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Reason is not the measure of all things, not the all-controlling power in the life of man, not the father of all assertions.  The cry of a wounded man is not the product of discursive thought.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man is Not Alone

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How often we hear this nonsense: “Oh, he is really smart.  He went to X or Y university.”  So what.

So often this sort of thing is uttered in politics as to a candidate for office, or one appointed to a government position or a judgeship.  Yet, never does one hear: he is a man of faith … she is a faithful women.

As Rabbi Heschel points out: the content of faith cannot be retained by a logician’s sieve – its content is too fine to be held by reason alone, it demands a greater receptacle: the human being – open to life as it presents, and fully engaged in heart, and head, and soul. 

Reason takes a place in secular culture that exceeds its weight.  It is over-valued in the abstract and routinely under-utilized by most – who prefer, sadly and often, their own ignorance, ideology, bias and narrow life experience – to reason, let alone faith and matters of the Spirit … the fullness of human existence.

Man does not do well by reason alone.  Faith soars at higher altitudes and plants at greater depths.

Shalom.

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When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger.  The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment.  It was against this background that the Gospels appeared as good news. (Emphasis added.)

C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain

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This from the chapter entitled “Human Wickedness.”  Reading it is some indictment of us today.

Think about it, Lewis notes that the Pagans 2000 years ago were conscious of their faults and thought themselves deserving of divine punishment. Further, Lewis points out that this was state of mind and consciousness that allowed the Gospels to be received as “Good News.”  

That said, one must ask: Are we anywhere close to such consciousness?  I think you know the answer.

We seem to lack the humility of the Pagans. This, I observe, is the price we pay for our intentional separation of man from God.  Indeed I would say that the last seven centuries have put us on a steady trajectory away from God and humility. Imagine having less humility than unbelievers.  Imagine today that we lack the consciousness to receive the Gospels as men and women once did when Christ appeared and Christianity flourished.  Such a thought is worthy of our contemplation.

It may well be that we need a radical abandonment of our egocentric life in favor of the humility we once possessed in earnest.  When we think less of ourselves we might think more of God.  That cannot be anything but helpful today.

Shalom.

 

 

Please Note

My Computer is at the Tech Doctor … I expect to have it back next week.  I will try to post between now and then, but do not be surprised if there is a lull in my posting.

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Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.

Carl Jung, in “Depth Psychology and Self Knowledge,” (Collected Works, Vol. 18)

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The American Left Democrat Party has brought us “identity politics” and we are paying the price Dr. Jung refers to in the above observation.

Implicit in identity politics is the naming of “an enemy”- someone on whom we may place blame in lieu of a serious look at ourselves.  Yes, identity politics creates animosity, persecution and injustice.

Think about it.  Does any identity group look at its own faults?  Or does it pick a theme and make a target of those who are not them?  Do feminists not need to lay blame on men?  Are not “Whites” seen to account for all that non-whites view as their “problems.”  Do not socialists, Communists, progressives need those who are not them as “the enemy.”

Dr, Jung said in his Collected Works (Vol. 8) that “the … existence of an enemy upon who one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience.”  As one can, he says, identity the devil and become “quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not in your own attitude.”

Identity politics manufactures discontent and provides an excuse for those who fear to achieve and elect be angry and upset.

Think how differently our culture would function if we all accepted with humility our circumstances and limitations and proceeded all the same to do our best and work like heck to advance our own well-being.  Think how that strengthens a person, instills dignity – and think (in the alternative) how much time is wasted when others carp and carp about this party or that as an obstacle to their success and full existence.  Imagine how lives are wasted by those who complain endlessly, raise a real ruckus when they could be seeking to excel.  Think, too, about the how the American Left fosters discontent rather than excellence.  What a shame.

Shalom.

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts … perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

Seneca

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Seneca has something here.  We have seen people who manage power very nicely with calm and grace – but they are a distinct minority in time.  God’s deeds, of course, are masterfully offered and employed.  His power is perfectly expressed.  Not so in man’s conduct.

If you want to understand Washington today, think of Seneca.

Corruption here today in Washington is rooted in the fear of the loss of power. Yes, this is the entrenched Washington elite – both parties, the bureaucracy and mass media, in the entertainment community, et al; they display a fear a loss of power, status, etc.  They liked “being liked.”

Those who have power and influence simply refuse to release their comfortable grip on status, influence – power.  They profit from the status quo and those who would disturb it are not welcome.

Let’s face it.  People are self-interested.  The greater the grip – the more prominent the fear.

One of the the hardest things to do is to acquire the experience of others. We live in our own experience; our fears and insecurities frequently govern – and more so among the godless.

Truth: the acquisition of another’s experience necessitates a growth in the Spirit, a faith which denominates one’s humility and God’s supremacy – reduces mortal existence to a passing moment and eternity to its rightful place.  In this God-centered view, fear is vanquished and power need not corrupt.  We are made, you see, for humility, not fear, for eternity not mortality.

If you want to understand corruption.  Know this: it is present today.  It is present among the powerful and privileged and when you see it you are seeing (as Seneca notes) fear.  Yes, fear begets corruption.  And, yes, those who are in relationship with God do not fear … and those who are not so inclined show fear.  The latter is inevitable.

Think about how the powerful see and name “the basket of deplorables” and how they react when they are not favored, and how they react when a person is elected who challenges them: yes, the person and his or her supporters are attacked, and attacked, and attacked.

The fear of the loss of power is a mighty destructive force.  Yet, our strength and identity has nothing to do with status, or power, wealth or privilege.

Seneca – very cool.

Shalom.

 

 

Modern society has … ‘lost its plot.’  Slavishly following its false gods and idols makes no sense in a spiritually awake life.

Anthon Maarten

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Mr. Maarten, a self-identified psychic, has something here – particularly if you recognize that much of our discourse is influenced by, and in a sense governed by, the mass media culture and (as to private exchange) often conveyed by impersonal means of technological communication and through “social media” (or anti-personal media – if you prefer accuracy).

One can imagine what comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell might say about this.

Most likely he would identify the vast difference between discourse today and the deeply personal and supernatural discourse of primitive tribal peoples and any number of large cultures over the ages whose essence was of religious narrative and the communal and personal experience of religious existence – of the spiritual life of the human being.

Yes, they had full existence while we have advertising and quarter-baked (at best) political ideology and the heavy hand of government, academia, media and technology in the hands of vested elites.

Look around you at television and the characters who occupy news discourse. Have you ever heard a stranger group offering the most fanciful and bizarre observations and proclamations all without a shred of expertise – wandering into psychology, history, political philosophy and what-have-you armed with but makeup, ideology, bias and a common Leftist script?  Horsefeathers!  If only they were required to wear red bulbous noses and big rubber feet … providing fair warning is only fair.

And then there is the Hollywood sequestered loony-bin.  No shortage of derailed cabooses there.  And now print “media” – filling in the cracks of nonsense spun in political realms. And politics itself – endless strange utterances, inexcusable inertia, oddball explanations and vast projects which embed madness in public institutions and those who drink from their waters.

… lost plot, indeed …

Beware.  The mass cultural voice you miss may be your salvation.  Earplugs do nicely today.

Me?  I opt for Bach solo cello pieces in place of the voices and their image.  But then, I have a spiritual life to live.

Shalom.

Order is not simple a matter of law and enforcement … law itself depends on a deeper conception of order, an idea of the way ultimate reality is constructed(Emphasis added.)

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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What is Dreher saying?  He is saying what is well said by Romano Guardini (Priest, theologian, intellectual) when he offered as to man and order: seeking order is man’s effort to “regain his right relationship to the truth of things, to the demands of his own deepest self, and finally to God.” (Emphasis added.)

Compare this to the abject ignorance of Senators Feinstein, Franken and Durbin who questioned the role of faith and belief in a prospective judge’s life – and, by clear implication, in the lives of judges, lawyers and lawmakers!

All law must support or convey an ageless divide truth, or it is unworthy of our attention. That is: those laws in opposition to “the truth of things” destroy human beings and civilizations.  Yes, it is that simple.

Yet what is one to do when the lawmakers are so ill-educated, so lacking in insight and wisdom that they have not a glancing thought that perhaps – just perhaps – human and intellectual history of the last six millennia might have taught us something?  Something about law, faith, religious and human experience, governance, the progression of civilization, order, truth, virtue, honor, excellence, community?

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Mt 5:17

Who among these three legislative “scholars” (or their colleagues in law or politics) might know this quote, its speaker and it application and utility – its wisdom?

Stupidity in the hands of lawmakers is a loaded gun in the hands of a child.

Think about this.

Shalom.

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.

Ps 63:2

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Yesterday I began my day with men who attend a Saturday early morning gathering at a wonderful Catholic parish in Kensington, Maryland.  The men of varied ages attend a year-long program focused on developing their faith and growing in it.  It is a wonderful experience that includes a short video presentation with the men then recessing to a host of tables to share their thoughts on the subject matter of the video.

Yesterday’s video focused us on the simple question: Is there a God or is there not a God?

My table mates (eight men, counting myself) affirmed easily that there is a God – but most striking was this: their soul was thirsting for God.  These men ranged in age from early to mid-30’s to 70-plus.  All were family men, fathers and husbands.

What struck me so very deeply was this: these men were seeking God in the very manner that people in the 13th century and earlier sought God.

They asked questions much as the St. Thomas Aquinas might.  Deep probative questions. Their desire for God was vital to them – not because they themselves had burdens or carried sins that caused suffering – no, they sought God because they knew a relationship with God was critical to their existence, their contentment, their service of others, their life’s meaning and their ability to love, understand, find meaning and purpose in life.

I add, most importantly, they sought God because they experienced that faith, and God were under siege in America.  They had a sense that living a life of faith, God and Church was under attack today in this nation.

Honestly, I saw their desire, their urgency – their hope … and affirmation that God was the center of their being and that neither their faith nor God would be abandoned or exiled.

I saw in these men the metaphysical reality of the first 1400 years of Christianity.

I saw the probing question and longing that affirmed that there is a God and the desire for a relation with God resides within us no matter the utterances and hostilities of claims and actions of the godless among us.  Good news!

Alas, it can be said that the Psalms speak today:

My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps. 63)

Truth never fades.  Truth can never be denied, extinguished.  In the midst of challenge – God is closest and we are most deeply engaged.  Good News … in troublesome times.

Shalom.

 

Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.

Tarjei Vesaas, in The Boat in the Evening

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Well, these words only work apply to those who look and see.  All looking is not seeing.

I give you an example.  My friend John looks and sees.  Recently he observed that the looters in Florida hit shoe stores but left the work boots.

When you look and see you learn … eyes can lead to reality, insight, understanding. Remember the eyes are a direct path to the brain … and the heart.  What we see moves us to feel, think and ponder and grow.

Look and see.

Shalom.

The first element of love is loving kindness.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in How to Love

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Love is spoken of so commonly, but is any attention given to what precisely it is? Does anyone contemplate its range and depth?  Or understand its relationship with God?  Its role in human and spiritual development?

Does anyone ask, does my culture promote or impede love?  Does one ask: is the person whose public voice I hear loving?  Knowledgeable about love? Confirm love in their demeanor?  Their own life?

The point to be made is this: how can you love when love is not fully explored and understood by you or others, or your culture?  Think of it this way: when I am exposed to those who hate, those who exclusively attack and advance their own interests, am I thwarting my opportunity to love?  Am I converted to hate? Or hardness of soul?

Those who show loving kindness bring joy to others, say in their action: I love you.  They love because their body houses care for others, compassion, a sense of right and good, humility.  They are generous and know that there is a God and God loves them and all others.

Think about loving kindness and your life at-large.

Shalom.

Freud … replace(d) religion with psychology.  In this therapeutic vision, we should stop the fruitless searching for a nonexistent meaning and instead seek self-fulfillment.

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In a section of his book (“The Triumph of Eros”) Dreher shows the overt contemporary shift in America (and Western) culture to the glorification of Self over God; and, then discusses the subsequent rise of eros which produces a dramatic divide between and Believers and non-believers and the subsequent attack on religion and those who are religious.

As sociologist Philip Rieff so simply states – the shift presents this: “Religious man was born to be saved.  Psychological man was born to be pleased.” (Emphasis added.)

As time unfolds we see that “pleasing” found its base in sexual matters: in easy no-fault divorce, lurid entertainment, contraception, abortion, “re-defining gender,” same-sex marriage, female teachers (often married with children of their own) engaged sexually with young and under-aged students, homosexuality and its advocacy, and now “transgenderism.”

Recent decades seem to have established that in an unbelieving culture “freedom” produces carnal chaos.

Yet, the shift we have witnessed has one very fundamental flaw: cultures survive when their normative institutions support and protect what is implicitly good and ordered to human prosperity and happiness.  Absent institutions which do this and culture fragments, and then eventually collapses.

You see it is a hard-sell to convince neutral listeners that bad is actually good.

Illustratively, a failure to maintain a steady growth in the birth rate will finally result in a vulnerable, aging population and extinction – first, by the way, manifest in the presence of fractured families, out-of-wedlock births, and children born to teenage mothers accompanied by the growth of a dependent class composed of able-bodied workers who have been consigned to inactivity.

Perhaps the most troubling part of what we see around us is: the ignorance of elites who do not contemplate the course of self-destruction upon which we have embarked.

As the esteemed philosopher, Canadian Charles Taylor so succinctly states:

“The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaning of the cosmos).” (Emphasis added.)

We live in a time of testing – of a very fundamental test and it is this: God or no God.

Yes, each of us must elect God or godlessness and the chaos and utter collapse and death that godlessness brings.

In a sense this is a privileged time.  Few generations has faced so critical a challenge, faced a war as to preserve the goodness of being and believing … and make no mistake: it takes courage to elect God in the presence of the aggressive godless class – social relations being what they are per se.

Good luck, Friends.

Shalom.

The Great Divide.  Want to know how great the divide is between “the elites” and the rest of us?  Harvard University named Bradley Manning (a “transgendered” man previously convicted of espionage) as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.  Or is it the Kennedy School of National Destruction?  Birds of a feather flock together.

Was there really any wonder?  God or no God?  Your choice.

 

 

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