At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

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It would be hard to find a more ludicrous notion uttered by anyone than that contained in the above majority opinion authored Supreme Court Justice Kennedy.

Think about it.  Kennedy’s view is that each individual person (regardless of age) has the constitutionally protected liberty to define completely their own existence.  I can define myself as “Queen of the May,” as heir to the throne of Great Britain, as “Master of the Universe,” Peter Pan, Tinkerbell … whatever, and pursue activities that would flow from my self-defined reality.

In Justice Kennedy’s view, I can define the mystery of life to rest on stoning to death anyone who advocates that my liberty interest include the absolute right to define my own existence.  How would that be prohibited?

What you see here is complete foolishness.  Yes, idiocy, and destructive idiocy at that.

Justice Kennedy in his childish liberal sympathies shows us what a private personal predilection looks like.  He did the same thing in his majority opinion about same-sex “marriage.”  So much for a Harvard legal education.

In the Justice’s mind, anything goes.  If you can think it; you can do it – without restraint.

One wonders how he might house the notion (articulated by Leftist intellectuals lately) that the greatest threat to mankind is the human being and the birth of children.

What would the Justice do if it were argued successfully that since human beings are the greatest threat to humankind – a percentage of humans (men and women, young and old, infants and children, adolescents and young adults) should be sacrificed each year.  (I note by the way that Aztecs, it is said, sacrificed at least 20,000 people each year as part of their ritual beliefs).

If such an inspiration is a protected liberty interest might Justice Kennedy volunteer to submit to the regime of sacrifice should it be commenced? Somehow I doubt we will see voluntary action from him or others who hold his view.

Shalom.

Note – This is the post for Monday, July 24, 2017.  I encourage to read Sunday’s post (below) which was published late Sunday afternoon.

Had the privilege of attending an evangelical service and to hear the testimony of a former pro football player, so I am posting later than normal.

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And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Rom. 8: 28

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Today I had the privilege to listen to a very large, strong, warm-hearted, athletic man discuss his journey from urban poverty to the National Football League – a man who could not read and in the course of his career became addicted to drugs.

I saw a behemoth of a man candidly discuss his shame at not being able to read -a man who feared of being “discovered” as one who could neither read, nor write and who, in time, became a drug user.

I saw a man of courage in his public story.  I was a man who recounted those who stooped to help him when he fell.  I heard him tell of those of faith who never stopped being his friend, his brother.  I heard him warmly describe his parents dedication to their faith and his participation in worship as a child.  I heard a man speak of the grounding in “Christian values” that never quite left him, despite his troubles.

In the course of his story you could see how his failures combined with his faith and the presence of others of faith – gave him the opportunity to move past his fear.  You heard how his faith was strengthen by the presence of faithful men and women who never stopped caring for him and encouraging him to get and remain sober and to grow in faith.

In a way he, and others, who fail and continue to work at getting better, getting sober, giving more of himself to God are conforming to God’s call to them, are conforming to God purpose for them.  Yes, some must fall so others might learn, so others might see, so others might hear God’s voice.

There is great humility in failure, and in failure humility grows when we discover that we are not forsaken in failure, that we are still loved by God.

Do not fear failure.  Know that God works all things for good to those who love Him.  You are never too old to be new again.

Shalom.

 

 

The shadow of the Enlightenment’s failure to replace God with reason has engulfed the West and plunged us into a new Dark Age.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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It is abundantly clear to many who have studied America and the West from varied areas of expertise: historical, psychological, political, philosophical, theological, sociological, literary, psychiatric and such that we have attempted to anchor ourselves to the importance of self over God and that this is an unmitigated catastrophe.

Stated another way, we have foolishly trusted that reason alone (the individual – singularly and in the aggregate) can form a coherent, thoughtful, just, compassionate, kind and moral community.

Looking around each day, it seems impossible to believe that such a misguided and arrogant orientation has done anything but make us far worse off, weaker, more chaotic – yes, dramatically sicker, more fragmented, untruthful, corrupt, addicted, suicidal, crippled, angry, ugly, disoriented and violently anti-social.

Yet astonishingly few in the public eye recognize this – discuss it –largely because they are part of the whole sick mess and frequently doing quite well … that they are captives of this mess sitting at the top of its rubbish heap.

Look at the accurate snapshot of Washington today: the closed circle that is the Washington elite who cannot yield to the popular election of a President who is NOT one of them and who would DARE to pursue a course of action that disturbs the benefits of their cozy corrupt culture.

What you see today in Washington is the clear identity of the privileged political class that seeks not to do the will of the voter but rather preserve its own “status” in a very lucrative and easy gig.  Hey, it beats working!

Some of us who have lived broadly in our six or seven decades can tell you that the population at-large is quite different, far less civil or sane than it once was. Indeed, it is far sicker.

A lawyer I know recently recounted how a member of the Bar lost his license to practice because he drugged his underage client in order to sexually assault her.

From work, to family, to community, politics, primary and university education, etc. – in all quarters (particularly in major cities – Washington included) we regularly see evidence of the Dark Ages … yet do not stand against it.

Hell of a situation to behold.  Pitchfork, anyone?

Shalom.

The Russian Fixation – Interesting to watch the Democrat Left “Russian Fixation.”  They go way back in colluding with the Russians – Stalin, no less.

Remember Yalta and how FDR sold out Poland and Eastern Europe at Yalta – gave the Communists control over post-war Eastern Europe.  Shameful.

During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers, the U.S. did nothing to help the brave Polish people, and the Red Army sat still East of Warsaw until the Nazis could put down the uprising.  Talk about collusion!

Let’s not forget the New Deal was full of Lefties.

” … God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead … I cannot know for certain where it will end … But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you.” (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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If a devout monk can experience uncertainty, imagine the state of confusion and error of those who do not believe.

Yes, in a godless culture godless figures emerge to “lead.”  Of course, they cannot lead. Why?  They have no clue what has value, what is good and just and honorable.  What they have is simply the idiocy of unbelievers and their abundant foolishness and guarantee for destruction.

In a culture of unbelief blind squirrels might find acorns, but not men with sight who lack belief in God.

Look around, we have endless public figures who are lost and do not know it. The rule of thumb today is this: if a public figure dons a raincoat, you can leave your umbrella home.

In a culture of chaos, you are better off to do the exact opposite of what the “powers that be” would suggest.

Let’s be plain here: if you wish to have a life of value, and joy – desire one thing: to desire to please God.

Yes, set all the fools aside.

Shalom.

Sad – Godless pagan culture claims another life.  Singer Chester Bennington committed suicide yesterday at age 41.  He leaves fatherless children.  This is the real cost of the secular culture, the fruits of the failure of elites, the intellectual, political, media and celebrity classes.  Some legacy.  Yes, there are more suicides in the United States each year than homicides.  Sad.  It need not be this way.

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not be trusted by anybody.

Thomas Paine

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Writing about faith and culture as I do requires attention to the problems in culture and the ideas proposed and manifest in the culture which do serious damage to society, security, sanity, spiritual and moral life and the human being.  Hence, with the conditions we face today – one must take account of (among other things) politics and ideas expressed and policies pursued therein.

Recently Leftists have expressed the desire for a guaranteed national income for all Americans.  They argue that this is necessary because artificial intelligence, machines and robots will put many Americans out of the work force.

The public advocates of this proposition seem centered in technology enterprises which will produce these displacements.  What you see here is not compassion but rather a desire to avoid any financial responsibility for the effects their enterprises produce.

These Leftists prefer, as they so often do, that others (i.e., taxpayers – personal and corporate) be handed the bill for the consequences that their actions produce. In plain talk – they want to maximize their own financial gains at the expense of those who do not share their billions upon billions.  Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?

That Dear Friends is the modern American Left.

And that Dear Friends brings us to Thomas Paine’s wisdom.  Who, in their right mind, can trust the American Left, “progressives,” socialists, modern left-wing liberalism?

Think about it, on the one hand the Left seeks national income for all Americans at the same time it wants open borders while flooding the nation with immigrants many of whom do not seem to seek assimilation nor manifest allegiance to our nation.

Were we to follow the Left we’d soon be sending annual income checks to half the people in the world whether they live here or not.  That’s the Left. Yes, we are back to Thomas Paine.

Shalom.

Postscript – Apropos to the above Thomas Paine quote, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to resign.  Why?  His appointment was made pursuant to his good friend James Comey leaking FBI memos to a Columbia Law School law professor for distribution to The New York Times in order (as Mr. Comey testified) to secure the appointment of a special counsel.  Would it not be the better course for a man whose appointment commenced with an unlawful act to vacate his appointment as a matter of honor?

The law is too important to rest itself on unlawful behavior.  It needs to be revered, not besmirched.  I suspect Paine would agree.  A nation that does not seek the highest moral conduct weakens its foundation.

 

Jail is preferable.  There they only limited you physically.  In a mental ward they tampered with your soul and worldview and mind.

John Kennedy Toole, in Confederacy of Dunces

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Well this is precisely the challenge today.  A challenge, however, with a twist. Now the mentally ill are the wardens of the asylum and their souls have long since been lost to use. Think “The Honorable” Maxine Watters, Member of Congress, and her colleagues or any number of entertainment celebrities who speak as if they are sane and stable. Think even of the Federal Judiciary and many others masquerading as “authority figures” in the bureaucracy, educational institutions, in the media – you know, the Ivy-“educated” without a whit of life experience, humility or common sense.

Now the government and those with public visibility in mass culture expand the asylum’s walls and the common citizens are imposed upon, deprived access to their soul, made sick by those who are indeed the sick ones.  So many examples.  Daily examples. For instance, Teen Vogue magazine has an article intended to serve as a guide to anal sex. Yes, no joke here.  Yes, the depraved, godless Left has done its best to dismantle what was once a relatively sane, faithful culture where freedom was cherished, God welcomed and courage and honor quite common.

In the present age the question soon enough is this: how do you retain sanity and soul when put upon by the insane and soulless?

This was, of course, John Kennedy Toole’s underlying question.

If asked this question as to how to retain sanity and soul, I would say: simply be.

I would add from my experience these suggestions: live in the private citadel of faith, attend to metaphysics, be moral, pick your company very carefully, avoid cities, the masses, popular culture and most regulations, live modestly, keep good counsel, pursue a simple life, blow up the T.V., beware of technology and “social networks” – use them sparingly or not at all, read good things – books that give you depth, insight, greater self-understanding and a feel for history, neglect neither your psyche nor your soul, listen to classical music – Yehudi Menuhin’s violin for example, cherish nature and silence, learn to live in solitude, read about what was once our great and honorable nation, dig into art, try writing in a journal – wonderful to summon up the best within your while defining the sickness that surrounds you, exercise, eat wisely, stay close to beauty – bask in it for it is a divine reality, don’t give heed to talking heads, pray that humility grows in you, ignore most contemporary figures – they know far less than all that you have forgotten in a lifetime about 50 years longer than they have been alive, keep skepticism handy, stay close to God, know absurdity when you sense it and pass its plate to others without tasting – give time and warning to only those you know to have common sense and a quest for the good that is Divine.

Let no one tamper with your soul.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked … his delight is in the law of the Lord … the Lord knows the way of the righteous.  But the way of the wicked will perish. (Emphasis added.)

Prov 1: 1, 2, 6

Shalom.

Note: When you watch the political opposition to Donald Trump do not miss this: those in the political establishment (Republican and Democrat) do not wish Mr. Trump to succeed because they like the landscape and their privileged “insider” status “just fine, thank you.”

Yes, understand that their opposition to Donald Trump is opposition to all those who voted for him and the views that they hold.

Truth of the matter is that this is a low grade civil war – on one side the “insiders” who think of themselves as better than the common person (a/k/a those “basket of deplorables”) and on the other side – about one half of the voting public – just regular tax-paying Joes and Marys.  Interesting moment in America’s history.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

A Navy Seal Instructor

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Imagine Christ on the Cross.  He’d have been a natural for the Navy Seals.  How about you?  What are you made of?  What are you capable of enturing?  Have you tested yourself?  Has life challenged you?  If so, did you see the struggle to conclusion?  Did you get up when knocked down?  Did adversity make you more determined?  Are you a “tough out”?

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 3:1-5) he writes of the last days as the most difficult time we face.  He says in those times: men will love themselves and money, that they will be boastful and arrogant … ungrateful, unholy.  That they will be unloving, malicious, without self-control … that they will hate what is good.  He says that they will be conceited, love pleasure more than God and that they will proffer their godliness but in actuality not live it. Most importantly, St. Paul says “Avoid such men as these.”

Look around you, what men do you see on the major news channels?  Are they men you can envision as Navy Seals or are they those St. Paul would have us avoid?

Ask this same question about your politicians?  Sports figures?  Celebrities? Actors? Public figures?  News media?  Critics?  Social “activists”?  Intellectuals? Professors? Judges? Lawyers? Doctors?  Public advocates?  Those running public organizations? Could you see Mark Zuckerberg as a Navy Seal?  Jeff Bezos?  Alex Baldwin? Anderson Cooper?  Or are these individuals that fit St. Paul’s advice?

In looking about I see far more people who fit St. Paul’s advisory, and I see that we have the very lax and costly habit of listening without discretion to anyone who has access to mass communication and that this is absolutely foolish to do.

Finally, do you fall into the first of the above paragraphs or the second? The best among us fit the first.  They may be few, but they are the best.

A life of faith, a life fully lived is not for the faint of heart.  Isn’t it interesting that those least likely to excel when troubles arise are so often those we see speaking?  

Shalom.   

War is life multiplied by some number that no one has ever heard of.

Sebastian Junger, in War

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If Junger is correct (and I believe he is), then life is in some part war.

Yes, your life is in part conflict – a struggle with life itself, with fate … and with others. Yes, others who wish you ill.  Yes, the malevolent ones who cross our path or house themselves in our family or turn out to be one we even chose as a spouse.

Some will balk at this notion that life is war in some quotient.  But look around, is it not the case that siblings turn on one another, that spouses betray rather willingly? Likewise, do others not seek their own advantage at your expense and do so willingly? Do the stronger not prey on the weaker?  Do parents not jump ship?  Shirk their responsibilities to their children? Abandon ship without a wrinkle of remorse?

Do the disordered among us not concentrate their incoherent lives around one major poison: selfishness … a poison that spreads its injury among all who come in contact with them?

What amazes me most is this: many, many people never quite come to understand that if war is life multiplied – then life must be in part combat and, failing to face reality as it appears they proceed along from collision to collision, transaction to transaction unprepared, disarmed, ready to be abused and disadvantaged once again.

By the grace of God, I saw the difficulties of life from a very early age.  I saw betrayal and gratuitous self-serving injury invoked on others without a glint of regret by the perpetrator (who often proceeded with a smile unless you grabbed them by the throat with proper admonitions intended to make a point about their existence and its prospective limit).

Yes, grand as life is and can be, this is a messy world and conflict is part of it.

Cain killed Abel.  Intra-family violence.  Is this not a clue?  The fall of Adam and Eve. Another clue is it not?

Yes, we are capable of good.  And, yes – we can also do great harm … some people specialize doing wrong intentionally.  Think about Junger.  Are you prepared for conflict or are you prey – a sitting duck, targeted over and over without any capacity to protect yourself?  Are you not obligated to protect what God hath made in you?

Shalom.

 

For my Son, himself a divinely loving father … of whom I am very proud and for whom I am so grateful.

# # #

They ate the little mushrooms together with the beans and drank tea and had tinned pears for their dessert. He banked the fire against the seam of rock where he’d built it and he’d strung the tarp behind them to reflect the heat and they sat warm in their refuge while he told the boy stories.  Old stories of courage and justice as he remembered them until the boy was asleep in his blankets and then he stoked the fire and lay down warm and full and listened to the low thunder of the falls beyond them in the dark and threadbare wood.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father loves the son in divine dimension.

It is Sunday.  We are given Sunday so we might ask if we love as the Father?

In the best of moments and in the strongest of bonds a father loves his son in ways that mimic God and prepare the son for tomorrow and all the tomorrows we might be given, all the burdens that fall to men – the sacrifice of killing and of dying in the fight.

In the last few American decades it is men who have been attacked, derided, suspected and accused.  Fallen times and fallen women – a race gone wrong in many ways. Such is a time when God is forsaken.  Fundamental undoing. Dangerous course and full throated nonsense.

But who will fight for the frail but the father and his son?  The crop of warriors diminishes. Whole groups have no fathers.

We speak and act as if there is no treachery, as if “others” will magically appear to save us.  But there are fewer fathers who love their sons divinely … and fewer sons breeds fewer fathers and danger appears to conquer and destroy.

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.  Nights dark beyond darkness and days more gray each one than what had gone before.

Shalom.

Footnote – I hope this strikes a satisfying cord for you, especially for men and fathers. We have fewer now who know who we are and what we do, know how deeply we feel and how essential we are.  Share this with others if you wish – and surely with men who are fathers. God bless you all.

 

When you try to extinguish a tantrum by ignoring it, the first response … is called extinction burst.  People do whatever it is you are trying to ignore louder, longer and more enthusiastically.  This might make you believe that ignoring them isn’t working, but what it actually means is that it is. (Emphasis added.)

Albert J. Bernstein, in Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry

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Whether it is Code Pink, the juvenile dweebs in college throwing childish fits, or some racial group pitching a public tantrum, it is always best to ignore them  – unless, of course, they break the law in which case they should be treated accordingly.

Society gains nothing but rather loses a great deal when it honors uncivil, intemperate, deconstructing, insulting, anti-social and childish behavior. Tantrums fall squarely in this category and we have plenty of tantrum-throwers around today.

Heck, the Democrats in the Congress fall into that category: sit-ins on the House of Representatives chamber floor are an example.  The juvenile departure from their legislative duties and their foot-dragging as to the public business – including processing of the President’s Executive Branch appointments is another. Childish, very childish. Behavior that demeans them and fails America.

This week Jaime Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, called out those in the federal government (particularly those in charge since the “Great Recession” of 2008) whose “stupidity” and gridlock deadened economic growth and impeded the natural strength of corporate America to bring prosperity to the nation’s citizens.

Yes, childish behavior has an economic cost.  Listen up, Liz Warren.

Since we cannot rely on the press and media to be fair, intelligent and honest critics of the central government any longer, it behooves us to heed the words of Albert Bernstein: ignore the tantrum throwers … walk away from them – even when they are a political party or call you nasty names like “bigot,” or “fascist.” And by all means do not reward such people in the “hopes” that they will change.  They will not.  As a footnote: one would do well to ignore media reports of these childish fits – hear the report and simply tune-out.

Indulging and rewarding bad behavior only teaches that “holding one’s breath” prompts the “nannies” among us to cave in thereby guaranteeing more bad conduct and more ludicrous “demands.”  One would think by the way that “educated adults” might know this … then, again – maybe they are not adults …

You can’t run a country ceding treats to the impudent.  We do ourselves a great disservice by rewarding bad behavior … and childish conduct robs us all.

The world is a dangerous place.  Others aim to get their way at our expense.  No time left for childish conduct.  Such conduct shows our weakness; giving in to it shows our disarray.

Shalom.

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