Turn, Turn, Turn

In addition to being the home of the world’s best shower singers, the ‘loo’ is also where we assume the position the artist Rodin made famous. Said position seems to be oxygen for the brain as thoughts and ideas surge.

While embracing Rodin this morning, climate change passed through my mind. And drought, and wind storms, and ‘hundred-year’ floods. Everything around us can be explained, one way or another, by the Bible. In the Creation, God instituted that which keeps all things in motion; in this particular instance, seeds and cycles. Trees, plants, vegetables, all manner of the flora found on earth come from seeds; they multiply according to the master plan of sowing (done by nature as well as man), growing, production, wilting, and dying. This applies to us humans as well – we are created by seed, too, and follow those same steps of development. There are cycles visible in dust storms, droughts (usually seven years between events but sometimes longer, like here in Florida), high tides and low tides. There are many more cycles as well but you get the general idea.

At the same time, I was having those thoughts, from out of the deep recesses of what I laughingly refer to as my mind, the chorus of this song presented itself. Read the words carefully (and feel free to sing along!) and see if the lyrics don’t tell us the exact same thing.

What we are experiencing in this most remarkable year of 2020, is the cycle of cycles. A bit unnerving and distressing that there seem to be many cycles repeating themselves just now but it’s important to remember – it is a cycle and a new one follows on the heels of the previous one and so we get on. The phrase, “This too shall pass” should be Post It noted all over your home and your devices. Because it is true, this will pass and a new cycle will begin.

Turn, turn, turn – and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Afterword from Neo:

I have loved that Byrds song ever sing it came out, and still do. It reminds us of the fact that things do change, but the essentials remain essential.

As I’m sure Audre knows as well as I do, it wasn’t original from The Byrds though. Here it is in its original context:

¹ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Ecclesiastes 3

Something it is hard for us to remember most of the time.

And now, Palm Sunday without the Extravagance

I was going to reprint as I often do on Palm Sunday, my post, Palm Sunday, Triumphalism and Leadership, but when well over a hundred of you have already found it in the last week, it seems a trifle superfluous. But because it’s message is timeless and may be more pertinent in this time of plague than even when I wrote it (2013), I will share a bit of it.

What can we learn from this? General Patton put it this way:

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. . .

A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”


We know that earthly glory is fleeting, who can recite the exploits of Edward Longshanks, or Frederick Barbarossa from memory. Sure we remember some of our founders but its only been a few generations, and we have been trained (some of us anyway) pretty well.

But what is different about the Christ, other than the Resurrection that is. Like most troublemakers through the ages he died a common criminals death. Think about that for a moment. Within a week he went from the darling of the populace, to an executed criminal, that’s quite a fall, in any time or place.

The other thing is: He never forgot the mission. What thoughts must have been in his mind on that long ago Palm Sunday, knowing, as he did, the fate that awaited him. But he never flinched, only prayed that this fate might be averted. He knew, as did his disciples and followers in coming times, that there would be many martyrs, Saints of the Faith, if you will. There will be many more. Christianity, even more than the Judaism from which it sprang, is the religion of the oppressed, the underdog, the person who never got a fair shake in this world, the sovereign individual made in God’s image. All you have to do is: Remember the Mission and take care of your people. The shepherd of the flock. And that is more than most of us can do consistently, without God’s help, because it is one of the most difficult missions ever entrusted.

Do not fall into the trap of triumphalism, earthly glory leads to nothing but trouble. I think most of us know this instinctively. What is the thing we remember about George W. Bush? He had many faults, which most conservatives can recite from memory. But, and it’s a huge but, he was a humble God-fearing man. To me, that is a lot of the difference between him and Barack Obama. Obama wants lives for the acclaim of the crowd, the earthly glory, one could easily call it the cult of personality.

And so the lesson for me from this Palm Sunday is the old one that the US Air Force taught me long ago and far away:

First the Mission

Second the People

Last Yourself.

That’s all very well, and I hope you read (or reread) it but there is a follow-up. Jessica wrote a piece that flowed from this article (as often happened with us, and is beginning to with Audre as well. It tends to strengthen both). Here’s what she said in Leaders and Non-Leaders.

One theme of this blog is the importance of leadership. Those of us who read today’s Gospel for Palm Sunday (though where I live it is more like Arctic Sunday, and we are dreaming of a white Easter) will have seen a perfect example of its absence – and the results.

Pontius Pilate was the prefect of Judea.  It wasn’t one of those top notch jobs, and like most Romans in such posts, Pilate had two priorities: keep things quiet and make money for himself.  The Romans were pragmatists. Gods? Heck, they had hundreds of them. So it was irritating that those Jews insisted there was only one of them. What was worse is they wouldn’t bend the knee to the gods of Rome. Live and let live was Pilate’s motto. He went to Judea in about AD 26, and had been there a few years when the Jews brought Jesus to him. He couldn’t see much wrong in the fellow, and he tried to find a way of avoiding blatant injustice. He was quite willing to have the fellow flogged, but crucifying him – that was another matter.

But there, blast it, went those Jews again. They wanted the fellow crucified. Pilate didn’t want any trouble, and you can almost hear him: “Come on guys, give us a bit of wriggle room here, the guy’s basically harmless, c’mon, cut me a bit of slack.” But they wouldn’t.  On the one side the pragmatic politician looking for a way through; on the other men who knew what they wanted and would stick at nothing to get it. If you didn’t know, you’d be able to tell who was going to get their way, and you’d not put money on the first guy.

Enter Mrs Pilate, telling him that she’s had a dream and that he should let the man be. That was all he needed, the little lady putting her oar in. Didn’t she realise he had enough trouble with those stiff-necked Jews?  Clearly not. Well, only one thing to do, wash his hands of it and let it be. And it all went off well in the end. There weren’t any riots, and although there were the strangest stories that the man had not died, it caused Pilate no problems for a bit. Politics is the art of the possible. You can see him afterward with Mrs P: “c’mon, what do you want? I did my best. Now what’s for supper, not more larks’ tongues?”

Small men, large events. Churchill said that in his father’s day there had been great men and small events, but during the Great War it had been the other way round. But really, we only see the real size of men when they are faced with great events. Cranmer just quoted some recently released papers from 1982 and the Falklands Crisis. Nearly every member of Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet was for a quiet life and giving in. We remember none of them. She was for doing what was right. We remember her.

There’s a lesson in Pilate for us all – small men never get to grips with great events – and without vision the people perish.

And so we are seeing once again in our midst, the difference that leadership makes to the people. Jess is correct in quoting Proverbs that without vision the people perish. But perhaps we might remember the rest of the chapter, for it applies well today, I think.

Proverbs 29:18-27 King James Version (KJV)

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.

22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

26 Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord.

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

Is it real?

There are few books that have captured my imagination in the way that The Harbinger has. When I purchased it, I read it twice; the original reading and the re-read it immediately after! It has to be a pretty good read to make a reader go from reading the last page of the story to turning to the front of the book and reading it again.

In hopes of not giving too much away about the story, here is part of the Wikipedia synopsis:

Premise

The author says that The Harbinger is a fictional story which is nevertheless concerned with a real-life connection: a prophecy about ancient Israel that was eventually fulfilled in the eighth century BC when Israel was destroyed, and certain events and facts related to the 9/11 terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001. Cahn calls these events and facts “harbingers,” and argues that they show a connection between ancient Israel’s destruction and a possible coming destruction of the present-day United States. He also says that ancient Israel received a warning before being destroyed, and that the 9/11 harbingers form a similar warning from God to America.[4]

The author argues that America was founded similar to ancient Israel and the Founding Fathers envisioned a country based on the rules of God and a Light Unto the Nations. The author lists a series of warnings or harbingers that were given to ancient Israel before its final destruction by the Assyrians and makes a parallel between each and the events of 9/11.

It’s not a long book – most could probably read it in an afternoon. But it is a powerful book. Easy to read, instantly grips the reader’s attention, and a logical progression of a series of events, ancient and recent, that makes the reader put the book down for a moment and reflect.

It isn’t just that the writing style is precise and devoid of excess verbiage – although there is that; and it isn’t just that the characters are interesting and recognizable – although it has that going for it, too. No, it’s the footnotes, a ton of them, supporting the theme and point of the story. Footnotes taken from history you don’t have to be very old to remember. I traced them; they are accurate.

I have The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn, on my tablet to read at any time. Good thing, too! I also bought the book and loaned it a lady at church; yeah, I’ll never see That book again. I also sent the book to my son in Texas. I received a call from him shortly after he finished reading it. He said, “Mom! Is it real?”

I suspect that’s what we all have to decide.

(The Amazon link https://www.amazon.com/Harbinger-Ancient-Mystery-Secret-Americas/dp/161638610X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+harbinger&qid=1584713362&sr=8-1

Sacrifices

Zadkiel was said to be the Angel who prevented...

Zadkiel was said to be the Angel who prevented Abraham from sacrificing his son, Isaac. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Genesis 22

 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

We know the story, as well as any, don’t we? Abraham was fully prepared to sacrifice his only son, his future of his family, that he cared about more than anything to God.

That what is meant by sacrifice. It means giving up something that means a lot maybe everything to us for a cause. In truth, as hard as it may be for us, it doesn’t really mean giving up chocolate for Lent. (The nice thing about God is that he understand about symbols though, so it does count.)

But here’s a thought for you, if that angel in verse 11 was late or got sidetracked, Genesis, Israel, Judaism end right there, Christianity never starts. The Bible ends at Genesis 22. Good thing angels aren’t human, isn’t it? Because then Abraham’s clan are just another bunch of nomadic Semites roaming around doing human sacrifice.

But the angel is on time and stopped Abraham, and God provided the sacrifice, not a lamb but a ram. And that’s why we’re talking about this today.

Because this is not quite the end of human sacrifice in Judaism, there would be one more instance. That instance took place yesterday. It was quite different from what Abraham was willing to do. In fact, it is unique in history. because for the only time in History

God sacrificed his Son for man, not the other way around.

Think about that for a while, in all the universe, God has one begotten Son, and he was sacrificed like Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac. Here is the lamb of the sacrifice that the ram filled in for.

The omnipotent, omniscient God, who knows all about us, how we are disobedient, childish, petulant, greedy, vain, prideful, and all those other things that we know we are, gave up his own Son, who was sacrificed for us. He took upon his shoulders the sins of all of us, willingly, for all our generations, only asking that we worship and believe. And thusly:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

And that is something to think about this Saturday as we wait, pray, and hope for the Resurrection.

Since the Passover which our Jewish friends just celebrated and Easter itself which is intrinsically linked to it are both celebrations of the freedom of individuals, as well as free will to choose good or evil, I thought I would include this here to remind us in America of who we are.

A Letter to Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic

It is not often, in fact, it is quite rare, for an Orthodox Rabbi to speak for this stick-in-the-mud Lutheran. Actually, it’s unheard of, especially to a bunch of Catholic kids. Yet it has happened. It is here, from Dov Fischer.

Dear Nick,

It now is some ten days since you unintentionally became famous, and you blessedly no longer are the news outside Covington. But I write to tell you that you are not forgotten for many of us whom you made proud. That includes me, an Orthodox Rabbi.

Obama once said that, if he had had a son, it would have been a boy like Trayvon Martin. Nicholas, I do not doubt that. Not for a moment. I would rather set the boys of CovCath as role models.

Nick, you came with a bunch of other kids from CovCath to Washington, D.C. to march for life and to have some clean fun in the nation’s capital. That is so noble, and that used to be what America is all about: kids getting to visit Washington, D.C., maybe meeting their Congressional representative and getting to sit in the gallery, maybe getting to visit the National Archives, the Smithsonian, the FBI building, Ford’s Theater, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument. That was the big visit and family trip that teens all over this country hoped they one day could do with their parents and siblings. And maybe one day, if your red hat’s message of hope and change comes true, we all can make America great again.

On the day of CovCath’s visit, though, you found that all around you, millions of other Americans want the right to tear apart fetuses limb from limb. Women and men who are too tired or lazy to take simple precautions that they learn in California and New York elementary school classes end up causing an unwanted pregnancy and choose to undo their laziness and gross irresponsibility by paying someone to tear apart the fetus later. In the old days, when science was less advanced, they fooled themselves into thinking that a fetus has no life form to it, was just a collection of random cells. But now the science is settled: the heart beats, the body nourishes, the life exists. In a world of Andrew Cuomos and Kermit Gosnells, you came to defend life.

You also came wearing a MAGA hat. Good for you! Some people in this country believe that everyone except for the kids at CovCath has a right to free speech. They cheer high school drop-outs who say “F – – – Trump.” They photograph themselves holding a bloody decapitated head representing the President of the United States. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has held that free speech even includes the right to burn the American flag and to dance naked at strip clubs. So, Nick, our Founding Fathers gave us the Bill of Rights so that kids at Covington Catholic and others in yeshivas throughout the United States and others who are older and perhaps not even religiously trained may wear a hat that says “Make America Great Again.” Those words are not thefighting words of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), nor a Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), incitement to imminent lawless action but words of hope and change: hope for a change from the Wasted Obama Decade.

In America we protect the biased Left mediacracy — people like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. These people report mostly true on local interest stories like a county fair or a new restaurant, but they intentionally distort and lie deliberately on national public-interest stories. You know that first-hand because you now have experienced it directly. That is why the President calls them “the enemy of the people” — because they are. They deliberately distort the truth and reality of what is happening in order to mislead the public into believing an alternate reality. When Walter Duranty of the sameNew York Times did that during the Stalin Years, he and theNew York Times contributed to the murder of millions of people who otherwise might have been saved if the truth of the Golodomor had come out. Instead, the people died, murdered by the enemies of the people. The same New York Times in a small way helped Hitler gas, bury, and incinerate millions of Jews during the Holocaust by hiding his crimes from the public. Did you know that the Times ran 23,000 front-page stories from 1939-1945, of which 11,500 were about the World War — but only twenty-six about Hitler’s mistreatment of Jews? Of course these evil villains are the enemies of the people.

Read it all, it’s the best thing I’ve read in quite a while. And yes, I agree with Rabbi Fischer completely. Well said, sir.

In a related matter, I not that the Governor of Virginia is openly supporting a bill that will allow the killing of an already born child. We have a word for that. It is murder, but this loon thinks it is fine. Perhaps he should be aborted.

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