Memorial Day, 2016

Don’t just do something, sit there.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in How to Sit

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Memories are possible when we are not preoccupied.  Today is a day for remembering.  Give yourself the quiet in which to remember.

In sitting quietly, you can recall far better, and things about yesterdays – the people in them, you, what was said, what was felt.

In sitting quietly you can possess again fateful moments.

It is in these moments that insights and wisdom gather.  In these moments, if we receive openly, we can see what might bother us, what we fear, where we need to grow.

So many people live in a defensive mode – behind barriers made of fear.  Sitting quietly can reveal these barriers and the common defenses that make us hard to reach – even for ourselves.

In such quiet, fear can be seen and perhaps dissolved, likewise anxiety, anger, disappointment, hurt.

In quiet, if we are open, we can off-load all that troubles us, keeps us from ease and from joy.

Today is a day for remembering.  Sit quietly and remember.  Meet yourself as you are in that quiet.  Grow.

Shalom.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2016

To know who I am is a species of knowing where I stand.  My identity is defined by commitments and identifications which provide the frame …within which I … determine from case to case what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse or oppose.  In other words, it is the horizon within which I am capable of taking a stand. (Emphasis added.)

Charles Taylor, in Sources of Self: The Making of Modern Identity

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Self-identity comes from the experiences of life that we encounter (and either accept and work with, if healthy – or deny, if unhealthy), from our family and location, our own introspection, our language, race (for some), our culture and its central stories and the iconic roles it elevates and the performance of people in those roles (think: ruler, priest, storyteller, and the like), the skills with which we are endowed, the trades we pursue, our ethnic group, nation, and very importantly our religious narrative.

As to the latter, the Judeo-Christian narrative uniquely presents a God in whom we can have and experience a personal relationship.  This is quite particular to the human’s identity in the West.

When those things that provide identity are subtracted from experience – one is less identifiable to himself or herself or to others.  Yes, confusion ensues. Psychic, personal, interpersonal, social and emotional disorders multiply.

The modern age has stripped some self-identifiers away from us.  Religion is attacked vigorously, roles of men and women have been altered radically (with men being recast as the source of what is wrong in life), work has evaporated and gone to foreign workers here and aboard.

Mass culture has dismissed some localities as unsavory, beneath “the acceptable confines” of the judgmental class (think the South, and Western ranchers, the coal regions and their workers and ways of being, etc.)

Thanks very much to the secular Left we live in a grossly unstable time were identity is lost and a goodly part of our historic heritage – our national story – is not merely neglected but rather actively rejected.

Think for example about the so-called “women’s movement” and abortion.  We have instituted, in abortion, a practice common to our ancient history: human sacrifice.  Yes, women killing their own children.  An astonishing alteration of identity.

Think too about Presidents, the iconic national “father figure.”  In Mr. Obama we have a man of a disordered childhood and family history.  One seemingly without a faith … and noticeably without close friends – most often seen alone.  One without a defined identity – prone to lecturing us as if he knows who he is and deems himself the wiser.

Can one without an established and coherent identity lead?  No.

When you do not know who you are, you cannot know (as Mr. Taylor says) what is good, valuable and ought to be done.  Without identity you are lost and any “direction” you offer is apt to be worthless to those who do not wish to be lost as well.

Finally, take “borders” and the Little Sisters of the Poor.  What could be more destabilizing than a loss of national identity and a loss of religious identity at the same moment in time?  The Left has pursued a course of deconstructing the human person – and done so at great, wasteful and unnecessary costs.

Is there any doubt why Mr. Trump, who asserts the existence of our personal and national identity, is finding support?

One side, the Left, destroys our identity as people, men and women, as family, as gender, as believers and as properly proud Americans and its political alternative endorses our identity.

Seems to me the choice is pretty clear: identity and stability, or loss of identity and extraordinary instability.

Remember He and others we know died for the identity we possess.

Shalom.

If the above is helpful, please share it with others.  God bless.

 

  

Memorial Day Weekend, 2016

They have built up the most realistic of political systems in an effort to establish a kingdom not of this world.

Maurice Powicke, in The Legacy of the Middle Ages

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These words are taken from the beginning of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s extraordinary book Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

MacCulloch, an esteemed Oxford historian, has written a prize-winning book that is “a must read” in times such as these in which the ignorant have become the hostile to a faith which played, and continues to play, a unique and irreplaceable role in shaping and furthering human existence for more than 30 centuries.

Yes, Christianity has built the United States.  Yes, it has built Western Civilization and humanized other quarters of the world.  Yes, it has been, and is, a source of stability and hope especially in dark hours and afflicted decades.

One would do well to think of Christianity and Christ on Memorial Day 2016 and ponder this: Does anyone really think that those who have laid down their lives for others stretching far into years beyond their sacrifice did so for secularism? For Marxism?  For Godlessness?  For abhorrent sexual practices?  For adultery? The gutting of marriage?  For abortion?  For climate change?  For the redistribution of wealth?  The creation of dependence?  For the diminution of excellence, the destruction of virtue, or the banishment of prayer in public places?  Or for the abandonment of liberty, and the development of a totalitarian state where a free democratic Republic stood?  Where the Little Sisters of the Poor could be chased from the public square by the bigotry of the behemoth and corrupted central state?

Lifting from Powicke’s text, I remind you this Memorial Day that Christianity formed “to preserve a treasure, a command to be executed, a promise to be repeated, a mission to be fulfilled.”  

Christianity is “an object of contemplation … the inspiration for right conduct.”  It is “an unfathomable mystery … related to all knowledge.”  It furthers “the exploration of the recesses of the soul.”  It developed the arts and sciences and “constructed theories of the universe.”

Its simple propositions changed the world and human life for the better.

‘Thou shalt love thy God and thy neighbour as thyself.  What profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ … ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  No one cometh to the Father, save by Me. Take and it; this is my body.’ … ‘Go and preach the Kingdom of God.  Feed my sheep.  Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’

Do we really want a President, politicians, a judiciary, rogue bureaucrats, distorted and ignorant special-pleaders or godless violent mobs to erase your history, victimize the faithful, place God in exile?

Yes, this is the issue today, now, in 2016.

It is up to you, and me.

Those who would today destroy Christianity, this nation, and Western Civilization ride on the sacrifices of the faithful.  Enough!

Shalom.

Do your part.  Share this post with others, so they might know and believe.

 

“A man planted a vineyard  and rented it to vine-growers … At harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce … but (they) beat him and sent him away empty-handed … he (sent) another … and they beat him … and sent him away empty-handed … he … (sent) a third; … this one was also wounded and cast out … The owner said ‘… I shall send my son’ … They threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Lk 20: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15

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I.

If there is any Gospel story that fits our present state of affairs it is this one. Yes, the vine-growers are modern liberalism and those who abide by it.

II.

I give you a story.  I was in a store recently when two men came in.  They appeared to be mates.  One proceeded to chat with the store manager in a light exchange, indicating that they knew one another.

The light social chatter promptly to politics with one of the patrons demeaning Donald Trump as stupid and labeling anyone who supports him as equally stupid. The shopper professed great fear that Mr. Trump might be elected.

What followed was the standard modern liberal clap-trap, merciless unexamined and pridefully exclaimed as perfect truth … and then they left – so self-assured and certain.

… they beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

III.

In short time the proprietor appeared and the conversation turned to me.

The merchant spoke of the need to tax the rich, of paying “fair” shares and such. I pointed out that half the population pays no taxes, that a sizeable tax base was lost by aborting 60 million unborn children and how our socialist candidate for the Democrat nomination and his wife, until recently owners of three homes, reportedly paid a meager 13.5 percent of their income in the only two returns they have offered for public review.

This dual cocktail of abortion and socialist-stinginess caused the merchant to proclaim that the conversation had lost its appeal – that it was upsetting, that it must cease and desist.

… they beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

IV.

The Left is always high-minded and too often intolerant.  Their views habitually unexamined, their minds seemingly unable to hold two countervailing views in tension.

With them, truth and civility are casualties – both too uncomfortable, rather a sprint to the Victorian “fainting couch” than thought examined, contrary positions bravely considered, ideas freely and fairly assessed.

Truth the initial casualty.  Civil discourse and community collateral damage soon intentionally bludgeoned, then prohibited.

They threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

V.

This is where we are today.  This is what defines this election.

Shall we sustain the governance of the wicker vine-growers, or welcome the owner’s son?

Shalom.

 

Freedom is the recognition of necessity.

Spinoza

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I have a number of educated and faithful friends.  Many are well-trained and experienced lawyers, some are accomplished economists, teachers, others business men or women. Each decent, sane, honest and humble.

A good number of them think that former State Department Secretary Clinton’s very substantial legal mess will be “swept under the rug.”

None question the seriousness of the problems she has created for herself.  None challenge that her conduct engages a range of possible felonies from espionage, to conspiracy and destruction of government property.  Nor do they balk at the difficulties that could arise from the FBI’s apparent investigative interest in the Clinton Family Foundation and its relationship to the campaign fundraising of Virginia Governor McAuliffe, their long-time friend and fundraiser.

Likewise, I see – especially in the presence of the likes of Washington Post reporters and their fellow travelers – a reluctance to think that maybe there is something seriously wrong, and maybe even criminal, in all this immediate Clinton stuff.  Yea, they fail to see a gross difficulty despite Bill and Hillary’s ample history of lost billing records, his habitual philandering, their having to return purloined White House property, their Arkansas land development snafus, their loose relationship with the truth, his predatory sexual behavior in and out of the White House, the historically rare suicide of a former legal colleague and select White House counselor, the criminal conviction of a former law partner, etc.

So what does the perception held by mature, learned and accomplished professionals that the present issues will be “swept under the rug” tell us?

Well, the most important thing its says to me is this: smart, experienced good people think we lack the will to tell the truth and act on it.

If that is so, if we sweep this sordid mess “under the rug” we will learn that when the will to tell the truth and act on it is lost, so too is freedom and this nation.

Yes, we will be saying to the godless Left: you have beat us, you have thoroughly corrupted us and now we are destroyed.  And it will say to our adversaries who desire our destruction: – we are “easy pickings”  … “Boys –come and take what you want.”

Yes, the assemblage of the Left’s hateful tribes will have transferred their acts of common plunder to those offshore who crave our demise.

Think about it.  We are at a juncture as serious as Ms. Clinton’s behavior.

Where are you on this?  With truth or with demise?  Are we as a people able to recognize necessity and exercise freedom?  Yes, exercise freedom to save it?

Do we have the will to live free?

Shalom.

Please note my mistake: today’s blog was posted to “Page” by error.

You may read today’s post entitled “Will,” by clicking on the word “will” which appears above next to the word “About.”

I apologize but I have not been able to figure out how to transfer the page “Will” to a post.

The post/page “Will” is pretty good.  I encourage your reading it.

God bless.  May 25, 2016

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Life has its necessary humiliations.

The statistics on insanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from mental illness.  Look at your three best friends.  If they’re okay, then its you.

Rita Mae Brown

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I thought of Ms. Brown’s amusing observation yesterday when I saw that Hillary Clinton was “rolling out” a new campaign motto: “Stronger Together” (without the question mark).

The idea for her unifying people is either utterly laughable, evidence of insanity, or among the greatest single acts of self-deception in human history.

Why would I say such a thing?

The Democrat Party of the Left in my lifetime has done nothing as consistently as divide people from one another.  Need an example: women from men, Black from White, homosexual from heterosexual, low-income from higher income, liberal from conservative, faithless from faithful … people from God.

Think about her harangues about the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” her posturing against Wall Street (while collecting $21 million dollars from them in two short years as reported in newspapers yesterday), her ideologically-based disposition that must always have a victim and a culprit.

She and her political clan divide. It is that simple.

By dividing Ms. Clinton and the Democrat Party of the Left operate exactly in contradiction to Christianity and Christian spirituality.

The essence of Christian spirituality is the indwelling of the Spirit; yes, each person as the temple housing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – each sacred, not the enemy.

In this recognition we are one and we are called to the vocation of oneness – no matter our differences, and distinctions.

The division fostered by Ms. Clinton and the Democratic Party of the Left stands in opposition to that vocation and to Christian spirituality. She, her followers, and their Party of the Left produce enemies and foster conflict.

Bringing people together is not what they do.

Their Marxist disposition and quest for power and control of all things and people rests on envy, division, and constant hostility aimed at others – by gender, class, race, sexuality, status, income level (excepting themselves, of course), hard-earned achievement and such. That is the Democrat Party of the Left.

“Stronger Together?”

One wonders if Ms. Clinton and her chums have taken the Rita Mae Brown test?

Shalom.  

Aside – Yesterday a Committee of the U.S. Congress released a lengthy report showing that National Football League (NFL) under Commissioner Roger Goodell reneged on a public pledge to support the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) research into the consequences of concussions because NIH awarded a contract related to the research to a medical doctor and esteemed researcher who has been critical of the NFL.  It seems the NFL likes to “cook the books” – get their own way.  Makes you wonder about Goodell and their very dubious handling of the Tom Brady case.

My suspicion?  Brady’s appeal will be heard by the full New York appellate court. If that happens – I’d bet on Brady winning and the NFL losing. [I’ve actually petitioned for an En Banc appeal – had it granted and won decisively on that appeal.]

Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things?

Eccl 1:3

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I have a story.

A woman has a sister who is older than she.  They have a mother who is ailing and in her 90’s.  The woman cares for her mother while the sister lives comfortably within a short distance from both her sister and her mother.

The sister has a husband.  Each are healthy and they are financially comfortable. Neither has ever spent a day caring for the ailing mother.  Rather, the older sister prefers to be “in control” – asserting herself from a distance as “the boss.” Her mother is bullied by her, fearful of her.  As you might expect of this story, the older sister acts alone and cannot make a sound decision even by chance. Additionally she is hostile and often quite nasty. She and her husband seem to have no friends.

True to the above passage neither the older sister nor her husband appear to have any manifestation of a relationship with God.  It follows that they are a fitting subject for The Book of Ecclesiastes and a suitable vehicle to understand how this nation, in its recent leadership and secular culture, has lost its way.

Ecclesiastes is a treatise on vanity.  Written about three hundred years before Christ, it stands on the proposition that God has a divine plan for man but that the human person seeks not God nor knowledge of God’s plan but rather operates on their own plan – lives godlessly.  He or she seeks happiness here on earth without God, with but notions that attempt to glorify their own ill-claimed “genius” and “good” without regard to God and the lessons we have recorded as He had made them known.

Ecclesiastes makes the point that without seeking God there is no wisdom, truth or happiness to be had on earth.

Truth is: there is no good without God, no wisdom either – nor is there love and humility. Without God, one’s conduct is wanton, one’s voice shrill, the tone coarse, the touch blunt and hard.

You wonder why we have stayed?

Asking the question gives the answer.  We do not know what is written in Scripture and states a clear and ageless truth.  The question says we live in what is vain, worthless, dumb, injurious, hostile, harmful, self-defeating and ugly. And we need not.

Read what you have been given.  Attend to God’s word.  It will make you wise and wiser still in the doing of His word.

Shalom.

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

Carl Jung, in The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

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We stand between silence and silence.  Dreams close the distance.  Yes, awake each day we live between the silence.

Dreams are “the deepest most intimate sanctum of the soul.”  They present all that comes before our human form.  In dreams we meet God and our true self.

“You formed me in my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.”

Thus, says King David in Psalm 139.

We have all had the dream with contents so real, incidents the same.  Dreams in which a wife, or parent, or significant person appears or looms much as they were – yet, in the dream a truth in and about them and us is conveyed.  We see this important one was distant, not so much friend as agent of their own needs, with demands posted and the distance they maintained even when demands were met.

Yes, in dreams we feel what is hard truth, what was missing.  Dreams show what was real and our most troublesome unease.  In dreams truth is established along with a hurtful tally.  In dreams, we feel our divine value, no matter the tally complied with others.  In dreams distance is explained and we are revealed in value – full and untainted.

In dreams: our deepest most intimate sanctum.

In dreams we see how others fail us and how it does not matter for our soul is in tact and we hold a divine worth that no one may displace, dismiss or deny.

Dreams close the divine silence that lies before mortal life and awaits us after mortal life.

Whole before, whole after.  Soul unblemished – before, in life, and thereafter. Only in dreams do we know this Ultimate Reality.  In dreams we are closest to God – who stands in His Eternal Truth – Author of each intentional and unique soul in each of us.

Dreams are a sacred silence.

When we have really met the world in silence, words do not separate us form the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

See the limits of consciousness and mortal life, or miss what is perfect, good and eternal. None live well when God and soul are denied.

Shalom.

Today we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising that led to the formation of the nation of Ireland.

 

To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity, a sense of one’s own reality and of one’s ability to give oneself to society – or to refuse that gift. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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For man to be man – whole, healthy and at peace – he and she must know solitude, the ability to be alone and know he can be in solitude.  For only in solitude is one alone with God, alone with self and soul, alone in intimate quiet with others – past and present, living and deceased.

Yes, there is a monk in all of us, and in some a hermit. We are, you see, contemplative.

Yet, as society grows more intrusive, totalitarian, more governed by rote and simple-minded ideology, more homogenized by mass communication – man is devalued, degraded and the experience of being fully human fades from existence.

In such circumstances we are invaded, the soul assaulted – the sacred inalienable is destroyed and sickness is the norm.  Yes in these conditions we are estranged from our self and one another – left insecure, fearful, anxious, uncertain, unhappy, resentful and dependent.  Yes, today culture deprives us of our humanity.

Listen to Merton:

When men are … submerged in a mass of impersonal human beings pushed around by … forces, they lose their true humanity, their integrity, their ability to love, their capacity for self-determination.

In such a society, solitude is a casualty.  Such a society is held together not by love but by violence and the treat of punishment by those claiming “authority.”

Yes, solitude must be sought in such a society for man and freedom are lost without it, so to: family, community, friendship, faith and meaning.

In solitude one learns to listen and discovers hope.  Yes, solitude is as required as water, air, and food is required.  For we are spiritual in nature and human in form and solitude is an existential need, a necessity of personal autonomy, individual and collective health and flourishing, and required for a free people in a responsible and secure self-governing nation.

We combat the present assault by being spiritual and seeking solitude.  Freedom and the human being vanish if solitude ceases.  We must savor and protect our spiritual existence or we shall cease to be human and free.

Shalom.

Note – A man with a gun was shot by Secret Service personnel near the White House yesterday.  Makes me wonder how it is that the President and those in the White House warrant greater protection than was afforded the men at Benghazi when they were under attack.

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