly,   the world is so big and man and his dwelling places are so tiny,   that  Cooper can have his blizzard way over there and I can have my heatwave way over here.

Looks like the Pacific Ocean has been having an unexplained heatwave of its own.

ocean-heat-blob

They call it “the Blob”  sitting alongside our West Coast,   a large heat anomaly.  It’s been there for a couple years, but science hasn’t figured it out yet.

It’s still a mystery to wonder at.

And then there is  “gorgeous”   on an ordinary day:

sunset-drive-cr

Do you know what that column of sunlight is called?   Do you know what causes it?

Just driving along one evening   —     all of a sudden,  the sun shoots out a pillar of brilliant golden light.

It was gone in 45 seconds.

Just a whimsical  reminder of the power and glory of the Creator of all science.

 

 

 

SEXAGESIMA: ENEMIES WILL COME

February 20, 2017

( I felt safe this morning, in a dangerous world. )

I went to church this morning,  and didn’t even give a thought to my safety:

purg-1

Christendom had always seems so big and  strong.   I’d like to take my safety for granted,  but I know time is running out for us.

I  kept in my mind this morning that some Christians were not so safe going to their church services a couple Sundays ago.

uganda-attackers

Right in the middle of their services,  angry men surrounded the church building,  burst in through the doors,  locked the doors so no one could escape,  and then proceeded to beat and rape the men and women inside.

Because they were Christians.

(Our Rulers who are creating and then using chaos and confusion,  are moving the enemies of Christianity into Christian  (formerly Christian)  nations.     Now why would they want to bring in our  enemies? )   

we-are-death-for-you-2-jpg

Christians have always had enemies.    The Christian world has always had enemies.

It’s “Sexagesima Sunday”  today,  the second of three Sundays that get us ready for the season of Lent.    These three Sundays are a thoughtful reminder of how serious this world is, how necessary Good Friday and Easter were, and that happiness in this world  is incidental,  but not our goal.

One of the Readings attached to this Sunday is a sort of short  autobiography that St. Paul gives us, concerning the enemies he faced.       This great man,  this Apostle to the Gentiles  —    What all did he face?

Here is a portion of what we heard today,  from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:     He did his work as a Christian missionary   ” in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. [24] Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea.    [26] In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. [27] In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness . . .”

Ahhh,  the life of a serious Christian!     Most likely none of us will ever have to go through that much in order to fulfill our mission on earth,  but it does remind us that Jesus said if we want to be followers of Him,   we have to be like Him and to take up our cross too  . . .  and then we can follow him.

lent-our-crosses

Christ first.      Then us.

He faced enemies and opposition from this present world system –  and so will those who love Him and follow Him.

It’s sobering to list all the enemies there are,  both external and internal.    Safety is an illusion,  a temporary illusion,  but we have each other for friendship,  encouragement,  and prayer for such as those in Uganda,  facing such enemies as in the photo above.

 

 

 

 

 

DEJA VU HISTORY – 15th CENTURY –

January 31, 2017

First,  a  little Rant –

“Deja vu all over again” ??   No!  I’m not going to state that culturally -imposed knee-jerk reaction which trivializes the actual (quite rare) phenomena.

“He who is ignorant of history is condemned to repeat it...” ??    No!    We hear that so often that we’re oblivious to its serious meaning.

But humans are always humans and similar events do come up again and we should learn from those who  lived before we do,  because they really lived in this world and gained experience.

It is arrogance, narcissism, and hubris to reject what they have learned;  and it is criminal negligence for government schools to keep a knowledge of history from us and to pass on a version of history that was rewritten by current political ideology.

bar-fancy-line

So.  Now.    I’ll just be matter-of-fact.      Factual.

It was my intention to re-study the 16th century because I know I’ll have to answer many questions about it  during this fateful year of multiple anniversaries, one of which is 1517, the reputed beginning of the “Reformation. ”

(Book recommendation:   “The Unintended Reformation”    by  Brad S. Gregory.)

But I needed to know some background and I got “stuck” in the 15th century –  an amazing and interesting century all over Europe  (anyone familiar with Game of Thrones?),  but unfortunately  a century with familiar circumstances to us in the 21st.

Let’s just do Spain.     After repeated attacks, robberies, knifings,  killings,  banditry,  political assassinations, courtroom disruptions committed by the Moors who were resident in Spain,    it became clear that Spanish citizens, the “indigenous” people of Spain,  were presented with life-and-death danger every day.

The Moors claimed Spain for their worldwide Caliphate and wanted to re-start their war of conquest.   The Moors were the “conquistadores,” so to speak against  the Spanish people.

If this was your home,  you were somewhat safe:

guadamur-castle

But if you had to travel somewhere,  or if your  home was a smaller “suburb” or remote village, or if you were a farmer,   then you faced death or capture and forced slavery and conversion to the Moorish religion.    (We call it Islam today.)

(By the way,  for those of you who have learned the re-written version of history,   the truth is that the Church forbade forced conversions to the Catholic faith.  In writing.   In documents.   All over the world.     And the penalty for those who tried it was excommunication from the Church.  And many were.   The real Church teaches that you don’t force anyone to become Catholic. )

But the Moors did force Christians to convert, according to what is written in their book.

So here is the likeness between that time and ours:     As more and more protective laws were developed in 15th century Spain,   restricting the movement of the Moors,  more and more Moors pretended conversion to the Catholic faith.    It’s in their  book that you can do that if it advances the cause.

images-rejected

I doubt if many 15th century Moors ever understood the images in this painting.   I’m sure many   Moors were repulsed by it,  including some converts.

Many more Christians were killed because of these new “Christians”  being given the same  advantages as the Christian Spanish citizens.

So now in today’s news, I read:   Because the Previous President issued some orders to detain certain people from certain countries and because the Current President has decided enforce those orders,   the entertainment-news media  (in America and in Europe)  are announcing that President Trump is “banning Muslims from entering the United States.”

A falsehood, of course,  but believed by people in those certain countries.    And so, according to some news today,  many Muslims are converting to the Christian faith in order to enter the United States.

Is there anyone in the world who will doubt the sincerity of all these conversions?     All of them?     All?      

Of course not.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know that this was a successful strategy used in the past by other “converts”  and dangerous to the citizens of the target nation?

. . . .

safe-home

My loved ones and I don’t live in a safe home, like this.

And we’re not protected by soldiers looking out for us, like this:

safe-soldiers

But those who have declared themselves to be enemies of the United States are coming . . .

invading-not-migrating

. . .    by the hundreds of thousands.

And some of these have declared their intentions.

islam-willl-dominate-cr

“. . .the WORLD.”

“Freedom can go to hell” ??        Freedom is a Western value.

Deja vu?   Once upon a time there was a mindset to protect Western values:

fight

The Catholic Church has said that every nation has a right to protect itself, its citizens,  its borders and culture.    Every nation has a right to exist.

I hope indeed that this part of history repeats itself.

 

SOUR BERRIES, GOLD STRIPS, AND TOILET PAPER ROLLS

January 13, 2017

The “lesson” today began with a curmudgeonly encounter with sour berries,   two gold strips, and a toilet paper roll.

Lesson # 1 –  “New”  doesn’t always mean better.

new-tricks
In fact,  in this benighted century,  “new” almost always means worse.   Or greatly diminished.

“New” ways of doing things,  “new tricks,”   almost always means cutting corners, cutting quality  — and caring more for the Bottom Line than for people.

 

My first encounter with the “new” came in the form of many, many pints of berries,  raspberries and strawberries.   Good price.  Good for juicing and freezing in little cups.

1-juice

I did it.  I did all the work.     Then I  tasted the juice.    Ick!     Sour, tasteless berry juice.  I know berries grow in the summer . . .   but if they sell them now in the winter, doesn’t that mean they’ve come from warmer climates?  Southern places?   Greenhouses?   Aren’t they still berries?

It’s “new” to be able to buy berries out of season . .  .  but what are these?     Maybe the “new” way of growing doesn’t give the berries the ability to include their natural sugar.

The second encounter  was with the gold strips.

2-gold-strips

I was putting away Christmas cards – and envelopes – and was delighted to see a couple envelopes made with a heavy gold lining,  like the “good” cards we used to send to special people.

Only the gold lining didn’t go all the way through.

1-5-pretty-envelope

Just two little strips on the back and front, inside the envelope,  to make it look like the envelope was just as elegant as they always used to be.

Not a really big deal, I guess,  but the “little girl” in me felt tricked by this “new” way of saving money.   I felt a little sadness at this diminution of quality.

Third encounter?

3-toilet-paper-rolls

Yeah . . .  the “new”  toilet paper rolls.    The cardboard roll at the right is a sad reminder that the size and thickness of these rolls has also decreased — to the point that my old patterns for using toilet paper rolls in crafts:  Brownies, Girl Scouts,  first-grade classroom art projects,  and those silly little crocheted dress forms that you make to put on a little girl’s bedspread . . .    You can’t use these smaller, flimsier  imitation rolls in those patterns  . . .

And how about having NO rolls at all  (like the white thing on the left)?     Doesn’t work quite as well as they’d like us to believe.

To those people who thought up these “new” ideas:   TREES ARE A RENEWABLE RESOURCE!!!!     Making paper products employs American workers of many skills!!   Paper companies produce something of worth and add value to our economy.    Don’t be afraid to use paper — it adds;   it doesn’t waste anything!     (Of course, I’m not speaking about thoughtless “wastefulness.”)

Am I being a curmudgeon?   Maybe.    But sometimes I wonder, how much lower do we have to let the quality of everyday things get?     Paying a little bit more for smaller quantities.     Buttons and seams that come unthreaded . . . .    “Newspapers that have one-tenth of the words newspapers are expected to have.    We’ve all had these “encounters.”  What will we see ten years down the road?

Lesson # 2 –

Yes,  this is about Epiphany – the entire season of Epiphany,  the one that has been diminished by the modern  “new-improved”  version of the Church.

epiphany

Wherever you find Christendom today, you’ll observe that today is an important day on the Liturgical Calendar.   It is the Octave of Epiphany.    That is,  the Church (the real, actual Church), has given us eight days to learn, relearn, and more deeply learn the lessons of Epiphany.

After all,  only a child would want to look at the Three Wise Men and then quickly move on to “something else.”   There is much more to Epiphany to the adult mind — and we need at least an octave of days to consider it all.

I didn’t write about the three main points of epiphany this year.   Many others have done so, and I wasn’t physically able to do so.    But just to point out, though,  the three events  that Epiphany offers us are

  1.    The visitation of the Wise Men
  2.     The changing of water into wine at Cana
  3.     The baptism of Jesus

All three events demonstrate to us some aspect of the divinity of  Jesus,  who was presented to us at the very beginning of the Gospels.     All three events have significant meaning for our  eternal life, in the next world.

I’m not writing about those events, however;    I’m just calling attention to a diminished and weakened presentation of the Gospel story which obscures the splendor and majesty of Jesus,  the Son of God.     You can’t squish a whole octave into one Sunday morning sermon on the day of Epiphany.

The “new” way of having just one day of Epiphany is not a better way!    So much we no longer know!!!     So much quality slipping through our hands.

Christendom diminished.

The burden of the effort is on us to recover . . .  quality.

STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

January 12, 2017

ice

“Stopping by the woods  . . .    Lovely, dark, and deep . . . *

Yeah . . .   that poem.  

woods

(For those of you who know some Robert Frost.  .  .)   I’m getting through it, though.

“. . . But I have promises to keep,  and miles to go before I sleep. and miles to go before I Sleep.”

 Nature spoke:

rabbit-tracks

That deep, dark Scandinavian Funk jumped out and grabbed me just as I was getting rid of the  “Evil California Toddler Virus”  that settled in during the holidays.

How easy  to withdraw from everything and smoothly drift into those Dark Woods.   It attracts . . . .

But Nature spoke – and I remembered I have some promises to keep.      A few hundred books to read.     A mother, to be.   A grandmother, to be.     A teacher,  yet to be.   I’m a soul who hasn’t been called out of this earth yet,    into those deep, dark lovely woods.    Oh, man, I was tired!   Of everything.

And then I saw the bunny tracks.  

I was too tired to be out there on my driveway, to shovel the snow away, even though it wasn’t deep.      But there are those rabbit tracks!!     About three feet apart!    That bunny wasn’t tired on my driveway!    How absurd that “big me”  should be holding back when that little rabbit had used so much energy to get across.

See?  Sometimes,  and even for you, it might be just the smallest thing speaking to you from the Real World,  from Nature, and if you add a little humor, a little irony or absurdity,  you are snatched back into that Real World and you participate in a whole new outlook.

Well,  it can happen.   I know what being “trapped” is too — but here again Nature showed me what really being trapped is:

trapped-leaf

Just a moment later, after I enjoyed those rabbit tracks,  I saw this leaf.  The wind was blowing on it and it had left tracks too, but not what one would expect.

The end of leaf is trapped.   Probably in some under the snow.   Instead of making forward progress and “getting somewhere,”   the leaf has been going around and around in circles.

Mmm-hmmmm.    I could draw a lesson from that too.   I’ll just draw my own lesson;  you can draw yours.

I rejoiced with the rabbit.  I took pity on the leaf.   But both made cute tracks,  lovely patterns, and both left their mark that — they existed.

bar-gold-with-cross

Robert Frost had a really, really good reason for writing that poem, and just because  that’s a common experience to us all,   it’s a good idea to read it again;  become familiar with it in your now new stage of life,  however long you’ve been living.

(Memorize it, for fun!    Ha ha!   No teacher making you do it!!!)

You can use a Search engine;  just type in “Stopping by  Woods on a  Snowy Evening.”

Or:   (more)

(more…)

MEAT IN THE MODERN WORLD

December 2, 2016

Or maybe I should call this post:  MEAT BECAUSE OF THE MODERN WORLD.

 

Meet my meat:

my-beef

They’re fine (Scottish) Highland cattle, big shaggy things.

Contented:

my-meat-contented

They do well in  pastures here in the Far North,  and their owners let them graze  on grass during their whole lives.    Even when it’s time for their lives to end,  they are not “force fed”  vitamin and chemical laden grains to  add marbling (streaks of fat) to their muscles in their last six weeks,   which is what happens to a lot of “grass-fed”  cows.

I know their owners personally.   I don’t mean they’re “friends of mine,”  but I have come to know them, talk to them,  and respect the way they handle their herd and the way they handle the meat and bring it to  market.

(From an informative flyer):

my-meat-source

They’ve patiently answered all my questions and taught me a lot about what makes good meat.

I’m a meat-eater.    It’s in my genes.    My gene pool has been traced back 11,000 years (if you can trust the  gene-tracing company) —  and my family certainly came from a protein oriented culture (deep cold-water fish like herring and haddock and cod;  eels,   trout, salmon,   fish eggs, seals, walrus, and the occasionally bear and reindeer. )

So I’ve always taken meat for granted.

Until I learned how “modern”  industrial cattle factories have corrupted the meat supply and turned “meat” into something unwholesome – and not really very tasty, either,   compared to these:

my-meat-looking-at-you

It’s more expensive to buy a cut of real meat.    I know that.   But you can really get away with eating less.   You’re satisfied with  a smaller piece that is very tasty and full of nutrition.

I know this modern world and all its broken promises.     You have to pay more, sometimes much more,  just to keep even with the quality of the past.    That’s the challenge.

It’s “quality of life.”      Sometimes we just have to slow down and pay attention to the Quality of our lives.

We actually honor our Creator when we take care of the body He has created for us.    And so . . .   food is  a moral issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOOD AND EVIL UP ABOVE

September 11, 2016

Sept. 11, 2016   –

good-versus-evil-450

As I left church this morning I looked up.

Great evil:   Those “trails”  are raining down on us  boron,  barium,  cadmium,  assorted radioactive isotopes, desiccated red blood cells,  and above all,  great quantities of aluminum.     Among other occasional substances.

Most of these are neurotoxins, causing neurological deficits, dementia,  sterility, and increasing immune-system weaknesses.       The above-named substances have been found in human hair samples,  bone marrow,  spinal fluid in  “inexplicable”  quantities, and all on the rise.

Whatever explanation our Rulers give us,  the fact remains that this is destroying human, animal, and plant life on earth.     Since about 1995.

I call that evil.

In front of that, however,  in the photo, pointing upwards,  is a great good.      In our church,  the Son of God actually becomes present on our altars.     Since about, oh,  33 A.D.

I call that a great good.

Who wins?

“Heaven and Earth shall pass away,  but my word will never pass away.”   (Jesus.  About 32-33 A.D.)

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CHURCH!

August 14, 2016

Well, it’s Sunday, so “church” is on my mind.    And I’ll start with a title from the great writer GK Chesterton,  (What Wrong With the World), and tweak it a little,  but I promise not to show the genius, perspicacity, and humor of Chesterton.   I’m just as passionate,  but not quite as talented!

sleepy 150

I began my Sunday morning struggling to come awake in time, as usual.   (I don’t “do”  mornings.)   To wake myself up,  I read a little of the entertainment-news headlines and saw the typical murder and mayhem,   immorality, and confused thinking.    A world unable to reason clearly and to choose the right thing.        And Christians who seem weak in the face of  growing tyranny, crime, immorality, and evil.      Why?   What happened?

The Church offers a huge, almost endless treasure of logic, philosophy, science, reason,  history,  examples of good people, and instruction in civic, social, and  limitless power for holy living for  anyone who wants it.    Quicumque!

We used to know this.

(Before):

I was a history major in the university I attended;  I’ve been  studying secular history,  sacred history,  Church history,  and Bible history for many, many decades.   And I witnessed what has happened to the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s this:    Words matter.  And through words come meaning and power as well as information and, influence, and inspiration.    What is relevant and powerful is lasting, and that’s why we can say we have “classics” in literature.

Such classics are timeless because they speak to the common,  higher things in mankind.  Hindus worship in classical Sanskrit.   Muslims worship in classical Arabic.   Christians worship in classical Latin –  to name a few traditions.      The classical words don’t change,  they won’t change, and so the meaning will not change either,  because the meaning is respected and “timeless.”

cat picture

The Mass of the Church is made of words and gestures which bring us to a high point of communication (prayer)  with God  and an intimate spiritual union with Him, one on One, so to speak.     The beginnings of the Mass can be seen way back in New Testament times, as evidenced by the earliest Christian use of the catacombs, mid first century, A.D.

The Mass kept the early Christians in constant and very real contact with God which strengthened them through persecutions and heresies.

cat chaliceI know if we were to go back to those times and peek into the catacombs, we would see and hear things that are very familiar to us:     prayers, words,  gestures, procedures.     The Vessels used by these early Christians were made of the finest metals, carefully crafted for the purpose which they would serve.   This is a “museum quality”  chalice from the 3rd century.

Very little was changed or added through the succeeding centuries, and we know this from the writings of the people who lived at these times.   The Mass differed a little from location to location,  but by the time of (Pope) St. Gregory the Great, 6th century,  the Mass was pretty well set in its present day form.  Several centuries later,  again there were “accretions” particular to specific locations.   Pope Pius V  decreed in the 16th century that anything that was added “in the last 200 years”  should no longer be used – it was too “new”!      No sudden changes!      Never any sudden changes.

 

mass priest to God

And so we have a powerful, time-proven Mass that is a conduit for spiritual strength because it makes present for us, in our time,   the One-Time offering of Christ, as Sacrifice,   to God, for our peace and salvation.

The words of the Mass are the priest’s words, not ours.  That’s the function of a priest:  to be involved in sacrifice, or in this case,  the Sacrifice.   Only one sacrifice,  but made present to us each time.    (The idea came from Christ Himself who told us “This is my Body . . . )

(“Is”   Let’s not get into President Clinton’s vocabulary lesson.)

So what happened?

(After):

Where we used to bring ourselves and our praise and thanksgiving to God-Most-High  in a solemn ceremony that acknowledges our sin as well as our Redemption through Christ’s offering of Himself —

Mass to God

 

—   we now  cheerily “entertain” each other —

Mass strumming

According to Pope Benedict,   the Mass was scrapped in about the mid-20th century and a whole new set of words were written to be put into the place of the Mass.   Pope Benedict said the new Mass-words were created “out of whole cloth” –  meaning they started from scratch with new ideas,  they didn’t just make “improvements”  or “edits.”

Secondly,  Pope Benedict’s assessment of the finished product was that it trivialized the Mass,   and  he also used an Italian word for banal –  the newly-written Mass-words banalized  the Catholic Mass.   Banal?    That means made it common and stupid!

It also made the Mass weak.   I’ve talked before about the words of all the rites being rewritten, and how exorcists are having a hard time of it nowadays because the original words of exorcism, with all their power,  had been rewritten to the point of  weakness.  that would be weakness before Evil Powers.

Weakness.    Even if you have good “readings”  and good sermons and good, talented people talking and singing to you —

Mass priest to peole

— the newly-written Mass  just simply obscures what a genuine Mass is all about.

What’s Wrong With the World?

What’s wrong with the Church?

The people of the  Church,  the common,  everyday people have been trained to accept unquestioningly the new, weaker Mass – as though it were a good replacement.    The result is a weaker spiritual life,  confusion in the face of opposition,   an inability to stand up for what is right.      So many  have discarded the  wisdom and  the vital knowledge that the Church has to offer us.        We are more vulnerable in the face of rising political tyranny.

Sheeesh!  If so many hadn’t accepted this substitute,  we’d have a safer, saner world,  strengthened by true spiritual Power!

chalice

 

 

THE “CHOICE” – 1200 YEARS AGO

August 10, 2016

(From a book I am reading):*

Left alone in the fens:

FENS 2

The “boy” was 14 years old and was left alone for days,  with only his dog for companionship.     Today we would call that “child abandonment;  but then it was called  relying on the watchfulness of a  young man of 14 years.   He was strong and good,  watchful and smart.

Good;  of good and trustworthy character.

He was left alone for a  few days by his father and a companion to take care of their small house, a hut really,   in the middle of the lonely fens of  …  England.

FENS

 

Fens.    We don’t really think about “fens”  in America.  Not so that we’d be familiar with them.  I’m sure a physical geographer could identify fens,  perhaps in South Carolina where the Swamp Fox practiced guerilla warfare against the British in the Revolution — 240 hundred years ago —  but mostly we are a nation of dryer lands:  prairie, plains,  deserts,  high plateaus, dryer mountain ranges, forests, and valleys.

Fens hut

The boy was left waiting on a small island of dryer land in the midst of a swampy, marshy area, where his little home had been  built.   He was well-fed by an abundance of fish and fowl.   His portion of dry land  was connected to other pieces of dry land,  pathways, really between the wetlands,  small ponds and rivers, which provided transportation and food — and danger.

The boy’s big hound protected him from the wolves, which were a very real threat, even though his people, the Saxons, had pretty successfully gotten rid of most of these terrifying predators.    But in addition to wild animals, there was the ever present threat of the Danes.

The Danes had arrived a few generations ago and had conquered many areas of F see enemy and readyBritain.   They were the greatest enemy, the greatest present threat to those tribes who were  native  to Britain – even to the Britons themselves.   The Danes were rough and violent conquerors, and they were pagans.  Their aim was to  own Britain, to rule the land, to  enslave the more useful of the people they conquered, and to eradicate Christianity.

And they were pretty much succeeding when this little book opens.  The father and uncle eventually come home,  but the Danes were on their way.  Then all three are off to join other groups of fighting men  in  hopes that they can turn back the onslaught of the Danes.

F Danes warriros

In the first battle, they fight these Danish Vikings well and push them back  a little.

F 14 alongside  The fourteen year old fights valiantly alongside his father, but his strong young body is not quite strong enough for the big warriors he must fight off;  he is too young, too small yet.  Too many times the father had to shield the boy’s body from the strong arm of a seasoned  Danish warrior.

In another battle,    a more desperate one,  the father knows that he will likely die, and he gives orders for his son to hold back along the far edges of the battlefield,  and he gives order to his friend to go to his son if he, the father, should fall in battle.   To go to his son and take him to the king.

F you go away

Both son and friend do not want to leave the man’s side,  but he is the father,  and there is no thought of disobeying his word.   The father dies,  the friend saves and guards the son;  the father’s name lives on.

The young man, Edmond,  becomes   friend and companion to King Alfred of the Saxons and fights faithfully at his side.  And the story goes on . . .  .the Danes are defeated,  and England becomes part of history, part of our world.

F sorrowfully rode away

Now here we are.      Many hundreds of years later.    Our lands are being invaded.  As the Danes conquered place after place in Britain,  so our lands,  Europe and America and Canada,  are being cleverly and efficiently invaded – just not by Danes this time,  and not only by machete, knives, guns, and explosive devices.

I look for the  intelligence to define the enemy.    I look for leadership to unite us in the cause of self-preservation.    I look for “soldiers” who are strong enough and smart enough to fight off the invading forces.    I look for men of good character that can be relied upon to defend us.

There are many ways to fight,  but it is a soldier’s fighting spirit that we need.

It’s a spirit that makes us think that we, ourselves, are worth preserving.

 

.* The Dragon and the Raven   by G.A  Henty

 

(DNC) – “DEAR MRS BROWN”

July 25, 2016

mom african

 

Dear Mrs.  Brown,

First,  I am going to assume you and your son Michael have the same last name.    And “Mrs.”  is one of the highest titles a woman can receive (and earn); so I am going to use that honorable title for you.

mom and ch   In addition,   I share with you the awesome position of motherhood with all its beauty and wonderment, and awesome responsibilities.

I am wondering about some things.   I am a mother too,  and I know some things that the children we raise must be taught.

I also have a son that grew to be quite large,  larger than most of the people around him, larger than  most of his friends.   Mrs. Brown, did you teach your son that his size might intimidate others, and that he could easily become a self-entitled bully, just by the way smaller people react to his size?

Did you (and his father)  teach him and teach him by example  to be gentle with other people, respectful?

Dd you teach him that you don’t “throw your weight around” – not by shouting and intimidating words, nor literally, physically -although he easily could?

mom bl and son    Did you teach him the Ten Commandments (which elevate all cultures) such as Thou Shalt Not Steal?

Did you teach him that shoplifting, even a small item,  is stealing?

Did you teach him that when the store owner catches him,  not to become intimidating and  not to push the store manager down into a display,  even though your son, Michael,  does have the physical strength to do that?

Dear Mrs. Brown,    does he know that he can be a bully people and ignore   laws which ordinary  people have to live by —  but he mustn’t?

Did you teach him that one doesn’t walk down the middle of the street?

That it’s dangerous for him to do so?

That it’s against the law for pedestrians?

That it’s disruptive to traffic and rude to drivers?

That when a policeman tells him to “get off the road,”  he should do that?

Mrs. Brown,  does he know that when you break a law, like stealing from a store,  that your description will become known to the local police?

Mrs. Brown,  does he know that policemen have a DUTY to stop you if you look like the lawbreaker  and ask you questions about where you’d just been?

Policemen have duties to do, in order to protect you and me, and to enforce public safety laws?

Mrs. Brown,  did you teach your son, Michael,  to show respect to a police officer who is talking to you?

And to stop walking so he can talk to you?

And not to shout back?

And not charge his police car?

And not to reach into the car and try to take his gun?

Did you teach him that there would be eye witnesses and videos and forensic evidence of his actions inside the police car?

Did you teach him that those actions against a police officer could result in his death?

Mrs. Brown,  did you speak up when people began lying about what happened, in order to arouse the anger a few people of his own race?

Mrs. Brown, did you speak out to the public and teach them  that this whole movement, based upon something that didn’t happen with your son  should come to a stop because it is based upon an erroneous premise and it promotes contempt,  hatred, and violence against police officers –  whom we all need to keep the police and public safety for us?

Did you speak out to the crowds to tell them to have respect for your son by telling the truth?

The truth about how your son grew up?

The truth about what your son did on the day of his death?

The truth about what happens when anyone doesn’t obey the law?

The truth that there consequences for living according to your own impulses, without self restraint, without reference to a Higher Power?

Dear Mrs. Brown,  I hope you are not riding high on the phenomenon called celebrity.  It’s a heady experience,  but it does no honor to your son, and his death would remain meaningless.

And the falsehood that grows and grows and arouses anger in more people will result in the death of many policemen,  (and not the “bad” policemen who are then prosecuted, but policemen in general,  the good ones.)

And law and order will break down.

And it will be even more difficult, if not impossible,  for a peaceful society to produce safety and prosperity for more and more people.

The political process:

Crowd

 

I hope all these people know,  that you can’t break laws just because of who you are.

DESTINATION – WHERE HIAWATHA LIVES

July 21, 2016

The Spruce Tunnel has reported many times that our Land,  this USA, is so empty.  One can drive for hours without seeing anyone, and many times during this past week I’ve been the only car in my lane for a half hour, sometimes  an hour at a time:

Hour W out cars

HIAWATHA’S LAND:

But it  is  beautiful in the Far Far North where Hiawatha lived (lives).

GG Driving Island  Sunlight through the forest,  Nature speaks deep within you with concepts of Beauty:   colors, pleasing proportions,  compositions, contrasts, harmony . . .  all the classic elements of Beauty, which testifies to its Creator.

GG Driving 2 400

Curve after curve,  Hiawatha’s forest views.

But of course he didn’t have a car to ride in!  So I went into the forest –

GG Forest floor 400

Ferns on the forest floor.    Easy walking, because ferns aren’t really thick underbrush.  They’re very soft when you walk through them.

GG Forest path and wild 400I found pathways.   I’ve walked miles along these pathways during this past week.   All the time I was thinking about Hiawatha’s small village,  one of many, many, maybe countless villages that existed throughout this Land.    Many millions of people lived in this Land, long before the Vikings and the Italian exploreres came to it.

I kept “seeing”  these villages:

BR new goods

And wondering who was “seeing” me:

BR coming

Hiawatha’s forest was not only a location, of course,  an “address” for his home;  it also gave to them everything needed to sustain life.

GG Forest Deer 400I drove by these deer one afternoon.   Probably descendants of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century deer that provided many necessities for Hiawatha and his people.

I couldn’t help taking a picture of this:

GG Forest Birch

We all know that the white birch  has bark that is stripped off to make canoes.  What I learned this time is that each strip of bark has five, six, or seven layers, and each thin layer is waterproof and very strong,  perfect for making  a lake or river canoe, among other things.

GG Canoes from Birch When I was a child I tried making a small toy boat with birch bark.  I also tried making “paper”  with the birch bark.   I failed.   I really didn’t know about the “layers”  in a strip of birch.

But it was important to know these things for Hiawatha because his land borders the Great Gitche Gumme,  and I walked many pathways to get to that Lake.

GG Forest Edge Path 400

If you could see across that Lake,  you would see the shores of Canada.

Gitche Gumme claims the land, in a constant tussle between land and water.

GG Forest Edgge Dropoff 400

The pathway along the edge seemed to be about a half mile long.  Finally,  I got to my destination,  the destination for this whole week-long, more-than-400-mile journey:

Black Rocks 400

It’s here.  This was my destination.    It’s an area called Black Rocks,  a singularly unromantic name for an outcropping of “rock”  that is estimated to be 1.3 billion years old.  This is some of the oldest known rocks on the surface of the earth.

On the shores of Gitche Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters

Yeah,  here is where I needed to be,  I thought.    These were the first waters I saw at the very beginning of my life . . .  and now,  with the end in view,   I needed to see these waters again.

Black Rocks into lake.

It was the end of land of the Far Far North in view, anyway.

Black Rocks far 400I climbed all around Black Rocks,  and finally looked for a place to sit.

Black Rocks Seat

And I did it.   I found a good rock ledge to sit on and I put my camera away, and then I began to . . .  well,  brood.   I divided my life into five-year segments . . . .

And, well . . .  with each and every scene from my memory huge wounds of negative emotions leapt out at me.    Private, powerful emotions.

It would have been tough that day . . .  it would have been a tough whole life . . .  but for one thing.     With each sudden emotional blow,  I asked myself,   “Well,  what did God want me to learn from this hardness?”     And why is it that each emotional “blow” I felt seemed really rather feeble in my memory?    And how is it that I’m not unhappy,  but indeed,  full of hope and joy and love for those whom I know?

“What did God want me to learn…?”    There was a lesson in each stage of my life.   I suppose.    But I wasn’t that broody, actually.   I probably was taught something during each stage, and then incorporated the learning into my assurance that God was in control.

And so I don’t need to know any “answers.”  I don’t need to come to any conclusions.

What I learned from my brief three hours of “brooding”  sitting on those rather hard rocks is that,  in a big way,  I’m not that baby,  that toddler, that child,   that adolescent,  that young adult . . .  anymore.

I am “me”  only in this Present Moment.  That’s all I ever can be:  Me  Now.     I am identified by what I am Now.

In a big way,   what matters is what kind of person I am Now.

Forgiveness  and Forgetfulness available for the past;   hope and healing available for the future.

That’s the way Gitche Manito works.   Ever Present- Ever Now.     What’s NOT to be joyful about?!

I think I actually did reach my “destination.”

Deo gratias.

 

(Next post:  Why Hiawatha knew this too.)

GITCHE GUMEE

July 12, 2016

Gitche Gumee.        For real.     It really exists.

gitch waters

In the days when American children and young adults were taught American literature,   the words “Gitche Gumee”  would be a familiar sound;   lovely, fetching, longing . . . .a song of roots and courage and duty;   a song of love for the land and union with the earth and its people.

I’ll be there soon.      Not in a boat,  but  h e r e –   looking out over  Gitche Gumee:

gitch 3 blue

I have many decades behind me,  and the “storms” of life have  “ruffled my feathers”  – as is true for all of us.   We’ve all had waves crashing against us.

gitch 5 waves

 

I need to sort things out.    I was born here,  long ago.     It’s possible that the very first sight my newborn eyes saw was this Great Lake, as my nurse carried me outdoors, into the car, into my Mother’s waiting arms.

I need to see this again.

I need to get strong and steady before the storm breaks over us all.

New Haven Lighthouse storm

 

I need to get in touch with myself,  see who I really am, see what “I’ve done and what I’ve left undone.”          Hopefully, I’ll gain wisdom like  Nokomis.

 

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Of the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood Nokomis, the old woman,
Pointing with her finger westward,
O’er the water pointing westward,
To the purple clouds of sunset.
  Fiercely the red sun descending
Burned his way along the heavens,
Set the sky on fire behind him,
As war-parties, when retreating,
Burn the prairies on their war-trail;

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Thanks for the words.

 

 

 

 

;

LOOKING SCARY REALITY IN THE FACE!

May 31, 2016

Boooo!!

Bee Face

Welcome to Reality.  A real creature in the real world!    Actually, it’s  a common   little created being — but thank goodness we don’t see him face on,  every day!

Ready for the name of this creature?

bee me cartoon

That’s a cartoon.   The first picture is a photo of a bumble bee’s mouth,  head on.

An associated summary of the scientific research tells us that all those little hairs around the bumble bee’s mouth pick up electrical signals from a flower.   The flower was made so that it gives out electrical signals!     And the bee is created so that it can pick up those electrical signals!   The bee recognizes what the signals are telling him,  and he attaches himself to the beckoning signal!

Bee Flower

There he is.   He’s doing it!   A bee can get quite territorial about which of the flowers in your flower garden he wants.   If you’re another bee,  you’ll just have to . . .   follow the electronic signals of another flower.

Scientists wondered for years just what makes a specific, actual bee go to a specific, actual flower.

I never have.     I’ve never wondered.    I’ve just made friends (I hope)  with the big bumble bee that rumbles near my front door – looking for the right flower, I guess.   Sometimes he hovers in front of my face until I back away a little bit.

I’ve  never questioned just how they decide which is the right flower to buzz into.  but it did make me think:

 smelling  Everything that is created works together with everything else.  All creation has a defined role to play,  based upon its created qualities.  On a biological basis,  I’m told that my nose has little receptors for a certain molecule to lock into which starts a cascade of electro-chemical events working up my olfactory nerve,  into my brain,  where another series of events interpret that molecule for me as a certain “smell”!!

Even me, as a whole,   my “qualities”  and characteristics and inclinations and likes and dislikes were created along with me to be a part of me yo interface with the real world, so that as I make my decisions to  fulfill my own  life  I will best reflect back the glory and power of my own Creator.

So, just like the bee,  although we don’t know all the secrets of creation yet,   what we’re finding is always astonishing us  — how well everything was made to  work together,  right down to minute little electronic signals picked up by heretofore unknown receptors on a bee’s tiny hairs!

Yes,   looking right down into a bee’s mouth can be startling!    Reality can be “scary.”        And for some,  Reality points right to the irrefutable existence of our Creator —   and that is a reality that makes us scary small in this universe.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

bar blue fancy line

If you have a thoughtful moment,  here is the way someone far smarter than I am stated this same idea:

The story is told of the late Samuel Stehman Haldeman, the distinguished naturalist of the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of the Natural Academy of Sciences, that when asked by his friends what brought him to the threshold of the Church,  he would reply:  “Bugs!”

Then with good nature he answered their astonishment  by explaining that even the smallest insect that was contained in his cabinets possessed the organism necessary for its proper activities.  Head and members he always found working together as one body.

His science thus led him to expect that if a church – as the embodiment of religion – were really part of a divine plan and so had its place within the world, that church would  be equipped by the  Creator with the organization and means of action proper to it, as carefully, at least, as is the beetle he has studied.

What his hypothesis demanded,  Profesor Haldeman had  found realized in Catholic Christianity.

 

(A little note from me –  Professor Haldeman refers to   the Church itself and its place in this world, not to its individual members who may disregard that organization, and who contradict in their lives and words the teachings of that Church.   Criticize them,  judge them, if you will;    but not the organic, ordained organization of the Church to achieve its specific purpose for us.)

The author who quoted this story:   Charles Alfred Martin,  a young man who has been educated for  far longer and more intensely than most of us have been.

Author Charles Martin

 

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A BIRTHDAY & A SAINT ALMOST MURDERED

May 22, 2016

The birthday celebration table:

BDay  Tab;e sr

Steaks.  Salads.   Presents.  Card.   Cake.   (  . . . and a big arm waiting.)      It’s fun putting on a birthday spread, especially for someone very important!

It was Son’s birthday this weekend.    (Oh, yes – the whole weekend;  three-day weekend, as a matter of fact.   Since his profession requires him to work some weekends, and since  so many people wanted a piece of him on his birthday the celebrations will take  three days. )

Which brings me to my point:  so many hours worked!   So many people to see!    Oh,  Son is not complaining,   but I do observe  people who have busy-busy lives.  I once had an impossibly busy life too.

Has time speeded up or are we trying to cram more into our days?

Or are we trying to avoid facing the deeper issues of Life by activity?

Or all of the above?

But this question is nothing new . . .

Complicated

Human life has long been busy and complicated with great challenges and no easy answers.     Many times everyday life prevents us from sorting out Good and Bad;  Right and Wrong;    Duty;   Virtue;  our relationship to God and each other.    We are distracted, willingly or not willingly,  from the serious issues of Life.

Son is an intelligent person, and sometimes he perceives this dilemma too.

Appropriately,   the saint we remember on the day of Son’s birthday is a man named St.  Hospitius.   (“hoss – pish – us”)      He left the high (and complex, busy) culture of Egypt, sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire, in order to find a quiet  place to understand the meaning of life and to work out his relationship with God.

He traveled to the less populated regions of Gaul,  what we’d call France,  today.    He needed time to think and to figure things out.   He chose to live in the ruins of an old tower where he hoped to see not very many people.      Peace and quiet and freedom.

st h and tower ruins

He had quiet time alone, away from people;  time to think, to learn, and to pray.      He knew this much:  that he was certainly a sinner before God, and he wished to atone for his sins,  to do penance,  and to develop a deep friendship with  his Savior.

And as often happens:  we seek,  heaven rewards.     St.  Hospitius was eventually rewarded with wisdom and understanding,  and the power to prophesy and to work miracles.  Once he warned the villagers around him that they had better flee,  because the fierce tribe of Lombards were on their way to attack, pillage, and destroy.

They left,  but he didn’t.   A small group of barbarian Lombard soldiers found him and saw the chains that he usually wore around his waist, to remind him of what a great sinner he was.   The soldiers thought he was some kind of criminal.

He agreed with them!     Yes!  In the eyes of God I am a criminal.    A great sinner.”   So since he was a self-admitted “bad guy” and an obvious outcast,  they were free to kill him.

Stospitius in chains

A soldier raised his sword to strike,   but the soldier’s arm became paralyzed.   St.  Hospitius made the sign of the cross over him —  the soldier’s arm became “un-paralyzed”   — and the soldier realized this is a holy man of God, and soon converted to Christianity, along with his (military)  friends.

His life is over now.   He died in 581 A.D.      But the relentless demands of busy, everyday life is still with us, as well as the serious need to sort out  Life and Death issues and make our peace with our Creator before we die.

St.  Hospitius is in Eternity right now.    Our Eternity is still before us.  It’s coming.

 

LESSONS IN SMALL WONDERS

May 10, 2016

(continuing adventures in Indiana)

Wonder is the happy astonishment at what comes before you, either an occurrence, a sight,  a word.
It is happy because it increases  intellectual pleasure of a new insight  and at the same time it’s  delightful to the senses.
It is an astonishment because it came to you through no effort of your own.   It’s a bit humbling.      It came from some place higher,  a Higher Power, a Higher Force, a Higher Person, and it was gifted to you because Goodness and Good Pleasures draw you to Him.
    Therefore, wonderment is an act of Love from your God to attract you to Him – and as such,  a created being responds with humility, awe, love, and gratitude.
I’m writing about “Small”  Wonders,  because Our Lord God said:  Unless you become as a little child,  you won’t see . . .  (see the Kingdom of Heaven,  now and forever.)    You must have in you a childlike openness to Wonder.
Wonderment is available to all ages, races, material circumstances, conditions,  and geographical locations!     All you have to be is a created human being.

Ch Museum outdside

Four-Storied Children’s Museum

I could tell you about all  our adventures at the Terre Haute, Indiana,  Children’s Museum,  but you, like me,  have probably seen children’s museums:    “been there, done that.”     I went because Cooper, my grandson,  wanted to go  (and so did his Daddy, actually).    I confess  I was prepared to be  slightly bored.

But I have some photos –   and after pondering them in The Spruce Tunnel for a while,  they became  lessons to myself.

SAMSUNG

There were stars to learn about, of course.  The picture on the back wall of the display is easily recognizable as Ursa Major – you can see it every clear night – and only in the Northern Hemisphere!      But the bigger white dots are a representation of the stars as they actually exist in space, relative to each other.

So – from another perspective,  say if our space ship were coming in from a different angle,  it wouldn’t be a big bear (or a Big Dipper)  at all!

Nor would it have entered our minds to even think about grouping these stars together to make a picture of a familiar (earthly) object.

The Ancients knew,  the Greeks scientists knew,  the  Church philosophers knew,  they all knew that Mankind is only a small speck within a vast cosmos.   And they wondered at it!   Humans have dignity and infinite value only because God made us and cares for us.  And that’s a wonder too.

As a corollary:     It is another kind of wonder that Modern Man thinks he is the sum and summit of knowledge and importance;  and so much so that his reasoning must be separated from Faith and his attempts at science must be separated from the vast scientific learning of the Church.  

Ch Museum weather report
The museum had a Weather Station –  fun for me and Cooper,  except I love thunder and he doesn’t.     There was a television “studio” there where you could sit behind the desk and be televised as you give the weather report.

I refused.   I realized how “shy”  I still am.   Cooper refused.   He’s shy too.    What a happy little astonishment  to realize how alike we are — and how our traits and characteristics are passed down into our grandchildren — and how MUCH we love them for it, for being familiar to us.

Did you know that when God looks down on this planet,  He looks for and recognizes those humans who are like Him, and who are becoming more and more like Him?    He is Holy and Good, and only those who are like Him can survive  (can exist)  in Heaven where He is.

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Cooper and I share a fascination with music too;  or maybe it’s more a sensitivity to sounds.  Like his Mommy too.

They say the universe vibrates with energy and sounds.   The Music of the Spheres, the Ancient Greeks used to call it.   Everything reverberates with energy, within and without, making beautiful sounds which we can only hear a small range of.  Harmonious vibrations because they all have one Source.

If you’re “small”   —

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—  you can put yourself into a giant soap bubble and wonder how it happens.   Fun for little ones.   But interesting for “big ones”  when you think about all the forces that hold things together:  surface tension of the soap bubble;   gravity;   strong and weak atomic forces;  gluons;    . . .   and the ongoing will of God to keep it all together – for now.

I don’t.   We don’t.  No one knows how to “keep it all together.”   I live!   But I am not the One keeping my self alive!   Astonishing!

Okay.  Fewer words.

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Little boys love big . . .   things.  Vehicles and such.    Machines.

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If your heart stays  “small”  you need to try things out.  Get involved.     I had a turn in some of the farm machinery.  I sat in a huge … farm thing, and through the window was a display set up so you could see what a farmer would see if he were out working in that machine.

It was fun.    I was astonished at how much work there is to bringing our food to us.   The whole process of tiny little seeds growing into tall plants –  parts of which we can eat!   And we must eat food from plants!  

I’m reminded too about how much space it takes to grow our food —  and I remember observing how very much “space”  our country has.    It is astonishingly EMPTY of people and towns and cities!

It is we who turn our backs on all this wonderful open space and choose to live in costly, crowded city situations.   There is so much space available for us, but we think we don’t want it.       A small two-acre plot with a nice house costs a half or a third or even a quarter of a dwelling place in our cities!     Astonishing what is available for us – if we avail ourselves of it!

I’m going to eliminate, oh, about twenty other photos and get to this fun adventure in the museum.

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Little Blur

See that little blur?

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Big Blur

How about the big blur!

The blurs were Cooper and Daddy, and it’s called Run With An Animal.   And see if you can run faster than that animal!!!

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That’s the Display Screen.   You touch the planet earth . . .

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. . . .then you choose a continent.  Then you choose your animal.

The animal (and you) begin to run when you press a button — and the squares on the floor light up as the animal is “running.”

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There he goes!   He’s beating that one!    I think Cooper got smart and picked a turtle that time,  but I can assure you,  he and his Daddy could not beat most of the animals they picked.

Animals  are astonishingly – fast!

Animal life is not like our life.   There really is a “jungle out there”!!

Here is my standard advice to all my classes:   Go to the public library  (or buy books if you have to) — and see all the picture books,  the photographic books,  the science books about . . .   pick a topic:  Animals of the World.    All the Birds of the World.  All the Flowers of the World.    Alpine Flowers.   Desert Flowers.   Flowers Mankind Never Sees.   Ocean Life.  Microscopic life.    Stars.  Mountains.   Rivers and Seas.   Forests.  

Then don’t let anyone disturb you.   Be a child, with that book.    Be amazed.   Be astonished.   Be very, very small.   Be humble . . .  and grateful that you got a glimpse of this vast Creation!

I don’t think I want to stop.      So  I think I’ll go and grab a book now.

NOT KNOWING THE FUTURE

April 22, 2016

(I need to keep this focused.  A difficult task these past few hours.)

I always told myself,  if there were a Mack truck  barrelling down on me . . .

mack

. . . .I’d want to turn and face it and see it coming!

You know,  you’d want to see something big coming so you have time to prepare.

bar dissolve er

But today,   the Blue Beauty and me had to go downtown for the class I was teaching.

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And afterwards,  we had to drive back home.     Familiar roads through the city.

About three-fourths of the way home I was rear-ended  — by a truck ! —  with a great big noisy Whumpf!     It was a tremendous jolt,  and somehow I crossed some lanes of traffic without getting hit again and found  a place to pull over.  The big truck followed me.

It was one of those big service trucks.  Kind of heavy.    The two young men got out of their truck to see if I was all right.  They were so sorry, so apologetic, so solicitous of my well-being.   Just honest, open, sincere,  honorable young men.

I got out of my car holding my chest and coughing a little, which seemed strange,  but I think the seat belt hit into my sternum.    I was also feeling “heat” on my neck and down my shoulder,  but just a little.    The young men’s attitude helped a lot, and I didn’t want them to know I was feeling a little shocked.     Dizzy . . .  or dazed, maybe.

So we cheerfully  examined the car, amazed that there was no apparent damage to the bumper.*     They insisted on giving me their  contact information; and I told them  I was fine,  I’m  healthy,  I’m pretty strong,  and after we were done making sure everything was all right,  I told them to “have a good rest of your day,”   which seemed to amaze them.

24 hr

Twenty-Four hours

(Something’s  going to happen in each of these coming 24 hours.)

On the rest of my somewhat shaky way home,   I thought,  “I wish I had known this would happen so I wouldn’t be feeling so shocked right now.”

After a while, I thought again.    If,  when I was leaving class,  saying good-bye to everyone,  if then I had known   when and where that accident was going to happen,  how would I have acted differently?

“Six more miles to go….”      (I’m all right so far.)

“Just a couple more miles now.”      (hmmmm)

“Around that next corner . . . .”      (But I’ve got to go that way . . .)

“Up ahead at that next traffic light. . . .”     (It’s getting real close now. . . )

“There’s the big blue truck behind me in my rearview mirror.”

“There’s the traffic light coming up where it’s going to happen . . .”   (I’m out of time. )

“I’ve gotta stay stopped here. . . ”

“Yeeeeowwwwaaaaarghhhhh . . . .   whumpf!”

Yep.   It would have been a real tense ride home.    The present moment of that accident would have been my experience all the way home,  or maybe all day, if I had known this right away when I woke up.

Do we really want to know the actual bad things coming up?   Do we really want to know what difficult times are coming?      We’re supposed to live in the Present Moment.    “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”      “Don’t borrow trouble.”     “A coward dies a thousand deaths.”

Having intermittent “bad occurrences”  is part of living in this Fallen World.    They test us and allow us to “prove”  what kind of people we are.    The really bad things aren’t pleasant,  but they  let us demonstrate the strength of our character and the firmness of our faith.

We have to live freely and fully in the times in between the bad occurrences.

I saw this sad picture and it made me think about my own death:

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Will it be like that?   Will that be me some day?    In a bed?   With a concerned friend or family member nearby?

Maybe not in a bed.

No.  It’s best to not know the time and circumstances,  because if I did know,  knowing me,  I’d be thinking about it all the time.     Counting down the miles, so to speak.

I’m okay with not knowing,  because Someone does know , and He’s waiting for just the right time, the best time for my life here to end.     And I thought someone should write a poem about this idea. . . because a poem is “a transcendent thought, common to all mankind,  that is wrapped  in beauty.”

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Then I remembered,  someone did,  someone wrote some song lyrics that express this thought,  the knowledge that our Creator made us for Himself,  and will bring us back to Himself,  but He doesn’t tell us when or how.   We just trust Him.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

My Grandma used to sing this song.     She says:  “Just trust Him.    He’s working all things for your good.”

We don’t have to worry about each of our next 24 hours.

Bar Cross in middle

 

Just, if you’re interested,  here are all the words to that song.  It’s about Jesus.   That’s why there’s a reference to Blood:

 
I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Chorus:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood

 

  •  Turned out there was damage  . . .

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That line across the bumper ledge shouldn’t be there.   It should be plain smooth blue.

But  “we”  have an injury now. . . .

Don’t know how we all missed it.

Let it go.

I love my car.

Let it go.  Let it go.  Let it go.

It could have been me.