Happy Father’s Day

Late posting today.  I spent the weekend with my Son, my Daughter-in-Law and my two grandchildren.  Just a wonderful weekend in every way!  Hope your weekend was as nice.

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The heart of a father is a masterpiece of nature.

Antoine Francois Prevost

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Father’s Days are complicated experiences for me.  I so loved being my Son’s Dad when he was boy.  Best job I ever had.

While still a Dad and now a Grandpa, I recall growing up without a father.  Thank God, I had a wonderful mother who helped her Mom raise her four younger brothers.  She knew how to accompany me to manhood and did a really remarkable job selflessly getting me “on my way.”

Perhaps you can sense the mixed feelings I have in this regard.  So miss my having a small boy to shepherd along.  So grateful for my grandson and my granddaughter and for the privilege of having an adult son who is thoughtful and loyal, an accomplished young man and good Dad himself – and so enjoy our honest and interesting conversations where we exchange ideas and observations freely.  Yes, I miss my mother, now years dead, and carry such a grateful heart for her many sacrifices for me.

I suppose what I am saying is this: I remember the hardship on my mother and me as a child.  I know what an extraordinary woman she was and how she helped me become a man.  Likewise, I know what a joy I had as the father of my young son.

Yes, I am thankful – but, yes, these things pass in time and become the bitter-sweet memories of deeds done and days passed.

You see our greatest deeds of love become memories and dictate times past and joys slipping out of reach and out of touch.

Father’s Day has its complexities for me.  The twilight comes and the light fades – as it must.  Never easy to lose the radiance of a thing so bright, and warm, and nourishing.

God bless you all.

Shalom.

 

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You can’t lie to your soul.

Irvine Welsh, in Porno

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Whole lot of people in Washington in positions of authority and in politics who are at odds with their soul.

That’s the net on these IG reports.  That’s the nature of “power” and government today in our nation’s Capitol.

A whole lot of this is the product of the Democrat Left – although the moderate Republicans are also easily co-opted in order to sustain the electoral system, their role in governing and the guise of respectability.  But there is no virtue or anything beautiful in dishonesty.  “Swamp” indeed.

Just look at the upper management echelons of the FBI, Justice Department and the Obama White House and administration.  Look at the Clintons – their foundation and their personal conduct and the behavior of those around them.  Not good.

Now the test is presented.  What will we do with what we see and know to be dishonest?  Weasel about?  Lie to ourselves about lies?  Or face the truth squarely and set the record and ourselves straight.

In our representative democracy when one trades away virtue and honesty for power, one deprives the populace of freedom and the protections of law and the U.S. Constitution.

You know once trust is lost, it does not easily return.  Lying undoes even the best form of self-governing.  A lot at stake here, Friends.

Shalom.

 

I am free … anonymous … my flights and falls occurred while … wearing a magical cap of invisibility, my successes and sins sailed on in invisible corvettes …

Tadeusz Konwicki, in A Minor Apocalypse

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I have been in the public eye in a very favorable way.  Favorably written about, interviewed at length on television.  Profiled by famous others.  But my public life was all accidental – utterly without plan … and that is the best of it, the very best of it.  I’d have it no other way for who am I but one who will, in time, expire.

I do not understand the quest of those who must be “somebody” – who must be public, out-there.  I am most concerned with those who hunger to be seen … seen by faceless others that they do NOT know and who will never really know them.  There is an unnatural hunger in this.  In many ways, this is social media and celebrity per se – the ways of those compelled to make a public spectacle of themselves – and “the unknowns” who follows their desperately disordered example.

“See me! See me!”  Is this not a sick anthem?

Does this not explain the noxious political advocacy of mindless ideologues?  And those who self-righteously claim a “high ground” to shame others who just may not share their opinion, ignorance and shameless exhibitionism?

I suppose when intimacy is lost people get rather desperate to be noticed, affirmed, seen, acknowledged.  Such is the calamity in the highly visual, 24-7 mass communication secularized culture which has jumbled gender and poured far too much in a sexual cup that hath now runneth a good deal over.  Absent intimate experiences – people panic.

Me?  I prefer anonymity.  I find freedom in it.  And fullness, too.  And peace.

In anonymity, I can freely befriend those I choose to befriend and there is no element of “use” or selfish motive to my caring or presence.  Indeed, I live mutually with others.  I experience reciprocity – the essence of good relationships.

In contrast I offer this: I receive Facebook entries from two individuals who constantly send photos of themselves here and there, doing this or that.  One is a chap who is the  companion of an older fellow.  I met this chap once years ago.  I am among his “audience.”  The other is compelled to show endless photos of himself around the world with this person or group.  His photos are meant to exhort his “artistic” talent.  In this he is supported by a religious order.

In these things I see pathology – plain and simple.

Sadly I see lost souls.  Unbeknownst to them, they have become products of a sort.  Their social media: but commercials for themselves.  Is this not sad?

I’ll take anonymity anytime.  Everytime.

Shalom.

That millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make  people sane.

Erich Fromm, in The Sane Society

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It is a little ironic for me to utilize the words of a Left-leaning secular humanist like Fromm but – assuming his words have merit, accuracy and hence a quality of timelessness such that they can be invoked in any era – it seems to me they offer an opportunity for today.

The opportunity?  The opportunity to ask of ourselves in the West and in the United States if some of our prominent ideas and their political advocacy conveys what is ill or what is well.

I think of abortion.  I think of children born to women who are not married.  I think of the collectivist nature of liberal orthodoxy, “borderless” borders, the application of equality that seems to shun individual responsibility and the recognition that people are of vastly different capabilities and drives, a disdain for police officers, a dismissal of religion, the reverence afforded the celebrity – the people in visual media, in the press … and such.  The list could go on.

On many fronts, it is reasonable to ask – Are these common acclamations contributing to sanity or insanity?  Do we look like a healthy or ill society?  Have we put the propositions of the Left to this test?  Fromm himself would ask this.  One wonders why we do not.

Yet for example, that a bundle of people think that there are endless numbers of “genders” neither makes it so, nor makes it sane.

My point is Fromm’s point – a collection of people saying or doing the same thing makes what is said or done neither true nor healthy, per se.  Time to put advocacy and ideology to the test.  Good for us?  Healthy?  Destructive?  Foolish?  Sane?

One wrong idea can make a whole people sick.  Destroy harmony and community, a nation, even.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him and healed them.

Lk 6:19

Yes, it is virtue that is the measure.  Life seeks the advancement of virtue and the health and fulfillment of the whole person.

Shalom.

… for God did not send His son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe in Him has been judged already …

Jn 3: 17, 18

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These are the words of Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus.

Let’s look at these words.  What do we learn?  One, the Father sent His son into world so that the world might be saved.  Presumably, this tells us that learning from Jesus, doing as He says saves us and the world from discord, destruction, heartache and chaos.

Yet, we also learned that Jesus does not appear to judge the world, only to save it.

So, we need not fear if we “measure up” – we need not have anxiety as to our value and need have no illusions that we must be perfect, rather we need be only human.

But, the key point is that all we must do is: believe in Him.

Yes, a Christ-centric life is all that we need to know eternal life.  Not deeds – but belief is the critical thing.

Today, tomorrow – each day is an opportunity to belief … and in that belief one knows certainty and calm.  In belief the tension disappears and life is easier day by day.

Hence the question.  Do you believe?

Shalom.

You wake up in this here world, my sweet li’l mister, you got to wake up tough.  You go out that front door tough for a morning’ and you stay tough ’til lights out.

Daniell Woodrell, in The Death of Sweet Mister

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You wanna’ know how Trump worked the North Korea deal?  Toughness.  Toughness in language.  Toughness in the New York City real estate business.  Toughness in his Queens childhood.  Toughness in the streets.

You don’t get toughness in the privileged class.  They value the soft life where nobody starves and nobody gets killed.

Expecting the privileged to wrestle a guy loose from his missles is expectation misplaced.  Yale and Harvard Law ain’t the the bloody streets.  Ain’t fist fights and flying F-U’s.  They don’t teach toughness there.  Those guys ain’t missing any teeth.

Think about it – that last crew in the WH had to pay Iran billions and never derailed ’em from their nuclear dreams.  The privileged think one pays for peace … Ya right!  Those are the kids that pay the school yard bully not to hit them.  Pathetic.  Paying a bully says: “fear,” “weakness,” “push-over” – breeds their disrespect of you – – – makes it all the more dangerous a place to be alive.

Lesson No. 1 – don’t expect the privileged to fight for you.  ‘Taint never happening.  Never.  Too soft, too much to lose.  The status quo keeps them on top as the danger grows.  Now you know why globalism is globalism.

The last WH crew didn’t never have a fight.  Didn’t never face down the Murphy Twins who loved to go at you two on one for no particular reason.  The last crew didn’t live a street war between the McLaughlins and the guys in your neighborhood.  The last crew didn’t live in “public housing” with its asphalt and treelessness.

When you think about toughness – you realize too many here are too soft.  You realize that there is a basic fault line between the guy in the street, people living in small towns where the factory closed and the money left – and the folks in Washington – those in authority and in the permanent bureaucracy … that difference: tough versus soft.

In the world as it is and always has been – you’d better be tough or you get your lunch eaten and your money taken.

Shalom.

I do not need to see myself, I merely need to be myself.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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We are a very visual culture.  “Selfies” are likely the clearest/sickest evidence of this.  Pornography adds to this point, as does addiction to computer use and computer games – and children “texting” naked pictures of themselves to one another.

Merton asks why we are so anxious to see ourselves?  His answer – we “do not fully believe in (our) own existence.”  Merton furthers this by saying not believing in one’s self is the result of not believing in God.  His point: you cannot just be if you do not believe?

Fair point – good point.

Merton’s view is as good as any I have encountered.  Useful.  Current.  Significant.  Valuable. Important to each of us.

Have you ever asked yourself – “Why selfies?”  Or this – “Would there be a celebrity culture without a hyper-visual culture?”

As Merton says above – just be.   

You do not need to see yourself to be yourself.

Shalom.

Note on Celebrity Culture in a Hyper-Visual Society – Last night talented actor Robert DiNero offered a profanity-laced lecture about politics and his opionions about same to a captive audiece and the public at-large.  Think about it.  Mr. DiNero barely graduated from high school but by being merely a “Big Screen” Hollywood actor he gets to pepper us with his pedestrian views as if he is “expert” on these matters.

In our visual culture, we now see public policy lectures from the folks who once comprised the drama geeks in your high school experience.  Good bye Washington, Adams, Lincoln & Co.  We’ll listen to the celebrites for our insight.

 

Why does anyone tell a story?  It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically.  (Emphasis added.)

Madeleine L’Engle

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So says author Madeleine L’Engle (Wrinkle in Time and so many other wonderful works).

Yes, life has meaning.  Yes, life has meaning for each of us – from the oldest to the youngest, from the richest to the poorest, the healthy to the ill.  Each of us live a life of meaning … and we are not called into life willy-nilly – without purpose or sanctity.  We are holy beings – everyone.

Finding meaning is the issue.  Finding meaning and experiencing the intimate and amazing reality that we (each one) has a reason for being and for living a full life – beginning to end.

Where to find meaning?  One place in story.  In the written and oral stories of the human being throughout history – in our mortal and eternal existence.

Story.  The best and most revealing story we possess as Christians and Jews is our religious narrative.  It, more than any other story within our reach, is laden with meaning for each of us.  Each recorded episode of God and his people, of Christ and his disciples records the meaning of life for each of us.

Yet, there are those among us whose actions seem to say: “I know not my meaning – I have no value, no meaning, no purpose – I am lost – irretrievably lost.”

This is a national cultural crisis.  It is immediate – it is now.  And it need NOT be so.

Sadly, we see the above words of hopelessness in the addicted, the criminal, the thief, the serial adulterer, the sexual predator (man or woman), the pornographer, the pimp, the prostitute, the liar, the cheat, the cruel ones, abusers … in those who take their own life.

We can even hear these words of hopelessness among those good men and women who have lived more objectively than subjectively – those who cultivated the mind at the expense of the heart.  These are good people who have missed the story and its life-sustaining nature.

Sadly about 45,000 people a year now take their own life here in the United States.  Yes, there are about twice as many suicides in the U.S. as there are homicides – and the number of suicides is growing rapidly.  Such is the price of godlessness in our exclusionary secular culture.  

We have lost our way.  Those with power and authority have forsaken faith – turned their backs to God and abandoned religion and our religious narrative at a very, very great price.  You see our unhappiness and self-destruction is the product of life without meaning – which is to stay: life without God, without attending to our religious story.

If there ever was a time when we had to reverse course it is now.  Come back to a life-giving story.  Come back to your faith narrative.  Demand it be welcomed in the public square.  Play an active role in our cultural recovery and restoration by adopting your religious story as a guide, and active ingredient in your daily life, thoughts and actions.

Our country needs you.  Others need you, too – especially our children.

Shalom.

If this post speaks to you, act on it – share it with others but do take your faith seriously.  Learn you story in its content and insight.  As usual, I appeciate your comments.  Thank you for reading Spirlaw.

 

Insofar as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individuals … A million zeros together do not, unfortunately, add up to one.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Undiscovered Self

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Carl Jung is talking about the process of “individuation” whereby one grows in maturity and wholeness by moving from an ego-driven being to a healthy whole self.  The point being that a whole person discovers his or her true self and whole identity – and moves from the narrow, shallow state of egotistical existence and behavior to that of a full person able to value self and recognize others (who have grown fully) as mutually sacred and equal persons.

Ego – selfish.  Self – selfless.  Ego – prideful and disordered.  Self – humble and whole.

The process of individuation without access to symbol systems (like religious narratives and ritual) does not easily access the wealth and wisdom of human history and humanity in that history.  Indeed, without familiarity with the wholeness recorded and presented in such as religious narrative – one is left to live in the ego – a state of immature development – and disorder follows.  Such is our situation today.  

We live in a mass communication culture with social media being a common form of personal discourse.  Think about it, millions of un-individuated individuals chattering away – a collision of ego-driven undeveloped people.  This is a prescription for chaos and confusion – discord and trouble.  As Jung says “A million zeros joined together do not  … add up to one.”

In our present mass communication, secularized culture, we are captured by de-individuated people … and chaos ensues.  Case in point – a large percentage of those in television and print news are simply not worthy of our attention.  Celebrity itself impedes full development.

As much as we show technical competence, we suffer from a lack of subjective growth and development as human persons.  That, it seems, is the most destructive issue we face – we are not as grown and insightful as we could be – and once were.

The rectifier?   Greater attention to religious narrative and ritual and greater attention to subjective inquiries and personal introspection.

Shalom.

One of the symptoms of alienation in the modern age is the widespread sense of meaninglessness.  Many patients seek psychotherapy … because they feel that life has no meaning … these people are experiencing the disruptive effects … of an upheaval occasioned by a major cultural transition … there is increasing evidence of a general psychic disorientation.  We have lost our bearings.  Our relationship to life has become ambiguous.  The great symbol system which is organized Christianity seems no longer able to command the full commitment of men or to fulfill their ultimate needs.  The result … feeling of meaninglessness and alienation from life.  (Emphasis added.)

Edward F. Edinger, M.D., in Ego and Archetype

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Analytical Psychiatrist and Professor Edinger is right on target with his observation.

Wealthy designer, merchandiser and wife Kate Spate dead at 55, a suicide.  Celebrity chef and T.V. personality Anthony Bourdain, age 61, dead – a suicide.  Each in the past week.  Wealthy people.  Successful people.  Celebrities.  Neither had money problems nor drug problems as far as we now.

This news raises the question of meaning in our Age, in our culture.

I have come to believe that one is not likely to find life-sustaining reason without a symbol system and religion is the very best and time-tested symbol system.

Symbols systems allow us to see life more clearly, experience it more deeply, come to understanding.

Symbols give us iconic images and tell stories of human kind – of power and corruption, sacrifice and meaning, produce deep, rich, eternal meaning in man’s actions, thoughts, choices, intimacies, family, community, group, life’s work, parenting, marriage, culture, nation and lifetime.

Symbols tie us to our ancestors and create a bridge from mortal to eternal existence.

Symbol systems have been in existence since man began to walk the earth.  Symbols systems have sustained humans through life’s inevitable struggles and deadly challenges.  Symbol systems unite one person to another – people to a group.

Symbols systems move through time, are added to over time – while maintaining the basic message as to meaning in human existence.  Like myths, symbols provide insight,  set boundaries, create roles, confirm individual and collective identity.

Yet, we seem now to have shelved or abandoned religion, our principle symbol system.

Today suicides, addictions, sexual predators, broken families, corruption in high-places, aimlessness seem more prevalent.  Each suggests to me – a loss of meaning produced by a absence or neglect of a symbol system.  For without a symbol system we are easily lost, most-assuredly less certain, without the wisdom of the Ages and the truths that have withstood the test of time.

Without a symbol system, we live superficially by ego, never evolving to our true self and acquiring the confidence and stability it brings.  In such a culture we fear for our children and grandchildren’s well-being.  We grow concerned that life without meaning takes a brutal toll on others, and puts our family members at risk.

Think about the place religious narrative and ritual has had as a symbol system.  Ask yourself this: How have religions survived and served us over such a long time?  And ask: Are they not symbol systems?  Do they not add to our understanding?  Insight?  Stability?  Provide a very helpful context for living in a peaceful and optimistic manner?  Give us life-sustaining meaning?  Wisdom?  Help build our character and give us ease?

If you have not had a place for faith in your life – do think about religious narrative as the best symbol system mankind has.  Engage the narrative.  See if it does not help you discover your identity and value, give you strength.

Oh, and by the way – ideology is NO substitute for a symbol system.  The voices of the ideologues are frantic voices of people with no particular stability – merely egos seeking power, control as their “Holy Grail.”  The emergence of ideology in public life is the barometer of how lost we are.  Take heed.

I wish for you: meaning and contentment, a life that is understood, and the experience of life’s many daily gifts received each day.

Shalom.

Prayers – for Charles Krauthammer, M.D., journalist and author who writes today to his friends and colleagues that he is approaching his death as his cancer has reoccurred.  He is one of the gentlemen in Washington – smart and kind.  Prayers too for his wife and son.

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