Archive for April 11, 2022

Palm Sunday

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As Christians around the world prepare for Holy Week, I’ve been thinking a lot about church attendance. Christmas and Easter are the two days of the year that you can well assume that the pews will be filled. Even the days leading up to those services start to see a slight uptick in attendance; yesterday we had our Palm Sunday service and had perhaps 25% more people in church than in past weeks.

We have a new Rector at our church which is also helping the attendance numbers; he’s been onsite for about five weeks, and people are showing up to see what the buzz is about. Whether or not they will continue to show is the question.

Church attendance across denominations is low. In March 2021 there was a Gallup poll conducted on this:

The proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue or mosque has dropped below 50 percent, according to a poll from Gallup released Monday. It is the first time that has happened since Gallup first asked the question in 1937, when church membership was 73 percent.

That’s both sad and scary to me.

I’ve not always been the most faithful in attendance, but it seems the older I get, the more I realize how important it is, and how meaningful the liturgy is to me. We attend the Episcopal church that my parents took us to when I was a kid, so I have strong sentimental attachments and memories there. It felt rather like coming home when my husband and I started going back to church on Sunday.

Religious services are simply not a priority for so many these days. In our congregation our average age is easily in the 60s-70s range. We have some young families, but not in overwhelming numbers, and those that are actually members don’t attend because they have soccer games or softball tournaments for their kids, or some other such activity that is always more important.

I’m not judging anyone, but I do wonder why events like that are scheduled for Sunday morning? I don’t recall that always being the case.

And with most things, politics causes a divide in religious congregations sometimes. Congregations wrestle with issues like sexual orientation and abortion, and try to determine where as a congregation we stand on these things? Are we a big umbrella welcoming all? Why is our Rector teaching a book written by a gay priest? (gasp!). Do we allow gay marriage or not? When does life begin? When does it end? How does it end? Does it end?

So many issues can bog us down. Faith is such a personal thing but also something we find strengthens in fellowship with others.

It seems to me in an ever more complex and confusing world, the only place I find peace and stillness is in the church. My head clears, my heart listens, and I find hope and clarity. It is my hope that as Holy Week and Easter begins to fill the pews, if only for a short time, at least a few people will also find this same peace and will continue to come back.

It sure couldn’t hurt anything. With the state of society these days, it sure could not hurt.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

The Network: You are children and you require guidance. There is no room for imperfection.

Gary King: Hey earth isn’t perfect alright? And humans aren’t perfect and guess what? I ain’t perfect!

The Network: And there in lies the necessity for this intervention. Must the galaxy be subjected to an entire planet of people like you?

Andrew Knightley: Hey who put you in charge? Who are you to criticize anyone? Now, you might think Gary is a bit of a cock and he is a bit of a cock, but he is my cock!

The World’s End 2013

I few weeks ago I wrote this about Russia and the War in Ukraine

The real wild card is that we don’t know the actual war aim of Russia. If it was to secure eastern Ukraine they’ve pretty much already done so and everything else is gravy. They can pretty much stop fighting and declare victory at any time. It remains to be seen if Putin wants the whole thing (I suspect he does) not just because he wants to rebuild the old Soviet/Russian empire but also because Biden and company has given him the chance to achieve a bigger goal, the humiliation of the west and as long as the continued existence of the Ukraine is in doubt that goal is in reach.

Whatever happens Putin will declare victory.

Meanwhile Ukraine has a single goal, to survive as an independent nation. Even if Russia carves out large chunks of the nation if any is still there at the end they can claim to have held off the Russian bear. That’s the bottom line here, I predict that is the endgame of the western media and powers, to wait for this result and then declare it the greatest military victory since Midway. 

It’s been a few weeks and the news reports indicate that the Ukrainians have been having success around Kiev and that the Russians may be in retreat in that sector at this time.

As I’ve already stated I take all reports with a grain of salt as neither Russian, Ukrainian nor MSM sources are reliable, the first two because they will naturally in time of war spin things for their end and the latter because they’ve proved themselves dishonest and dishonorable. Furthermore I neither have the time nor the inclination to dedicate myself to sorting out the actual reality so the only thing I can state as an undisputed fact is that as of this writing Ukraine hasn’t fallen.

Stacy McCain however has a bit more time than me and he’s come across what, if true is one of the most important stories concerning the war about what the Russians did to the people of one village when the expected quick victory became a slow costly slog.

On Monday, police forensic teams arrived to investigate along with a team of men to dig out the bodies.

They hauled the man up who was slumped at the bottom of a well with a bruised and lacerated face and upper body.

Next they dug out Ms. Litvynenko’s body from the nearby grave. Her father glanced into the hole as four men pulled her out.

“Yes,” he said. “It’s her.”

The village is mourning its loss. Alina Sukhenko, who grew up in Motyzhyn, recalled her grandmother saying the Nazis only killed one person when they were in the village.

The Russians “looked for the strongest people,” said Ms. Semenova, Ms. Sukhenko’s friend. “Olha was a locomotive who pulled everyone else behind her.”

“If there is no locomotive, they think we will be slaves like in Russia,” she said. “But we will never be slaves.”

Assuming this report is correct we must presume that this type of thing is happening anywhere that the Russians are fighting. This should not be a big surprise as the Russians were not known for their gentle nature on their way to Berlin although in fairness in that case they were provoked, as the Ukrainians are now.

And this is the point where Stacy McCain calls upon Human nature to make a critical point:

 It would appear, based on this account, that Motyzhyn was perhaps the southernmost advance of the Russian force that came south out of Belarus via Borodyanka. The atrocities inflicted on the villagers at Motyzhyn seem to have been typical of the brutality that Russian troops practiced everywhere in Ukraine.

Now, let me ask: If you were Volodymyr Zelenskyy, would you be willing to cede anything in negotiations with the Russians who had done this to your people? Or would you rally your people to fight until there was not a single invader left alive to return to Russia? Whatever the cost, cut off their retreat, surround them and kill every one of them — no quarter.

By God, I know that’s what I’d do. 

It’s one thing for diplomats and elites to come up with compromises and trade away territory, it’s another to give into a blood enemy how has committed atrocities upon your people. If the Ukrainians didn’t think of the Russians as blood enemies before I suspect they do now.

This won’t end well, in fact the best case scenario will be two blood enemies boarding each other armed to the teeth.