Hilarious!

Girl and computer

I was in my early (is there such a thing?) forties when a neighbor taught me how to sew. I was so excited; I’d always wanted to sew and I was finally getting the chance. She showed me how to cut out a pattern, how to match up the markings, explained seam allowance, and all those things that help to make your sewing successful. We had the cut material, all pinned against accidental movement, and she told me to sit down. It was as exciting as sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time when you are learning to drive. We take a folded piece of material for me to practice on, drop the presser foot on it, and she tells me to press the foot pedal to make the machine sew. A miracle! I sat there, tense as all get out, concentrating as hard as I could. And then I started laughing. I mean, laughing my behind off! I was so intent on this brand new thing I was doing, rather than watching the material against the line edge, my head was going up and down with the needle! Go ahead; it’s alright; she laughed, too.

I should probably never tell that story but it’s so innocently sweet, I can’t help myself. And now you won’t be surprised when I tell this …

I’ve watched all of Netflix I care to, a lot of the movies I’d like to see again aren’t on Amazon Prime, I’m bored like a kid during spring break so I needed to find something to capture my attention. I like to play mahjong solitaire but it’s basically a sight game, like a ‘collapse two’ game, matching tiles to remove them from the board. What’s fun, and why it never gets boring, is the puzzles are always in different patterns – sometimes flowers, sometimes letters or numbers, sometimes animal shapes. It has no sound so it doesn’t drive me – or anyone around me – crazy. I enjoy it very much but that much quiet can get to you. What to do? I had binged my favorite series on Netflix so often that I didn’t need to watch them, I could listen to the dialog and follow the stories and only look at them if there was an episode I especially liked, but I’d play mahjong and listen and I was a happy camper. And then, I watched the last episode of the last favorite series and now had nothing to keep me company while I played.

YouTube! Home of the sublime and the ridiculous! I rummaged around for a while and decided on the videos of Alexander Scourby reading the books of the Bible! Brilliant! I can waste time AND improve my soul and spirit at the same time! My day slows down (if that’s possible) around three and so I picked the Book of Matthew to finish today and then started Mark to keep me company when Matthew was finished. I am so grateful no one is around.

Grateful because here I sit, in a room all alone, nodding and agreeing with what Jesus is saying! Disciples ask a question and I answer it. Or, I give editorial comment, such as when the disciples say they can take the baptism that Jesus has (meaning the Cross) and I say, with attitude and head/neck movement, “Right; you THINK you can!”

See? I don’t need a party. I AM a party! I think I’m hilarious!

 

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.

Still Naught For Our Comfort

One of the things that I love about my partner here, Jessica, is that she has rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen each of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

She has greatly enriched my life, but more importantly, she has enabled me to make my points much more clearly. I wrote most of this post while she was just starting to recover from her illness, and it spoke deeply to me then, and in fact, looking at the world today, it still does.

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to where we are now, in America.

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted it to me when by deceit, Obamacare was ruled constitutional. That defeat continues to unfold to the detriment of the country, as do many others.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us, personally, and for us as Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either. Nor does the next four years look exactly like ‘Morning in America’. But then neither did 1976.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Makes me wonder at who we are considering hiring to run ‘America, Inc.’

We will have to simply use our intelligence to try to select the best person. We have many things to fix. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

That may well happen again, but if we look around, the landscape does rather look as the poet describes here, doesn’t it?

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

There is, of course, another lesson implicit in the poem. King Alfred succeeded because he was true to his vision and his faith. If we are not, we will fail.

By the way, Jess and I also often quote Mother Julian of Norwich to each other as well, especially as reported by T.S. Elliot in Little Gidding.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

All Saints Day

reformation_giants_edit[This was my post from last year on All Saints Day on All Along the Watchtower, I thought I’d share it with you as well.]

I think all know that in the west, 1 November is All Saints Day. But like so much, our definitions differ a bit. In the Roman tradition (and the Orthodox, as well) it is rather narrowly defined. As in so much, we Protestants see it a little differently.

I have written about my parents, and how this is one of the times that I especially think about them here, as Jessica also has here. For both of us, it can be a bit troubling because while we think our fathers were good and perhaps Godly men, they decidedly weren’t churchly men. We have also often said here, that our hymnology complements the rest of our theology very well, and so.

That is kind of my point here today, while we have the greatest respect for the formal Saints in the Roman and Orthodox traditions, when the Rev Dr Luther studied the Scriptures he found that, all believers in the Christ are referred to there as saints, and thus the Communion of the Saints consists of us all from the Apostles on through the child baptised this morning, and will continue until he returns to us. Along that line in his commentary on 1st Peter, Luther says this

Thus Scripture calls us holy while we are still living here on earth, if we believe. The papists have taken this name away from us and say: `We should not be holy; only the saints in heaven are holy.’ Therefore we must get the noble name back. You must be holy. But you must be prepared not to think that you are holy of yourself or on the strength of your merit. No, you must be holy because you have the Word of God, because heaven is yours, and because you have become truly pious and holy through Christ. This you must avow if you want to be a Christian (Luther’s Works 30:7).

In his 1531 Galatian commentary, he reflects a bit more on the views he previously held.

When I was a monk, I often had a heartfelt wish to see the life and conduct of at least one saintly man. But meanwhile I was imagining the sort of saint who lived in the desert and abstained from food and drink, subsisting on nothing but roots and cold water. I had derived this notion about unnatural saints from the books not only of the sophists but even of the fathers . . . But now that the light of truth is shining, we see with utter clarity that Christ and the apostles designate as saints, not those who lead a celibate life, are abstemious, or who perform other works that give the appearance of brilliance or grandeur, but those who, being called by the Gospel and baptized, believe that they have been sanctified and cleansed by the blood of Christ. Thus whenever Paul writes to Christians, he calls them saints, sons and heirs of God, etc. Therefore saints are all those who believe in Christ, whether men or women, slaves or free (Luther’s Works 27:81-82).

And here you also can see part of his belief that monasticism was a bad thing for the faith. I agree but less strongly. I think that he was affected badly by it because he vowed to join the monastery only because he had been badly frightened by a bolt of lightning and had vowed to St. Anne that he would if he was spared. And it seems to me from his writing that his propensity to slip into depression was greatly increased by the monastery. Also germane is that he found that it tended to lead to classes of Christians, I too have occasionally found it a prideful vocation. He also found that occasionally the veneration of Saints could lead to idolatry, and in fact, he warned us to be careful of this with the Theotokos as well, although he and many of us still venerate her.

In the Smalcald Articles, on the article “How One is justified before God, and of Good Works,” we find

What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it . . . but the entire man, both as to his person and his works, is to be called and to be righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us [unfolded] and spread over us in Christ (Smalcald Articles, III.13.1-2).

According to the Confessions, the Christian becomes holy in the same way he becomes righteous: by God’s grace for Christ’s sake through faith. By His grace God reckons the holiness of Jesus Christ to the account of the believer. The holiness of a Christian therefore is not his own holiness, but the holiness of Jesus, won for all on the cross. Our holiness is a gift, given to us for the sake of Jesus who died for us; our holiness is not the result of our merits or good works.

If by His death Jesus Christ has taken away all your sins, then are you not holy? For to be holy means to be without sin. Therefore, when God no longer counts our sin against us, we are holy indeed! This is the way our Confessions proceed.

This holiness of Christ, won for us on the cross, is communicated to us through Word of God and received through faith.

For, thank God, a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy Christian Church. This holiness does not consist in albs, tonsures, long gowns, and other of their ceremonies devised by them beyond Holy Scripture, but in the Word of God and true faith (Smalcald Articles, III.12.2-3).

In the Large Catechism this same theme, that holiness comes through the Word of God, is further developed.

For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God’s Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. (Large Catechism, Third Commandment, 91)

And so, my fellow saints, in a year that has not been overly kind, in the world, to our little company, with more than one of our members being stricken seriously, let us pray for them to regain their strength, and for the Grace to join those who have gone before us, and are waiting for us.

Men of Honor: Forces of Disorder

3rd Infantry Division (United States)

[Am I back? I don’t know,  we’ll find out together. But I happened to glance up at my TV last week, and something struck me, and I want to share it with you]

Last week many of us were semi watching the far overblown coverage of the confrontations/riots/ whatever in Ferguson, Missouri. One of the things we saw was an attempted (judicial) lynching of a law enforcement officer, who was simply doing, according to his beliefs, his job. As always, I’m sure there are some legitimate grievances-on both sides. That’s not my point here.

What I happened to see was the stand-off at the Ferguson Police station, if memory serves, although in truth it hardly matters.

In the street was the usual rabble,many of them concealing their identity, like the cowards they are, behind those contemptible Guy Fawkes masks. They recall the man who set off anti-Catholic feelings in England that were so strong that they are still remembered today.

Now do understand that much of English anti-Catholicism was more political than religious, there was a widespread fear that the Catholics would obey the Pope instead of the King. Likely it was untrue, that is also irrelevant. The closest modern equivalent is likely the way some of us feel about the Moslems (especially the militants) in our midst.

In short, an obvious reference to those who would destroy our civilization.

And there also was the Missouri National Guard, standing at port arms under arms, in good order and discipline, as always. Disciplined defenders of civilization and America. Most of us would say, “The Best in the World”, with justifiable pride in those who represent us.

But something else I noticed, on the right sleeve of an army uniform a soldier is entitled to wear the patch of a unit he served honorably in, in combat. And so it was here, on the right sleeve of one of those young men, who has pledged his very life to us, if necessary, was the patch of the 3ID

3d Infantry Division

 

The third infantry division is one of the army’s most famous units. It earned its nickname in the Great War as ‘The Rock of The Marne” for its valor. The rest of its record is comparable. It is also the unit that performed the run up “Thunder Road” in Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and have no doubt served in both Iraq and Afghanistan since. One of our best.

And there was that patch on the shoulder of that young soldier, once again defending civilization, this time at home in Missouri from a rabble that would destroy it.

But there’s something else here as well, that goes to the very root of who we are. That insignia, if you look at it in the mirror, it is no longer the US 3ID, it is something else.

It is the coat of arms of Lancelot du Lac himself, legendary Knight of King Arthur.

The motto of the US Army is:

This We’ll Defend

Naught For Our Comfort

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election, and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[…]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

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