It can be so delicate; so fragile.

I have a friend whose religious background is vaguely Anglican. When a child, she was brought – and sometimes not – to church for the special holidays of the church year. But there was no real commitment in her home growing up; nothing much in the way of Bible study or learning the Canons of the Church. No real catechesis, no Jesus stories for children. Her understanding, at now 60 plus years, is that of a small child. Maybe.

My friend discovered Anglican TV on YouTube and enjoyed the conversations when there were three panelists – one has since left the Anglican Church and has joined the Church of Rome. But that’s not important; what’s important is that she started to take an adult’s interest in her religious tradition. Always political, she grasped first at the things that had political overtones that were Anglican and sort of got comfortable with talking and light reading about Anglicanism. I was very careful to let her find her own way. If she had questions, I answered. If I didn’t know the answer, I knew where to look to get her answers.

I was tooling about YouTube one morning and something caught my eye. I always think of YouTube as this great, huge, domed place with rooms and corridors and dark places and sunlit windows – a treasure trove for wanderers; sometimes a black hole for those who prefer the dark over the light but by and large, a wonderful place to mine for previously unknown gems. What I had discovered was the books of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, read by Alexander Scourby. I listened to the Book of Mark and thoroughly enjoyed the actor’s subtle reading – acting without acting. Very much a big fan now, I had sent my friend the link to St. Mark. She had only read a little bit of the Bible in her life but something about the reading by Scourby touched her in a special way; she is reading the Bible now, while listening to the video version of whatever book she is reading. She says it helps her to process what she’s reading.

A sudden personal tragedy has just recently happened in her life and she was looking for verses that would be comforting. I took my 1928 Book of Common Prayer from the shelf, opened it to the Burial service and found one that I thought would be a salve for her. The Holy Spirit does wonderful things if you step aside and let Him. It did, indeed, bring her comfort and she was grateful. I never take credit for things like this; who could? But I told her how happy I was that it brought her some peace. Just for my own peace of mind, I contacted my priest and he thought what I had given her was a good choice so I was greatly relieved.

She loves to bake and found a recipe for Bible Cake. All the ingredients are from passages in the Bible. How clever is that? It’s in an air-tight tin under her bed right now. I know that sounds funny but my Mom used to do that with her Christmas fruit cake – kept in a cool place for a couple of weeks for all the ingredients to ‘marry’ and become one delicious flavor. Then she found a recipe for Bible Stew which she is looking forward to producing in the days ahead. She mentioned today that she likes to sit outside on a bench near a church close by and thought about having the priest bless her Bible Cake; I said she should take Sweetie, her beloved feline companion of twelve years, and have her blessed as well. Not knowing about the area in which she lives, I suggested she should do some research and see if there’s a church that does the ‘blessing of the animals’ and she did. It made her happy as she has a fear of losing Sweetie and what her life will be like without her.

I am so humbled, and blessed, by her sharing her faith journey with me. I am so aware that I’m being given the chance to watch a Christian grow, like a little green shoot. I pray for her continuing steps along the path. I am sensitive to her searching and reaching for the Lord. There’s no more fulfilling journey than the one she on – delicate and fragile. May all her steps be on level ground.

‘Murica, F**k Yeah!

John Hinderaker at PowerLine asks the question, “Shutdowns, what is the point?” It’s a very valid question and no politician anywhere is answering it coherently.

John quotes Robert Skidelsky, a member of Britain’s House of Lords and Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University.

The default policy response has been to slow the spread of natural immunity until a vaccine can be developed. What “flattening the curve” really means is spacing out the number of expected deaths over a period long enough for medical facilities to cope and a vaccine to kick in.

But this strategy has a terrible weakness: governments cannot keep their populations locked down until a vaccine arrives. Apart from anything else, the economic cost would be unthinkable. So, they have to ease the lockdown gradually.

Doing this, however, lifts the cap on non-exposure gained from the lockdown. That is why no government has an explicit exit strategy: what political leaders call the “controlled easing” of lockdowns actually means controlled progress toward herd immunity.

Read the linked article but I think that’s about right, and it leaves the politicians between a rock and a hard place. They have to back off, or the economy will die and/or the people will revolt. So they obfuscate and lie. It won’t serve much longer, at least in America.


To that last phrase, America is still America, at least outside the cities, PJ Media had an excellent story from Califonia last Wednesday. Jeff Reynolds reports that.

In a time of non-stop bad news coming from every corner of the media during the CCP pandemic, a reminder of the American spirit can encourage us out of the doldrums. That’s exactly what inspired former PJTV contributor Chris Burgard to create the new country song and video, “American Heart.” With the subtitle, “You can’t lock down an American Heart,” the video has caught fire, with more than 20,000 views in the first 48 hours since its release.

With good reason. The song came out of a desire to show that fear had kept America in shackles, and that we have the power to reject it.

I asked Chris how this song came about, and he tells a very cool story. He says that the video shoot, which took place on his California horse ranch, met with strong skepticism at first. It took several weeks to put together a shoot, and at first it was just Chris and his guitar. Too many folks he invited declined, citing the virus as a reason to stay inside.

As he began setting up the video and the music, however, folks began to emerge. Soon, he had a full, professional, concert-quality country band at his ranch. Check below for the bios—there are a lot of big names in the industry that came together for this effort.

Viewers should not see this as a partisan issue, Chris told me, but rather a return to American values. Let’s leave behind fear and let’s return to the rugged sense of American freedom that we all inherited.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Famericanmadeband2020%2Fvideos%2F2983395038423957%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Click that link! You know you want to and I can’t embed this one. You won’t regret it.

American Heart

Two months into COVID lockdown, we felt the country could use some inspiration.

Friends and neighbors agreed. So we started a band, recorded a song, and got the neighbors together to make this video.

We hope it makes folks happy and does a little bit to lift up our country. A portion of the proceeds from each download goes to COVID19 related charity, Meals For Heroes.

“Getting this many people to come out to do a nice Pro-American, Christian video is huge,” Burgard said. “The fact that you did it during Covid lockdown? You’re here because people are starting to figure out, yes we need to be cautious, yes we need to be smart, but we’re not frickin sheep. Ok? This country was founded on freedom. This country wasn’t founded on fear.”

Chris Burgard

So go download it already. What better way this year to start Memorial Day weekend!

 

As my neighbors out here in Nebraska would say:

Cowboy Up!

I Am

Over the course of the last two, maybe two and a half years, I’ve developed a long distance friendship with someone from the United Kingdom. It has been educational, fun, insightful, and meaningful which is, of course, the very best that friendship has to offer.

The gentleman requested the link to our beloved Neo’s blog as he wanted to read a couple of my articles. I heard from him this morning and after stating what he thought about the articles, he ended his email with, “May God bless you, darling.” He’s probably the most chivalrous person on the planet. But it’s the statement that brought me up short.

May God bless you, darling. Such simple words, meant with great kindness. I am so incredibly humbled by those words and realize how truly blessed I am. I don’t – maybe we don’t – always take time to consider how we’ve been blessed. We can talk for hours about how we may have been ill-used or suffered some physical impairment and it’s resulting inconveniences but when it comes to our blessings, do we even think of them or share them with others? I can’t remember the last time someone told me how blessed they are or felt particularly blessed by something that happened in their lives. Of all the stories we tell, why aren’t these the first on the list?

There’s no end to the list of my blessings. I’m just going to share a small portion of my blessings because these are the things it’s important to know. I found acceptance, kindness, love, and friendship from the United Kingdom in five people who have become so very dear to my heart. Our church has a new priest who is so ‘on fire’ for the Lord you can feel the heat emanating from him and his resilience and fortitude in the face of the ‘shelter at home’ constraints has been truly humbling. I have a friend here in the States who is also long distance but instantly with me via email and I value him as being not just intellectual but grounded in real things, in the way the world works, in how things get done. My family and extended family are well and they love me. I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry, my bills are paid and there is no wolf at the door. God has given me more than I need and a million times more than I deserve. He, in His great love, has given me friendships I thought I would never have again.

“May God bless you, darling.” He has. I am.

Some Additional Thoughts

I sent a copy of the article I Don’t Need Proof to my younger sister. I don’t think she’d ever heard of the Shroud of Turin. But she likes to read my writing and is happy that I’m writing again, so, I sent it to her. After reading it, she sent it to her priest and to our older sister. Evidently at last night’s Bible study at her church (New Hampshire has different ‘shelter’ regulations than say, here in Florida) and her priest had some information that he shared about the Shroud and a couple of the people in the group asked if they could get a copy of the article and so I sent her the link.

I was discussing this rather interesting (at least to me) occurrence with a very dear friend who mentioned, quite sagely (of course!), that we never know ‘who we touch’. That gave me a great deal to think upon. It’s very true; we never know who we touch with a kind act or an insight or a new thought. It led me to think of what we are told in church, about planting seeds; you tell someone about the Gospel of Jesus and you never know if they do anything about what you’ve shared with them – I don’t think we’re supposed to know, quite frankly – but you’ve ‘planted’ a seed of an idea, a direction to investigate, a single frame of a larger picture.

There are many possible scenarios. I considered this one: suppose you met an atheist and asked them to watch some of the Shroud videos – or even just to look at the Shroud. When an atheist is confronted with something state of the art, top of line science can’t dispel, would it make them reconsider their stance on Jesus, firstly, and the resurrection, secondly? What if the videos were shared with someone who had lost their faith? Would the viewing of the videos put bellows to dying spark and breathe it to life again? Would someone from a non-Christian background be effected? If they were confronted with Isa not being a ‘good teacher’ but truly God, and not Allah?

If someone had no faith background whatsoever, which would be hard to fathom but for the number of polls taken that show an abundance of people with no religious knowledge, would a person of ‘no faith’ be moved to search for Jesus? If they were so moved to search for Jesus and become a believer based on the Shroud, would they be less of a believer? I make mention again of “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” – would seeing the Shroud, the purported burial cloth of Christ, negate their having ‘found Jesus’? That’s a deep theological question to which I have no answer.

I’m reminded of there being only one way to God – St. John, 14:6 ” … No one comes to the Father except through me.” But there are many roads and ways to Jesus. Can one be less good than another? I don’t know.

I Don’t Need Proof

Do you know how you’ll think of something and all of a sudden you see that thing all around you? You never noticed it before but now it’s so ‘in your face’ that you can’t ignore it? The same thing happened to me today.

There I was, minding my own business, just scootin’ around YouTube and it jumped out at me. Shroud of Turin videos all over the place. Why? I’m a strong believer in the ‘Holy Spirit’ moments. When He wants you to do something, or say something, He slaps ya upside your head to get your attention. Ok; maybe I’m the only He has to slap. Anyway …

I watched some videos I had seen before and for the most part, enjoyed them again. Then I remembered a fairly recent news headline to the effect that because it could not be scientifically disproved to be the burial cloth of Christ, it had to be assumed that it is. I haven’t been able to come up with the right collection of keywords to find that particular article, I did find this. It is a long read but well worth the time invested. One thing stands out to me – this paragraph from under the heading “Image formation versus work of an artist”: “These findings support the idea that the image on the Shroud was made by a sudden flash of high-energy radiation.  They also refute the possibility of forgery, since lasers were obviously not available in medieval times.” (my emphasis)

Before I share a couple of videos with you, I would be greatly remiss if I did not share this – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” King James Version (KJV) John 20:29. I believed long, long before I ever heard of the Shroud of Turin.

The first video I hope you will watch is this:

It is long (or feels like it is!) but if you listen carefully and follow the information, you will understand two things at once. The flash of light/radiation came from Inside the Body and the Shroud shows Movement of the Body at the time of the flash. It is because the flash came from within the body itself, not an exterior cause, that we are able to see the back of the figure as well as the front of the figure. This just staggers the imagination. It did put into perspective something that I had heard on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – better known as the Roman Catholic channel). I once heard a priest on the channel refer to Jesus as having ‘raised Himself’ from the dead. This video completely changed my mind as to what the priest had said. I had always believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and of course, He did – but as Jesus is with God, in God, and is God, one can say the Jesus raised Himself from the dead.

And now, the last video. It’s as short as the other is long. It is moving in a deep, personal way.

Finally, let me say, I don’t need proof. I know my Redeemer lives.

 

The [Continuing] Story of Freedom

The spot in Canterbury Cathedral where St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was martyred

Lord Acton was correct, “The love of power corrupts, and the love of absolute power corrupts, absolutely.”

The last week or so has not been a comfortable one, for anyone who loves freedom, as we have watched several governors usurp the power reserved to the people to set rules in place which clearly contradict the Constitution and both precedent and law. Many of us, in both England and America, have also felt that our churches have developed a reluctance to stand for what Christianity has always meant. In fact, in England, the last time the churches were closed was during the reign of King John, when the king was excommunicated and England placed under interdict. and was in direct line with the barons forcing his signature on Magna Charta. The resulting Great Charter, first of what has come to be called, in America, the Charters of Freedom. American churches have never been forced to close before this spring. And yet all the churches have complied with barely a murmur. I think they have in large measure forgotten something that is basic to Christianity.

Mind that I think most of us thought that it might be justified for a short time till we knew more. Well, we now know more. We know that at worst this is slightly more dangerous than other flus that pass pretty much unnoticed, and yet here we are.

And yet, other than a few brave clergy who have taken the lesson of St Augustine (and Martin Luther as well as Martin Luther King Jr.) to heart, and realize that ‘an unjust law is no law at all’, they both in our parishes and the hierarchs as well have tamely submitted.

One of the things I do when I get in this spot is to go back to our earlier posts, usually Jessica’s. She had a way of making things clear, no matter how much mud was spattered about, and it is one of the things I miss most about her. Some of her basic goodness comes through in those posts, and they help me, and I hope they help your morale as well. In her post from December 30, 2012, she reminds us that our freedom has a long history which is intertwined in British and American history. Here she takes us back to show us that the original resistance to secular tyranny came from none other than the Church, in our case through the Archbishop of Canterbury St Thomas Becket and thence to another Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, who stood up to King John of infamous memory. But let her tell it, she tells it much better than I do. Here’s my dearest friend, Jessica.

The story of Becket reminds us of the eternal conflict between the Church and the State. It is the natural wish of the latter, whether in the guise of a king, an aristocracy or ‘the people’ to encompass as much power to itself as it can. There is only one culture where this has been challenged successfully, and it is that of the Latin West. For all the atheists’ charge that the Church has been some sort of dictator, it never has been; indeed it has been the bridle on that happening in our societies.

I mentioned Stephen Langton yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury whom King John had refused to accept, and who sided with the Barons in their fight against the King’s tyranny. That does not mean, of course, that the Church has not had times when it has cooperated with tyranny, but it does mean that it has stood out, always, against the State controlling everything. Indeed, it was this example which gave courage to those who came to see the Church itself as a spiritually tyranny, corrupt and refusing to mend its ways. We can argue over the results of that, but what is unarguable is that it is from the deepest part of Christianity that the belief in freedom under God comes.

That qualification matters. Our forefathers did not mistake freedom for license. They knew they would stand one day before God to account for their time here on earth. They knew their sinful ways, they did not blame ‘society’, they knew that sin was an act of will on their part – of sinful rebellion against God. But they also knew that only through freedom could man be truly himself. Like God Himself, they believed in free will. Man was not free when he was in chains – literal and metaphorical ones. The black slaves were in literal chains, their owners in metaphorical ones.

Freedom has a price. Part of that is that we have to bridle ourselves. The excesses of our species when left to itself show why. Made in the image of God, we are capable of deeds of utmost evil, and we can also rise to heights of altruism and love – as the lives of the Saints show us.

We Christians are strangers in this world. We are meant to be the leaven; but too often we are the salt that has lost its savour. America is the one country in the world founded on a vision of how things could be. From its beginning it has taken the hard road of trying to rule itself without kings or aristocracies. It has found itself in some dark places, not least during its Civil War. But it has always valued freedom – and always acknowledged that there is a price to be paid.

There is a long and continuous thread leading from Magna Carta to now. We forget at our peril how unique that story is. You won’t find it elsewhere  – do we cherish it as we should?

And so, now, as in the 1770’s we see the yeoman of the Great Republic or a sizable percentage of them gathering to protest the tyranny of those given to govern. These are amongst the most peaceful demonstrations, with due regard for health considerations, but unless I’m badly mistaken, if this goes on long, especially with the damage it is doing to western civilization, they may not stay peaceful. We have long since tried to forget that the American Revolution saw some of the most deadly partisan warfare (not quite definable as terrorism because they were directed at selected targets).  It can happen again.

And strangely, if it does come, that revolution, like the English Civil War, like the American Revolution, and like the American Civil War, it will be another ‘cousin’s war’ fought to reinstate ‘the good old law’. Just as happened in The Anarchy, during the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in the 12th century.

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