Thinking About America and a New Presidency

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We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.

Stephen King, in Duma Key

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Democrat Congressman John Lewis from Georgia and a leader in the early days of the cause of Civil Rights for Black Americans identifies President-elect Donald Trump as an “illegitimate” President but gives no reason for this claim.

Things such as this make you wonder if Stephen King isn’t right in what he says in the above quote.

Congressman Lewis has been in the U.S. Congress for a long time.  He has been a Democrat for a long time.  The Democrats have held power in the Federal Government for a long time and hold virtually exclusive power in major American cities – yet, the problems in the inner city remain.

One wishes Congressman Lewis would not speak so loosely.  We do ill is to divide, to do well is to unite.

Partisan politics (which sadly is the only politics the Democrats practice and pursue) makes us weaker as a nation, divide unnecessarily and forestall the welfare of many, many people.

We all make regrettable comments.  The public ones like this can be very destructive. When unity and cooperation are needed, division is very costly, a tragic wound.

Americans need to work together.  We live in troubled times and others wish us ill, desire our destruction.  We need not help them in their cause.  

In times such as these, partisan politics destroys.

Unity NOT division.

Shalom.

The cows are in the pasture.  The prayers have been said.  The sky is dressed in gray.  Push-ups have been done.  The fire is young but alive.  Bach soothes.  The mountains maintain their vigil. Peace prevails.

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The desert was created to be itself … So too the mountain and the sea.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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Alone I find how anonymity allows you to meet your self.  Social man gives way to himself, to his sacredness, his holy being – its composition, the divine harmony of its contradiction, peace and His Creator.

It is a relief to no longer be among the crowd, adhere to the “to-do’s,” the hubbub and the gloss, the artificiality of it all, its costumes and its absurdity, its contaminated pecking order.

The desert, and the mountain, and the sea were created to be itself.  So too are we, each one of us.

Shalom.

For those who face a trial and complain or become resentful.

… do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing … to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ …

1 Pet 4:12, 13

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How often have I heard someone say: why is this happening to me?  Why am I suffering?

In what are rarer instances, I have witnessed in my life those who have faced hard challenges and yet never complained.  I think of my mother: struggling to find work, alone – having lost her parents when she was still a young lady.  And I think of my young wife with cancer, a punishing disease that worsened year by year. Neither complained.

I am asked from time to time, was your mother faithful?  I answer: “yes, by the way she lived – she encountered hardship and never wavered.”  The same could be said of my wife. They each possessed a courage that tells of faith, that comes from faith, that rests on faith.

They believed.  They saw God in the trials, and they walked with God without complaint, or doubt and they never felt sorry for themselves.  Indeed, they put others first.

In our trials we draw closer to God and learn to rely on God not on our self.  We learn that we are not alone and that life is but a passing.  In this we see who we are and what a human being is and can be.  We see how those who do not believe are in constant turmoil and how they cause problems for themselves and others – how discontented they are.

To believe in the midst of a trial is to be a witness to others of the Truth that gives us peace: we are God’s children and we are never alone or forgotten.

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Ask yourself – does this culture promote or disparage faith and the experience of God?

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Shalom.

The way to knowledge, and self-knowledge, is through pilgrimage.  We imitate our way to truth, finding our lives – saving them – in the process.

Paul Elie, in An American Pilgrimage

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Life requires patience and, hence, faith.  Done well, as an act of faith, perseverance, and growth, living assembles truths over time and stacks them like firewood to warm and make secure in the frigid moments we encountered.

Seeking the truth is a personal experience.  No one does the pilgrimage for you. You are called to this.  It is a sacred call to each.

Many defer.  They have their problems, their sickness and they create great discord, calamity and foolishness in their committed deferral.

They are the constantly confused, the addicts, the convicts, the inaugural protesters, the rabid ideologues with small minds and muddled thoughts, the serial adulterers, the perpetual drunks, the free-loaders, the scammers, the habitual complainers.  They live in the past and in their disordered thoughts, resentments and excuses.  They father children and flee their responsibility.  They live off of others and expect to be coddled, excused, catered to.

Pilgrims.

Those who defer destroy.  All are equal, yet some choose to deny the sacred call to life. That is their choice, and hence – their responsibility.  They know nothing of truth and their words are nonsense, devalued by their own choosing.  They elect their own state of inequality and then demand what others rightly gained.  Their words need no heed.

Only a fool or devil encourages sickness.  Truth and contentment come from the journey – often a hard and difficult but necessary and satisfying pilgrimage.

There are no good answers gotten on the cheap.

We are formed as pilgrims.

Shalom.

… intolerance … is an evidence of weakness: the confident can afford to be calm and kindly; only the fearful must defame and exclude.

Harry Emerson Fosdick, in Adventourous Religion

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Well the American Left is supporting a boycott of L.L. Bean because one of the fifty members of their Board of Directors voted for Donald Trump.  So much for tolerance.

The American Left in practice.  This is their standard behavior.

” … intolerance is absurd and barbaric.”  So says Voltaire in his 1766 Essays on Toleration.

Shalom.

The separation of church and state, however interpreted, did not signify the separation of church from society.

To look upon religion as the ultimate source of morality, and hence of a good society and sound policy … pays religion – and God – the great tribute of being essential to the welfare of mankind … to man as well, who is deemed capable of subordinating his lower nature to his higher …

Gertrude Himmelfarb, in The Roads to Modernity

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The efforts of the press, televised news media and others to discredit President-elect Donald Trump before he assumes Office shows us that something as basic as culture and identity is at stake.

What do I mean?

The Left has had its way in this culture for almost six decades.  Their ideology has been planted in schools and colleges, in the judiciary, entertainment, in the media and in the newspapers, in Washington, the federal bureaucracy, some large cities and a few states. Likewise, killing children in the womb has received the protection of the Constitution and same sex “marriage” has been endorsed by the Supreme Court.

In the last six decades, Black families have been destabilized by federal and state laws and policies, federal and large state budget discipline has been lost, and the government has gained more and more control of the individual, private business and the economy and religion is held “suspect.”

It is fair to say that our culture has been changed, as has been our identity – individual and collective.

The recent national election has been a repudiation of the Left and what it has done and become.

Those on the Left (the newspapers, college professors, teachers unions, Washington insiders, televised soft news stations and people, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the Democrat Party, etc.), accustomed to “getting their way,” are “throwing a fit.”

Today we engage a fundamental question: who are we and does our culture reflect favorably who we are?

Herein, the quotes from Ms. Himmelfarb.  We are defined not by the state or politics.  We are in the most basic, most truthful and profoundest manner defined by faith, its ethos, its morality.  Our identity and well-being rest there and when we live by this our culture reflects the good that we are and life gets easier as folly and conflict subside.

Properly considered, we are seeing at the present the opposition of the Left to the restoration of national health and prosperity.  Pretty fundamental stuff.  Big stakes.

Shalom.

Suggestion – You might want to be careful about where you get your news.  I used to read five newspapers a day.  I now read one, the Wall Street Journal.  I don’t watch much on TV. The best I can suggest – pay attention to your religion and grow your faith – the best guide to living well.

Nothing like starting the day in the darkness with Gregorian chants setting the tone of the soul for the day that is to come.

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“You have to envy a writer like Flannery O’Connor, who saw the enemy clearly, namely a certain sort of triumphant humanism …”

Walker Percy

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Triumphant humanism.  We are immersed in it and yet do not notice, and surely do not examine it.  Walker Percy did in his novel The Thanatos Syndrome and in the first annual Eudora Welty Lecture from which the above words are selected.

We had a look at the sound and appearance of triumphant humanism with the words and person of wimpy Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe “awards” show.  No candidate for the Marine Corps is she.  And oh, so predictively she seized her opportunity to deliver a “morally” conceived political lecture rather than simply accept an award and humbly issue a “thank you” and recede in good taste from the dais.

In her words we see triumphant humanism is a loose and mushy “tenderness” that has supplanted actual moral thought.

Soft and fuzzy is the way of actors and actresses whose job it is, not to think, but rather to memorize other people’s words and recite them.  Having accomplished that, they eagerly warp themselves in self-righteousness and skip right to sharing their ill-formed notions of morality.

That is triumphant humanism: opinion without restraint or study, faith, familiarity with religious narrative, God, or any knowledge about the life of the average person but that which can be gleamed from the roof-top garden of a 6 million dollar, five-story Manhattan townhouse you own and occupy.

In triumphant humanism, the self is far less the self than it has ever been, sincerity is faked, and it can be said of those in its ambit that “deep down inside, they are really shallow.”

Yes, they have the substance of ghosts, the vanished person.  Among the acting-class, they are soon enough “the well forgotten celebrity.”  Sort of like Oakland – there’s no “there” there.  But whimper they will – and endlessly about: climate, nuclear free zones, overpopulation, “the poor,” etc., while happily shunning the middle class and supporting and defending the killing of 60 million children in the womb.  Strange disposition.

Walker Percy nailed triumphant humanism in The Thanatos Syndrome when his character Fr. Rinaldo Smith complains that in contemporary life in America morality has become “tenderness” – and abandoned any reference to justice, or the dignity of life and the human person.

And, in this predicate, Percy has Fr. Smith ask Dr. Tom More: “Do you know where tenderness always leads?” To which, More relies, “No where?” Only to have the Priest respond, “To the gas chamber.”

Triumphant humanism, sans God has but one direction.  We see it in abortion now don’t we.  And in euthanasia.  And hear and see it in wimpy, preachy actresses and others of the Left persuasion who prepare the way for “rationed medical care.”

In the end what we are talking about is this: culture and identity.  Who are we? What have we become without God?

Yes, we have awakened to see it is precisley this struggle – of culture and identity – that is today. 

Shalom.

Question – There are many countries in the world where you can be killed if you are a Christian.  Might it happen here?  What are you apt to do about this?  This is the world we live in.  Do you elect faithful people?  Are you governed by them?  I a time of prosperity it ode snot matter quite so much.  When the pie contracts, the truth become quite important.

It is a lovely virtue – the rib of Himself that God sent down to His children.

James M. Barrie, in Courage

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I am old enough now to look back over the events and experiences of my life. Seven decades does that to those whose lives have had challenges, provided the challenges have been accepted, and the results (win, lose or draw) have also been accepted.

In the challenges we come to “the rib.” Barrie’s truth: the rib of God within.

When I think of challenges and courage, I think of mirrors.  Mirrors?  Yes.

Life has a way of holding a mirror up to us, so we might face and look at our self as we are at that moment – the moment when a challenge arises and we come to ask: Who am I? Really, who am I?

Some turn away.  They dare not look.

To look is to see.  To see is, perhaps, to be tested, to face what might be difficult and also what is yet known about us.  That is, the mirror might seek a deeper depth than you have heretofore come to know.  The mirror may call you out of a comfort into the unknown.

When I think of courage I think of ribs and mirrors, and God and life – mortal and eternal.

Shalom.

Thanks due – Thanks are due to the people in 89 countries who read this blog last year. And, I report that readers in Ireland follow readers in the United States as the largest readership this young year.  God bless you all. 

Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.”

1 Sam 20:42

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These are the words of Jonathan to his friend David.  Jonathan’s words tell us that their shared relationship with God cements their friendship from generation to generation.

In the present hyper-secular world and its mass communication, this is a significant reminder for us.

These words lead me to ask: Who are your friends?  With whom do you keep company?  To whom do you listen?  Do you let any fool in mass communication culture into your head? Your heart?

Are you a discrete listener?

If you are disquieted, confused, upset or troubled, ask yourself who enters your life? Whose words do you listen to?  Might they be the source of your discontent?

In mass media culture, all sorts of disordered people have a public voice.  Nitwits can be very disorienting … and we let them gain easy access to us.

Case in point.  I see in the news today that Jimmy Fallon (another in the growing list of late night faux Johnny Carsons) slammed President-elect Donald Trump at one of the many idiotic, self-congratulatory, celebrity “awards” dog and pony shows.

Jimmy Fallon.  Really?

Why listen to a guy’s political views who was a “communication” major from the College of Saint Rose?  I mean, come on – Saint Rose?  Communication? Wouldn’t he have learned to talk by the time college appeared on his horizon?

Ge’ez Louise, the guy combs his hair with a stick of butter. What could he possibly have to offer?

We are made for healthy association with one another and, of course, with God. Yet, if we indiscriminately welcome disorder and foolishness into our head and heart, we are hardly feeding on what is good and true, valuable, insightful, wise, sincere, lasting, useful.  (I guess Mr. Fallon missed this at Saint Rose while “studying” com-mun-i-ca-tion.)

In mass culture we listen all too much to those who have nothing to say and are unworthy of our attention.

Be discrete.  Don’t be a lemming.  Don’t degrade yourself.

Take in those things that advance you, that grow the Spirit within you.  Less than that and you dine on garbage.

Shalom.

Footnote – If you wonder why Donald Trump tweets it is simple: the culture is insane, godless, and politically-correct crap, full of what is false – very totalitarian, and utterly amoral.  As Saint John Paul II said it is not politics but culture that matters. The truth of the matter is this: politics arises from culture. Donald Trump is attacking the errant, corrupt, authoritarian Leftist, godless culture that has been developed in a straight line with every Democrat from FDR to Obama.  Few see this and its necessity and genius.  

… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me and I in You, that they may also be in Us …

Jn: 17:21

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” … that they may all be one … “

We often think we must find God, as if God is hiding somewhere or is distant and far from us.  But does God require our search?  What if God is nearer than we are to ourselves?

What if God is in “the all?”  What if the Creator is in “all” that is created – in the visible and invisible, in us and without us – in all time, without absence or pause?

In Jesus words, he is saying that we can be one with God, in God as The Son is in the Father.  Does this not suggest an “allness,” a divine inclusiveness?

In Eastern religions, the human is thought to be able to go beyond all ignorance, fear and change to a stable state in which “All things are Buddha,” the Divine is known and experienced in “all things are without self.”  Yes, where we dissolve into the One that Jesus speaks of in the above words.

Imagine this simple thought: If God makes all, is God not in all, is God not All? And from this, we might ask: Are we not in God and is God not in us?  And this: Is our search necessary?

If we are in God as the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son, would we not change in a drastic and fundamental way how we lived, thought, interacted, spoke?  Would we listen to the godless and uninformed?  Would we pursue matters of discord or division? Would we experience loneliness?  Despair?  Or would we not live in calm, with a quiet inside, softness in our voice?   Would we ever lack for intimacy?

Finding God in All.  Think about it.

Shalom.

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