Archive for April, 2016

By MGDboston, 2014, MorgeFile.com

By MGDboston, 2014, MorgeFile.com

Certain people are natural fixers—people who can fix anything, a broken drawer, a leaky radiator, a downed computer. Anything. Except themselves.

These are  people who have lost a child, or a spouse, or a parent. These are the people who have been fired from a job, or told they have cancer or some other disease. These are the people who go to fight wars and lose legs and arms, and more. These are the people who must care for someone with dementia, or have it themselves.

Sometimes these are people who sense nothing wrong with themselves, until catastrophe shakes their lives and they’re knocked to their knees. They look up and wonder what happened. They look for the screwdriver, or the hammer and nails. But the situation they’re in can’t be fixed with those sorts of tools.

These are people who need tools for their soul.

These are the people with every sort of addiction they can’t get rid of. These are the people who think one lie won’t matter–they’ll never get caught. These are the people who salivate over someone else’s good fortune to the point of jealously that spins out of control.

These are the people who con others out of what is rightfully theirs. These are the people who cheat, murder, sell drugs to children for money to buy a pair of expensive shoes. These are the people with vendettas against those who have hurt them.

These are the people who kill, or abuse their own children, or terrifically wound them with poisonous words and language. These are the people in fat positions who climb up the ladder on the slender backs of others.

These are people who do good, and people who do evil. They are us.

We are, all of us, imperfect people in an imperfect world. Our individual problems and vices abound.

Thankfully, within each of us there are also virtues. The virtues of faith and hope and love. These are the spiritual tools we have been given by our Creator. Use them, and we make our souls shine like new.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul
… -Psalm 23: 1-3

Overturning the Tables???

Posted: April 28, 2016 in World On The Edge

Jesus-drives-out-moneychangers-by-RembrandtOn Earth, we don’t have the fullness of Heaven, where all is perfect and God’s presence is enjoyed eternally. But when we pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth (as in the Lord’s Prayer) we want our devotion and our service to God to show that He is present, here, in some way. We do this by loving and caring for the people He created; all people, made in His image and likeness.

We can choose not to do this. We can choose to hate, or disrupt, or bring others down. We can choose not to see their connection to the God who made them, and us—-

But—-This does not mean we should be blindly tolerant. This does not mean that we go along with everything.

At times, it means that we are called to rock the boat. At times, we are called to be irate enough to ‘overturn the tables in the temple’ as Jesus did to the moneychangers.

And I think TODAY is one of those times.

I believe our country, our once-respected and great America, is being threatened from within, as well as from without.

If you read this blog, you know I’m a fan of Aesop’s fables. Here is another: The Swallow and the Other Birds

It happened that a Countryman was sowing some hemp seeds in a field where a Swallow and some other birds were hopping about picking up their food. “Beware of that man,” quoth the Swallow. “Why, what is he doing?” said the others. “That is hemp seed he is sowing; be careful to pick up every one of the seeds, or else you will repent it.” The birds paid no heed to the Swallow’s words, and by and by the hemp grew up and was made into cord, and of the cords nets were made, and many a bird that had despised the Swallow’s advice was caught in nets made out of that very hemp.

What did I tell you? said the Swallow. “Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin. “

Are we headed to a place of ruin? We find it so easy to go along with the crowd—and we find it so hard to stand up against what we know isn’t right. And often we throw up our hands and give up on something, or someone—a child, a friend, a co-worker, even a spouse.

Today, I ask: Have we given up on America? Have we become tired or indifferent to what our country was supposed to be, but is no longer? What can we do about it?

Of course, the first answer is prayer. But we should expect that our prayer will lead God to call for our personal action. When we pray that God’s Kingdom will come on earth—who will bring it if not us? We are, after all, God’s hands, heart, eyes, and feet on Earth.

The call we discover through prayer will be different for each of us. It may be a tiny call by God. It may be a significant one. But small or large, if we don’t act on it, nothing will change for the better.

And so, I ask: Does the re-constructed path we’re presently allowing in America resemble God’s Kingdom on Earth? If not, then in prayer, each one of us should listen carefully to what we ought to do to make our country great again.

By Ranbud, 2016, MorgueFile.com

By Ranbud, 2016, MorgueFile.com

None of us like controlling people. None of us like to be under the thumb of another, with their weighty opinions imposed upon us. None of us like to be ridiculed for what we believe, and forced to do what we don’t believe.

And we shouldn’t have to put up with it. We live in a country founded on our personal freedoms. We are not told what to do by some king and his council–are we?

Well. . .hmmmm.  Let’s take a look at controlling people

Controlling people are self-centered and immature. They think they are bigger than they are. They don’t like your independence, only theirs, so they’re likely to make sure you don’t rule yourself.

How? They take away your choices, usually through manipulative propaganda, and if that doesn’t work as well as they would like, they enforce laws through some kingly, or executive, power they perceive they have been given.

But . . . . to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.” — Madeleine L’Engle

We are not puppets in our personal relationships. Neither are we puppets  to be used by those in control of our government. Yet, we are. And people are angry.

Not only at our president, but political parties. As controllers, they are also self-centered and immature, believing they are bigger than they are. Besides that, they may be too filled with avarice and pride to use typical common sense.  Their words are used to tickle ears, to get the vote. But are they sincere? Or are they only using huge segments of the population to get what they want for themselves.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.–2 Timothy 4:3

We need people, rich or poor, with guts and gumption enough to stand up for the sound doctrine on which our nation was built. Because the major issues we face today have not been soundly dealt with.

Now, it is our turn to decide. We can restore America. We can get rid of the pompous King Kongs already in our lives, and in our government who say one thing to secure a vote from others, but do something entirely different for themselves.

Nobody crowned them Kings, or Queens, of anything.

 

Photo by Roxane Salonen, 2014

Photo by Roxane Salonen, 2014

Of all the places I’ve been to speak about my writing and my books, Andalusia Farm would be one of my favorites. It’s where I launched Birds of a Feather. Here’s the memory of that, first posted by Andalusia Farm, home of Flannery O’Connor. On May 6, I will be posting again on their blog. Look for it here: http://www.andalusiafarm.blogspot.com/

 

IN FLANNERY’S HOUSE

 

Many of my ardent admirers would be roundly shocked and disturbed if they realized that everything I believe is thoroughly moral, thoroughly Catholic, and that it is these beliefs that give my work its chief characteristics. ~Flannery O’Connor

. . .

When my first novel, A Hunger in the Heart, was published in 2013, I’d been a writer for many years, and a huge admirer of Flannery O’Connor. And then a couple of weeks ago, on the morning of June 26, fellow author Charles Mc Nair and I entered Flannery’s house to talk about the perspectives in our own work. Charles took on Southern Fiction, fiction in general, and magical realism in his novels: Land O Goshen and Pickett’s Charge. My talk concerned Catholic Fiction, Catholic Imagination, and the influence of Flannery O’Connor on my writing. My aim was to also launch a second book, my new short story collection, Birds of a Feather—to launch it in a place that is clearly sacred to many, including those present for our event, some who traveled long distances to be there.

As for myself, I felt at home at once, almost kin. Kin because Flannery O’Connor and I share two legacies: Southern born and bred, and Catholic born and bred. From what is read in her work and in her many letters, it can be pretty well assumed that these two mindsets influenced her so much that they were all-encompassing. She could not write without communicating them, or her convictions about them. And neither can I.

For writers concerned with sin and salvation, the South is ripe for fiction. Most all native Southerners, the greatest percent Protestant, know the Bible, can quote the Bible, and try to live by the Bible. And most of them admit they are sinners in need of being saved. I don’t think you’ll find that anywhere else to such a degree. Like O’Connor, I know who I am as a writer, and I don’t try to be different from that. I’ve never lived, or wanted to live, anywhere but the South. And I’ve never wanted to be anything but a Catholic, despite that all the men in my family–my father, grandfather, and four uncles, were Southern and Protestant. Nearly all of those men married Southern women who were Catholics, then they, themselves, converted to Catholicism near the end of their lives. So I believe I understand–and I know I try to address—-all readers, whatever their faith, or lack of it.

The stories in my collection, Birds of a Feather, are about the commonality each of us share as human beings: sin and its risk, and the presence of God’s mercy, waiting for us to realize it’s there, and then to act with it. It’s my opinion that this common identity is key to the Catholic writer and his or her imagination.

Here’s what Flannery says about identity, from Mystery and Manners:
“…An identity is not to be found on the surface; it is not accessible to the poll taker; it is not something that can become a cliché. It is not made from the mean average or from the typical, but from the hidden and often the most extreme. It is not made from what passes, but from those qualities that endure regardless of what passes, because they are related to the Truth. It lies very deep. In its entirety, it is known only to God, but of those who look for it, none gets so close as the artist.”

So, as a Southern writer, I have taken Flannery’s words to heart. My identity is wrapped in the wonderfully changeable, material world around me—the world I live in—but as a Catholic writer, my identity is also wrapped in the mystery of mercy and grace in the immaterial world that lies deeply behind this one—because that is the world that is unchangeable and enduring.

Enjoy this article by Roxane Beauclair Salonen who attended our event at Andalusia Farm.

– Kaye Park Hinckley, Author

Kaye Park Hinckley writes Southern Fiction from a Catholic Perspective. Her debut novel, A Hunger in the Heart, about sin and salvation in a family, was published in April, 2013, by Tuscany Press. Her short stories have appeared in Dappled Things, the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction anthology, and elsewhere. She and her husband live in Dothan, Alabama and have five children and ten grandchildren. Her website is http://www.kayeparkhinckley.com and her blog site is http://www.aworldontheedge.com. Kaye’s short collection, Birds of a Feather, was published by Wiseblood Books. Both books are available on Amazon, from the publishers, or your favorite bookstore.

This video, A Good Man is Hard to Find, is actually read by Flannery O’Connor. Notice the audience laughter in the beginning, and the lack of it by the end.

By DuBois, 2011, MorgueFile.com

By DuBois, 2011, MorgueFile.com

Fine-tuning means to adjust precisely so as to bring to the highest level of performance or effectiveness, such as to fine-tune a TV set, or to fine-tune the format for a meeting.

Fine-tuning is the fixing of a problem.

Shouldn’t we fine-tune our life on Earth, too?

We only have one life. And it will not last forever. Shouldn’t we try to create the highest level of performance for ourselves in the time that we have?

In order to do this, we need a criteria for a high level of performance. So what/whose criteria do we use to see if we’re on the right track?

Well, our criteria MUST be a valid one. It must be TRUTH.

Some people say that everything is true depending on the situation.  Well, pardon me but that just isn’t…. true.

Some things are based on relative truths because they are determined by the likes of individuals–I like turnip greens; you do not.  Except a relative truth can change; tomorrow you may develop a like for turnip greens.

So relative truths cannot be the criteria for fine-tuning our lives. The criteria we need to do that must be absolutely true. These are truths that do not change according to our likes.  Two plus two equals four. The equation is always true. Two plus two can never equal five.

In an ordered world, which ours was created to be, we need absolute truth to keep it ordered.

Order in the universe is proclaimed every time the revolution of the earth about its axis causes the phenomena of day and night. Order is manifested by the earth’s travels in its annual circuit around the sun, with that journey causing seasons of summer autumn winter spring, and those seasons causing the accompanying phenomena of growth, decline, decay , and regeneration. The miracle of photosynthesis, the insect world, and the animal world, with each specimen instinctively knowing what it particularly takes to survive; all amazingly ordered. And all truth.

Then there are men and women.

The development of an embryo, and before that, the organs of reproduction in male and female, are created perfectly, one for the other. And nothing is more orderly than an individual cell, or an organ such as the heart, or the eyes and ears that record sight and sound?

But men and women, are ordered with an additional, absolute Truth.

Each one of us meant for the absolute truth of all that makes us Human. What makes us human?—Our spiritual side. Our empathy toward others, our mercy, our ability to love. But we also have free will to choose none of that. We can personally disorder our own life by choosing the opposite; a lack of empathy, no mercy, and hatred rather than love.

The good thing is we also have the capability to turn all that around. We can stop, look, and listen.

We can fine-tune ourselves by considering again–the absolute truth of God.

And through him—

We can be fixed.

And then….Life Happened

Posted: April 22, 2016 in World On The Edge

mother and boyThis blog is for parents, especially for mothers, but also for the many fathers who are raising children today.

…………………………….

Do you remember when a child was first placed in your arms? Your child.

Do you remember what a miracle you thought it was that you were holding another human being that you helped to create? You began to see all the good things that would occur in his or her life because you couldn’t imagine that your child would have anything but good.

And then life happened. Maybe things didn’t go as well for your child as you anticipated.

So, what did you do?

I know what I did. I drew on the memories of my own childhood. I did as my own mother did, and I’m sure I made some of the same mistakes. But always, my mother was there for me. And in the end, I believe I was there for her.

The manner of parenting in a family is almost like a carousel that continues going round and round. The passengers who ride in each generation are different, but they bring passed-down ideas with them. These can be good and positive ideas or ways of doing things, but they can also be negative and destructive. This is why the job of a parent is so crucial to our very civilization.

Recently, I’ve been going through old 8mm film taken by my grandmother. I see my mother as a beautiful, young woman, laughing and chasing after her daughters. I see myself from babyhood to teenager, with a hand in the hand of my mother, or in the middle of a hug. And always, we’re happily moving in these pictures–always we had to be moving, a requirement of my grandmother who was filming.

Of course, there were times my mother and I did not see eye to eye, but one thing I knew: whatever I did, or she did, our arms would re-open to each other in love.

Because life, and relationships, are full of surprises. Things won’t always go as we expect them to. And plans we have for our children may not materialize.

The way of a good parent is the way of forgiving–the way of love.

Being a loving parent does not mean over-indulgence, but neither does it mean selfish disregard of one’s child. A parent ought to be a shoulder to lean on, a shelter in sad, and bad, times. A parent ought to be there. My mother and father were there for me, and I pray I’ll always be there for my children as well.

man following woman

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Published in 1915

T. S. Eliot, 1888 – 1965

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

If any of you read to the end of this beautiful poem, which is not only about age and a lack of joy, but also about our hesitancy to act–then take heart with the example in this video.