Friday, May 26, 2023

Who Do You Belong To?

[From Reflections: My Time? My Body? My Soul? C.S. Lewis Institute]

One of the subjects C.S. Lewis addressed in his book "The Screwtape Letters" was the topic of ownership. In this book, Lewis is writing from the devil’s perspective — showing us his temptation playbook. In one letter, senior devil Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood:

"The more claims on life… that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him…

You must… zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption “My time is my own”… You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon his chattels. He is also, in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy…

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A Tireless Searcher

"Life is hunger, thirst, and passion for an ultimate object, which looms over the horizon, and yet always lies beyond it. When this is recognized, man becomes a tireless searcher." 

- Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Death of Stonewall Jackson


General Stonewall Jackson's last words:

"Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Guiney Station, Virginia | May 10th, 1863

To walk through the door of Guiney Station is to be transformed, as if transplanted by a time machine of sorts. The door through which you have entered is one hundred and sixty years old, and the stories it could reveal would be endless. The room itself, the bed, the blanket Jackson clutched at death, and the ticking clock on the mantle, all present when Jackson died, combine to create an sensation that is similar to walking in misty fields, searching, looking for the familiar and yet being tugged into an awareness of history that is rarely found on this planet. This is the place where General Jackson died, where his soul was ushered into eternity, thus changing the history of the United States of America. 

NOTE: I have shared my feelings in past writings about this man who still casts such a shadow over the Civil War and the Confederacy. If you are interested, you can read that HERE

Such a poetic farewell from Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson probably astonished those who surrounded his deathbed that quiet sunny Sabbath in rural Virginia, twenty-seven miles from the bloody battlefield of Chancellorsville. More true to form had been his hallucinatory ravings the previous several hours, mostly commands, terse and to the point, that brooked no contradiction—“Push up the columns! Pendleton, you take charge of that. Where’s Pendleton? Tell him to push up the column!” Only his wife knew the gentler side of his personality, rooted as it was in loneliness and insecurity. To everyone else on the wider stage of Civil War topography—what was becoming, in point of fact, the bloodiest war ever fought on earth—“Old Jack” presented a picture of total mayhem, the hunter who, if he had his way, would never grant quarter to an enemy. “Draw your sword and throw away your scabbard,” was his battlefield credo. “Give them the bayonet! Kill them, sir! Kill every man!” 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Pathway Of Our Desires

Much has been written throughout the ages about the central battle of our life: desire. What we desire is crucial because in the end, we get what we want. Either we die wanting what God offers, or we die not wanting it. Either we love what and whom God loves, or we don’t. (To quote Bob Dylan, “They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody …”)

You see, sometimes we are fooled into believing that everyone wants to go to Heaven, but that isn’t true. Heaven is not your own personally designed paradise; it is the Kingdom of God with all of its values: forgiveness, chastity, love of all (including our enemies), and generosity, among many others. In addition, God is at the center, not us. Many people don’t desire some or all the values of the Kingdom of God and thus die in a state of indifference or opposition to what God is offering. For example, some do not want to love their enemies or live chastely. A loving God will not force them to love what or whom He loves. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Sarah Winchester and the Winchester House

In my twenties I traveled substantially across the American West, taking in such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Yosemite, and much more. But one of the most fascinating stops of all of those trips was a visit to the Winchester House, also known as the Winchester Mystery House. This house stands as an testimony to the famous saying, ‘If a lie is printed enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it can become an article of belief, a dogma, and a substitute for the real thing’. Put simply, it is a prime example of the adage that you can't always believe what you hear. 

When I took my tour of this famous house the tour guide emphasized repeatedly the love of the occult that Sarah Winchester possessed, (pun intended) and how this devotion motivated her architectural decisions when building and expanding her home. Stories were weaved about rooms designed to trap or repel ghosts, staircases with mysterious numbers of steps, bells that were used to summon spirits, and many more stories designed to highlight the mystery about the house and its construction. 

The truth, however, is found in none of these sayings. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

"Faith Keeps Our Hope In Sight"

[Excerpt from an article by Pastor Chuck Swindoll]

Is it really possible to smile through the difficult trials of life?

Well, if anyone had reason for resentment rather than rejoicing, it would have been Nancy and Ed. Back in 1995, their close friend, widowed with two teenage children, died of cancer. Nancy and Ed adopted her children, which instantly grew their family of four to a household of six.

A few months later, as Nancy and Ed rehearsed for their church’s annual Christmas program, their house went up in flames and burned to the ground.

The next weekend, neighbors organized a search party to sift through the ashes for anything valuable that may have survived. They found a piece of paper, well-preserved, with a timely message encouraging a smile:

Contentment: Realizing that God has already provided everything we need for our present happiness.

For Nancy and Ed, that simple statement was like hearing the voice of God from a burning bush! He saw them. He heard them. He was with them.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Monday, May 01, 2023

If You Could Read My Mind

If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

'Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

You know that ghost is me

And I will never be set free

As long as I am a ghost, you can't see