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Independence Day, July 4, 2018

We live in a unique Nation whose Constitution unites freedom of religion with freedom of speech.  Faith and Liberty united in one Nation.  Unique.  We had best preserve this and refute those who would destroy what we have.  God Bless America.

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Only those men are never separated from the Lord who never question His right to separate Himself from them.  They never lose Him because they always realize they never deserve to find Him, and in spite of their unworthiness they have already found Him.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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God cannot be domesticated.  God is Pure Spirit.  And, the Spirit goes where the Spirit wishes.  In this your spirit must be as clean and free as His in order to follow Him.

Our Constitution underscores this reality.  Yes, our Constitution is not just a legal or political document – it is a Spiritual document.  

In the coming days President Trump is going to nominate a person to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is quite possible the President may nominate Federal Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Judge Barrett is a Catholic, a married mother of seven children, and former Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

If she is advanced as the nominee, we will face a significant test.  The test?  Will Judge Barrett’s religion be targeted as “objectionable.”  If we hear this, we will see that those who voice this objection are undermining the very central message of the U.S. Constitution: that we are a Nation of religious freedom that is to be protected – indeed, to be honored and revered.  Our Founders knew faith led a just and free people.

Keep in mind that we are not human being seeking spiritual experience, but spiritual beings who seek human experience.  This is precisely what our Founding Fathers knew and intended to reinforce in drafting the Constitution.  In the next few weeks we shall see if we are still governed by this understanding – its wisdom.

Happy Independence Day!

Shalom.

 

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… that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You.  May they also be in us …  (Emphasis added.)

Jn 17:21

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In the recent four or five years in traveling across the country and in my daily public activities like shopping, I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to a good number of African-Americans – mostly men.  The conversations have always been cordial – actually wonderful, warm, joyful and a real blessing.

In each of the conversations I am referring to, I have offered and observation which has been universally and warming accepted.  My observation?  It is this: I say to the man with whom I have shared kind words and some laughter – this simple thing: “You know, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it is that others are intent on turning us against one another.  If I or you were drowning and someone threw us a rope that saved our life, would we ever care what their race, or religion, or ethic heritage was?”  Not one of my conversation partners ever responded other than this way: “You are so right, I am sick of the division.”

” … that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I am in You …”

Look, we have one critical responsibility and that is to be one as the Father and Son are one.

That said, ask yourself as you listen to those whose words are presented in public discourse – Does this man or woman divide us?  Or do their word bring us together?

I pray that we all start to apply these two questions to all who speak to us.

We will die by division – just as we will live and prosper only as one.

If you doubt this, think of this one thing.  In the Genesis story God provides man a companion – a woman because it is not good that man be alone.  Friends, could this be any plainer?  Men and women are clearly different and yet we are made whole by one another.  Does God not make this plain as day?  You know the answer.  Let’s live this reality, this truth.  One.  One.  One.

Dear God, help us see that we are one, meant to be one – help us turn from those who would divide us, create hostility for their own dubious benefit.  Amen.

Shalom.

If this message makes any sense to you, please share it with others.  We really are in this life together.  We own the problems we have and we have a way out of the troubles we had created.  Let’s get busy being one.

… in every society where the distinction of ranks has been completely established, there have been always two different schemes or systems of morality current at the same time; … one may be called the strict or austere; the other the liberal, or, if you will, the loose system.  The former is … admired and revered by the common people; the latter is commonly … esteemed and adopted by … people of fashion.

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations

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There you have it.  The common folks live by an austere morality – one that adheres to common understandings of what is good and reflects a system of belief, their faith.  In contrast, the elites live a lax system of morality – one in which they do what pleasures or advantages them regardless of the consequences to them, others or the society at large.

This is precisely the dynamic we experience here in the United States and the West today.  Make no mistake – lacking faith, the elites also lack courage – but selfishness they have in spades – always ready to assert their views no matter the obvious destruction they yield.  Indeed, they ruin life for the vast populace without a whimper or pause.  They lack conscience – although they “moralize” and relentlessly hurl acquisitions like “racists,” “sexists,” “bigot” etc. at those who dare to oppose their idiocy.

By elites, who do we mean?  Those at the top of the economic ladder (especially in social media and in the hi-tech industry), those in positions of political power, and those in academia, the celebrity class in Hollywood, in entertainment and media.

And those of the common weal?  The workers, homemakers, the middle class which the Left has abandoned completely – preferring to know them in passing as “a basket of deplorables.”

This is the cultural divide we now suffer.  At no time in American history has the fight between the “privileged” and the “common folk” been so apparent or meant so much.

In this collision much is at stake.  Our identity is at risk.  Will we be a sick or healthy society?  A fatherless-nation?  Will family survive?  Will drug addiction be common and accepted?  Will we continue “social engineering” to meet the fancy of sexual fetish, Marxist social theory and ideology, racial prejudice and gender division?  Will godlessness prevail over religious belief?  Will amorality win?

It is a daily source of both disgust and amazement that all the talk of our present problems hardly ever contains anything that resembles an informed comment.  One listens and thinks immediately: those talking have not paused for a moment to learn anything – they are, as a consequence, only adding to our collective ignorance when they open their mouths.  Yes, the elites are ill-formed, poorly educated and virtually always wrong.

If you wish to comprehend how an unsuspected individual like Donald Trump managed to get elected, you need only know this: the divide between the populace and the elites is real, it is close to its burning point and it has been forming from the 1960’s to the present.

People are knee deep in the horse-hockey of the Democrat Left and they don’t like it.

Finally, you might note that Adam Smith centuries ago laid out the basic conflict between the privileged and the populace – and we now see its explosive nature.  A little reading and real learning goes a long way in making sense of the chaos and insanity that visits us now.

Shalom.

Postscript – If you wonder why no one among the elites who violates law or ethical codes ever gets held responsible, the answer is simple.  Elites control the legal and political structure.  They protect one another.  All those not among the elites are dismissed out of hand, except that they are to be used for the advantage of elites.

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.  (Emphasis added.)

Alexis de Tocqueville

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Open up The Wall Street Journal today and you’ll see stories about a government agency established in 2008 which has done virtually nothing … a story about how Iran was able to purchase American airplane parts through one of our NATO “allies” despite our embargo prohibiting such purchases, our collecting a handful of the 11 million illegal aliens in the country (many with felony histories) … details about how once again we focus on gun “control” and regulations regarding gun purchase in the wake of the Parkland murders without any thought that people, government failure and a sick culture are the problem.

Likewise you’ll find an opinion piece that laments the shape of American culture with focus on the decline of democracy in America without once mentioning our nation’s peculiar and extraordinary linkage of freedom and religion (that is, Christianity – to be specific) as the foundation to our representative democracy.

Yep, you got it!  We have lots of tongues wagging that is for sure.  But those speaking are unrestrained by the rigor to learn before vocalizing.  Their words are unstudied – they speak but do not know.  They make repeated mistakes.  One, they do not know of America’s unique and religiously inspired origin, nor do they understand that Christian morality is the essential ingredient of peaceful civic life in America’s representative democracy with its autonomous states and federal system.  Two, they ignore primary causes of our decline as found in the last five to six decades: radical egalitarianism, radical individualism, the adoption of the failed ideas of Marxism and socialism, destruction of the family, advancement of identity politics that divide us on fundamental fault lines of race, gender, sexual morality, ethnicity, class, ideology and the like.

The fact of the matter is quite simple.  Liberty and religion go together.  Deny faith and liberty is extinguished.  In their place – bigotry, hatred, division, hostility, vast ranks of intergenerational idled dependents, addictions, declining mortality, social chaos, institutional failure, corruption, abortion, sexual self-destruction – all tributes to nihilism.

Public voices would be well served by spending a few pennies to pick up a used copy of de Tocqueville’s two-volume Democracy in America …We’d all be well served if their mouths remained silent until they actually know who we were as Americans.

Shalom.

With Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Prayers.  Let us remember the men and women who selflessly respond everyday to dangerous circumstances in order to attend to, defend and rescue others notwithstanding the danger that is posed to themselves.

 

 

 

Nothing appeals to intellectuals more than to think they represent ‘the people.’  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul Johnson

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Therein lies the identification of our present historic moment in time – and the foundational explanation of Donald Trump’s election as President.

In short, the elites reside “aloft” – above the common folk, the workers, the hourly wage and the part-timer, the displaced miner and factory worker, the retail clerk, the Walmart shopper, the truck driver, the firefighter and the police officer, the Sunday churchgoers, the folks who do the fighting and dying like their Daddy and Uncles did.

You see in the last five decades we have flourished economically but the “big money” went to the elites, the celebrities, the media types, tenured university professors at privileged colleges, and the political class and lobbyists, to the mavens of social networks and internet commerce, to expensive cities, ritzy suburbs and exclusive enclaves in Malibu, Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Naples, Chevy Chase, Potomac and Bethesda and such … but not to the common folks who do all the “heavy lifting” and die before they age.

Recently I heard a Yale Professor and Nobel Prize winner in economics tell an interviewer (without any hesitation) that President Trump had some nerve going to Davos for a gathering of the international elites to discuss world economics.  His justification for his comment was this: Mr. Trump is a “popularist,” a nationalist, one who favors national borders – the things at this self-selective collection of the super wealthy, world political figures, bankers, financiers, globalists, liberals and social activists simply reject and despise.

Well now, don’t they know better than those of us who live closer to the ground and deal (unlike them) with the battle of survival every single day – day after day, morning to night.

Imagine the ignorance these elites possess, the self-deception and pridefulness multiplied in this small hot-house of arrogant “we know better than you do” yahoos.  Whence we hear those not in attendance are a “basket of deplorables” – not good enough for elites but sufficient for cannon-fodder, wage slavery and permanent dependence.  Atrocious!

This is central to our troubles today.  The lesser among us are invisible and thus expendable.  You can’t miss what you can’t see.  They don’t see us.  We are chattel at best to these sequestered elites.

Today we have a divide that threatens our demise.

This is our historical moment.  Those who would lead must know who comprises the ones that might follow.

The Christian who might lead knows those who struggle the most, has come from them, lives with them, has acquired their suffering and fears and their strength and courage as well.  Elites who live “aloft” can offer nothing but error and division … and if unchecked the death of what we once have known and been.

Think about it.  Who among us shows you that they know who you are?

Shalom.

Postscript – We grant too much authority to people who have gone to college – especially to the once “elite” colleges.  There is no magic to getting a college degree.

It is life experience that teaches and distinguishes a person.  What have they done?  What trials have they faced?  How did they respond?  What did they learn?  How vast and varied is their experience?  Have they maintained healthy relationships over time?  What insights can they share?  Are they wise?  Patient?  Stable?  Invariable?  Do they inspire confidence?

 

People gain a sense of meaning when their lives cohere across levels … of existence.

Jonathan Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis

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Here psychologist Jonathan Haidt is referring to these levels: psychological, physical and sociocultural.  I use this quote to make one point: namely, the human person is complex.  We are not just “reason,” nor are we governed by reason as Haidt so expertly shows in his work.

Indeed, if you need to understand the complexity of the human person just become familiar with Haidt’s discourse on the complexity of the brain (Chapter I in The Happiness Hypothesis) which details how various parts of the brain have evolved over time, how parts of the brain to some extent compete with one another – and how in some people portions of the brain can overrun others making a life go rather dramatically “off track.”

So why do I call attention to this?

I mention this because public discourse does not conform to what Haidt and others know about the functioning of the human person.  To be more particular, political discourse is far, far from reflective of reality and seemingly utterly ignorant of just how people function, how errant conduct proceeds in the human person – how conduct is often the product of varied or injured aspects of one’s brain vs. a normative condition of healthy neuro-functioning.

Stated plainly, the ideologues of the Left (people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama and so many others) proceed with Karl Marx and his 19th century notions as if they are the pinnacle of insight and intelligence –(a) despite evidence that communist societies and their economics are proven disasters, and (b) as if we know nothing in the last 150 years of neuroscience and the derivative functioning of the human brain from its wellness to its imperfections and range of capacities. 

Stated plainly – the lesser “intellects” (using this term very loosely) promote “sexual freedom” and propound gender nonsense without any regard to neuroscience, psychology or sociocultural and interpersonal consequences.  Ditto, the advocates of drug use, the normalization of homosexuality, the public policy creations of intergenerational public dependency, fatherless families, the soft bigotry of “affirmative action,” the stupidity and fiction of an omnipotent and wise central government, socialism and the devaluing and dismissal of individual responsibility, sacred narratives, tradition and religion and consciousness of God.

Reading Haidt it is hard not to conclude – we are influenced by intellectual dullards and those with parrot-like recitations of outdated Leftists foolishness.  Ugh!  So far from good sense, knowledge, humility, Truth and wisdom of the Ages.  Fools causing calamity.

Shalom.

 

 

… he who has hatred nourishes the devil.

St. Basil, in Sermo III De Charitate

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A group supporting the Democrat Party candidate for Governor in Virginia posted a television ad that depicted a white man driving a pickup truck with a Confederate flag on it and a bumper sticker of his Republican opponent.

The ad displayed minority children running in fear from the truck.  The implication was that the driver (a White male) intended to harm the children.

This was despicable.  It branded all White males as racists, those who do harm to children.  While the controversial ad was eventually “pulled” by the group that authored it, the Democrat candidate never renounced it.

This is what we have come to.  Identity politics allows the maligning a race and a gender without a shred of conscience.  What next?

I have yet to hear anyone remind us that the Nazis embraced identity politics and unspeakable deeds followed.

Hatred is integral to identity politics.  Allowed to flourish it will lead to a very evil end.

Where is the kindness we once knew?  The care of others.  Morality.  Decency?  Honor?

Unless we confront those who advance hatred or tolerate and excuse it, we will earn a results that will be catastrophic.  Shame, shame, shame.

The prudent sees the evil … but the naive go on, and are punished for it.

Prov 22: 2,3

Shalom.

Footnote – I grew up in poverty in a city whose legacy included signs in shop owners’ windows which read: “No Irish Need Apply.”  For decades I practiced law and my clients were predominantly minorities, usually poor, and often children.  Truthfully, I strongly resent being placed in a pickup truck hunting children, minority children.  I refuse to be so characterized.

Shame on those who think they can do this.  Imagine their disordered way of living … they think they can woo white and white male voters by coloring them as racists, bigots.  Who thinks like this?

 

 

 

Jung felt that the pursuit of wholeness was essential for redressing the split between the conscious and the unconscious.  Although the differentiation … is a natural part of psychiatric development, a total break between the two realms can cause psychic problems.

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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Dr. Smith, a Jungian psychologist whose focus is human development and the history of religion, goes on to quote Carl Jung, M.D., who said the “more powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will” the less well and whole we are. In this state, psychic problems follow.

Why do I bring this up?

Well it is quite simple.  I hear from people quite often that they see and encounter people whose actions seem disordered, selfish, troubled, and without concern for others, irrational.  Indeed, Jung is talking about this very issue – about people who are “unconscious” – cut off from their whole being.

Dr. Jung is talking about human wholeness – the unification of the whole human person – the person’s full human development (intellectual, social, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, etc.) as the object of our creation and existence; and I am concerned that culture can either advance or impede this development.  Further (having studied the relationship between faith and exclusionary secular culture) I see that we produce an abundance of unhealthy, even disintegrated individuals, and that unnecessary chaos, conflict, suffering, division and isolation abound.  May I reference Harvey Weinstein and the legions of married female teachers engaged in sexual conduct with their underage students as “a for instance.”

Consistent with Jung, when man becomes the exclusive focus of man the individual self becomes all important and man’s reason is cultivated at the cost of the unconscious aspects of his being.  Said another way, when man is focused exclusively on man his psyche (soul) is forgotten and problems manifest.

Yes, in our secularized culture we have become one-dimensional, trapped in self and materiality but devoid of a metaphysical intelligence (and spiritual maturity) and hence fall short of the capacity for a full range of experience and human development.  Frankly, we are not well.  We are fragmented at best – lack the capacity for introspection, self-examination, intimacy, and the ability to receive others.  To the contrary, we objectify others and cannot fully comprehend the bizarre actions (even tragedies) that surround us.

Case in point: we are mystified by the actions of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock.  His autopsy shows no brain damage to explain his rampage and the authorities can find no particular motive, personal social footprint or provocation for his actions.

Unable to see as other than diminished secularists, they ignore the Unibomber in explaining Mr. Paddock.  They do not recall the Unibomber’s rage arouse from his parents who demanded he forsake other people and things, from childhood on, in favor of constant study.  His parents made him a slave of his intellect.

Yes, in a single fit of rage as a teenager he screamed this to them: “You never let me have a friend!”

It is hard to imagine a more chilling indictment of one’s parents nor a more dreadful, socially starved existence.  He, like Paddock, was a greatly diminished person, one far from wholeness – asocial, isolated, alone.

The neglect of our God-given fullness is the cause of the serious disorder among the godless from top to bottom of the social strata.  We are devoted to self and self alone – and far less well for it.

If we continue in this way, our suffering and murderous chaos, abhorrent interpersonal behavior, group violence, corruption and cover-up, and our isolation one from another will continue us on a destructive, evil path.

When God is neglected, the soul cannot be well.  We prove this daily.

Shalom.

If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things work out.

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture

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I’ve never been a fan of whiners so the well-healed NFL football players, coaches and owners who put their social complaints on the captured audience of ticket-holders and television viewers have lost my interest and respect.  Shame on them.  Nothing admirable about them – nothing.

Just watched Patriots Day about the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Excellent movie.  More than that a terrific story about tough-minded, loving men, women and children who rallied together as one to see that those who killed innocent people were apprehended and punished.  It is a story about courage, toughness, achievement, honor, resolve, determination, individual strength, shared mission, sacrifice, community, love.

I grew up in Boston in a very testy public housing complex.  I know these people.  Many have been my friends for 64 years and more.  They are my family.  They would sacrifice for me and I for them.  Several recently faced tragic medical situations, I kept in touch: encouraging and caring.  I prayed for them and, as is always the case in tragic situations, I drew closer to God and became more thankful for all that we are generously given – especially for friends, neighbors, the capacity to care for others – and love God and others more than self.

Today, I see the legions of complainers in American culture today and am sickened by this – disgusted with them.  I knew a far different life.  I knew the life of taking what you get and moving forward, proving the obstacles non-existent, defying others who thought less of me by being more a person than they were.  I was not a genius but I was a hard worker, determined, tough, a realist who saw the near-empty glass and said: “Damn, I’ll fill the thing and more like it.”

I knew the bigotry that befalls the guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  The thoughts others affix to the poor neighbor and its residents.  This was my badge of courage – a badge shared by others in my same situation.  I saw life being raised with one parents and not much money.  I lived that life.  Became the first in my family to go to college.  First to graduate from college, go to law school, become part of a profession.

I became an Army officer.  Went on to graduate school at Johns Hopkins, worked in the U.S. Congress on foreign policy matters, had a successful law practice helping the poor, the sick, the under-represented.  People wrote articles about my work, about me.  I walked my wife through a devastating illness that took her life at age 29.  I left law in my late 50’s to earn a graduate degree in theology at Notre Dame, became a Catholic convert and vowed religious Catholic Brother.  I raised a successful son with his own Ph.D.  By the grace of God, he is a better man than I am – talented, smart, a terrific son, father and husband.  Ya, I was busy … I had no time to whine nor taste for it.  Like those around me, I saw bigotry and said “Screw you, I’ll show you who I am and what I can do.”  Their bigotry was motivation to me.  I didn’t sit on my fanny or make a political statement: I lived and defied those who discounted me and my friends.

At the end of the movie Patriots Day the men and women who participated in the hunt for the hate-filled brothers who killed and maimed children and adults spoke of visiting those wounded and without limbs and made this point: none were bitter – but rather they were optimistic, courageous – ready to strive, to live and prosper.  Yes, working class people I know are – not whiners … they are Boston Tough. 

Damn it, we ought to learn from them.

Shalom.

 

The social disintegration which has followed in the wake of … (Leftist) “liberation” has seldom provoked any serious reconsideration of the … assumptions – vision – which led to such disasters.

Thomas Sowell, Ph.D.

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Yesterday an Oberlin-educated liberal woman New York judge released a mentally ill man on his own recognizance (without posting bail) after the man had entered a New York City police station and tried to take a female officer’s gun from her. (A loss for those in need of mental health treatment, the police, the citizens of New York City, the judiciary, the rule of law, compassion and common sense.)

With this, I thought of Thomas Sowell and how American liberalism has damaged and destroyed society without any accountability but for the increasing disdain that much of the common folk in the Republic are beginning to show at the ballot box.

Lest people think Dr. Sowell is part of the “White Power” band that the present day sing-song liberals so often implore to justify bursts of Leftist anger, Thomas Sowell, is African-American, a U.S. Marine who fought in Korea, a Harvard and Columbia-educated man with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.  He has, by the way, long been a clear-headed critic of the American Left and the nonsense they propose and force on others.  Yes, smart, good, informed people debunk the Left and American liberalism as it should be debunked … and they are right as rain.

Ironically, yesterday I heard Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a lawyer, offer reasonable concern for the under-tested marketing of vaccines now used on children.  For his concern, Mr. Kennedy (a liberal) has been lampooned by the Left, shunned and discounted for stating his concern.

That is today’s American Left – strongly intolerant of views that are not their own.

Yes, we live in a dark era of social, political and personal disintegration – a disposition sustained and spread by American liberalism today.

Whither truth, honesty, intellect, common sense, free speech, morality, decency, maturity and humility?  No sense listening to these guys anymore.  They have ruled themselves “out-of-order.”

Shalom.

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