— Do you or someone you know & care for suffer from ‘The Black Dog’?
— Does that addict or drunk or sad co-worker suffer from depression? Do you?
— Do you “helpfully” offer endless free advice and ‘fixes’ because you find dealing with depression really awkward?
~ FOR MANY PEOPLE, depression is a day, a week, a season. It is left behind as an sour note in an otherwise happy life.
In our happy “we can fix everything” universe, TV and movie stories resolve every problem via heroism and happenstance and all is well again. E xcept.. people can break, and sometimes only partly tape and glue and tie themselves half-together again, enough to limp along a while longer.
What Kind Of Beast IS This?
This Black Dog is patient, vicious, and quiet: it has hunted & haunted my parents, and grandparents, and down the genetic pathways for generations. For others, life & crises and trouble starts it up fresh for them.
Yet for others– yes, of all ages– it is interwoven into the very stuff of life, perhaps as far back as memory reaches, a misty shadowed valley that never seems to come to an end, with light only breaking through now and again. The Valley of the Shadow; this vale of tears; the bleak lands where affliction dwells.
Yet even there, Christ the Lord walks and talks with his own sheep. Sometimes, he will shift us up onto his shoulders awhile. Faith can make an infinite difference in the experience & severity of depression. I’m there: so’s He.
All better? Nope.
There are no magic happy-cures, nor skipping through the sparkly flowers on a unicorn– but a costly cross-bearing love which both lightens your burden, and enlightens the path and things around you. Suicide– the permanent solution to temporary problems– may lurk like a vulture on the crag, but need not live on your shoulders.
The proper meds & counselling and living life the best you can any given day will help, too. The grinding miserable trudge can thus become a pilgrimage: but to where?
The shadowed vale of tears is not infinite. God is.
Just A Little Farther
There is a fair City and golden castle farther on ahead, with towers and steeples and fair pennons flying.. you know not exactly how far.. but in it is light, and peace, and no more pain or black dogs, suffering or tears, and all the former things are passed away. There are battles to fight and people to help along this path– and many needing help– on our way.
And perhaps in that City, the black dog– which can teach us so much about perseverance, tribulation, compassion and understanding– will be revealed as having golden fur, for the troubles that lead us closer to God are blessed troubles. St. Paul besought the Lord to remove his sufferings, and instead, God said “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Without such hope and faith and love– and the mercy of God & others– I would be long-dead. Will you walk beside me and the others like me, or pass us by on the other side? ~
I’m an original Star Wars kid. Saw the first one 14 times that Summer of ‘77. Spent a couple thou on merch over the years, helping make the Dark Lord George rich. Those first three movies were big pivotal events. Cultural moments. Good versus evil, heroes vs. villains, big over-simplified sloppy-science nerdy space-opera.
Then, George got mad about the success of Titanic, and James Cameron. Enter the prequels. Meh, take the kids, maybe there’s something.. oh. What’s that smell? Little Rebel filmmaker George had morphed into Darth Jabba, bully billionaire toy-seller with a side-order of movie-making.
I Gotta Bad Feeling About This
The latest branded product? Pretty much that South Park episode with Lucas & Spielberg raping Indiana Jones, and the audiences of that dreadful UFO+Indy movie. Except now, it’s Jar Jar Abrams, Kennedy, Mickey Mouse, and Johnson taking their turns violating Luke Skywalker, and the nerdly audiences of these three beautifully filmed– but contemptuous– violations of the SW universe & fandom.
There’s a lot of puzzled, offended, angry, and turned-off fans out there right now. And it hurt 2017 ticket-sales, toy & collectible sales, DVD & BluRay and all the knock-on money expected from big tentpole movies like this.
This feels like part revenge for #GamerGate; and the industry flipping the bird at the public for slumping ticket-sales for recent Hollywood rubbish; and the spoil-it-all ill-will of progressives towards anything they didn’t make, and of which they disapprove. Take something good, kill it & skin it, and wear the carcass while demanding respect for the new thing as if it’s still the old thing. Then, mock the fans, and drink their tears. Ha ha ha.
Clearly the next movies must be about hunting down each & every surviving character.. Chewie, R2D2, C-3PO, Nien Nunb, and Lando Calrissian in the retirement home for space-rascals, and killing them. Then, dancing on the grave of old Star Wars.
Deeper Stuff Is Important, Too
The nihilist meta-narrative that there is no good or evil, nothing worth living & dying for, no unifying spiritual force above & beyond appearances— so we can just all live in John Lennon’s craptastic revolutionary song ‘Imagine’? What a horrible dead life that would be, of competing chaotic forces wrecking everything & each other in a race to mutual bored destruction. This new Star Wars is a paean of praise to that “Eff It ALL” mentality.
The original movies were exciting & inspiring BECAUSE each person & their decisions mattered, made a difference. The protagonists were willing to live and die to help others, to hope and love and act in the face of apparently insurmountable tyranny. Leaving aside fanboyism and online insta-opinionated word-wars, it’s those deeply human elements that attracted us original kids in 1977.. a new take on movies, heroes & baddies, and interesting stories, remade with amazing effects and things we hadn’t seen before.
Of course they weren’t perfect. Of course they don’t make for a good religion or life. Of course you want to punch some fans in the nose and tell them to get a life and a religion.. but using a movie to do that is a pretty arrogant and dumb way to do it– and it’s bad business, no matter how many fart-sniffing film critics you make smirk with such work.
Nope. This original Star Wars fan is done. Not one more penny. Down with the Disney dystopia, and this disastrous train-wreck of a film franchise. ~
“The Upside Down is an alternate dimension existing in parallel to the human world. It contains the same locations and infrastructure as the human world, but it is much darker, colder and obscured by an omnipresent fog…. [a] dimension that is a dark reflection, or echo, of our world. It is a place of decay and death, a plane out of phase, a place of monsters. It is right next to you and you do not even see it.” … “Nope. No parallels under here.” (Hilary White)
~ BINKS IS just about to finish ‘Stranger Things‘ on Netflix, Season 1. Must say, I love it.. and it’s hard not to binge-watch it.
No major spoilers ensue below. Promise.
Like ‘The Matrix‘, the hit-show Stranger Things employs that familiar & human sense of displacement, weirdness, that there is an Unseen all around us which sometimes breaks in upon us in our ‘ordinary’ lives. That there is more going on than meets the eye.
In the popular Netflix series, which overflows with references to 80’s pop-culture, there is literally an evil copy parallel dimension called ‘The Upside Down‘, where people can be trapped, and eaten by a monster. The dimensional doorways can appear anywhere and everywhere: the wall of a house, a tree trunk, the basement of a top-secret government lab.
What both ‘The Matrix‘ and ‘Stranger Things‘ lack to make them universal is a spiritual universe above and inter-penetrating the visible ‘ordinary’ universe.. and a clear sense of God & His guiding providence. Sadly, religion plays almost no part in the show, or the lives of the characters.
What ‘Meant’ Means
By comparison, the writer J.R.R. Tolkien repeatedly mentions providence without explicating that it is of the Valar (archangels) and Eru (God). The wizard Gandalf’s own long mission in Middle Earth was a sending from the Blessed Land to fight evil, help the free peoples via suffering and pity, and– ultimately– to defeat Sauron, the dark successor to Morgoth (a fallen Valar, the Satan-figure).
In that Lord Of The Rings scene– which Peter Jackson moves from Frodo’s kitchen to the Mines Of Moria– we read:
Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
That ‘meant’ bears a world of significance. Consider.
‘Meant’ is God’s providence, in the world, in events, ‘coincidences’, and via people. The Bible proclaims: “All things work together for good to them that love God.” [Rom. 8:28] Note: NOT ‘all things will be pleasant, easy, and straightforward’.
Remember: Christians serve a Crucified and Risen King, who still bears His (now glorious) scars. No easy path there: take up your cross. Follow, die.
Living Our Double Sight
And there’s another sense of “the unseen dimension”, our own actual “Upside Down”, which tempers our anger and enlightens our struggles. As Saint Paul teaches the Christians of Ephesus, and us:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Eph. 6:12]
Any battle with sin, darkness, heresy– in the church and the world, and in our own hearts, is a combination of many forces, many invisible, or acting through us or other people in a greater & darker pattern than the simply human (as bad as we can be).
Exorcists are still busy in 2018. Possessed people still exist– some in politics, and in the Church itself. Even some clergy may be thus.
The Disorientation Is Real
In the current pontificate of Francis, there is unprecedented darkness, division, dishonesty, confusion and discouragement afoot. Papal hyper-loyalists rally ’round the revolutionary throne, throwing accusations at critics and radical (deep-rooted) Catholics who demand the whole witness of the Church to be heard, respected, lived, taught.
Sometimes, it feels as if an UnChurch from some evil parallel dimension like ‘The Upside Down‘ has invaded our reality, and is seeking to proclaim itself as the real, true, and only thing to serve. There is a spiritual war afoot: each of us can play a double part, on earth as in heaven, for good or bad. The darkness is not simply the opposition themselves, nor we only the bright good ones– for humility and reality’s sake, we admit there are brighter and darker forces in conflict within what we see, and in each soul.
Holy loyalty and faithfulness and restraint are good: but we do not honour the Church or her current leadership via our blind obedience, nor forgetting Whom She really belongs to, and Whose Voice she is supposed to obey. His will is not simply to be identified with the novel dictates of people who seem bound to another message, an unKingdom, a utopia of exalted man making himself into a God, his desires and feelings the measure of all truth and goodness. OUR kingdom come, OUR will be done: and yet, even in this, a greater darkness can be felt, seeping through, pushing, ruining, distorting the Church, but also the fever dreams of utopia, too.
Some Christian Basics
That evil unholy being is not some exact counterpart to God, but a created and fallen Enemy, and likewise all the fallen angels and powers under his control. Alone, we cannot defeat such darkness, for we are but mortal and finite and compromised with darkness ourselves. From such, Christ came to deliver us.
Ancient Paganism sought to placate the dark powers; to deflect the ill will of spirits, gods, sprites, and malicious beings of every sort. Animal and human sacrifice was the trading of precious life for benefits, or being left alone.
The Incarnation changed all that. Jesus is become the Lord of the living and the dead. The suffering King Jesus lays bare the plans and pride and shining schemes of Lucifer; He bore in himself our sin, and has already won the victory over sin, and death, and Hell.. yet the long wrapping up of the battle will seem almost like defeat, as the faithful must abide darkness in the world, the Church, the human heart, and in malicious spiritual forces.
But, but– What To DO?
Read the headlines; pray; comfort one another; love the sacraments; repent. Read the Bible & the Church Fathers, and the saints. Read solid blogs and books. Same as it ever was, and there’s no greener grass elsewhere. Cheer up! It will very likely get much worse.
Stay faithful, for God is faithful, and will not abandon us, or leave us weak and comfortless and enslaved to the machinations of the Enemy and his minions, nor to our own sins, negligences, and ignorances. These bizarre times WILL be sorted by God, and by his judgment & mercy, and by better Church leaders and theologians in decades and centuries to come. +
“Lo, I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
[St. Matthew 28:20]
~ THIS IS THE DAY, and the story, of two inspired young men connected by faith and death.
This day, after the celebration of the Joyful Nativity, we count the cost of God’s coming amongst us as one of us: St. Stephen’s Day (sometimes called Boxing Day in English-inspired lands). Faith costs: possibly everything.
Less than two months after the Crucifixion, outside one of Jerusalem’s gates, an angry mob stones to death a young Christian man– who fearlessly preached to the very people & religious leaders who had condemned Jesus to the Cross. Away with him! The dying even forgave his murderers as he died. Looking on was a persecutor of the young Church– one Saul of Tarsus, who would later himself convert and become St. Paul, Evangelist to the Gentile world.
St. Stephen was the first of so many to witness unto Christ Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem become Risen King by their life unto blood, called martyrs. Holy Innocent’s Day, also following Christmas, reminds us of the slain babes of Bethlehem, by the wrathful King Herod.
Meanwhile, In Bohemia..
Long centuries later, Wenceslaus (or Vaclav) I, Duke of Bohemia (from 921-935) would likewise serve Christ as a martyr. His grandmother had passed onto him the faith before she was murdered; yet many nobles and the establishment powers of Bohemia preferred the old ways of sacrifice, exploitation, murder of each other, and cruel selfishness. Vicious political intrigue was a sport for such leaders.
Why should anyone care for peasants? Why the gentler ways of the new god, Jesus? Why waste money on busy-body missionaries, and teaching the people, and building churches? Why let the exiled Christian clergy back into Bohemia? Why did the Duke live like a humble man of peace, and not a warlike, powerful, and wealthy noble? Away with him.
Before long, young Duke Wenceslaus (in his latter 20s) was slain on the steps of a church by his own treacherous brother, Boleslaw. And yet the Church and the ordinary people remembered their young duke’s Christ-like love and witness, his service and aspiration for a better way for his own lands, and for the world– and so do we unto this day. The holy Duke is the patron saint of the Czech Republic, and his relics are honoured in St. Wenceslas’ Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague (below).
Though a Duke, Wenceslaus became a inspirational figure for the Middle Ages of the “Rex Justus“, the godly and Christlike Christian king, using his powers for good, to teach & help & raise up all his people, to rule by law and love, a princely ruler whose power comes from vigour and deep piety.
The saintly friends of God Stephanus and Wenceslaus remind us that young people in general and young men in particular deeply need faithful, knightly, courageous, life-inspiring examples and opportunities to serve as fathers, heroes, leaders, helpers, world-changers, God-servers. If we do not allow this– or squander it– then the church and the world are ill-served, and young lives are wasted in idleness or violence or base pursuits, and not in bold witness unto the Babe of Bethlehem, and King of all nations and People, Jesus Christ.
The famous hymn about Duke Wenceslaus was a lovely bit of Victoriana (much despised by hymn-snobs) based on an older legend: a reminder of the kind of man the Duke was, the people and service he loved, and the kind of people we should be, in loving our neighbour. +
Good King Wenceslas looked out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay round about Deep and crisp and even Brightly shone the moon that night Though the frost was cruel When a poor man came in sight Gath’ring winter fuel
“Hither, page, and stand by me If thou know’st it, telling Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?” “Sire, he lives a good league hence Underneath the mountain Right against the forest fence By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me flesh and bring me wine Bring me pine logs hither Thou and I will see him dine When we bear him thither.” Page and monarch forth they went Forth they went together Through the rude wind’s wild lament And the bitter weather
“Sire, the night is darker now And the wind blows stronger Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer.” “Mark my footsteps, my good page Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter’s rage Freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod Where the snow lay dinted Heat was in the very sod Which the Saint had printed Therefore, Christian men, be sure Wealth or rank possessing Ye who now will bless the poor Shall yourselves find blessing.
Congratulations on serving as Canada’s new Governor General, and representing the Queen to Canada, and Canadians to the Queen. It is an historic and storied role. Representing all Canadians is a wonderful opportunity.
Thank you for speaking out for science recently, at the 9th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference on Wednesday, November 1. Canada has long led the way in technology, innovation & invention, and in medical fields, amongst many others.
However, during your remarks it is reported that you said:
“”Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government, unfortunately, we’re still debating and still questioning whether humans have a role in the Earth warming up or whether even the Earth is warming up, period,” she said.
“And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process.
“And so many people — I’m sure you know many of them — still believe, want to believe, that maybe taking a sugar pill will cure cancer, if you will it!
“And every single one of the people here’s personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations.”.
Your Excellency– as I understand it, your role it to speak to and represent all Canadians– including those who need to use non-prescription supplements, those who believe that there is no contradiction between science and religion, those who are not convinced– on actual evidentiary bases that climate change as popularly represented is primarily anthropogenic, or whatever other beliefs are out there which you seem to have slighted in your comments.
The following distinguished people have believed there is a divine being: Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato. Einstein. Moses & Jesus. St. Thomas Aquinas. Galileo. Leonardo. Sir Isaac Newton. Nicholas Copernicus.
The following Noble Laureates in Science are also people who had some kind of agnostic or actual faith in God (mostly Jewish & Christian)–
My father was trained in the fields of computers, nuclear physics, general medicine, and the difficult specialty of pathology & medical examination. He served Canadian communities up and down the Annapolis Valley for two decades, as did his immigrant Scots father– also a Pathologist– did for 30 years prior. My father was also a Christian. He had no difficulty believing that God both created and was creating– through his created things and beings– all that is.
As a Canadian, I do not feel anyone in such a position as Governor General of Canada should be– or be seen to be– alienating or dividing our country, or possibly provoking and insulting Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, or those who follow aboriginal beliefs.
I hope this letter finds you well, enjoying your opportunities for the betterment of our Country, and richly blessed in all you do. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Yours very sincerely,
Etc., etc., so on and so forth.
UPDATE– VICTORY! 😉
Dear Mr. Binks,
Thank you for sharing your views and suggestions with Governor General Julie Payette.
Responses to specific inquiries can be expected within three weeks. All emails will be read, but general comments and opinions may not receive a response.
Nous vous remercions d’avoir transmis vos points de vue et vos suggestions à la gouverneure générale Julie Payette.
Veuillez prévoir trois semaines pour l’obtention d’une réponse à une demande précise. Tous les courriels seront lus, mais les opinions et les commentaires généraux ne recevront pas automatiquement une réponse.
~ AS THE RAIN pours showers of blessings on the Eastern part of this Royal Dominion, I cannot but give thanks for this land– though the last 50 years have been sub-optimal under the progressitopian Trudeau Cult.
Above all, in The Year Of Our Lord 2017, Christians in Canada need to pray for our country, for we have wandered into deep and deadly waters of life and death, sin and evil, and our elected officials and robed rulers wish to command that sweet is bitter and bitter is sweet.
This was founded as and is still a Christian land, founded on truth, faith, virtue, and Christian principles– we have no legal fiction of the separation of church and state, as if citizens could somehow divide themselves inwardly to ultimately serve God and Caesar both. Our due earthly obedience has proper limits, which we forget at our eternal peril.
Here we have no abiding city.. but the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places; indeed, we have a beautiful inheritance (Ps. 16). Thank you, O Lord.
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea;
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!
O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years,
From East to Western Sea.
Our own beloved native land,
Our True North, strong and free!
Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion within Thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day
We ever stand on guard.