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!

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.

All Manner of Things Shall be Well.

So what to talk about, I’ve read the horror stories, of local officials and even judges, gone full totalitarian, but I’d be surprised if you haven’t too, and it’s really up to those people’s voters to redress the problem. I hope they do, relentlessly. Americans have never shown much tolerance for totalitarian behavior, it’s one of the things that makes us different, and why we lead the (more or less) free world. But I’ve little to add to what has been written.

But we are far enough through this to raise our heads a bit and look around. We, the peoples who seventy-five years ago tonight, defeated Nazi Germany (and soon Imperial Japan). We, the English speaking peoples did that, almost alone. Remember at Argentia Bay in 1941 when Churchill and Roosevelt met, the United States had just passed the draft (by one vote). And almost alone in the world, the Anglosphere was actually free, Four years later we were victorious all around the world.

Now we cower at the flu. How’d that happen? The best way to understand the future is to study the past. So let’s do so.

While reflecting on our plight in the current pandemic, CNN’s Brian Stelter recently lamented, “We’ve never lived through something quite like this. We have nothing to compare this with!” It is true; we have never lived through a pandemic like this, but others have.

He’s right, of course, but the reason we don’t hear much about them is that we marched on. We’ve had many opportunities to curl up in a ball and give up. What we are today is the result of that ferocious will to life and liberty, but we’ve watered it down, because of an easy life, I suspect.

I wonder what our medieval predecessors would think of our societal reaction to this virus. In short, they would marvel at our fear and melancholy.

There Are Things Worse than Physical Death

Imagine how a premodern person might judge this reaction. We have shut down life. We reassert our faith in “science” and big government at every turn. We saddle our children with even more crippling debt. We forbid church but keep the marijuana flowing. We release criminals but threaten or actually arrest people for enjoying the outdoors. The health crisis is not unprecedented; our reaction to it is. Others have lived through health crises much worse. How did they respond?

One example of the typical medieval approach is the Venerable Bede (circa 673–735) in his “Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.” As a matter of course, Bede recounts a few destructive famines and plagues. He mentions a “bitter plague” in the fifth century that killed so many people so quickly, there weren’t enough survivors to bury all the dead.

Another terrible plague came to England in 664. It began in the south and worked its way north through Scotland and then over to Ireland. It broke out sporadically over the next 25 years and, according to Bede, swept away a “great multitude” of people.

The disease struck young and old alike. Bede tells of a 3-year-old boy who died and another “little boy” of uncertain age who succumbed. Monks and nuns in the monasteries were dying daily. When he was about 13 years old, Bede survived an outbreak in the Jarrow monastery. He and the abbot were the only survivors in the monastery who could still recite the psalms antiphonally and keep the daily prayers going.

Bede’s main historical interest in the plague is not to give a physical or scientific description of how the victims died, although he details a few of the symptoms. He focuses instead on their emotional and spiritual state. In sum, they died with great courage. The slow, agonizing death afforded an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and consideration of what is most important in life and in death. This is what premodern Christians called “the art of dying.” It is now a lost art in a culture that seeks to repress the inevitability of death at all costs.

Yes, the fear of death was real back then, too. The extent of the plague’s devastation tempted some of the new Christians to return to paganism in their desperate search for relief. But Bede’s eyewitness account is dominated not by fear but by courage. Bede and his contemporaries knew there are things worse than physical death, which is why their fear was not paralyzing.

In addition to the courage displayed in the face of a plague, another striking characteristic of Bede’s narrative is the overall attitude of joy. Right in the middle of what some persist in calling the “Dark Ages,” Bede reports that five years into this unfortunate epidemic was also a time of peace and increased learning. He claims there was never a time “more happy” since the Angles had arrived in Britain.

It wasn’t that life was easy. Their great joy was the result of a trust in something more powerful and enduring than the disaster of the moment and the temporality of human life.

And the patron saint of historians is not deceiving us, this was the time of the great flowering of Anglos-Saxon Christianity, which overcame all, even the pagan Danish hordes.

As Boethius observed from prison, his good fortune had spoiled him. It has done the same to us, leaving us woefully unprepared to confront challenges that should be familiar to the human race. Fortune has turned, and only slightly so far, but enough to expose our emotional and spiritual fragility in the face of adversity.

We should hear the wake-up call to steel ourselves, individually and corporately, for what may be harder times to come. What’s more, perhaps we need to reclaim a more stirring vision of ultimate reality, one that will inspire more courage and joy for facing the present crisis.

Read the whole post here, it’s well worth your time: Our Ancestors Would Be Amazed At Our Cowardly Coronavirus Hysteria.

The linked author is entirely correct, of course, this is what comes of putting our selves in God’s place. Yesterday, the Midweek Hymn at The Conservative Woman ( which you should be reading) was: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus. Its back story is an example of the art of dying as well, but this is a hymn (and a quick march) of the Church Triumphant. I remember it well from my younger days. Now it has fallen into disuse, and the Church is hardly triumphant any more either, much of it lying prostrate at the feet of secular culture, and the reaction to Chines Bat Flu is the result.

We Americans, like our British cousins, have had our dark days, when all seemed lost, Valley Forge comes to mind, marching barefoot, if not quite naked, in the snow, with a smallpox epidemic raging through camp, while they starved, and most of the enlistments due to expire, is about as bad as it gets, but those men kept the faith, and mind all the constituent parts of the British have faced equal trials and won through to the quite incredible world we live in today.

When things get bad, and no one is going to gainsay they are bad now, maybe not as bad as that winter at Valley Forge, but bad, it’s time to get moving. I’ve often thought that the name Valley Forge was entirely appropriate for in that valley was forged a new nation, one that would look much like its motherland, and so, like her, come to lead the world.

But we imported other things too, like a soldier from Cornwall, who would lead the 7th Cavalry at the first of Ia Drang, singing an old Welsh song in a kind of counterpoint to the 7th Cav’s Irish march. He would do so again on 9/11, as he saved almost all of the people, he himself being one of the exceptions of his company, for he was last seen going up the staircase, as is our wont. This is what he was singing.

Let us go, and do likewise

Always remember with Mother Julian of Norwich that:

He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but He said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.

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.

 

God and The Walking Dead

You may – or may not! – be surprised to read that I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. I could never watch it on tv because Lon maintains he ‘got over’ zombies when he was 14. While I understand his point, I think, with what little he has seen of it, he’s missed a larger picture. The larger picture I see was, perhaps, completely unintended; but then I wonder about that, too, because the character Hershel brings up the subject to the lead character, Rick.

The zombies are merely a vehicle used to move the story forward. They are ‘incidental’, if you will, except of course to the thirty-somethings viewers who haven’t gotten over zombies. They (zombies) are more times than not, the catalyst for action for the non-zombies. While soap opera daily and weekly shows will be in the kitchen or living room or the hospital for days or weeks on end, this group of people move – a lot – due to the zombies. And so, like in real life, their lives change quickly, often with no time to prepare.

The compelling thing about The Walking Dead is the characters. These are not ‘flat’ characters who will do and say exactly what they have always done and said. Each incident they encounter changes them – much like our lives and the incidents we find ourselves in changes how we look at things, react to things, think about things. The characters are fully rounded (there are exceptions, of course), quirky, capable of surprising themselves and others. Just like we are.

During, say, the first five seasons of The Walking Dead, there were terrible instances that the group was able to outwit, overcome, surmount very nearly in the nick of time. And yet, you never get the feeling that it was a production method for getting to the next locale. One might feel the hand of God in the ‘nick of time’. Read your Old Testament and look at the ‘nick of time’ instances. I love passages in the New Testament when the Jewish leadership is just about to grab Jesus and we read that somehow, from their midst, he’s gone and is seen somewhere else. They make me laugh every time I read them. Not because I think they’re silly but because they show me that Jesus was different. Very DIFFERENT. Were I to find myself in similar situation, surrounded by people who hate me and want to kill me, I doubt you’d be able to find me in Largo or Clearwater at the exact time those bad folks were reaching out to hurt me.

There’s an underlying story of doing what is right. It is what holds the group together and draws good people to them. Yes; in some cases, they do terrible things. But remember King David had Uriah killed so he could have Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. And yet, King David was ‘the apple’ of God’s eye.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Walking Dead group support each other in their moments of poor spirit; they attract and help people who come to them who are poor in spirit. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. With their own lives in danger, suffering from hunger and fatigue, they dig graves to bury their dead and the dead of the folks who have joined them. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. It is not only the brave ones of the group who make the group work; the meek ones, frail ones, cook or wash or watch children so the group as a whole are supported. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. The wrongs done to the separate members of the group are often times corrected by actions of the group because it was the right thing to do. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. While this is not always the case, there is enough instance of it to qualify. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Again, there are enough instances of this to qualify – the death of Hershel comes immediately to mind. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. Like in real life, the peacemakers often wind up dead (missionaries come to mind), or are stifled or held in solitary confinement. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. You may think this can’t be visible in this ‘zombie series’ but in a way, it is. When a group member is stolen and does not inform on the groups whereabouts or who the members of the group are, I can see ‘persecution for righteousness. The only beatitude that I can’t apply is the last, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. No one ever mentions Jesus and many times you’ll see people denying or fighting with God – much like Jacob.

Early on, when I was still trying to get Lon to watch The Walking Dead, Lon once said, “Fine program for a Christian woman to be watching!” Meaning, of course, that he thought it was terrible that I would watch. I tried to explain to him that it’s not satanic, not witchery, not anything proscribed by the Bible. But it’s a story of how, even inadvertently, folks can follow Jesus without even knowing they’re doing it.

 

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