Archive for August, 2015

Has God Surprised You???

Posted: August 17, 2015 in World On The Edge
Photo by JulesInKy, 2006, MorgueFile.com

Photo by JulesInKy, 2006, MorgueFile.com

Remember your first time jumping into water as a child? . You were afraid, but  you let go and jumped because your father was waiting to catch you.

As adults, we still have our fears  But when we let go, and trust in our heavenly father, God will not only catch us, he will surprise us.

God’s surprises come in a myriad of ways, and at unexpected times.

Sometimes He surprises us through people—especially in our narrow-mindedness when we judge a person.

Oh, we have our own ways of judging people. Often it’s a first impressions: how they’re dressed, how attractive they are, how they speak, smell, or walk. We don’t see a child of God, made in His image. We see someone who is different from our own image of what a person should be. And sometimes, we pompously see someone who’s ‘in our way.’ And so, we circumvent them, and never get to know what they may have had to offer–the surprises God has in mind.

Jesus, Himself, tells us that there’s not much sense in this sort of response by people stuck in their own ideas.

He asks: “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”-Luke 7:31-35

True wisdom is to TRUST in God. Trust is always the answer.

If Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, turned five loaves and two fishes into enough to feed five thousand, with leftovers; then we can trust him to surprise us again? Trust Him to surprise us personally? Trust Him to do much more than we can imagine?

Because we can only imagine the ways God will surprise us with His love. So, love Him. Trust Him. Let Him do His work in you.

Mary's_Mountain_Cover_for_KindleMARY’S MOUNTAIN is now in paperback, as well as on Kindle. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will. It answers the question of what happens when we forget our values and make the easier, and maybe more profitable, decision to tolerate evil.

Here are the first few pages.

I

Irene tap, tap, taps her Waterman pen on the mahogany desk and leans over the polished wood, spreading her tailored wool reflection between us. “Just tell me, Paul,” she demands, glancing at my manuscript. “Why would you write this?”

She’s too close for a quick answer. I’m aware of the tension in her slightly-open mouth, like a Venus Fly trap emitting a floral perfume that rides on her breath; her breath that had once become my breath, numbing the edges of my tongue like Novocain.
Tap, tap, tap.

I study the web of veins behind her gold-rimmed glasses. They travel over the whites of her eyes like a red penciled road map to disaster. So, I keep my mouth shut.

She lays down her pen, thumps my manuscript with her fingers like a preliminary drum roll. “After all our success, you desecrate everything we worked for with this patriotic puke. Why, Paul?”

But I’m looking at the tiny smudge on the bow of her mouth. Out-of-place lipstick? A trace of double-chocolate mousse? There are plenty of desserts here, except the sugar’s fake, with a bitter after-taste.

I understand her disappointment, even her anger. After all, she’ll be held responsible. She has a Board of Directors now, and it’s not easy to run a place like this. There are lots of lulus here. I should know. She and I conceived it together—The Institute of Tolerance.

Today, inside its progenies, rigid rooms are covered in fiddle-faddle flowers and sentimental hearts beating warm and fuzzy pizazz into nearly every state of the union. Outside each building, a neon sign blinks: Tolerance Today, Tolerance Tomorrow, Tolerance Forever! The signs have fingers, virtual reality, to motion the people inside. The signs move. The lights move. And the people inside are moved, to tolerate anything.

“Paul?” She’s in my face again, stroking me with my name like she used to do when we were lovers. “I feel your pain,” she says, and her nose seems to grow before my eyes. “But you’ve betrayed our cause. The Solitary Room may be necessary unless you agree to renounce this nonsense.” She lays a hand on my arm. “There is no principle worth dying for.”

Her touch is sacrilege. Her polished, glued-on nails prick the sleeve of my issued pink shirt. Her papery palm burns my forearm as if the bones beneath her skin were poker hot.

I loathe her, but I didn’t always felt this way….

**************

I hope you take a look at my other books, too. In one way or another, each of them portrays characters in the process of making dire choices. And often they make wrong choices that ultimately cost them.

But aren’t we the same?

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing, I took a wrong turn and just kept going.–Bruce Springsteen

Lucy Adams, Lake Oconee Magazine, wrote the following about my short story collection, Birds of a Feather; but what she wrote also describes my writing in general.

Hinckley writes characters who are shocking, flamboyant, disturbed, unkind. She writes characters who are merciful, gracious, empathic, loving. She writes characters who demonstrate the dualities of human nature. Edmund, in “Shooting at Heaven’s Gate,” allows himself to be used by evil. Rather than condemn his actions, Hinckley pushes her reader to acknowledge the frailties of the human heart. “We all are capable of doing great evil,” explains Hinckley. “Why does a person do this? I like to know reasons.” Curiosity about human nature propels her plots.Birds_of_a_Feather_FRONT_PUBLICITY_JPG

Don’t seek clearly defined protagonists and antagonists here, however. Hinckley’s characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. Hinckley deftly presents the repulsiveness of her character’s actions, while also revealing her characters’ drive toward love.bookcover

…………………

My contention is that any decision we make can drastically change the course of our own lives, and even change the kind of people we are as Americans. So, shouldn’t we comb through our hungers (our choices) and make only those we’re sure will better us all?

 

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We must take notice of what is happening in our world today. Evil in the form of The Islamic State is knocking at the front door of America and we need to stand against it. Many have warned about this evil in the past.

BpSheenBishop Fulton J Sheen wrote in 1950:

“Today (1950), the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world Power”.

Bishop Sheen again, in 1952:

“The Christian European West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Moslems. At one point they were stopped near Tours and at another point, later on in time, outside the gates of Vienna. The Church throughout northern Africa ws practically destroyed by Moslem power, and at the present hour, the Moslems are beginning to rise again. If Moslemism is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined. Others have had a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social movement. Moslemism, on the contrary, has only had its first phase. There was never a time in which it declined, either in numbers, or in the devotion of its followers.”

300px-Belloc_sideHilaire Belloc wrote in 1938:

“Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world, which will shake off the domination of Europeans — still nominally Christian — and reappear as the prime enemy of our civilization? The future always comes as a surprise, but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam”.

 

 

Sir Winston Churchill gave the following speech in 1899:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualist deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

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Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa , raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome .”

Pope Francis,  2014

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“Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God…War is not to be waged in the name of God.”
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue said Isis had committed “and was continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts”. To reinforce the point, it listed some of the atrocities for which Isis is reported to have been responsible. They included “the massacre of people solely for reasons of their religious adherence”; “the execrable practice[s] of decapitation, crucifixion and hanging of corpses in public places”; “the choice imposed on Christians and Yazidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) and exodus”; “the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, old people, pregnant women and the sick”; “the abduction of women and girls belonging to the Yazidi and Christian communities as war booty (sabaya)”, and “the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation”.

images (11)In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

We have to be aware of the tragedies taking place. And be courageous enough as a nation–the greatest nation on Earth—to take a substantial stand against evil.

We cannot use fatigue or fear as an excuse not to act. ASAP.

To be honest……well, we may need to be Rambo.

Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 10_17_44 AMMost of our every day life, we act like children, worried about physical things like appearances. If only we could realize that our everyday life is our spiritual life, from the moment we wake until the moment we lay our heads on the pillow at night. Everything we do matters. Every person we meet is our brother or sister. Every situation we deal with is an opportunity for us to show what we are made of–and who made us.

Our spirit is the human element which gives us the ability to have an intimate relationship with God. Our spirit is the immaterial part of ourselves that connects with God, who Himself is spirit. And it is what gives us our likeness to Him. Also, it is our spirit, given by God, that reveals truth and enables us to worship God appropriately.

We always have God’s spirit, (the capability to act Godly) but we may not always show spirituality.( actual acts of Godliness)

We didn’t have anything to do with our own creation. We had no choice whether we were born or not. That’s interesting in itself–why were we born into this place, at this time? There must be a reason.

If our physical life is finite, but our spiritual life is everlasting, then the reason for our being born into this time and place would have to do with our spirituality—we are expected to do something–here, and now.

We’re expected to see God as an Everyday God, not just a Sometimes on Sunday God.

railwaytracksWith such instability in our world today, we may be searching for perspective. Consider first, perspective in Art.

Perspective drawings have a horizon line, which is often implied. This line, directly opposite the viewer’s eye, represents objects infinitely far away. They have shrunk, in the distance, to the infinitesimal thickness of a line named after the Earth’s horizon.

In a perspective drawing, the scene includes parallel lines that have one or more vanishing points. All lines parallel with the viewer’s line of sight recede to the horizon towards this vanishing point. This is the standard “receding railroad tracks” phenomenon.

But this line is seen not only in Art, but also in Philosophy–the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence.

The French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, refers to it as The Omega Point, and thought of it as a cone–one that we are all rising through to its apex–Christ. He clarifies it like this: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” (Flannery O’Connor fans will recall this as the title of her last short story collection, influenced by the philosophy of de Chardin).

“In a Universe of “Conical” structure Christ has a place (the apex!) ready for Him to fill, when His Spirit can radiate through all the centuries and all beings; and because of the genetic links running through all the levels of Time and Space between the elements of a convergent world, the Christ-influence, far from being restricted to the mysterious zones of “grace,” spreads and penetrates throughout the entire mass of Nature in movement. In such a world Christ cannot sanctify the Spirit without (as the Greek Fathers intuitively perceived) uplifting and saving the totality of Matter. Christ becomes truly universal to the full extent of Christian needs, and in conformity with the deepest aspirations of our age the Cross becomes the Symbol, the Way, the very Act of progress…..”

I will pause the quote here–because this speaks to me–in a philosophical way– as an explanation of why there is suffering in our God-created world, something so hard for a human being to accept!

But de Chardin continues…”Within a Universe of convergent structure the only possible way in which an element can draw closer to its neighboring elements is by tightening the cone. In such an order of things no man can love his neighbor without drawing nearer to God and, of course, reciprocally (but this we knew already). But it is also impossible (this is newer to us) to love either God or our neighbor without assisting the progress, in its physical entirety, of the terrestrial synthesis of the spirit: since it is precisely the progress of this synthesis which enables us to draw closer together among ourselves, while at the same time it raises us toward God.”

Another pause, because I see in this a value for suffering.

de Chardin, continuing again…”Because we love, and in order that we may love even more, we find ourselves happily and especially compelled to participate in all the endeavors, all the anxieties, all the aspirations and also all the affections of the earth….”

As a child, my grandmother –who lived to be nearly one hundred years old– never failed to comment on the pain of my skinned knees, the loss of a boyfriend, my less than good grade, or any of my youthful disappointments Her words were always. “Offer it up.” I had no real idea what she was talking about until I reached adulthood and went through some very trying and tearful times. Her words were the same, with a little added on: “Offer it up. Suffering has a value.”

But because we are human, our physical selves find that hard to accept. So I think we have to be philosophical about it. We have to have a perspective. We have to raise our minds to the intangible to come to any idea of why suffering?

 

Where Do Your Demons Hide?

Posted: August 11, 2015 in World On The Edge

Translating a World on the Edge

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“St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in instructing catechumens, wrote: The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell, and this being the case, it requires considerable courage at any time, in any country, not to turn away from the storyteller.” (Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)

Our personal dragons never really leave us. They hover very close to the things we desire, waiting to turn us in harmful directions. So often, and in various ways–through people, or events– we are warned to beware of them, but just as often, we set the warnings…

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There are times when we’re young that we are also confident. Someone will ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And we can give a quick answer. But as we grow, things are not so clear as when we were children. Life gets complicated because we have more and more responsibility–for our own lives, and the lives of those in our care.

We may feel lost. We may not be sure where we’re going anymore. We may not even have a direction in mind. We look around and think we see everyone else in a situation we’d like to be in, too; but we’re just not there–and don’t know if we’ll ever be.

We can feel pretty depressed in times like these. We can feel very alone and unimportant.

Then something happens.

No, we don’t win the lottery.

The something that happens may not seem profitable at the time. It may not be fun. It may be an event that shatters us physically or emotionally–a disease, a betrayal, the loss of a job, or the death of someone we love. Of course, we don’t want to suffer through it. We pray that God will take it all away, knowing in our hearts that He may have something else in mind. Then, as He always will, God gives us the strength to go on. Time passes and we are able to contemplate what has happened to us with a steadier mind and even find that some good has come out of our awful event. We may see ourselves changed in ways we needed to change. We may even have become a better person, the person God always meant us to be.

Tough Love for Me??

Posted: August 10, 2015 in World On The Edge

tough-loveWhen raising your children, have you ever practiced what is called Tough Love?

This might come about if they want something badly, but you know it isn’t good for them and so refuse their request. Of course, a child may pitch a fit, cry, stomp, scream that you are being unreasonable. He or she might even say you don’t love them–because if you did, you’d give them what they want.

But there are situations when we know what a child does not know. We are experienced enough to see that a certain thing or situation will harm them. And it’s precisely because we Do love them that we refuse–even when we know that our refusal will cause them pain.

As Christians who pray, we adults do not always receive what we pray for. How do we handle it? Do we pitch a fit, cry, stomp, scream that God is being unreasonable. Do we lose faith that He loves us? Sometimes we do.

Maybe we’ve lost someone dear to us, or are fired from a job. or maybe a huge tragedy out of our control comes upon us as a people–hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and war? It would seem, then, that God is forcing us to our knees.

Can we believe that all this comes from a God who loves us as a parent?

The answer is difficult. Just as a child questions her parent’s reasoning, we question God’s reasoning. OR at the very least, we wonder about God’s intent.

A wonderful priest I’ve known for many years wouldn’t venture an answer as to why awful things happen to people. “If you want to know why human beings suffer, don’t ask me–ask God,” he said.

So the question goes unanswered because for a human being to know the reasoning of God can be compared to a grasshopper attempting to know the reasoning of a human being. It cannot be done. Yet what we often see happening is that uncontrollable tragedies, like those mentioned above, have an ability to pull people together. People stand together, and pray together, in the face of great disasters.

So, in situations of suffering when it seems God has brought us to our knees, what should we do? I think we trust that God loves us as a parent, and that because of that great love, He will give us what we need to get through, to get up, and even to become better people.

Got a Ghost??

Posted: August 7, 2015 in World On The Edge

dark_tree_walkSome of the happiest people, I think, are those who accept life as it is. They look at the good things around them with appreciation. They let go of the less than ‘good’ things with the idea that they learned something from them. They do not walk backward toward past hurts. Of course, this is hard to do.

Many of us are disposed to holding grudges about what he or she did to me. We can’t let it go. We have to have some recompense–to balance things, we say. We let the ghost of yesterday take over today. And some of us allow that vindictive ghost to run our lives.

This will not bring harmony to family life.

Pope Francis questioned pilgrims about the harmony of their home lives at the Sunday Mass held on October 27, 2013, during the “Day for the Family” in Rome. “I would like to ask a question today. Everyone – how will you carry joy home in your heart? How’s the joy in your home? How’s the joy in your family?”

What is our answer to his question? Harmony denotes peace. Holding a grudge is hardly peaceful. Real joy comes when we accept that not every one has our best interests at heart, but that some do. And shouldn’t we focus on the ones who do, rather than the ones who didn’t?

What he or she did to me is in the past. No one can change the past. We have only the Present. And we can most assuredly make our Present, and possibly our Future, worse when we concentrate on a grudge. We may even destroy what is good in the here and now by our vindictiveness.

So let’s turn our backs on those ghosts. Let’s look around to those family and friends who bring us real joy, and concentrate on them. Then, I think we’ll be able to see ourselves in the Present. We’ll see ourselves as ‘doing just fine.’

dance of lifeFor the lady involved, one of the first rules of ballroom dancing is: let your partner lead.

Oh, is that hard to do for me! I like to be in control. I like to be in charge. I think it comes from having been the mother of five, as well as a business owner for a good portion of my life.

But I’ve come to see that always being in control does not always work.

A few years back, I was in charge of driving one of my daughters to college at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina. I had to drive through Atlanta, always a fearful drive to me. In addition, two of my younger children were with me, making noise, causing so much confusion that I had trouble following the signs. I ordered them to behave. I ordered them to be quiet. Oh yes, I yelled out all the consequences they would face!

Then, in the busy traffic, I approached an overhead aqueduct with a scrawl of words in black paint: JESUS IS IN CONTROL. How happy I was for that reminder!

Because Jesus is in control.

We don’t need to lead. He will do it.

All we need to do is relax in His arms.

With no more yelling, I made it through Atlanta. I made it to the college.

I’ve made it through much more difficult situations over the years.

I’ve made it with the help of Jesus, the controlling partner in the dance of my life.

Copyright Kaye Hinckley, 2015
Photo Credit: HenriqBastos, 2014, MorgueFile.com</em>