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Sleet, snow and a warm fireplace in the mountains – a quiet day of classical music, tidying up and starting the Christmas cards.

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It is tragic to see how blatantly [one] bungles his own life and the lives of others, yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Aion (Collected Works, Vol. 9, Part II)

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Jung speaks of the individual, yet what he says is no less true of the aggregate.

Yes, Jung’s words can be applied to us in the aggregate as a body of people, a nation … and frankly ought to be as a means of introspection, self-examination and correction.

Frankly, President Trump’s “drain the swamp” precisely captures the sentiments of the vast voting public who knows we are way off course.  Indeed, the midterm election to the extent that the Trump’s political party gained seats in the Senate and the minority party gained seats in the House by running more middling candidates is an indication that voters realize Washington is a swamp, with swamp creatures and swamp-like behavior.

I write about faith and culture and have a background in law, theology, politics and public policy.  That said I have strung together a handful of tragic “bungles” manifest in today’s culture … things that we are not acknowledging which can lead to tragedy.

Here they are:

  • we are a populace with little knowledge or appreciation of Western Civilization or America’s history and its unique government structure
  • we have departed from a belief in God and the practice of faith – and lost any sense that there is a natural order to things material and spiritual
  • our affluence has bred softness, arrogance and the expectation of entitlement
  • our “elites” are afforded status and attention they do not warrant
  • we have a very poor understanding of the psychological and spiritual development needed to be a healthy, mature human
  • the role of family has declined while dependence on government, immorality, division has increased
  • we are largely ignorant of the U.S. Constitution and abuse it routinely by shaping it to political demand
  • professions like law, news reporting, university teaching and government service have lost their integrity
  • we have neglected our military and allowed our adversaries to gain an advantage on us
  • secularism has dramatically altered for the worse the experience of being human.

Time to look at ourselves honestly and stop bungling ourselves into tragedy … or extinction.

Shalom.

Elites – Look at England.  The British people wish to leave the EU and restore their national sovereignty and their Prime Minister cannot and will not negotiate a break with the EU.  Much like our situation in America – the elites are disconnected from the population, do not recognize the value of the average citizen – rather they scorn them.  This is much the remarkable position of Democrats and life-long swamp denizens.

 

 

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Back from an unexpected day without a post.  It was a leisurely drive back from family and friends – a long road in beautiful country and heavenly quiet.

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The version of eros that Jane Austen’s novels study … is hardly animalistic.  It is ethicalthat is, it is concerned with the education of the will to the end of good character, and indeed is precisely about coming to know someone’s character.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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Who among us acts as if love is intended to deliver us to good character

To the best of my knowledge I give you my answer – not very many.  And I add we are a sick culture – more animal than human.  Grunts in heat – far short of character … the kind of people you’d be best to avoid.

McCloskey’s book is excellent and particularly good in discussing love and its relationship with our character.

Only through McCloskey can I see clearly the distinction between my wife who died childless of cancer at 29 (one month short of our 4th anniversary) and a subsequent wife who left a child, a husband and a marriage after 22 years for no particular reason but her desire to do so.

In McCloskey’s work I see so clearly one spouse aligned love and character and one did not.  I add, indeed, that unbeknownst to me in dedicating my life to the care of my seriously ill and dying wife – I had enkindled in me the relationship between love and character.

I add thankfully that by the grace of God I lived and loved in a manner that both life and love was joined to the quest for good character – who I am, who I have been made at birth to be.

Recognizing this allows me to see so clearly the blessings of that first love and the triumph that my life has been – all because of the grace of God.  Likewise, I see the ugly character of so many in our culture who make no such linkage between love and character.

It is hideous how the affluent and so-called “elites” and public figures, celebrities and the self-proclaimed wisdom figures and endless talking heads show absolutely nothing to distinguish them nor merit any of our attention.  Yea, their personal lives often a mess –  a series of failed marriages – seemingly without a touch of honor.

The fault lines are now between the urban and suburban elites and those who are not them.  Oddly, the fault lines might just be between those who show that love is connected with character and those that do not.

Shalom.

 

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

Our birth is an invitation to our gifts, a call to immersion in the Absolute, with the possibility of our ultimate transformation through contact with the Divine.  (Emphasis added.)

Wayne Teasdale, in A Monk in the World

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Think for a moment.  Our birth a sacred offering, a call to God and our God-given gifts.  Our birth as the opportunity to be subsumed by God.

Our birth is the ultimate and only way to our full development from physical being to a whole human –  spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and morally  … and to a complete life, one of context and contentment, of peace, understanding and tranquility.

What do we do with this gift?  Abort it before a child’s birth?  Could there be no greater proclamation of our fallen state than to kill an unborn child and fight for the opportunity to do so?  Could there be any greater rejection of God and the sacred gift of life that aborting an unborn child?

Think about what this says of contemporary American life.  Can this be who we wish to be?  Does this not denigrate women and their extraordinary sacred call to carry life within them?

Knowing women to be so special and so critical to men, and children, and family, and morality, and faith, and decency, and this country – I cannot imagine this is what any women would wish to be known by.

God help us all.

Shalom.

Thumping.  The behavior of the Democrats in the last few days suggest that think they may get a trumping – that is, do far short of what they touted they would.  The Blue Wave might be an ocean spray.  Politics.  Strange business.  Lots of propaganda paraded out as truth.  Ummmm … No wonder people are skeptical.

 

It is within your power to withdraw yourself wherever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.  (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius

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What gives rise to tranquility?  Your tranquility?

If you pause to think about your health and happiness is this not the fundamental question?  I think it is.

Our eyes are the avenue to the brain.  What do you see each moment, each day?  Do you live in an “ordered” realm?  Are your surroundings in chaos, disarray?  If so, how can your eyes not convey this disorder to your brain?  And what of noise?  What do you hear?  Does not noise itself affect tranquility?

Desire tranquility?  Ask yourself what effect the invasion of unwanted ads on the internet have on you?  When you think about it they are intruders – others pushing themselves into your life – ads: from the eyes to the brain.  Do you wish unwelcome intruders into your home whenever they desire to enter?

We live in a culture where intrusion and invasion are common.  Yes, tranquility is denied routinely.  What is one to do?

Wall off these intrusions.  Control your surroundings – have your place of home ordered.  Each thing has a place.  You need not that much.  The less you have the easier it is to know tranquility.  Give no space to the TV talking heads.  You do not know their life – whether it is utter chaos – which it probably is.  Why listen to sick, confused people?  They bring no tranquility – only chaos.  And celebrities?  Ugh!!!

And, problems.  Do you welcome those who bring problems into your life?  To do so does not bring tranquility.

And what about your interior journey?  Have you quietly and diligently examined your life experience and come to know the pluses and minuses of those so important to your development from birth to adulthood?  And what of the losses, betrayals, great disappointments?  Have you faced them honestly and learned what was intended to be learned?  And how about you?  Do you know what triggers your most salient thoughts, reactions, attitudes, convictions?

Finally, can you be silent and alone?  And most importantly, do you have a home in religious narrative?  Do you keep the company of history’s great contemplatives?

When you think about it – tranquility soothes the Spirit and we are all first and foremost spiritual beings.  Tend to that thought and act on it – and you will come to greater tranquility – no more anxiety, no more naked vulnerability to intrusions and the idiocy of the noise and disorder surrounding you.

Shalom.

Postscript – When we see another, do we see a man or a woman or do we see color, age, ethnicity, status, physical attributes?  Can tranquility come from such seeing?

 Understanding is the reward of faith.  Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.

St. Augustine, in On the Gospel of St. John

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Do we spend time “understanding” and, ironically, not knowing but more and more narrowly?  Are we a society and culture that would seek to know a great deal of nothing too useful?  A society that has much, and gathers minutia but not truth – truth of large things, encompassing things, deep things, lasting things, perpetual things, eternal things?

What if St. Augustine is correct – that one must first believe before one understands?

Imagine how wrong so many would be!  Imagine how much time we wasted.  How many people watched the wrong movie.  Built their home on less than sand.

To understand – believe …

Shalom.

 

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?

Norton Juster, in The Phantom Tollbooth

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There is perfection.  And peace.  That silence is the warmth of a Divide blanket that defends against the raw cold of a harsh winter.

That silence is holy, eternal, forever and a more.

Shalom.

The man who has been made in God’s image is the inner man, the incorporeal man, incorruptible, immortal one.

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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Want to understand disorder and those who are disordered?  Just listen to Origen’s words above which date back to the Second Century after Christ.

His point is this: we are made in God’s image and that means we are in essence and fundamentally the man within us, the interior man.  In this, where God resides in us, we are as God: incorporeal – more than bodily man, here we are incorruptible – that is good at the core of our being.  We are in this life God – immortal – cannot die except that we pass from mortal life to eternal life.

So the disorder ones are those who know not their interior being – have never examined themselves thoughtfully, who – in contrast – live an exterior life – one of appearance, one that seeks status and advantage and fame and wealth, and cannot deny their most corrupt passions and desires – however sick and self-destructive they might be.

For them: more drugs, more sex, more rock and rock – more “free” stuff – more dependence, less autonomy, less dignity, less responsibility – childhood forever – all demands met – no God – no morality – ideology governs – and the ideologues say “kill the infidels who dare to have faith.”

Friends, we live among disordered people and they make life very dangerous and quite its contrary.   Their living denies life – they are the dead who must bury the dead.

This is precisely the circumstances we live in today.  Without God insanity becomes sanity, and bad becomes good, chaos becomes peace – Yes, lies prosper and pass as truth.

Shalom.

If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine …he must take up his cross and come with me.  Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; but it a man let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self.  What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self ?

Matt 16: 24-26

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Picking up our Cross is exactly what we are asked to do – just as Christ did.  Our Cross is the life we are given – not a life we design and work to exclude or avoid the unpleasant aspects, the injuries, hard work, betrayals and misfortunes – but all of life that comes to us.

How many Catholics and Christians have I seen that try to live “designer” lives – lives that fashion to the exclusion of life’s difficulties?  Many.  Too many.  They are faint believers at best.

The test of a Believer is this: do you have the faith in God that allows you to accept the life you have been called to live with the confidence that God has His needs and reasons to send these challenges your way?  Do you carry your Cross?

It is that simple.  Live life – and live free and in faith with your Creator.

Shalom.

I am not … addressing myself to the happy possessors of faith, but to those many people for whom the light has gone out, the mystery has faded, and God is dead … To gain an understanding of religious matters, probably all that is left to us today is the psychological approach.

Carl G. Jung, M.D., in Psychology and Religion: West and East

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That we live in troubled times is not much in dispute.

In a nutshell, we are living among many people who have lost their way.  Their conduct is that of incomplete people – those who are not fully developed.  Their anger and odd fixations give them away.  Likewise their rote, uncritically examined ideological disposition so aggressively pursued regardless of its historically exhibited failure and the chaos and incoherence that tired, discredited ideology breeds – gives you a picture of the core disorder we now witness.

That said Jung can be quite helpful.  You ask, “Why?”

Well because our under-development is rooted in our neglect of those historical records, the wisdom stories of the Ages, that once kept us informed, confident, largely contented, competent, cordial, collegial, communal and wise.

As Jung notes – religious narratives are ignored as God is dismissed from view.  With that a vital resource to full growth and development, and cogent insight has been forfeited and disorder multiples as people, uninformed as they are, hunker down and push ahead at all costs no matter the injury to self, other, venerable institutions, truth, morality, biology, nature or society at-large.

That is America today.  Enter Carl Jung.

As Jungian psychiatrist Edward F. Edinger, M.D. notes – religious narratives and Christ, in particular, provide us with a way to full growth and healthy individuation.  That is to say, Christ (like other religious wisdom figures around whom a faith is built) imparts lessons that allow us to move from an ego-driven life to a full, healthy, wise and contented life as whole Self.  In short, Christ provides us in his life and his words access to our True Self and the peace that it brings.

On Jung’s behalf, Dr. Edinger offers provides many useful illustrations.  I site but one as an example.  Consider these words of Christ found is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 10, verses 34-36:

… I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.

Considered literally this would seem quite upsetting – but its meaning is quite sane and furthers each person’s whole growth and maturity because it is saying that we must grow free of these bonds sufficiently to come to know who we are uniquely made to be.

Yes, the wonderful contributions of loving parents and extended family notwithstanding – each of us is intended to live fully as we have been made – not in the narrows of those who loving us may have captured us – even inadvertently.

The point of this illustration is to say – our disordered conduct is an indication that we no longer understand what full human develop is as one grows independently and in so doing becomes a healthy human being who has grown from ego to one’s True Self.

Think critically of what you see in others and ask yourself – does Jung lead us back to our historic, religious narrative and the competence and health that it produces?  Likewise, does our culture inhibit our growth and development?  And this – why do we listen willy-nilly to others who do not seem very stable or wise?

God is dead no more … and never was.

Shalom.

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