How do each of us know that we ought to have Freedom? Did someone tell us so?

Or is the idea that we are free engrained in each human being from birth?

And if Freedom is engrained in us at birth, then where did it come from?

There can only be one answer, and most of us know what, or who, it is.

The desire to be free does not come from a gene passed to us by our parents, like the shape of our face, or the color of our eyes and hair. It is not something we thought up for ourselves either. It is not an object that can be physically touched, because it is not physical, it is spiritual.

The desire for Freedom is innate in each human person, and it comes as gift from our Creator.

But our desire for Freedom does not necessarily mean that we will have it. Others can keep it from us, or we can keep it from ourselves–by choice.

Because our Freedom is tied to the personal choices of each one of us.

It is our choice when we restrict another’s freedom, either physically or spiritually. It is our choice to indulge ourselves in addictions, and bring others into those same addictions. It is our choice to make gods of ourselves at the expense of others. It is our choice to kill, to steal, to lie, to cheat.

And it is our choice to ignore that we are all God’s children–from conception to death.

THINK about this: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2Corinthians3:17

But what if we block the Spirit of the Lord from our lives? Many do just that. As of now, it is not the majority, but someday–if completely godless people are allowed to take control of America–it might be the majority. If that happens, we may as well say good-bye to freedom in America as we know it.

So, THINK long and hard about who you will support politically. The very essence of our Freedom depends upon it.

“It was the sort of statement–her mention of war–that always riled him. He vigorously rolled down the window as if he could get rid of her words, and stuck out his arm into a violent wind that shoved against his bone, his muscle, his skin. But he did not relent. He kept his arm straight and extended, daring the rushing air to overpower him. He was in charge of himself now. He was sixteen, almost a man.” — Bridge-Man Burning

 

 

As a boy in A Hunger in the Heart, Coleman Puttman Bridgeman III was hurt by the love he hungered for. Now, as a young man in Bridge-Man Burning, he leaves his hometown behind, carrying with him the family blood that runs through his veins and voices of the past that run through his head. In marriage and business, Coleman faces life’s most powerful human battles where he must confront the weakest and deepest, parts of himself. Dishonesty, betrayal, and cowardice come into play, as well as the possibility of losing everything, and everyone, he loves.

 

We all want to stand out, to shine. And we try to. But is it ‘okay’ to use other people in an attempt to push ourselves forward? Most of us would say no, and yet we are bombarded with examples of this very thing in today’s present politics. And on social media, some can’t wait to put a rusty nail into someone else without giving it a second thought.

And it isn’t happening only to people in the public eye. It happens in our close relationships as well–between friends and even family. What would it take to change this? Maybe only a little examination of ourselves to see the truth about what we are doing?

Some days, I wake up not proud of what I did yesterday in my interactions with others. Some days, I put on blinders and push it aside. Other days, I want to change.

Changing any habit is hard. Changing an attitude toward other people is even harder. And seeing ourselves as the flawed person we are takes humility and courage. When I was young and turned up my nose at some people, my grandmother and my mother, both, gave me a pointed warning: “There but for the grace of God, go you.” In other words: None of us is perfect. Have empathy.

What is empathy? Simply imagining yourself in another’s shoes. Imagination is a God-given gift to all human beings, and we use it for good. But we can also use it for evil, especially when we imagine ourselves as better than someone else.

We all need correction, but sometimes we see only that others need it, not ourselves. We are so quick to condemn, so quick to criticize, so quick to stab someone in the back by spreading rumors, or telling lies, about them only to make our self shine brighter. Can we remember that there are the people who may never have been held in loving hands? People who’ve been ignored and perhaps not cared for. They may even be our own children, or parents, or closest friends. Or they may be prostitutes, drunks, drug-addicts, or thieves–even our neighbor next door. They may follow none of God’s commandments, or even believe in Him. They are people that we are quick to call sinners. But aren’t we all sinners? And yet Jesus calls us friends, and gave His life for us.

So, tomorrow, I’ll try to Shine a different way — a more self-less way –in my interactions with people. I will be empathetic and use my imagination to see them as God’s beloved children, and to see myself as His child as well, on my way to back to Him. I will no longer be a rusty nail in dealing with people, no matter how difficult they may be to interact with.

I’m gonna let it be the field
The one that rain forgot
I’m gonna let it be the summer
I’m gonna let it be your face
The one that ran away
I’m gonna let it be forever
I’m gonna let it rain and hail
Let the rusty nail
No longer hold this world together
I’m gonna let it be the sun
In more ways than one
Shine a different way tomorrow

Notice the picture above. At the very top, we see the segment of a brain. Just below are hands moving up, as if searching for the brain. And then the absence of eyes, and the sewed up mouth, all surrounded by pieces of indistinct shapes that seem to be taking over.  What if the picture were symbolic of our beloved America–a composite of all of us–as our freedoms are being taken away?

Let’s start at the top, with the brain. Everything we know and do, all the sense of human thought, all the feelings of human emotion, all the questions of human existence; are the product of the brains in our heads.  Common sense is a by-product of human thought based on experience. For example, if we have once experienced touching a hot stove, the next time we are at the stove, common sense steps in as a warning not to make the same mistake. But what if we could be fooled into believing there was no danger? Would we touch the stove again?

Today, the left wing of the Democrat party is trying to fool our common sense, trying to make us think that there is no danger in their twisted politics which includes, of all things–Socialism! Socialism works for no one except for the elite at the top–a great deal of difference from capitalism which has its problems with greed, yet still provides for all of us, not simply the government elites. In capitalism some may indeed be richer than the majority, but though all human beings are equal in the eyes of God and should be treated as such in society, it is plainly true, and just common sense, that human beings do have varying abilities, some of which are God-given talents. And yes, some have more advantages, which come from a plethora of reasons, one reason being a strong, traditional family. This is plain fact. Attention to strengthening the family is what America needs to secure equality–not Socialism. The freebies of big government Socialism always cost–usually someone else who cannot and should not be required to pay for them. America is a generous country, helping those in need or in danger, as they say, who cannot help themselves. But a murderous hypocrisy has taken over the Democrat party–refusal to come to the aid of the most helpless of human beings, the unborn. Socialism will not work, the same as Communism doesn’t work. Time and again this has historically been shown. Politicians can draw up any sort of theory they want to persuade a constituency, but that theory has to play out- and NO form of Socialism has played out with success.

Back to the picture.

The hands in the picture seem to be searching for something lost– perhaps our Common Sense?

Move down to the blind eyes. Have they been blinded in order to block-out the freedoms that have long been important to us? Take for example the so-called Equality Act passed by the House.  This act is the opposite of equality–its name is an example of Orwellian Newspeak , where the government mandates how language is used to control the minds of its citizens, where the so-called ‘victim classes’ are used for their own ends.  This act is all about coercion, nothing more.  But there are  courageous people from all backgrounds, even liberal ones, who will not be forced into far-left policies; they walk away.

Move to the sewed-up mouth. Is speech that expresses long-held American belief being shut down? Has our American history been revised and replaced by biased scientists with a false history that suits a leftist agenda? Has the verbal teaching of good science  been replaced with fairytale teaching, even to young children, that a woman can be a man, or a man can be a woman? Has it become moral to lie and call it justice in an attempt to take down our rightful President by calumny?  Or a Supreme Court Judge, or even a social media commenter we do not agree with? Are we really being honest about our border, putting American citizens in danger because of our personal political agendas? Are we becoming so superficial a people that morals don’t matter to us anymore? Well, we should all wake up, because morals DO matter to God. And before HIM will come our final justice.

Finally, those indistinct shapes that seem to be taking over the above picture could be seen as a bad end coming for our beautiful country of America, a nation that allows for our human freedoms–and the human responsibility for our own singular lives. But that end is not here yet, and does not have to come at all. There is still time to recover our COMMON SENSE and see Freedom for what it truly is, a divine gift to each and every human being, a gift we must recognize in ourselves and fight for. Let’s get to it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,

Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. —Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, 1776

 

 

My father was a banker by trade, but a fisherman at heart. There is not one reachable body of salt or fresh water –river, lake, or Gulf — that he did not fish. And often, he took me with him. On those trips, I learned a lot about baiting a hook, and casting, and which lure to use, and the hardest lesson of all: how to have patience.  They were times for talking (quietly, of course) while watching your cork, eating canned Vienna sausage and crackers, and drinking loads of iced tea from a thermos. I felt loved and valued, so important for a child, especially a daughter. I thank my father for that and for all fathers–especially my own sons and sons-in law–who make their daughters and sons feel loved and valued, too.

Happy Father’s Day to All!

Several book clubs have inquired about my books. SOOO, From Friday June 7 until Tuesday June 11, my two INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD WINNERS, from 2018 and 2019, will be FREE on Kindle. The Wind That Shakes the Corn, and The Ghosts of Faithful.

Hope you enjoy! 🙂
https://www.amazon.com/Kaye-Park-Hinckley/e/B00BBC2C8O…

 

 

 

All men and women are entrusted by God with the task of crafting their own life. Ideally, we are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece. Underlying our task, is a recognition of a sense of mystery, a sense of beauty, and a sense of the eternal. These senses must be developed because our world often promotes superficiality, false glory, and self- profit, rather than the Truth of our destiny–our beautifully human interaction with our Creator. Of course, we make the choice to interact with God, or not.

For an artist, it is the same;  to finely craft his God-given talent by developing those same senses of mystery, beauty, and the eternal, both for himself and those who view, hear, or read it.

When an artist writes words, writes music, acts in film or on stage, or sculpts, he is making a statement about the world as he understands it. It may be a good world that he wants to praise, or a rotten world that he wants to condemn, or a godless world of only superficial importance. But artists, too, have a choice. Do we lift up humanity, including ourselves; or do we denigrate it, and thereby denigrate ourselves as well?

In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture. —St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

A common experience to humanity is one of depravity; a Christian artist realizes this, so uses a lens accepting that the grace of God is offered to humanity in spite of its depravity.This does not mean that a realistic view of our often-corrupt world should not be shown. Art is about Truth, and evil is real. But so is goodness. An artist, especially a writer, might set a character in a world of evil in order to shine forth an opportunity of a redemption, whether the character takes it or not.

Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

If the mind and heart of the artist stems from his own desire for redemption, then it will come through in his words, films, music, paintings, or sculpture. The opposite is also true. If moral deterioration is portrayed with no regard for redemption, then there is no masterpiece, and the artist has surely failed humanity, and himself.

Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.–St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

We make our own way in this world, and out of it, with our singular decisions and actions. We are meant to use our talents, whatever they may be, for good. Each of us will leave a legacy for those who come after us. What sort of legacy will it be?

 

With such instability and suffering in our world today, we may be searching for some PERSPECTIVE as to why things are ‘as they are.’

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.” (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. 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 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

DOES MY LIFE MATTER???

Posted: May 20, 2019 in World On The Edge

In today’s world, we have so much more materially than those who have gone before us–but we have ignored ourselves spiritually. There is much confusion about who a human being is, and what his purpose is meant to be.

Some people, especially those grasping for political office, appear to see themselves as set upon the earth distinctly for their own purposes, using others to get there. They want to change our way of thinking. They want to control us, and our vote. The political and moral climate of our present America has spawned many people like this who want to change the moral and political mores of our country, and they are “not nice” in their attempt to do it.

To mask their real motives, and to confuse Americans, the people following this playbook spout ‘nice-sounding’ but self-serving phrases such as “Love conquers Hate, etc. without applying the phrase to themselves. But what they are really after are hateful things, such as abortion up until the time–and even after– a baby is born! They want the dissipation of traditional marriage. They want to “give-away” America through illegal immigration, an open door to drugs, sex trafficking, and especially the abuse of innocent children. They hold the outrageous idea that a person can manipulate his or her sex. They praise Socialism as if its track record was wonderful, rather than the cause of demise for many nations. We must open our eyes to all this, or pay the consequences, but many are keeping their eyes closed, confused by false platitudes.

The confusion is being assisted by an undisciplined media, including most of Hollywood and some of the music industry, and even misguided theologians who we might expect to know better, yet they don’t appear to. Rather, some have even joined the fake causes!

How can so many be led astray? How can so many not see the evil in all of this?

Daily, everyone chooses between good and evil. It is our human nature. A mature person recognizes the signs of evil within himself, and attempts to re-attach to the good by seeking forgiveness and moving forward.  But when someone cannot/will not admit wrong-doing, a big problem exists for him or her. Instead of admitting they are doing wrong, and trying to fix it, they go overboard to make their wrong SEEM right.  Exactly what is happening in our present America through the playbook of the very far left.

 It is important to realize that trickery is being used today by some people with intentionally selfish motives. It is important to remember that wolves have been known to wear sheep’s clothing. Let’s think for ourselves, not jump on a very dangerous bandwagon that will not only take us down individually, but our country as well. We must use our common sense.

Most of all, we should realize that LOVE is not a word to throw around when it’s convenient to our own ends. It is a word to live up to. Love is a an action that comes from our spirituality, not our physicality– an all-encompassing standard created within us by God. In fact, our ability to truly love shows that God lives within us. But today, the selfish, fake representations of LOVE that many support are shameful, and they are digging a grave for  America.

For each one of us, life here on earth goes by fast. Our time to die will come, and what we have done here WILL MATTER.  We can put on blinders and try to make evil seem good, but that is a very risky lie to tell ourselves.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.—Isaiah 5:20

fAITHUL COVER 3 BNSAVE

When The Ghosts of Faithful won First-Runner-up for Poets & Writers Magazine’s Maureen Egen Award, it was a novel in progress. Here’s what Victor La Valle, author, Professor at Columbia, and Judge of the contest had to say about it:

Faithful suggests a broad canvas–a well-rendered local; a promising war of equals in the characters, a clear desire to address/tackle the issues larger than the back and forth, and a clear understanding on the author’s part about pacing and clarity. Also, I thought the father’s chapter was really funny!

NOW, THE GHOSTS OF FAITHFUL HAS WON THE 2019 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD FOR RELIGION FICTION!!

‘Ghosts’ is the second novel of mine to win this prestigious award. The first–The Wind That Shakes the Corn: Memoirs of a Scots Irish Woman–won the same in 2018.

My novels are about everyday people, flawed people, just like you and I. But they are presented in the context of being very valuable because they are human beings created by God, and no matter what they are doing or have done, their actions are known by God who loves them. Do the characters change their ways? Some of them do, and some don’t. That’s life.

I write fiction as I do because of my Catholic faith. What’s different about that?

I.

First of all, the soul of Catholic Fiction is that God exists and works in the lives of sinful, fallen in people who have totally rejected Him–and that He does this out of love, regardless of how forcefully a character tries try to shut Him out. And we need to know that.

2.

Secondly, because Catholic Fiction points to our true identity as human beings, which is that we are not just happenstance entities placed on Earth. We are God’s children, created by Him and made in His image and likeness, and that we have a greater purpose here. And hopefully, Catholic Fiction does this through stories in which we can see ourselves, and with language and imagery that points to the divine in each one of us.

3.

And then, thirdly, Catholic Fiction attracts us to what we lack on Earth, something larger and more beautiful than what this material world can give. And honestly I think in their hearts most people know this. It may not be the underpinning of a lot of fiction as much as other subjects are, but the yearning is definitely in every person, though they may have crusted it over with ‘stuff’ that our culture says we ought to have. And this is an innate yearning that only the divine can satisfy. People are seeking the beauty of God, whether they classify it as such or not.

 

What is the key characteristic of Catholic Fiction?

The Sacramental aspect of the Catholic Church. We are bound by the Sacraments of the church and believe that they are instruments of grace. Think of our definition of grace—an outward sign instituted by God to give grace. Then go to this Flannery O’Connor quote:

From the Sign to the thing Signified
From the Visible to the Invisible
From the Sacrament to the Mystery

The Catholic sacramental view of life is one that sustains, and supports at every turn, the vision that the storyteller must have if he is going to write fiction of any depth.

 

Synopsis of The Ghosts of Faithful:

Izzy Collier runs the Food Bank in a town called Faithful, on the banks of the Suwannee River. She is the least amicable of two daughters in a frustrating family; all, keeping secrets of betrayal. Her parents are at odds with both daughters, and with each other. Her sister, always Izzy’s competition, is an unstable former beauty queen, the wife of a philanderer, and the mother of four. Now, their ninety-four year-old grandmother sees her dead husband’s ghost, accompanied by a strange little girl. At the same time, Izzy’s husband, a defense lawyer, is being forced by his boss to effect the acquittal of a teenager accused of the rape and murder of a child. When Izzy starts to see her deceased grandfather and the little girl, too, she questions her sanity. What if the little girl ghost is the murdered child? But then, why would she be with Izzy’s grandfather? Are the ghosts after revenge, justice, or something greater?