Archive for the ‘World On The Edge’ Category

Worth Dying For???

Posted: June 14, 2017 in World On The Edge

baby fatherDying for a beloved is the theme of legends. We’ve seen it in books, movies, poetry, and song.

Dying for a beloved is what we hope we would do if the need arose. We hope we would be selfless enough, forgiving enough, and brave enough for this higher kind of love– a love so overwhelming that we might call it perfect love.

But how does one go about the pursuit of perfect love?

We’ve all heard 1 Corinthians 13 many times, often at weddings where love is in the forefront. But read the verses again. Is this the sort of love we honestly carry through our life? As for me, I know I fall far short of the deep, genuine love this calls for.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.–1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

In truth, there is only one perfect love, and that is God’s love–a love that never changes no matter our sins. The only thing that can keep us from His love is OUR refusal to acknowledge it in those around us. How many times have we refused to love those He has put into our lives?

file0001873407070Today–unless we’re involved in a church, or have parents who are believers, or Christian friends who influence us–we don’t hear much about God. We might wonder: Does God really see me and care about me personally?

Not so  long ago, if you turned on a local radio station in Dothan, Alabama, the music that came up was Gospel. You might hear The Blackwood Brothers, or the Blind Boys of Alabama. You might hear Mahalia Jackson or even Elvis Presley, but all of them were singing about the presence of God in our world.

Many times the songs were a sort of reaching up out of pain, and there was no question that God would reach back. For example, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” verse Three:

Whenever I am tempted, Whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, When hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. 

Today’s world is filled with pain and sorrow. We all recognize it, and at times personally feel it, but after pain and sorrow hit us, do we feel as safe as that old gospel song says we should? Do we reach up in order for God to reach back?

Sometimes, when tragedy or disappointment strikes, all we want to do is crawl in a hole and stay there. And personally, I think that’s fine for a while. We have to get used to loss, or disillusionment, or whatever it is that has dented our life. But we can’t stay there forever.

We have to climb out of the hole and look up to realize we are  loved, and that we will always be loved by God.

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When I was in high school here in south Alabama, I took a popular  typing class. Knowing how to type was pretty much required then. Anyone wanting to communicate with others personally or in business had a typewriter. In school, we practiced one sentence over and over again.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY.

Our grade in class depended on how fast we could type it. And while we were typing it, the message of course resonated with us.

Unfortunately today–just when we need it most–that message is lost to many who come only to the aid of their selfish agendas.  Viciously tearing down the President of the United States by creating falsehoods and misleading headlines is more important to them.

President Trump was elected on the slogan, Make America Great Again, exactly because if there was ever a time for all good men to come to the aid of their country, it is the present time.

President Trump is not responsible for what the country became in the last eight years. Someone else was.

Donald Trump did not steal your money.
Donald Trump did not raise your taxes.
Donald Trump did not quadruple the price of food.
Donald Trump did not start a race war.
Donald Trump did not leave any US soldiers in Benghazi to be slaughtered and desecrated by Muslims.
Donald Trump did not send the US Navy to fight for Syrian Al-Qaeda.
Donald Trump did not arm ISIS and systematically exterminate Christians throughout the Middle East.
Donald Trump did not betray Israel.
Donald Trump did not provide financing and technology to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Donald Trump did not give our military secrets to China.
Donald Trump did not remove our nuclear missile shield in Poland at the behest of Russia.
Donald Trump did not shrivel our military, and betray our veterans.
Donald Trump did not cripple our economy.
Donald Trump did not increase our debt to 20 trillion dollars.
Donald Trump did not ruin our credit, twice.
Donald Trump did not double African American unemployment.
Donald Trump did not increase welfare to a record level for eight years.
Donald Trump did not sign a law making it legal to execute and imprison Americans.
Donald Trump did not set free all of terrorists in Guantanamo bay.
Donald Trump did not steal your rights, violate US Constitutional law, or commit treason hundreds of times.

Yet President Trump is being ripped apart in the news, nonstop.

Why? Because of the self-aggrandizement of those who did do all the above, and more.

Though the level of hatred against President Trump and those who support him is hateful, hypocritical, and ought to be unacceptable to those who purportedly believe that love trumps hate, our president and those who elected him remain standing strong.

Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future.
And believe, once more, in America.– President Donald J. Trump

Leave the man alone! He is a leader, and sorely needed today.

Here are President Trump’s First 100 Days of Historic Accomplishments. And they keep coming.

GETTING GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE WAY: President Donald J. Trump has done more to stop the Government from interfering in the lives of Americans in his first 100 days than any other President in history.
• President Trump has signed 13 Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions in his first 100 days, more than any other President. These resolutions nullified unnecessary regulations and block agencies from reissuing them. ◦ Since CRA resolutions were introduced under President Clinton, they’ve been used only once, under President George W. Bush.

So far the Trump Administration is a welcome improvement, rolling back more regulations than any President in history. — The Wall Street Journal editorial

TAKING EXECUTIVE ACTION: In office, President Trump has accomplished more in his first 100 days than any other President since Franklin Roosevelt.

• President Trump signed 30 executive orders during his first 100 days.

◦ President Obama signed 19 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President George W. Bush signed 11 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Clinton signed 13 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President George H.W. Bush signed 11 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Reagan signed 18 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Carter signed 16 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Nixon signed 15 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Johnson signed 26 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Kennedy signed 23 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Eisenhower signed 20 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Truman signed 25 executive orders during his first 100 days.
◦ President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 9 executive orders during his first 100 days.

A SLEW OF LEGISLATION SIGNED: Despite historic Democrat obstructionism, President Trump has worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Truman.

• President Trump  worked with Congress to enact 28 laws during the first 100 days of his Administration. ◦ President Obama enacted 11 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President George W. Bush enacted 7 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Clinton enacted 24 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President George H.W. Bush enacted 18 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Reagan enacted 9 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Carter enacted 22 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Nixon enacted 9 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Johnson enacted 10 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Kennedy enacted 26 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Eisenhower enacted 22 laws during his first 100 days.
◦ President Truman enacted 55 bills laws during his first 100 days.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY,

— AND THEIR PRESIDENT.

We MUST and WILL make America Great again.

We Americans share a destiny. As long as we have pride in our beliefs, courage in our convictions, and faith in our God, we will not fail.–President Donald Trump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before I wrote fiction, for nearly twenty years of my life I ran an advertising agency pushing all sorts of products, from-geographical areas wanting more business, to car dealers, to political movements. I had to know the product and analyze who needed it in order to advertise it.

Now, I’m a writer of fiction and want to sell my books, but even with my experience in marketing for other people, it is hard to do. I’m so grateful to my small Catholic publishers, so happy to have some books in print. But there’s much more to it than just the satisfaction of holding a book in one’s hand.

Unless your piece of writing is a secret diary, the very point in creating it is to have somebody read it, and hopefully be affected by it. To get an audience, you must market your book. If you’re a Catholic fiction writer, to whom do you market?

If your audience is strictly Catholic, my humble opinion is that there are two different Catholic fiction audiences: One is concerned only with ‘all things Catholic,’ and the other, with sort of an elevated intellectualism. Neither market compliments the other because neither wants to truly understand the other. Market One will not accept reading about the up-close and personal particulars of sin. Market Two sometimes gives sin “a break” in that it doesn’t clarify, but only intellectualizes Catholicism.

Both markets are valid. People will read what they want to read. And there are good Catholic fiction authors for both.

But shouldn’t we address a third, larger market? An audience ‘in-between’ black and white Catholicism and intellectualized Catholicism? I believe that audience is out there, and I believe we can access it.

There are some best-selling authors who write from what we call “a catholic world view—Catholic with a small c, meaning universal. And some of those authors are not even Catholic. So what does this say to a Catholic writer of fiction?

In advertising, if you have a product to sell, you discover the need for it and look for the most universal market for that need. The easiest product to market is one that appeals to a particular need in everyone. Bottled water, for example, is universal. Everyone needs water.

As far as marketing Catholic fiction—the universal need is God. Everyone needs God, whether they actually use the word God, or not. Or whether they even believe in God, or not.

Our Catholic faith basically tells us that we are all created by God, in his image, to live on earth, and eventually return to Him. Of course, many do not share our beliefs. However, every human being, religious or not, innately knows that he/she has some specific things in common. These are intangible things, such as individual memories, particular imaginings, and the choices we make, which come from our free will.

As human beings, in one way or another, all of us love, and will sometimes suffer for that love—whether or not we see ourselves on a personal road to Calvary. And every person realizes that he/she can choose how he reacts to love or suffering in relationships and everyday problems. When we look for the need in the larger, ‘in-between’ market for Catholic fiction, we will surely see these common attributes as human striving, and that,, in very human terms, is a theme for a story that is Trying to Say God .

Except in Trying to Say God, we come upon an even bigger problem. If we want to be published by a publishing house with the means to market, we will soon realize that today’s environment leans toward political correctness–and writers of Catholic fiction are often not politically correct. In order to overcome this, we must strive to be as good as the best writers we know. We cannot expect a big publishing house to produce something less than the best. Naturally, like any other business, they are after a profit.

Sadly, Christians are not held in high esteem today. There is much hatred toward us because we challenge certain behaviors that are the opposite of our beliefs about what is sinful. And there are voices on our opposite side who are no longer fearful about putting out fiction without regard to any moral standard. Many publishing houses tend toward these voices as trendy, and profitable.

But this, too, can be utilized in our fiction. In our Christian belief, no matter a person’s behavior, he/she is still madly loved by God. This does not mean that we go along with wrong behavior in our writing. Instead, we must be fearless, too, and point higher, to God’s infinite love. Maybe this is done through a loving character set against one filled with hate, or maybe in an overall theme of conflict between a character and himself, between what he is pulled toward; good or evil. Our characters should be human beings just like we are, each with a significant life story, of sorrows, struggles and joys, as we have. And each shown as related to us, our brothers and sisters, created by the same Father. We only have to look around us to see them, to see their common needs, and then write about them in beautiful and empathetic ways.

In doing this, we are not looking backward to old mores and religious beliefs. Instead we are shining a fresh light on humanity as it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be. We are affirming the Almighty’s presence in the world by fearlessly using our talent and initiative. We are indeed Trying to Say God.

The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts Presents:
TRYING TO SAY ‘GOD’. Re-enchanting Catholic Literature.

A LITERARY GATHERING
June 22-24, 2017
University of Notre Dame

 

ballet-1566561_960_720One of my sons once told me that he did not want to be a spectator in life, he wanted to be a participator.

What does being a participator mean? To take part, to be or become actively involved. So, the  way I heard it was that he did not want to ‘sit-out’ his life on the sideline. He wanted to dance!

Thank goodness and Hallelujah!! Because that is what I’ve wanted for all my children, and grandchildren, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Today, it’s hard for children to participate as they once did; the world has become so dangerous. But here’s a trip down memory lane.

My family lived nearly ten years in Scottsboro, Alabama, a small, mountainous, and beautiful town off the Tennessee River. I wonder if neighborhoods like the one I experienced in Scottsboro are able to exist anymore; it’s so important, now, to keep your children close at hand. But then, our children were free to go most anywhere; roaming the woods, riding miles on bicycles, paddling around Roseberry Creek which led to the river near the neighborhood dock. There, we had cook-outs, and lots of boating, skiing and swimming (while watching out for cotton mouth moccasins, of course.) The children never sat down. They took part, actively involved with others; family and neighbors. My cousin and her family lived steps away from us, and so did the finest neighbors anywhere.

We were blessed to be there at the time we were, with those people, in that place of beauty. It wasn’t necessarily what we did, but who we were doing it with that made us happiest.

My oldest son–always doing, never sitting–was about nine years old, when he came to me one night after we’d gotten home from a gathering at the dock. “Mama, this was a good day,” he said. “In fact, it was the best day of my life.”

What would make him say that? He was a child, for one thing. He lived in the present moment. He did not look back and grieve over something that happened yesterday, and he wasn’t troubled about the future. What affected him most was a day he actively did all the things he loved to do. In other words, he danced.

As adults, do we appreciate a good day?  What about when a bad day happens? Can we  learn from it? Because it’s often the worst day of our life that starts us on a path of hope, and active  striving that ultimately achieves our best day. When we realize that tomorrow can produce a better day, we are experiencing a divine virtue we receive through the grace of God, called hope.

And hope insists on participation, not sitting on the sideline and whining.

Hope is what keeps us going. Hope is the possibility of change. If we participate with God in the virtue of hope He has given us, then even the worst days have power enough to become the best days of our life.

At one time or another in each of their lives, I had my five children listen to the song that follows. I told them  and I say to them now,  If you have a choice to sit it out or dance–I hope you DANCE.

 

 

Shadows are falling and I been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep and time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal

There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there
Well my sense of humanity is going down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain.

—Bob Dylan, “It’s Not Dark Yet”

Not all our days are good days. Some are quite distressing. Sometimes we may feel like limp sponges full of old, dirty water. But instead of making an attempt to get rid of it, we accept it– all those circumstances we don’t really want. We know that time is running out, but still we whine and make excuses as to why we can’t do anything about it.

This is the height of complacency. Well, that’s fine if we are genuinely satisfied with our life. But sometimes people are not satisfied. They would like to squeeze out the old and useless, and refresh their lives.

The desire to change things for the better is one of the three, God-given intangible gifts that make us human, and it is called Hope.

Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.
― Langston Hughes

But when we’re on the verge of losing hope, what can be done?

This is when we need other people the most. This is when we must make use of another intangible gift, and reach out to those who care about us; Love them and allow them to Love us.

Love casts out fear. –Dorothy Day

Hopelessness produces fear, so this is when we must look up and around, instead of continuously looking down. And if we do look around, we will lose the sense that we are the only one facing adversity. We will see that others have faced it, and come through it because they had  Faith that they could.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. –Billy Graham

It is difficult to have Hope and Love without Faith. Together, they are our lifeline, three things we all have in common because they identify us as human beings related to God and to each other.

So, when we think we have us too much to handle, or that life is getting too dark for us, a sincere re-assessment of  the faith, hope, and love in our personal life is the best path to take.

 

330px-Viktor_Frankl2 (2)Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor whose concentration camp experiences shaped both his therapeutic approach and philosophical outlook. His life as a concentration camp inmate led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus, a reason to continue living.

After three years of imprisonment during the Holocaust, he wrote Man’s Search for Meaning

He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of Men to exist: decent men and unprincipled men–and that these were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. And it stemmed from Attitude.

One definition of attitude is that it’s an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object). Prominent psychologists describe attitudes as the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology. But a deeper look at our attitudes will often expose our personal Character.

Character is what we are when we don’t have an audience–and also, at times, when we do have an audience–because it takes Character to stand up with courage if something crucially important needs to be said, or expressed with an action.

Of course, our attitudes reflect what we think is important, and attitudes can change. What’s important to a teenager is not what’s important to an adult. Some believe that a person’s Character is set and cannot be changed. Not so. But what can change it?

The character of Paul, the apostle, changed dramatically when he surrendered to God. Once he’d been a murderer of those who believed in Jesus; but his character was re-formed and he spread the good news of Jesus Christ all over the Gentile world. How did this happen?

In Paul’s words from First Corinthians: By God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective.

Paul’s new life in Christ is Biblical evidence that the grace of God can change character. And give that person’s character a new meaning. Haven’t you seen the character of some people change for the better? Don’t you know of people who have changed the entire meaning of their lives from insignificant to significant? I know I have.

This change may come after surviving a crisis, through a prompt of Grace that brings about a personal re-assessment of our life. Or it may come during great suffering, when we search for meaning. Or it may come because God keeps giving us those divine pushes to get rid of bad habits that waste our one and only earthly life.

No matter the circumstance, when we sincerely surrender to God, attitudes are changed and undesirable ways, reformed.