As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.  They will smash you to the ground and your children within you and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  (Emphasis added.)

Lk 19: 41-44

+ + +

This passage is entitled The Lament for Jerusalem.  Jesus is speaking.  It appears only in the Gospel of Luke.  Its importance cannot be overstated – especially today.

If only we saw this nation as our Jerusalem.  But alas, we do not.  Far from it.

We are governed by the blind with unlimited thirst for power.  Corrupted as they are, they have not recognized the visitation bestowed on our nation.  On the contrary, they belittle what God has done and drive all reference to Our Creator from culture and consciousness.

Relying on “reason” they know not truth.  For truth requires humility.  And Truth alone brings vision.  Reason alone can never comes to its proper end without faith – and those on the secular Left, in particular, forsake faith.  In this they prepare the palisades and hasten the enemy enter.

In life we know that the godless earn their suffering and demise.  Their godlessness unchecked brings ill to all who remain silent.

Who among you sees this nation as our Jerusalem?  Why do you not speak up? How can you let destruction visit us?  Evil speaks freely while Truth remains silent.

Shalom.

Footnote – The FBI says it is going to work hard to track down anyone who misbehaves in cyberspace after the release of embarrassing Democrat Party emails showing the Party of freedom and tolerance tried to keep Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders from winning the Party’s presidential nomination. Really, Mr. Comey? Really?

We seem to have a “Credibility Gap” here.

A Story about Dreams

The truth will set you free.  But only after it is finished with you.

David Foster Wallace

+ + +

He concluded that if you live long enough you will accumulate, in an involuntary manner, dreams the way movie buffs collect a library of their favorite films.  But then he realized that no single dream, no matter how vivid and detailed, ever comprised, of themselves, one, complete, beginning-to-middle-to-end short-length movie.

No, they were more like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, frames from different trailers of some obscure opus  – that is, each a piece of something whole that could be only understood if and when the parts were somehow properly assembled by light.

Each dream was more a scene.  In sum, a jumble of disconnected snippets – pieces of string.

And as for sequels?  Yes.  Often the scenes repeated themselves.

There was the recurring River Charles and the boat ride, and West Point and football – with the West Point dormitory that was also a small student center in a manner that only dreams allow one thing to be simultaneously two contradictory things without being an oddity in any way.

And there was various scenes involving his second wife – the unemotional one – who left him and his son simply because she had no interest in sharing what little of herself she had – and besides she reasoned marriage and family were but a photo-op with fridge financial and cosmetic social benefits.  Everyone but her: disposable in time.

He never dreamt of his father who left when he was an infant. The exit befitted a coward’s flight from battle … His absence from dreams was merciful for he was simply unwelcome … no where on the dreamer’s cosmic “must-do” list.

And his wife – who died so young?  Only one dream and so pristine it was, so perfect, so lasting.

Its colors soft, its content warm and comforting.  A short clip in slow motion. Slow as to be savored, recalled, felt in every finite detail until he joined her in his death, and her resurrection.

There he stood in Her dream – there on the low-end of the sloping hill that was for him and other kids the place to go sledding in Powder House Park.

An adult of indiscriminate age, at the bottom of the hill facing the small string of stores where Loude’s offered its homemade candy and ice cream, on College Ave, near Tufts, right where as a little boy he had seen General Eisenhower pass by in an open Cadillac convertible.

He stood directly across from that small driveway that separated Loude’s and the other storefronts from a nice, somewhat Victorian house.  There, at that very spot across from the driveway, a car passed slowly by.

It seemed driver-less … yet there She was on the driver’s side in the back seat, looking as she did in her late twenties, turned toward him as if she was passing in review of an army of one – him, only him, he was the one, her entire army 

She saw him and he saw her.  Their eyes caressed … and the car passed slowly by headed down College Ave toward the Methodist Church and Davis Square.

A dream too short, but everlasting – a dream to say: love does not die and neither death nor time divide.

Dreams.  Dreams.  Dreams.

… so cut up, reels edited by a madman, a captain of chaos whose messages are tangled, out of sequence, twisted and puzzling, a shoebox full of visual knots … an opus awaiting Light.

Shalom.

Postscript – Carl Jung said, “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul.”  Dreams expose the soul, make the unconscious conscious.  Dreams give us a path to freedom, to understanding, belief, faith and God in God’s natural state – supernatural existence.

 

It was a quiet morning … Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow …

Ray Bradbury, in Dandelion Wine

+ + +

Summer does God’s will and so does all creation.  The creatures borrow and the birds soar. The squirrels scamper hither and yon, and dart up trees when feet trod near.  And bears come to the apple trees with their cubs.  Even the mountains do God’s will standing vigil as they do – fostering wind on a still summer day while the fish live in wait in the cool streams where fishers go.

There is joy in fulfilling God’s will as we are made to be.  Oh, to be as the mountains and the shady trees and cooling breeze – taking pity on us and teaching us a lesson we do not learn.

No, it is not our will that satisfies.

The hills and trees, and birds and bears – and all their kin – they know God’s will and do it quietly, proudly, without dissent.  Who among us knows their joy?  Man? Born free to be. Yet, contorted to fill ourselves with what we are not, nor meant to be.

Have you missed God and summer once again?

Shalom.

If you can’t go back to your mother’s womb, you’d better learn to be a good fighter.

Anchee Min, in Red Azaleas

+ + +

You know I learned that lesson very early in life.  Born to a mother who would raise me by herself, in a tough working class neighborhood in Boston – a city that, to this day, is comprised of rebels and patriots, faithful people that are not afraid to stand up to evil and oppression and injustice and those who would attempt to harm them or steal their dignity.

When times are lean and jobs and money are scarce – each day is a fight and there are no days off.

The essence of a fight is, or course, a struggle within, before it is a conflict without – and that means growth and maturity precede engagement.

As I look around American today, I wonder if we are up to the challenges we face and a world that senses, for the first time, our reluctance, our hesitation and sees this as a fear that invites the aggression of our adversaries.  This is, of course, not good.  Aggression needs no invitation.

Today, I see people who have been accustomed to getting things, depending on others.  I see dreadful self-indulgence, softness, lack of discipline.

I see less fight in people than our circumstances require.

We seem timid.  We appear have come to wait for others to do for us, rather than do for ourselves – taking initiative, getting in the fight.

And, I see many who seek to have their personal preferences satisfied, pampered, safe-guarded.  But I see less willingness to sacrifice, to act as one united United States.

Seeking personal preference is okay in times of plenty and peace – but not so in times of turmoil and uncertainty – economic and otherwise.

We seem to have forgotten that the capacity to fight when required is part of being human. We seem to have people in leadership roles that have forgotten this.

In reading a book recently, I plucked from its pages a news clipping I had saved. It was an article which reported Pope Francis’ 10 “secrets” to human happiness. They were: (1) live and let live, (2) be forgiving to yourself, (3) proceed calmly in life, (4) keep a healthy sense of leisure, (5) treat Sunday as a holiday, (6) find innovative ways to create jobs for young people, (7) respect and take care of nature, (8) don’t be negative, (9) don’t proselytize – respect others’ beliefs, (10) work for peace.

These are all nice in and of themselves.  In a world where unicorns are plentiful, they will do just fine.  But I have not seen a unicorn prancing about ever.

When we fail to level with one another that the world is a very tough place, where injustice and bad things happen – we prepare ourselves to be somebody’s lunch.

Our task is to live faithfully in the real world.  To this end I leave you with but one simple memory:

“It was Caiaphas, that year’s High Priest, who put the matter bluntly.  Better, he argued, that one man should die than the whole nation perish … in this case Caiaphas spoke truer than he knew, for Jesus was to save, not just a nation, but all mankind.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

What is it that we fear?  Our access to everlasting life is established.  Can we now get busy in facing what we must?

Shalom.

As always feel free to share this with others – by email, on Facebook or Twitter.  We are all in this together.

At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.

William Golding, in The Spire

+ + +

Think about it, if you were God and wished that man might have perfect vision would you not make Jesus at once both God and man?  And make Mary both virgin and mother?

Shalom.

[Today is a lazy summer day.  Yesterday was a day of vigorous work.  Today is a day of leisure and quiet, a time for personal silence and the hum of summer with its chorus of bugs and birds singing in the sun and heat.]

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for its not same river and he’s not the same man.

Heraclitus

 + + +

There is probably nothing in our life that is as constantly intimate as our journey.

In our journey we are most ourselves.  Oh, we do not know this when we start, but then in our childhood we live so spontaneously and each day is so full of adventure and exploration – the kind that comes from without and lands deep within where it takes its root where the real us live.

It is only in time that we come to understand that getting up each day we have collaborated with The One who mapped out our walk.  There is a contenting humility in knowing this, in getting to the point where you realize that your “achievement” was this: you journeyed as you were called to journey … and, yes, you like all others are unique and God walked with you all the while.

As I write this morning Aaron Copeland’s Our Town plays and the birds chirp and the morning sun bathes the green slopes and lush valleys of the Shenandoah. The music itself is scored to those who journey – know the sights and sounds of the innate intimacy and peace of life in the small town with kind and quirky neighbors – all the same, delightful and full of life itself.

On the journey, neither rivers nor days are the same.  Like you, they change as the music and its tempo changes with the moment and our age.  In youth the tempo is more frequently quick, light as if for those agile and fast of foot.  Then, age comes and the quickness lives more in the heart where joy reverberates in sweet memories and warm embraces.

Make no mistake – whether you recognize it or not, you are on a journey.  It has a pull all its own.  No need to clutch the wheel and aim your way.  No maps needed – just move as you are called.

Anyway, the detours are where the flowers are the brightest and the views the best.  They are the places where peace comes, where your heart knows beauty, and time seems to stop.

I still remember my first view of the Collegiate Peaks in Colorado – standing surrounded by the vastness of yellow grazing land and those three mountains on the horizon.  And Scotland, too – its isles, the Highlands, and the august ruins of former cathedrals on emerald fields under blue skies.  Yes, peace, beauty and time stilled.

The journey is your privilege – God’s gift.  Enjoy it.  Receive it with joy and ease.

Every man has two journeys to make through life.  There is the outter journey, with its various incidents and milestones … There is also an inner journey, a spiritual Odyssey, with a secret history of its own. (Emphasis added.)

William R. Inge, in More Lay Thoughts of a Dean

Ah, I see that a small contingent of robins are dancing outside my window. Perhaps they heard the music.

Shalom.

For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want to do.

St. Paul, in Galatians 5:17

+ + +

As is so often the case in politics and in public policy, we talk loudly and endlessly about something and exhibit superficiality, lack of study, depth of understanding, ignorance, hostility, and fixed ideas that close out the voices or others.

Yes, too often in public discussion, we make enemies of one another and fools of ourselves and others.  Fact is we’re not too bright, and far, far from humble.  This, of course, only makes matters worse.

Think for a moment about comments you hear about race, particularly from those who present as the aggrieved and those who plan to “fix” our woes.  And think about public policy and the law and the legal structure that presently govern matters of race, and think about the extraordinary anomaly that those who point their anger at the police fail to focus on Chicago and other major cities governed by the Left where murders are almost always committed within racial groupings – that is, the aggrieved killing the aggrieved.

As to the individual, do we understand that each person is unique in the way they function and as to groups, each functions differently in some aspects?

Yes, there is considerable variation person to person and group to group.  So the idea of equality must be understood to be received differently person to person just as the experiences in life are.  Yes, there is common ground but there is not common, uniform result.  We are equal but distinct one to another.  Scared all.  Best we receive each person as such and not demonize anyone, or any group.

Apropos to St. Paul’s ancient words, we know that “Human rationality depends critically on sophisticated emotionality … (that) Reason and emotion must … work together to create intelligent behavior, but emotion … does most of the work.”  (See: Note, below.)

We also know that when a person’s emotion quadrant (the orbitofrontal cortex) fails them, despite having access to reason, their lives literally fall apart.  Our grand plans for equality and prosperity for all notwithstanding.  Our best response?  Love and help one another.

Our public mantra has been that equality of result is achievable and when it is not it is because of the hatred others have because of our race or gender.

Given what we know about the human brain and people, the idea of equality of result sows seeds of great frustration.  Worse, when variations of result are blamed on one racial group or gender – conflict, division and hatred result.  Such thinking is, and has been, fundamentally destructive.  We witness its violence today in the killing of police officers.

A more accurate and honest view of people must see that all people are valuable, all are God’s children, and just as we have different heights, tastes, personalities, skills, interests and such – we are to be received as we are: sacred beings, and treated lovingly and equally.

Bottom line?  Our ignorance stirs up trouble.  Better heed St. Paul – follow the Spirit –  reason informed by emotions, and faith in God and one another.

Shalom.

Note – The quotes within the text are from Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, pg. 13.

The dogmatism of science has become a new orthodoxy, disseminated by the Media and a State education system with a thoroughness and subtlety far exceeding anything of a kind achieved by the Inquisition …

Malcolm Muggeridge,

in Jesus: The Man Who Lives

+ + +

How and what do we come to believe?

That is, as it always is, a rather important question.  Yet, in the age of mass communication and the dominant central state, each robustly present – indeed virtually our captors in the homogenized secular culture, this question becomes all the more important.

Yes, you may not think for yourself.  Yes, your views may be shaped by others for their purposes and to their advantage.

In Muggeridge’s book he mentions that Pascal, considered the Aristotle of his age, was both a remarkable scientist but also a devout Christian, an earnest Believer.

Think about it, this man of great mind and scientific achievement believed in the virgin birth.  Was he both a genius and a fool?  Did he simply seek some “transcendental certainty” to give him “peace of mind” in the mortal world?

This hardly seems likely for a dedicated seeker of truth and a uniquely original thinker.

Muggeridge provides this answer: Pascal was a man of faith.  He was, says Muggeridge, able to understand that faith bridged the space between the mind and what our soul seeks.  This, by the way, is a view held by Albert Einstein, Viktor Frankl, Carl Jung and others in our recent and present age.

Where is faith in your life?  Does it lead to belief?  Your own humility?  Your capacity to see others as your brothers and sisters? 

If you are constantly riled-up and at odds with others, divided by religious differences, race, gender, sexual behavior, language, age, ethnicity, income, neighborhood, role, class and all the rest – then faith and belief play no significant and constructive role in your life – and, you are missing out “big-time.”   Indeed, you are alienated and put at a distinct disadvantage – put on guard, utterly and throughly easily controlled by others – victims of others’ bias and, worse yet, pawns for those who seek to retain their power, influence and privilege at the cost of your dignity, self-regard, confidence, peace of mind, happiness, universal fellowship, freedom, prosperity, salvation and eternal life.

How and in what have you come to believe? 

Shalom.

 

Truth makes the Devil blush.

Thomas Fuller, in Gnomologia

+ + +

With all this nonsensical chatter about socialism and its planned economies, one wonders if Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party of the Left, or its handmaiden brigade of intellectuals, “journalists” and la-de-da dreamers blush?

Why might one ask this?

For two reasons.  One, truth is vital to our welfare and it has in its essentiality a sacredness that cannot be besmirched without grave consequences.  And, two – any modest reading of the history of Russia in the hands of Lenin and his colleagues and their collectivist efforts would tell a person immediately of the folly of socialism and communism.

I give you a few examples.

The “vanguard elite” of Lenin’s “revolution” was to accelerate the industrialization of Soviet Russia for the benefit and victory of the proletariat.  His governance did just the reverse – the exact opposite.

Before the Communist takeover, Russia’s industrial production between 1900 and 1913 grew by 62 percent.  After Lenin gained power the industrial workers returned to their peasant origins.  In the winter of 1917-1918 the population of Petrograd declined from 2.4 million to 1.5 million.  By 1920 it had lost 71.5 percent of its population.  In 1919 the total Russian industrial labor force had fallen by 24 percent from 1919 to 1920.  The output of manufactured goods in 1920 in Russian was only 12.9 percent of its pre-war total.

Lenin knew how to talk and promise and intimidate but like Marx he had no understanding of industrialization or real world economics.  He apparently believed in magic – this magic: just centralize all power in the state and let the state run things and all will be hunky-dory.  Our friends on the Left are no more informed today. 

However their sin is not mere stupidity but rather their unwillingness to learn from history and in Russia’s case and the case of other such failed schemes, like Venezuela, East Germany, Cuba and Cambodia, to live within reality.  What was once belief in magic is now lunacy.

Interestingly Russia is no better off today than in Lenin’s days.

In commenting on socialism, F. J. C. Hearnshaw appropriately identified it as “The combination of religious sentimentality, industrial insanity, and moral obliquity.”

Somehow he did not mention self-destructive stupidity.

Shalom.

Note: An interesting read on this and other aspects of recent Western history can be found in Paul Johnson’s Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties.  

The disengagement of the idea of freedom from the idea of the true and the good is the greatest weakness of secularist societies. (Emphasis added.)

Wolfhart Pannenberg,

in “How to Think about Secularism,” First Things 64 (June/July 1996): 27-32. 

+ + +

In thinking how I might conclude this short series on the Rise of Secularism, I keep coming back to one story in the Gospel.  It is in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus is invited to dine at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. (Lk 7:36-50)

I have always been struck by the positions assigned to the three figures in the story: Jesus, the Pharisee and a woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears. Indeed I think the position of the three tells us something very, very significant.

What do I mean?

When Jesus entered the house he reclined at the dining table and a woman who was known to be a sinner entered the home and stood behind Jesus.  The Pharisee was opposite Jesus and when the woman proceeded to wash Jesus feet and dry them with her hair. Simon, the host Pharisee, watched and thought “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Jesus, sensing the Pharisee thoughts, told him a short parable and then he turned to the woman and said to His host – “Do you see this woman?”  In effect Jesus made the Pharisee look through Him to see the woman … … … look through Him to see the woman.  

This is precisely what I would say to conclude my short discourse on secularism and our current situation in this nation and the West.  If you do not look through Christ we will not see and we will not understand … and our problems will persist and grow exponentially.

Our sight is best when we look through Christ; our blindness greatest when we do not.

… there is a sense that the institutions of society are not legitimate …

The more secularization and what is called progressive modernization advance, the more they produce a need for something else that can bestow meaning upon human life. (Emphasis added.)

Wolfhart Pannenberg

Shalom.

 

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