For the most part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worse and provide for it.

Patrick Henry, American Patriot

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In Oregon, another horrible mass murder committed by a disturbed outcast and more evidence of our inability to search for the truth and respond accordingly.

When a similar lost lad murdered members of a bible study group in a Charleston, South Carolina church, a friend of mine mentioned that people were going to target the Confederate flag as a result. My response: they’d do better ban strawberry ice cream.

We are masters of the superficial and bat zero as to honest self-examination. We simply prefer to look outside and not at our self, the secularized culture and the conduct it fosters and accommodates.

In contrast to Patrick Henry, we dare not look within to find out how we may have generated such conduct.  It is so much easier to call for more laws, when law itself neither controls the problem nor accounts for it.  Indeed, think about the laws surrounding the civil rights of racial minorities.  Does anyone think they have not sponsored more race consciousness/racism among those they intended to help, and consequently further divide us?

If you wanted to understand the problem we face in random mass murders, you’d be wise to look at the culture.  In doing so, you’d see that we legalize a culture of death.  Worried about the death penalty?  How about legalized abortion and the selling organs of aborted children?

If that doesn’t garb you, how about the Left’s relentless attack on religion?  The chorus of Leftist intellectuals who smugly dismiss of the role of faith in culture? Does anyone think this does not dehumanize us?

Or how about the kindergarten to graduate school emphasis on sex in education? More to the point, how about the culture’s focus on sexual behavior as sport, pleasure – absent meaning and commitment?  Does anyone think this glorifies the created human?  Advances the relationship of men to women, husband to wife?

How about the flood of movies and video games chock full of violence as if homicidal rage is entertainment?  Can this be good?

And how about the extraordinarily divisive language generated by those on the Left which is aimed at those who do not agree with them?  Or the character assassination of political opponents – even using the protection of the Senate floor to knowingly lie about an opposing candidate for President?

And how about the Left’s demonization of groups that oppose their political objectives?  Think about the white male as the frequent subject of scapegoating. Or the hatred of police officers?  Does this humanize us?

The point Patrick Henry is making is this: honest self-examination is essential to living well, to growth, to pursuit of policy, to community, to wisdom, to leadership to full human development.

Think about it.  When those on the public stage show an absence of sincere and honest self-examination, turn a deft ear to their words – lest you be deceived, your liberty lost while a problem festers and grows.

” … you try to worship God by performing the singularly courageous and impossible favor of knowing yourself.”

Pat Conroy, in My Reading Life

A critical look at one’s self is much more likely to attend to the problems we have created than more laws regarding guns, flags or what have you.


I’ll make a sound that whoever hears it will weep in their souls …

Ray Bradbury, in The Fog Horn

[My wife Sylvia’s birthday is October 5th.  I write this in remembrance of her.]

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I am a Scot.  A New Englander.  I am Boston where the damp wind is hard and blunt, and sea and cold so near.  Where the hearth never so warm – where your gentle voice was my peace and strength.

I was weened on the nor’easter with its gales and sideways rain.  You were my sun.

Now I am old and I sit in the highlands and look at the mountains and the mist as it settles in the valleys and hides the hill tops and peaks.  The magical mist.  A sacred curtain.

The mist pulls me back to the cold wind, the dampness and my mystery, to you and those whose seeds are mine and you my master gardener.  My ground never so soft as in your hands.

Alone now in the mist and autumn chill I find you.

I live in fallen shadows, and storms within.  Yet, in the mist and wind, you call me.  On cold autumn nights you visit.  Awaken me.  Stand by my beside.  Speak my name.  Your voice still the same.

You beckon and I rise.  Outside we walk in highland winds into the sacred mist.

One, once again.

You touch my face. The winds wail. I am warm again.

I’ll make a voice to call across the water … a voice like all of time and all the fog that ever was … a voice like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like autumn trees with no leaves.  A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore.  I’ll make a sound that’s so alone … whoever hears it will weep in their souls … I’ll make a sound whoever hears it will know … eternity and the briefness of life.

Ray Bradbury, in The Fog Horn

Alone now in the mist and autumn chill I find you … in the mist and wind, you call me … you beckon and I rise …


” … we have … Jesus, the Son of God … one who has been similarly tested in every way … So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Emphasis added.)

Heb 4: 14, 15, 16

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A good friend of mine and his wonderful, sweet significant other are heading off this morning to two doctors: he to his follow-up on throat cancer and she for newly diagnosed breast cancer. Your prayers for them are welcome.

This and our present state of godless secular chaos brings me to grace – the grace of God.  And to detachment.

In the present day we live with little appreciation for grace.  So here is a primer on grace, “sports fans,” friends and you princes and princesses of New England.

Grace is God’s kindness given to those who do not (and cannot) by their own acts “earn” it.  Grace is a gift freely given and no trial in life trumps that reality.

Yes, facing troubles – grace is given: in hard times you see the love you have for others and they for you.  You draw closest to God when the bullets are flying and gales of struggle descend on you.

Think about it.  Who causes the heart to beat?  Who has an eternal home for you and calls you to it when your work here is done?  Who creates love in the human person?  Who gives the faithful an unconquerable will?  Who gives us laughter and defiant confidence, and good and rebellious cheer in time of battle?

Remember, Christ is “a game changer.”

Our brothers and sisters in Judaism were bound in covenant by the law.  They lived in a sacrificial regime of ritual and forgiveness.  In Christ all who believe are afforded forgiveness because He died for our sins – past, present and future … yes: into the endless future, for those not yet born.

He came to fulfill the law given to our Jewish brothers and sisters as foretold by their prophets.

The gift of Christ is pure Grace.  Plain and simple: grace.  This, by the way, is why Spirlaw is called “Spirlaw” – the law of our brothers and sisters is fulfilled in Christ!

Think for a moment about law and its limits.  Grace is the Believer’s state of existence, our perpetual protection, what makes us invincible, immortal beings, free, content.  It is not law.  It exceeds law in its power and presence.  It is God within and without – our ever-present hope and source of immortality, wisdom and strength.

If you wish in one simple thought to understand what harm is done by the secular Leftists and modern liberals, and by our present secular government, you need only to understand that they rely on endless and self-contradicting laws, regulations, rules, prohibitions, proscriptions.

They are bound in law and without any sense of, or respect for, God, God’s grace or faith and people of faith.

Folks, laws and centralized regulation are cynical and distrusting of the person and of God. Government is inured as to Christ and hence Christ, and Christians and faithful people are now unwelcome, suspect, the enemy.  This is the source, more than anything, of our troubles – an intentional godlessness that moves us back to a pre-Christian time of savage conflict.

A word on grace and detachment.

Thomas Merton points out in Contemplation in a World of Action that a monk (think: believer) renounces the life of agitation and confusion that the world offers for one of order and clarity which he knows as “the fruit of the Spirit.” Yes, we have the grace to discern and detach.  Is it not time to overtly reject the godlessness of secular culture and its proponents who are destroying what we once possessed – one nation and one people under God?

You know the answer.


“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”

1 Sam 17:26

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These are the words of David when he faced Goliath.  David saw that it was not a giant who taunted him and Israel but the enemy of God.  He had faith – and more to the point he acted on faith.

Plainly and simply, he trusted God.

David did what he could do, God did what God could do.  You know the rest of the story.  Bye, bye Goliath.

Living faith in secular culture is a “rubber-hits-the-road” matter.  And, today the Russian aggression hits the Syria road in the form of Russian aircraft attacking Syrian freedom fighters in order to prop-up a Syrian dictator and gain influence and control in the Middle East where we had a presence only a few short years ago.  Hello, Golaith … good bye, America.

Faith matters and faithlessness has its real and dangerous cost.

Faithlessness breeds fear and incompetence.  We see each in the present administration’s foreign policy.

We have succeeded in less than two four year presidential terms to have shrunk the American footprint in the world, and especially in the Middle East where decade old alliances have been neglected and destroyed, and murderous thugs have filled the void created by the liberal fiction of an “Arab Spring.”

We have in short time reminded ourselves that faithlessness produces deadly self-deception and that incompetence cannot recognize itself.

Indeed we are saddled with a pixie dust presidency and an administration and la-la land liberal political faction incapable of recognizing an orgy in a brothel.

Sadly, dark comedy such as this is only laughable when your life, the lives of your children and grandchildren, your country and your faith are not at stake.

Alas, I am drawn to the words of writer Lance Conrad in The Price of Creation:

Cowards are always much more dangerous than heroes.

So much for the Nobel Peace Prize.

One wonders if the cabal at MSNCB stills gets a “chill up their leg” as they once did?



God only comes to those who ask him to come; he cannot refuse to come to those who implore him long, often and ardently.

Simone Weil, in Waiting for God

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Human beings desire differently than do animals.

Over the recorded history of the human person we see that we seek meaning, ultimately hunger for the infinite, for eternal existence, for life everlasting, for love, for joy and contentment, happiness and harmony, peace and tranquility.

This, of course, reminds us of the old saying that if God did not exist man would have to invent God.  Yes, in the desires of the human being we see plainly at the center our desire for God.

But what happens when that desire is subverted, its voice silenced and those who seek what is natural to them are unwelcome, exiled, outlawed?  Well, the human being is not a human being.

Yes, sickness and disorder follow when what is natural to us is deprived, stifled, belittled.

The Left and modern liberals like to aim their criticism at business and free markets claiming the each seeks only profits and hordes its earnings as if that flaw is the cause of all human suffering and but for that we would be well unto ourselves, perfect in every way.  They are in this rank materialists – blind to anything that is not material.

Illustratively, the Left and modern liberals vigorously oppose with gusto the place of God in human life and community.

They opt for ideology as a foundation stone and would have each person find satisfaction in the images they wish to create through ideology as it and they replace God with their questionable genius. Yes, like gnostics of old they believe possess exclusive access to the “Holy Grail.”

There is no contentment in seeking power any more than there is in seeking only wealth.  Neither can satisfy the human heart, feed the soul, bring contentment and joy – and no claim to earthly power or wealth brings eternal life.

Look at human history: contentment comes to saints and mystics, not to kings and Leftist ideologues and those carving power or wealth.  Union with God is what breeds contentment and joy, eternal life and peace without and within.

The United States was founded on the right principles insofar as it held God and relationship with God as that which allows the human being to flourish and live in harmony.

Alas, we are losing this wisdom, our identity stolen.  The perpetrators?  The secular materialists of Left and modern liberalism in the media and in politics, in social policy and in the courts, in special interest groups and a political party and the faux intellectual class that cares neither for God nor the welfare and full development of the human person.

Man without God is no longer man.

Nicholas Bredyaev, in The End of Our Time

Focus on what is at stake.  You have likely not lived in any time with so much at risk.

You are being presented with what a culture is like when the human person is absent.


I post late today, again, because my computer is still in the repair shop.  I write from a local library.  My apologies.

… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live …

Deut 30:19

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A very good and old childhood friend of mine is in a nursing home and he is not in good health.

I remember him as my best childhood friend, a good heart, smart, funny and always good to me – as was his Mom and his family.

Sadly, somewhere along the road he took on a negative view of life.  I feel sorrow for what has come to my dear, good friend.  I still see him as the childhood friend that he was.  This, as you might understand, makes me sad to see what has been lost, what could have been for him and those who loved him.

Yes, each of us has before us the choice of life or death, and from that choice either blessings or curses.

Thomas Merton in his book The New Adam makes the point that we can all teeter between being and nothingness, between spirit and void.  This, for him, is the choice between entity and non-entity.  One might say between being and non-being.  I would say between life and its denial, and between faith and faithlessness, between spiritual existence or the denial of spiritual existence.

The choice of entity, being, life, faith and the spirit are acts of hope.  They bestow hope on those who chose each.  For those who do not, life presents as without hope.  Such a choice makes life harder than it is or has to be.

Godlessness has a cost that none can endure.  For them death precedes death.

Psychiatrist James F. Masterson, M.D. would say to us as to the choice of life or death that this is the choice between the false or true self and that the later comes by our working at life, coming to examine who we are in our biography, in all life’s details and trials.  He would also say that a failure to examine one’s life is a denial of life and an election of life as a false self – a life of imbalance or illness.

It is interesting that the Old Testament can give us what a modern mystic tells us and what a modern doctor tells us.

There is wisdom in what comes in religious narrative – and it is not less painless to ignore the admonition to choose life now than it has been for all these many centuries.  Truth, you see, is truth … and it endures.

Life or death.  Blessings or curse.  This is a fundamental choice that must be made; that is made in every life.

Those who do not choose life and blessings default to their opposite.  To not choose is to choose.


My Apologies – Late Post Due to Computer Cable Issue

What compels us to create a substitute from within ourselves is not an external lack, but our inability to include anything outside ourselves in our love.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Intimacy is an interpersonal transaction, a state of being of emotional closeness where each person enters the space of another without causing discomfort.

In intimacy we experience close, familiar, loving personal relationship built on deep, personal knowledge, understanding and acceptance of one another.

Intimacy demands we examine who we are, come to know who we are (the pluses and the minuses), share ourselves openly and candidly with one who has done the same thing.

In a culture that does not encourage self-examination and reflection many have little of themselves to share.  This is made all the more the case when culture stresses appearance over substance.

An image culture such as we have makes intimacy harder to find and experience.  Likewise a culture of radical individualism does intimacy and its residents no “favors” as to intimacy.  In such a culture, sexual conduct displaces intimacy – the physical displaces the reception of self and other.

In truth there is less intimacy in mass secular culture than once existed in a less secularized, more diffused culture where localized experience in smaller communities was a common circumstance.

Sadly in families we find parents who do not know themselves and are unable to share themselves with their children.  The product of this is often, adult children who cannot share themselves easily and, hence, do not come to know the experience of intimacy.

A hyper-political, mass communication, affluent, exclusionary secular culture makes intimacy all the more difficult to find and experience.

Without intimacy, life is quite hard to live – quite hard.


… Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.  And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spate unto him, and he took the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Nm 11; 24-25

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Moses – an extraordinary leader.  He spoke not from intellect but from the spirit. And he shared in this words the spirit with others and their life and insight was changed for the better.

If you read the Review section of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal you will encounter as I did three articles that highlight the prominent role of intellect in today’s world – and the shortcomings that flow from reliance on the intellect to the exclusion of the Spirit.

Yes, we can learn from Moses.

In today’s Journal, you can read of a very intelligent Rabbi who gave up his religious role in favor of Marxism and socialism.  You can also read an article that looks at the middle class and contends that they are less well off than they have recently been – a measure of “well-being” that fails to say that the middle class is not as affluent as it once was … or that its present state of existence might just free them up to live more simply and enjoy the small pleasures of life that anchor them in their heart and with others.

Finally, you can read of those who have influenced American foreign policy and decide whether the best of our foreign policy leadership is practiced as an “art” form or a “science.”

These articles seem weighted to the default setting that intellect is the primary, and most likely exclusive, tool for life.

Enter Moses.  He clearly led with a greater reliance on faith, and particularly the Spirit.

It is not hard to bring you, if you think about what you read or hear, to the point in this present secularized culture where you naturally come to ask: Do I live by the Spirit, or by the mind?  And this companion question: Am I led by those who live by the Spirit or by the mind?

For me, one with several post-graduate degrees, it is obvious that the difficult questions we face are not exclusively governed by intellect, but come to something deeper – a feel for the situation, its participants, the stakes, and the desired good end.  Yes, put me in the Spirit column – intellect but a part of the process of leadership and life, but not its most critical part.

Live in the Spirit.


Life and death are at war within us.  As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die.

 Thomas Merton, Monk

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These are the opening lines in Thomas Merton’s excellent book The New Man. He proceeds from these lines to tell us that “this battle … goes on in us inexorably and without mercy” all of our mortal days.  He says in addition that should we become aware of this war “in our flesh and in our emotions, but above all in our spirit” we find ourselves in an agonia (an agony), the struggle between “being and nothingness, spirit and void.”

As Merton reminds us life is not about finding an “answer” but rather finding the meaning of life, your life.  Likewise, he wisely focuses on life itself – whose “roots … remain immortal and invulnerable in us.”

Yes, if life is a gift from the immortal and invulnerable God, would not our life be the key of our existence?  Is not life itself full of meaning?  Is our task not to live fully the gift of the Gift Giver? Does this not speak to the Incarnation?  To Christ?

Why would Christ have been made human, except to say that we too are God’s children and that in our humanity, in our life – there is God.

Look about you, the most common mistake you will see is the person who rejects the gift of their life.

How can tell this?  Many will be habitually disordered, creating conflict and hurt at virtually every turn.  Others will have sought a status – as politician, intellectual, tycoon, socialite, celebrity, etc., or indulged some generic claim (commonly now as to gender, sexual behavior, race, aggrieved), or embrace some fanciful self-acclaimed role.

These people have chosen death.  Regrettably, they spread their choice among others stridently and at great cost.  Yes, this is prevalent now – even among religious and political “leaders.”

You see those who chose death seem unable to live what is beyond today, the fad or fancy of the latest fear – global warming today is the nuclear disarmament of yesterday.

Choosing life is choosing God.  God is not confined to today.  The effort to possess God through political or social causes is most surely to occupy distance from God.  God is not domesticated by the human being – no matter the social “cause.”

I recently stood with a woman in a public place whose husband had collapsed with a heart attack.  I happened on her just minutes after he had fallen and volunteers were administering life support efforts.  I stayed with her – shoulder to shoulder, offering presence and comfort, awaiting the arrival of the paramedics and assisting her in her needs.

In this I noticed how calm I was, how certain I was, how sure I was.

Why do I share this?  Reflecting on this I realize that when you choose life over death – calm comes to you, fear is extinguished, death has no sting.

As Christians we have the Incarnation.  For centuries this was our cornerstone belief.  It is not now so … and death fills the void of men and women who have become “self-centered” – their own architects.  This is a profoundly unwise and failed proposition.

We are at a turning point.  You see it in all the failures and horrors we have created by shunning the Gift Giver.

Choose today to turn to God, to place your trust in the Incarnate Christ.  All else is folly, diversion – death, not life.


… the important thing about Christ was not his exterior appearance but his inner character.  So too, the important thing about events is not how they happened but what they mean.

Alan Watts, in Behold the Spirit

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In the Middle Ages men and women had space for mythology, and symbol was important to them – they derived meaning from symbol, they had contact with spiritual reality.

To many, the Catholic Mass was the center of their spiritual existence – they flourished in the mystery of the Mass, and the symbols enlivened them, spoke to their depth of understanding and furnished wisdom and stability.

For those in the Middle Ages life housed the incarnational mystery; they lived a mystical reality.

Alas, that is not our condition today and we suffer as a consequence.

There is a cost in losing the Catholic mythos and mystical theology.  We are a blander people for this.  We are shallow where we once had depth.  We understand less.

You see this manifest in many ways: we elevate sexual conduct above a loving experience – such a great loss to the human being, human experience and human existence.  Likewise, few are wise and a lack of wisdom means failed leadership – public foolishness, the reign of arrogant stupidity wrapped in an elite university education and professional training.

Yes, we encounter fewer fully developed people – with social savvy and emotional range, fewer selfless people, fewer people with the confidence to serve, be as a pure servant with the capacity to live beyond material existence.

We are, as well, a lonelier people, a people far less secure and congenial.

We are less well-contacted with others, engaged in intimate transactions, lasting friendships and healthy families.

Reason, rationalism, material existence and humanism separated us from the larger picture, the wider and deeper experience of being a human being. Meaning has been if not lost at least misplaced – and we face this reality: ex nihilo nihil fit – one cannot find meaning out of meaninglessness.  Yes, crisis follows and it has.

All moments provide opportunity; and, the circumstances of the present moment provide us with a clear call to return to the mystery, to live at a greater depth, to immerse ourselves in the symbols that speak to us of God and the fullness of the human person.

Alas, to turn a deft ear to all the secular nonsense.


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