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A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love the servitude.

Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World

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This describes the trajectory of the Liberal Left in America from FDR to the last administration … and it surely describes the vocal activists on the Left and their lemmings in elected office, in the judiciary, in education, the media, and those running government agencies, departments and bureaus.

We have witnessed what Huxley identified.

The tension today is between totalitarians and those who embrace freedom and welcome individual responsibility.  This is a serious division.

Religion figures into this rather substantially as those who favor freedom and individual responsibility arise from a religious ethos that stands for both freedom and individual responsibility.  Yes, one side sees the person as a sacred being and the other sees such notions as an obstacle to power and control.  The former thinks of others as substantive and the latter thinks of them as a bridge to power.

We meet today a very fundamental conflict.  One can be concerned by this: those in significant places in the society have been led to an ideology that does not value the propositions and beliefs which our Founders cherished so.

Shalom.

Democrats and Children – Astonishing.  The Democrats have a new-found passion for children.  They cannot stand to see children at the border separated from their parents as law may require (in some cases).  Yet, as to unborn children they have no emotions, it seems, otherwise abortion would be rare now that conception is widely and easily available.  Their “sincerity” did not motivate the Senators and Congressmen to do a darn thing to correct the situation.  You see they prefer government by the fiat of Presidential Executive Order – that way they never have to be on record as to the hard issues we face and they can sit on their fannies, count their money, and complain endlessly.  Lest you see this clearly, this is the totalitarianism which Huxley saw coming.

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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.

 

Without a life of the spirit our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory.  The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible reality – not as we imagine it, but as it really is.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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I am sure if you look about you see as many do that people have become difficult, coarse and quite narcissistic – self-centered.  Likewise you see, like others, hostility and incoherence – just look at the news and the unimaginable crimes – a woman kills her infant child and hides the body, a mass shooting of innocents by a troubled young man.

There are, alarmingly, many signs of disorder – individuals whose behavior and utterances indicate they are “lost,” disoriented, without sensible purpose or direction.  Just look at addictions and the vast spread of drug use – broken families, illegitimate births, killing unborn children in the womb, violent crime.

These things do not arise all by themselves.  They are a manifestation of a life without any spiritual context, that is a life of illusion, life without substance – or meaning … and aimless, a life that is destructive of self and others.

In such circumstances reality, sanity, health, stability, relationships, contentment, and nation are lost to us.

You look and see the problems growing and see in others behavior that gives you caution, concern and seeks that you keep your distance and be on guard?  All of this is attributed to but one thing: No God.

All of course is made worse by the ignorance of those in media who are as lost as anyone, and by politicians on the Left who manifest some of the same traits and many ideas that are void of wisdom – but do us harm, and further chaos.  The Left discounts God and the essential nature of spiritual life and all that it propounds — –  their work and words are simply the product of their self-deception and their narcissism.

God identifies the order of things.  Deny this and life and nations disintegrate rather rapidly.  Better return to the beginning.

Shalom.

“God resisteth the proud.”

Ja 6: 6

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The costs of pride are substantial.  The prideful are not careful.  They become lax and costly mistakes follow.  The prideful in leadership pave the way for a nation’s demise.

When those in leadership positions are prideful you can expect giant mistakes that are costly to all who are subject to their actions.  Yes, pride leads to lawlessness.

We see the obvious destructive consequences of prideful, partisan Leftist bureaucrats in the fiasco that has been the government handling of the Hillary Clinton national security breach, and we see it in the lawless “weaponizing” for the law enforcement and national security apparatus of the federal government against candidate and now President Donald Trump.  Yes, pride can excuse those who put us to risk, destroy the innocent, the rule of law, liberty and a nation.

How can pride be so costly?

Pride robs God of the glory due Him.  Pride makes of God – an exile, an enemy.  It creates a vast distance between God and the human being.  In that distance grace disappears.

The prideful are isolates from God, others and self.  They destroy community.

As leaders, the prideful make us strangers or enemies to one another.  Nothing destroys a person or a nation like pride.  It is toxic; it is corrosive.  It divides.  It kills the soul and the person.  It stokes the fire of envy and hatred.

And pride’s remedy?  The humble recognition that God is the author of all that is good – and we are merely recipients (not the source) of all the good that we might do, or that we might experience.

For a guide to daily humility and a protection from the evil that is pride, I offer this from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:7) –

” … whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Individually, and in the aggregate, we MUST humbly return to God, or we shall perish by our own hand.

Shalom.

 

She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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Along my fence line the cows are slowly chewing their way down the ridge.  They meander and are, as always, unperturbed.  The calves are the most interesting.  The youngest ones follow Mama, while the ones slightly older seem to couple in bands of three.  Unlike the elders, they wander here and there, and are often drawn to the downed tree too old to withstand time.

The morning sun has not yet risen.  It sits just behind the Blue Ridge too shy to show its face until just the right moment.

The moon appeared last night as I had never seen it.  Standing naked against a cloudless indigo sky hanging just over the mountains well before darkness.  It stayed a long time before retreating to its usual place in the high heavens.

I’ve never seen the moon show itself that way – alone, docile but invincible, large and so close.  I could see its uneven blemished surface from the craggy grays against its comforting glow.  In a world of alone there it was – big and personal – reassuring.  What is eternal is also loyal.  Such is the Divine way.

Some betray us.  I never had such instinct.  I was drawn to loyalty.  Always thought that was love.

Those who leave tell you that they are shallow.  Worthless.  Less than dust in the wind.

Words have no meaning to those who betray.  Once gone, they are dismissed forever.  Dead.  They are not the cows, or the calves, or the mountains, or the shy sun before daybreak, or the fallen tree that kept its place until age caught it as it catches each of us.

Ah, but the moon – that solitary moon – so big, so certain, so loyal and undying.  That is who I am.  Inside and out I am the moon and will be long after time takes me down.  Those who loved me and did not leave will see me in the moon and when they need me most, I’ll be there alone against that indigo sky.

Shalom.

Tasteless Media, Tasteless Left – The Washington White House Correspondence Dinner showed the crassness of the media and the Left when it featured an unfunny, insulting “comic” as their eve’s humorous.  In policy and reporting, in their politics and ignorance the Left and the media show  they are without value and should be utterly dismissed.

If the constant baseless and often loony attacks on the President are not sufficient, the hatred displayed at the Dinner was the topper.

Give the Left and the media what they have earned: your contempt and rejection.

God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times and countries.  All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself.  Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion …

Ramakrishna, in The Gospel of Ramakrishna

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I cite Ramakrishna to make this one simple point: do his words not say to you that religion is fundamental to human beings; and, that being said, does it not put to us this question: If religion is fundamental to human beings, how is it our culture and many in authority disparage religion and attempt to exclude faith from public view?

Do you need any evidence this is so?

Just look at the English courts and their medical establishment this week.  They prohibited a loving mother and father from transferring their very ill child to a hospital in Italy where his care could be sustained albeit in his terminal state.

When the laws of man override the love of two good parents one wonders where faith and respect for faith has gone?

Of course, we have many examples here in our own country.  There is a story today of a teacher told to remove a shirt that reminded people to pray.  And of course, despite the unencumbered availability of contraception, the federal government still subsidizes abortion providers.

I leave it to you to decide – have we not rejected the importance of religion and do we not see the dreadful consequences?

Indeed, just last night I saw a video of a public transit station in San Francisco where twenty to thirty people were laying about injecting themselves with heroin in broad daylight while passengers passed by.

Only a community and state where godlessness is prevalent would such degradation of a human being be accepted.

Is there any more obvious indication that God is rejected than permitting a human being to so degrade their own life and life itself in plain view of others?

This disgraceful San Francisco scene reminds me of Nazi death camps located in cities where everyday existence and commerce continued as if evil was not present.

Shame on us.  From “In God We Trust” to who cares!

Shalom.

How to hold to the moral and religious values in the face of all sorts of challenges …  What happens to people, emotionally and spiritually when they compromise certain important principles – start down the road to rationalization and self-justifications?  (Emphasis added.)

William Carlos Williams, M.D.

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These are a words of novelist and medical doctor commenting on his writing.  Like others (Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Cheever, etc.) Williams saw their work as novelist to be presenting the reader with questions as to their moral and spiritual development in the midst of life’s slippery slopes that fragment and damage the essence of full, healthy and honorable human development and existence.

Our culture today evokes the challenges Williams saw.  Compromises are abundant in an exclusionary secular culture that diminishes faith and prefers God be exiled.

Nothing good comes of diminished faith and life with God in exile.  And that is where we are at this time in America.

While you may be sensitive to the godless challenges posed by radical humanists – the question is posed: what do you do to sustain your healthy and full growth as a human being?  What do you do to maintain a mature emotional and spiritual state while others around you have abandoned their better instincts for selfish and injurious objectives and disposition?  How do you sink your self into quiet contemplation?  Come to the vital questions that authors like Williams and Percy and O’Connor present?

Lest you think you can rely on academics, the media, or the entertainment industry to offer this opportunity to you, I give you these words of analytical psychiatrist Robert Coles who notes: “I have seen plenty of arrogance and selfishness in … “humanistic” professions – snobbishness or self-importance and meanness or hardness of spirit in doctors … clergy … educators … the … arts…”  And he added that “Years … of education … have not prevented many … from becoming dogmatic, smug, and fiercely antagonistic to those who happen to disagree …”

Let’s face it.  You have the sacred call to grow to fullness and no one but you can see that this happens.  If your culture lacks the moral and spiritual content and character you desire – then it’s on you to attend to its failure, to correct the situation.  On you!

Shalom.

Religious experience is inevitably human experience.  It has to do with the human consciousness both individual and collective.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If religious experience is human experience, then it follows that human experience is religious experience. 

That said, experiencing human life is the experience of religious (or spiritual) reality.  What we are saying is this: one cannot separate the experience of the Divine from that of the mundane – from human existence.  Indeed, God is neither absent nor dead – but rather present and alive in us – whether we acknowledge it or not.

Assume for a moment that this is absolutely true.  With that, one might ask what caused us to discount God and Divine experience?  And, what is the price we might pay for living only in the mundane world?

The first question is answered by Charles Taylor in his book A Secular Age where he lays out in considerable detail how the Enlightenment and the Reformation pushed us toward an exclusive humanism that counted reason and the mundane world as the preeminent focus of human life and in so doing radically altered (narrowed) the scope of human experience.

As to the “price” we have paid – I would say that it made each life less full and made living far more difficult.  My view is that we have vested much hope and expectation in the “genius” of the imperfect (and often nefarious, selfish or disordered) human person and his and her institutions, governance, ideas, ideologies, laws, rules, regulations, fades and fancies.

In short, man in his power and conduct is not God – not even close.

Abandoning the relationship with the Divine, one is left to rely on one’s own very limited ways and many weaknesses.  The consequences are visible today.  Need I remind anyone of adultery, abortion, divorces, child neglect and abuse, homicides, suicides, sexual molestation, drug addictions, obesity, mental illness, unhappiness, envy, hostility, randon mass shootings, political corruption, widespread government inter-generational dependence, racism, gender confusion, teen pregnency, unwed mothers, broken families, fatherless families, female teachers having sex with their underage students … etc.

If human experience is religious experience, you would have to conclude that in today’s secular culture we show evidence that we are neither living as human beings nor as religious people.

Where are you in this matter?

Shalom.

“The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.”

Jn 10: 25, 26

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These are the words Jesus spoke to Jews in Jerusalem at the Temple.  Let’s put them in today’s context.

Yesterday a young man in Toronto drove a van down the sidewalk and killed ten people and seriously injured more.  A few days ago in Nashville, Tennessee, a young man entered a restaurant early in the morning and shot and killed four patrons and injured others.  Each young man had a history of mental health problems.

These two incidents are reminders of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings that took the lives of 17 students.  That young man also has a history of mental illness.  In that case, the public authorities totally failed to address the needs of that very troubled young man.

” … you do not believe, because you are not my sheep …”

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous is dependent on recognition of the existence of God (“a higher power’) and on our limitations to address our problems as if we are that “higher power.”

It seems to me that the constant signs of our neglect of those in need and the violent actions of those who (in their deranged state) randomly kill innocent people is an indication of our neglect of our own spiritual needs.  

I think too of the two lesbian women who adopted six foster care children and retained custody of those children while having had run afoul of child welfare officials in three states.  As you recall these two women drove a vehicle (with the children in it) off a California cliff to their collective deaths 100 feet below.

We are a troubled nation because we have forsaken belief … because we have neglected our full health, our need for spiritual sustenance.

Indeed we live like we are each a god unto our self.  We are, in this regard, absolutely NOT helped by all the discontented “special pleaders” in politics and particularly the angry godless voices on the Left who create division and disorder and their counterparts in the Democrat Party in the U.S. Congress, the federal bureaucracy and in state and local government.  Yes, godless voices breed sickness and hostility.

Let’s be honest, we awake each day to read or hear about one or more horrific accounts of murder, child abuse, infanticide, abhorrent sexual assaults, or some form of human deprivation that is beyond our imagination or understanding … and we see day after day the utter failure of authorities to do much of anything about these matters.

You know I recall the hubris of Mr. Obama who boasted about fundamentally transforming America and that no one seemed ever to ask in what form this change might take, nor did anyone dare to say to him: “Hey, pal, you’re NOT God and you have accomplished nothing thus far in your life.”

The point to be made?  Man is not God.  Heck, we are not now even clearly showing that we are the Shepherd’s sheep.

Might be time to believe again.  But do we have it in us to be humble as we once were?

Shalom.

Warped Self-interest – No Democrat Senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.  They did so largely to deprive President Trump the person he wanted in that position.

Mr. Pompeo, a former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A., graduated first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School.  He has had both a successful military career and an excellent business career in which he started (as I recall) two successful businesses.

When you think that we have had recently both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State (neither of them who achieved any particular success in their lifetime), it shows you that Democrats always put their own interests before the interests of the Nation and its people.  Shameful.

In order to be enchanted we must be, above all, capable of seeing another person – simply opening one’s eyes will not do.  (Emphasis added.)

Jose Ortega y Gasset, in On Love, Aspects of a Simple Theme

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In his book A Secular Age, Charles Taylor tells us that those in secular culture have lost their capacity for enchantment.

To be enchanted is to be charmed, enraptured – capable of being taken by delight.  The word itself is rooted in the Latin word incantare meaning: to chant magic words.

What Taylor is saying is that in a secular existence one cannot easily be enraptured, taken by the mysticism of sacred things, lost in sacred words.  In terms of Ortega y Gasset – Taylor is saying that one is unable to know a love of another completely.

Mind you Ortega y Gasset reminds us that to take another in one must do so not with eyes but with heart.

Considered fully, Taylor makes a very serious observation; in secular culture we are unable to be fully human, to know the love of another as fully as we once could.  Taylor is saying in secular existence we lessen or lose the capacity for intimacy, for relationship with others – lose the capacity for deep intimate union with others.  In this we are less human, less fully developed, less able to experience the mystical experience of faith or the wholeness of our being.

Taylor’s view seems right to me.

I listen to the contemporary music of the 1940’s and 50’s and I hear ballads that express the love one can have for another.  The content of the music of those days was overflowing with descriptions of the rapture of love of another.

I hear very little today that conveys such sentiments.  No now, I mostly hear coarse lyrics, and I see marital infidelity, divorce, abortion, the rise of pornography, harsh language on the public airwaves and little that models healthy devotions of man to woman, and woman to man.  It is my view that feminism has actually deprived woman of their humanity and men and women are much the worse for this.

Secularism levies a heavy price.  No wonder we manifest such unhappiness and loneliness.  Maybe it is time to reject secularism in all its crippling forms.

Shalom.

Absolutely shameful.  Congressman Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, indicated today that there was no intelligence material alleging any collusion between Russia and candidate Donald Trump that would have justified the opening of an F.B.I. investigation of Candidate Trump.  He made this comment after reviewing the existing intelligence reports that would have contained such information should it have existed.

Mr. Nunes also said that two former associates of Candidate Hillary Clinton (the former Secretary of State in the Obama administration) were disseminating information to people in the State Department – leaving Nunes and others to wonder if Hillary might have been the impetus for investigating her opponent Donald Trump.

This is all absolutely shameful and fitting a totalitarian regime.  Very serious stuff.

 

 

 

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