Author Archive

Faith and Faithlessness

Posted: July 5, 2022 in World On The Edge

No doubt we are living in stressful times. Depressing times when we wonder upon whom we can depend. Our government leaders are inadequate and weak, and draining or destroying our resources due to ineptitude or greed or revenge or pride–it’s hard to say which. Maybe all of them. We no longer have borders, anyone can come in with their drugs, violence and sex-trafficking rings. America has been reduced to a flimsy shadow on an anthill rather than a beacon on the world. It seems as if we can trust no one except those very close to us. Lies are all around us. Truth has been buried. And it depresses us to the point that our happiness and well-being seem out of reach for now.

Where is the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” Where is our freedom of speech –only one segment of the population has that. The rest of us are to shut-up and take it, just fall into some addiction and swallow the medicine of lies and plain old stupidity.

EXCEPT all at once, by the grace of God who never leaves us alone, we see there is HOPE. All at once, we discover that not everyone is falling for the hypocrisy of our present leaders. All at once, we notice that their well-tailored clothes are coming apart at the seams so much so that their withered bones and deceitful hearts are beginning to show, letting off the rotten smell of swindlers who will soon get their just due. So we lift our spirits and pray for the grace to put a smile on our face at the thought of a much higher power, remembering who is carrying us through this wickedness, and that Truth will be revealed, and the lies will soon be uncovered.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Strong women stay the course when things don’t go as they expected.

These women are beautiful and plain, young and old. They are loving women who do not give up. There are many of them, but they do not carry attention-getting signs so they often go unnoticed. These are STRONG women.

These are women who do not destroy. They create. They do not cause disruption. They effect peace. They do not hang to some slogan created by someone who wants power only for themselves. These women are not self-serving. They serve others by choice. And they will NOT be used. These are STRONG women.

These are the women who choose to raise strong families committed to God. They are women whose children or husbands become ill and become dependent upon them. They are women who may be so hurt by the actions of a family member that they are tempted to give up and leave. Yet they don’t leave. They stand strong because they believe in a higher purpose. They are principled women who adhere to life and their place in it. These are STRONG women.

These are women who are fighters. It is generosity that bolsters them, and genuine love is their weapon. These are STRONG women.

These women may pray change will come. But if change does not come, they are courageous enough to change themselves enough to face their situations. They make themselves even stronger. They straighten their backs, tuck in their tummies, and lift their chins. They do not back down from the promises they have made. They walk toward those who would ridicule and demean their purposes, and like warriors, they challenge them. These are STRONG women.

These are women STRONG enough to stay.

If a singer/songwriter wanted to make a statement about strong women who stay, it couldn’t be better than this one.

Shooting at Heaven’s Gate, my upcoming novel to be published by Chrism Press on August 15, centers around the mental insanity of a mass shooting, a terrific horror that, today, causes such suffering for so many, and yet is becoming almost common. With such instability and suffering in our world today, we may be searching for some PERSPECTIVE as to why things are ‘as they are.’

For one explanation, I ask you to 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 we call the 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.

However, 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.” (Fans of Flannery O’Connor, who was influenced by the philosophy of de Chardin, will recall this as the title of her last short story collection.)

According to 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!

Think again of the cone-shaped perspective in Art as 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. It will make you stronger.”

But because we are human, our physical selves find suffering hard to accept. So I think we have to be philosophical about it. We have to have a perspective. All people will suffer individually in one way or another, and all people ( no matter how much others intend to help) must walk through that suffering alone. It is indeed a personally lonesome valley, and yet it is universal–the cone tightens for all of us. We are in it together, and together raised toward God.

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
― Og Mandino

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A sin may, at first, seem a small thing. It may even have a hint of conscience, until it becomes habitual and infectious to everyone around it. Love also begins small, becomes habitual, and infectious as well. Except love is honorable in the human person, while sin degrades his or her soul.

Of course, sin is all around us, especially when we use other human beings for our own ends, ignoring their God-given value.  Except, genuine love isn’t easy, has never been easy, and will never be easy.But taking the easy way out through wrong behaviors, decays not only ourselves, but also, spreads like a virus to others.

In my new Southern Gothic novel, ABSENCE, This is what happens to James Greene, a southern farmer who will do whatever he has to do, even if it is evil, to keep the farm he sees as his legacy from disappearing. This is also what happens to us when we forget who we really are, and who we come from. Just as James Greene, in the floods and droughts of life, we listen to false voices, swallow false precepts, and fall into corruption rather than goodness. We lose the ones we love, and find ourselves suffering, totally lost, and miserable. Can we recoup?  In our loneliness, are there people who can show us the way back? And could those people possibly be the ones we have hurt?

ABSENCE is foremost the story of love’s restoration between James Greene and his wife of many years, and between James’s son, William, and his new, second wife. In the mix, is Cecilia, the daughter and sister they maligned, who disappeared from their view, but will not let go of their minds. It is also the story of innocence in the persons of two children who strive to keep the entirety of their family in tact.

REVIEWS

Courtney Guest Kim, Catholic Reads

Absence belongs to the Southern Gothic tradition because the secrets are dreadful; the stubbornness is perverse; and children play with a human skull in bed. Yes, there is a version of incest too. But if it were possible to reclaim a genre in the tradition of Sidney Lanier—one of whose poems provides both the epigraph and the title of this story—Absence would rightfully be called Southern Poetic. This novel with intense resolve excises every trace of trashiness from its postmodern Alabama countryside. These peanut farmers are poor, but they have a quality not usually ascribed to them: dignity. And because they have dignity, when they fall into evil ways the outcome is not merely horrible, but tragic.

When you close this book, you will feel an anxious impulse to confess your sins, lest they fester and warp the lives of everyone connected to you. More surprisingly, you will have learned to associate the peanut plant with the redemption of man. Kaye Park Hinckley returns to country life what we have long since ceased to expect of it: beauty and meaning. At every level her story reaches roots into the deepest origins of this nation. But apart from explaining a few Creek Indian words, she does not afflict her characters with peculiar dialogue or bizarre impulses. Nor does she try to render local speech patterns into idiosyncratic spelling. Her story utterly rejects every facile trope of a throwaway culture. It hones in on the most important thing this country has trashed: human souls.

James Greene is desperate, but he is not vulgar. His fall into evil is the age-old tragedy of man. He does not do evil because he wants evil, but because he wants the good that has been denied him. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, he reaches for a fruit that is good in itself, and he does it for the sake of the woman he loves. Like Cain, faced with disappointment, he does not turn toward God in sorrow but away from God in anger. And if you are tempted to shrug off these choices as minor ones, Absence will chill you with the stark reminder that human beings are not just bodies, but souls, whose spiritual influence cannot be suppressed, even when the bodies have gone missing. It’s not just that the ends do not justify the means: the evil means will work their poison through every aspect of your life. So beware, reader. When you enter this terrain of red soil, you leave behind every escape devised by an escapist culture. There are only two alternatives–hell on earth, or redemption through suffering.

From Joseph Pearce, the author of Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, and numerous other works.  ~Those who have read Kaye Park Hinckley’s earlier novels will know that she is one of the most exciting and gifted writers of contemporary faith-inspired fiction. This latest offering does not disappoint. Absence will further establish Mrs. Hinckley’s hard-earned reputation as a teller of gritty and gripping stories infused with subtle hints of the redemptive power of grace.

From Dena Hunt, author of award-winning novels, Treason and The Lion’s Heart ~Hinckley does it again. Absence put me in mind of Faulkner as a generation-transcending saga set in the South. But unlike Faulkner, Hinckley does not leave the reader feeling burdened by the tragic consequences of the sins of the fathers visited upon their children. Instead, Hinckley enlightens, revealing the indissolubility of love and truth, and restoring love and life. A terrific read.

From Meggie Daly, author of Bead by Bead, and For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion, Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet ~”Absence” is the sixth book by Kaye Park Hinckley that I have read and loved. “Absence” and the “Wind that Shakes the Corn” are my all-time favorites. While reading “Absence,” I forced myself to go slowly to savor her sentences like an excellent meal that I didn’t want to end. The author “paints” compelling personifications of good and evil as three generations of characters battle internal demons and nature. The plot in “Absence” is intricate, layered, and surprising up until the last page. Themes of longing, abandonment, forgiveness, callousness, regret, unconditional love, and mercy will stay with the reader long after finishing the book. I can’t recommend this book highly enough—a masterpiece!

AM I GOOD ENOUGH???

Posted: June 13, 2022 in World On The Edge

There’s a character in one of my novels, The Distance Between High and Low, called Hobart McSwain. He was born in Detroit, and adopted as a child by an Alabama family. Expressing his need for acceptance in the fictional town of Highlow, he says:

“I never asked for Alabama; I never asked to be her son. I had no choice over my deliverance. A child has no muscle, at all; just a displaced leaf riding on a stale wind, blowing this way and that. But when the wind stops, the leaf descends. I descended into the high side of Highlow and was raked aside, and it hurt that I wasn’t good enough to be noticed.”

Not good enough to be noticed. A frightening and continuous worry that most of us have throughout our lives.

At my first book-signing at Barnes and Noble, here in my hometown. I worried a lot–like a child: Will anyone come? Will I sign any books? As a new author, will I be accepted?

Since then, I’ve spoken at many events and venues, but always wondering the same. Am I good enough?

Acceptance is what we all want, isn’t it? From the time we are born until the time we die, we strive for the acceptance of those we admire. Am I good enough?

In high school, in college, on the job—am I good enough?

In marriage, in parenthood, as a friend —am I good enough?

Living on the edge of a materialistic world that places wealth, power, and beauty on the altar of success—am I good enough?

Do I hide as if I’m inferior, and only now and then, peek out? If so, I need to remember that I don’t have to please another’s version of ‘good enough.’ I only have to satisfy that place in my own soul that pricks me to follow my highest inclinations, not my lowest ones.

Because in that place, I can relax in comfort and ask the Lord to lead me, then hear His voice as a Father to His child: “I love you no matter what you do, or who you are. I accept you. You are mine.”

Since Roe v. Wade, more than 63 million unborn babies have been aborted. But after nearly 50 years, it is clearer than ever that each of these babies was a unique and irreplaceable human being who deserved a right to life.

From an article by Katrina Furth, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, providing a picture of what scientists now know about the developing child in the womb.

“According to the article “15 Facts at 15 Weeks”:

  • A baby’s heart starts beating about 22 days after fertilization.
  • The baby’s heart pumps 26 quarts of blood per day.
  • By 15 weeks, the baby’s heart has already beat approximately 15,800,000 times.
  • In total, a baby’s heart beats about 54 million times between conception and birth.
  • Brain connections formed by 15 weeks’ gestation last into adulthood.
  • Starting at 10 weeks of gestational age, the fetus begins the breathing process.
  • The kidneys already filter toxins.
  • Intestines have started the lifelong contractions that propel food through the digestive system.
  • Surgeons have successfully performed surgery on 15-week old babies in utero.

By 15 weeks, unborn babies show a preference for their right or left hand; they can respond to touch and bend their fingers as if to grasp an object, according to research cited in Furth’s article.

And yet, abortion activists deny much of this, claiming unborn babies do not have heartbeats or feel pain until later in pregnancy. All the while, they support the killing of nearly 1 million unborn babies in abortions every year in the U.S.”

TODAY WE HAVE THIS:

N0T SO LONG AGO WE HAD THIS: PASSED-DOWN, LIFELONG LOVE.

Oh, how far we have strayed from protecting human lives!

Today, in America, we are in a Battle of Minds and Hearts, those places where courage and common sense are meant to reside. Except we have been made to feel victims of nearly everything by a radical left-wing government that has taken control of anything it can to use as fodder for its moronic programs. A government that tells us what to believe, and if we don’t, we’re punished for it in one way or another. After all, they have a “Ministry of Truth now, don’t they?

I can’t put into words all that is happening to America. But I think of a beautiful piece of fruit beginning to rot, a little more everyday, until it starts to smell and is completely inedible.

We have been made to feel less than we are as human beings and Americans because the left-wing radicals have discovered their own Truth. We are being told that America is bad, and therefore the founders of this great nation were bad–so bad that statues and histories of them should be destroyed. We are living under the insane policies of ‘rulers’ that possess no common sense, no empathy for the country they presently have control of, and no respect for life, not even for the most innocent. Their sneaky policy spokespeople say one thing, yet ‘the rulers’ do another.

Power and control are what they are after. And our children are at the top of their list when it comes to controlling public education through Critical race theory — just another name for discrimination..

And worse, our very Faith in God is being maligned by leaders with egos too big to hold God. Think of that –Too big for God!! Narcissistic radicals who seem completely divorced from reality, so concerned with their own self-serving ambitions that they must get rid of our magnanimous God.

What Can We Do?

This is a time for great courage on our part. This is a time to use our common sense because clearly some dishonest politicians in our government are not using theirs. This is a time to open our ears and eyes, to carefully listen and watch those in charge. This is a time to realize how lies work.

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell, 1984

Be sure to read: https://mind-at-work.com/orwells-prophetic-novel-1984/

Lies manufactured and leaked by the opposition are propaganda, an organized effort to manipulate the public using mass media, censorship, misinformation, and half-truths. Propaganda uses images, caricatures, and fear like a weapon.  There are so many lies imposed upon us today by the people in power!

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. — George Orwell, 1984

Lies about what they are doing, what they have done, and especially about their false intentions. It would almost be a comedy if it weren’t so tragic–and my goodness, how we fall for such ridiculousness!

One of the most absurd, unrealistic — yes, even hilarious — lies being imposed upon us is about gender –that we can change it if we don’t like it. Transgenderism is a condition where people who have it are genetically and chromosomally male or female.

It is crucial to remember that the cause of this condition is psychological or psychiatric in origin and not physiological. The DSM (American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM V, 2013) re-classified this condition from Gender Identity Disorder to gender dysphoria. Its very classification indicates its psychiatric nature.

As the following article concludes: “It’s important to emphasize that the above critiques are aimed at the ideas or the ways of thinking that transgender philosophy embodies. They are not aimed at the individuals who may have legitimate confusion regarding their sexual identity. Our hearts go out to these people, and we love them. And it’s precisely because of our love for them that we have to expose the logical incoherencies of the transgender philosophy before it is embedded in our children, our schools, our society. We are made for Truth. And Truth is the only thing that will make us truly happy!” https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/transgenderism-devours-itself

One Way to Get at the Truth Is Through Laughter

I come from a family that can always find humor in even the worst situations–a way to survive those tragedies and heartaches that surely happen. Underneath the humor is a vibrant strength to ‘get through.’ The following video is a comedic view of a problem that is not a comedy. But sometimes humor is the only way to shine out the truth to those who will not otherwise listen.

Life itself is a strenuous wrestling match between divine love and unrestricted human freedom. And God is not insured of a victory–not even from some of our own, especially our government and even some of our own clergy. Right now, unrestricted human freedom seems to have the upper hand.

We are in troubled times where not every human life, even the most vulnerable and innocent, is considered valuable. This is a lie being twisted to resemble Truth. This past Mother’s day weekend shows us that. Catholicism, indeed all Christianity, is being threatened, God Himself is being threatened. We are at the core now, of a great battle that must be won.

And if one disagrees with the present governments promoted agendas, there is an attempt to make him or her feel guilty by holding up false platitudes resembling Catholicism, but not true to it. Instead, a finger is pointed at faithful Catholics, insinuating that disagreement with the falsities  shows racism, sexism, no charity, lots of judging, and more. This is difficult for many faithful Catholics to hear. It is difficult for Catholics to watch the degradation of their churches, beliefs and other charitable institutions. Difficult to , personally experience from others who call themselves Catholics or Christians, yet question what the church has taught for well over two thousand years about the sanctity of marriage, the evil of abortion, the disorders of homosexuality, and the fact that a man is created to be a man and a woman is created to be a woman. But disorder is where evil works best. Confuse and then condemn.

The four main tactics of the devil/evil are: deception, division, diversion, and discouragement, in individuals and also in institutions.

Always we must remember:  Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. –Ephesians 6:12.  For despite the condemning labels, we are indeed wrestling for the truths God intended us to follow. 

We don’t want to admit that some who speak as authorities concerning the Church we love are as vulnerable to evil as anyone else. Yet, we should not be surprised. The very mission of evil is to seek and destroy Truth in any way, and in any place, it can — especially in the Catholic Church whose doctrine crushes its ugly head. We must have courage to vigorously stand up for the Truths of our Church. We cannot be vicious in our battles though; we recognize that we have often been sinful, too.

The Church is made up of individual people, and each of us, at one time or another, is also a target of evil, and sometimes even a participant. My goodness, how many times do we personally open the door for evil in our own lives? We know  first-hand the sins we have and how easy it is to cover them over with lies or excuses, and then twist circumstances to make our sins seem okay. We don’t want to be the ones who are wrong, so we change the ‘wrong” to “right.’  Our human freedom allows us, and especially our leaders, to do this.

But we also know that we have the strength of God within us, and that we are called to admit our sins and confess them in sorrow, expecting God’s forgiveness which He gives.

We know as well, that a person is an individual being, one in itself and distinct from all other beings. No two people are exactly the same, just as no two flowers or no two stars in the sky are exactly the same. Our sameness–the thing that makes each of us a human person is that we are both body and soulwe have a physical nature and a spiritual nature. And just as our human bodies are fallible to human failures, our spiritual natures are also fallible, for they are influenced by our personal histories–as unique as the flowers and the stars– and by our own free decisions.

And yet, there are times–this is one of them–when we must not let our fallibilities frighten us. Neither must we be afraid of being labeled. We must polish up our spiritual armor, tattered as it may be, and stand together in TRUTH.  We are more than God’s hands and feet on Earth. Indeed, we are His army. His soldiers. And soldiers are brave; they do not run from battle. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. — Ephesians 6:11

We are the Body of Christ–the genuine Body of Christ–sent out as lambs among wolves.

In fact, Jesus sends us out with battle instructions: If any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.–Mark 6:11

In Matthew: 27-28, Jesus gives us confidence in the voice of the Holy Spirit within us.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

We have been allowed to live in this moment of history. We cannot ignore that we have a role to play in today’s world. A role to defend TRUTH. And we will play it.

We are Catholic, after all.

It is a fact that our lives as human beings sometimes become broken.

But how do some people remain unbroken even when awful things happen to them?

What is it that keeps a person going–when he/she’s gone under financially, or been diagnosed with a sickness that saps all strength, or when a child is lost, or when they’ve been betrayed by someone they love, or even when they, themselves, have made egregious, personal errors?

Is it our physical or sensual strength?

Animals have also been given strength, and the ability to see, make sounds, feel, taste, and hear. But animals cannot make a conscious, mental decision by way of free will, memory, or imagination.

Animals have not been given access to immateriality—things that are not achieved only by the senses. Animals cannot solve a mathematical problem, create music or art, run a business, decide to forgive or not to forgive, or make any life-changing, moral decision, because an Animal cannot decide what is good and what is evil.

Nothing in the physical world outside of us will keep a human being from breaking in difficult situations.  It’s the spiritual world within us that will give us the strength to endure and overcome.  And every human being has access to it. In fact without it, we would not be human.

Remaining unbroken is possible because human beings are made in God’s likeness.

If a child is brought up knowing that he or she is a child of God, possesses His divinity, and actually participates in it, then the child is less likely to succumb to brokenness in his adult life.

The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator.

By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection “in seeking and loving what is true and good.”

By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an “outstanding” manifestation of the divine image.

By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God which urges him “to do what is good and avoid what is evil. –Catechism of the Catholic Church

We can’t expect other people to take away our brokenness. We can look only to ourselves, to the spirit of God who lives within us.