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A guy needs somebody to be near him.  A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.  Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s as he’s with you.  I tell ya, a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.

John Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men

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Like many people yesterday and last night I watched television coverage of the Parkland, Florida high school murders.  Frankly, the most significant and most revolting aspect of this tragedy is simply this: no one – not one person – knew Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old student who committed these murders!

Most troubling: no school official seemed to know anything about a young men who was within their jurisdiction.  No teacher appeared to tell us who he was.  No school counselor appeared to tell us who he was.  The school principal never appeared at all.  Those who previously disciplined the student did not appear.

The police chief spoke – he could offer no personal information on the lad.  Not where he lived. Who were his parents.  Whether he had full or half-siblings.  How long he lived in the community.  Who he had known.  What he might have done in school.  What grade level he had been in.  How long he was in the school or the Parkland educational system.  Whether he has received psychological or counseling services through the school or benefited from medical or mental health or social services referrals.

This kid was an absolute stranger to these people.

Listening to the coverage – it was as if this fellow just appeared out of thin air.

The state “dignitaries” likewise knew nothing about this young man.  The Florida Governor was a blank sheet as to Nikolas Cruz.  Ditto the Florida Attorney General, the Parkland School Superintendent.  No one knew Nikolas Cruz – No one.

As you sit today and ponder what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday – there is one thing you can know for sure – those who had charge and care of student Nikolas Cruz did not care for him, did not know him … and in effect put him on course to these murders.

A gun did not kill these murdered students.  Oh noabject, inexcusable indifference of adults did.  Shame on those who failed this young person.

Let’s face the truth, Friends – we have become a culture devoid of intimacy.  Simple caring and acts of friendship are fewer – far fewer – than they once were.  And yet we fool ourselves while dividing ourselves into small self-centered and angry groups separated by race, politics, gender, sexual “preferences”, ethnicity … at the same time we shun God and those who believe in God.    

Indifference and those who are indifferent killed these high school students the very same way they killed Nikolas Cruz.

Some Ash Wednesday in the year 2018!!!  If we ever needed God, we need God now!!!

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

Shalom.

The Aftermath.  One day after the Parkland tragedy and the hysteria commences: talk of mental illness without any indication that Mr. Cruz was ever diagnosed … and talk of banning guns … Yet, not any evidence of introspection.

It is always easiest to point blame away from ourselves.

Let’s be plain.  Parkland is a small town of 23,000 people.  Until the 2000-2010 it was a town of 8000 plus (according to Wikipedia).  The school was probably the largest government entity to have direct daily contact with its population.

Are we to assume that this small town threw a mentally impaired kid (without a family) out of school with no concern for what he might do or whom (including himself) he might hurt?  If so – forget mental illness and guns – these people need to focus on their conduct and responsibility. 

 

 

 

 

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Ash Wednesday 2018

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and it must be polished or the luster of it will never appear.

Daniel Defoe

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The soul must be cultivated or the person is diminished and left sickened – his or her deeds false and injurious to self, others, community, culture and nation.

Neglect of the soul breeds discontent, abject ignorance and stupidity.

In American culture today, as in the West at-large, the harvest of discontent, ignorance and stupidity is abundant.  One need only look about – on Outnumbered and CNN for example. Or listen to the quarter-inch intellects on the Left to see the trouble we are in.

We have neglected the soul in favor of selfish special pleadings.  No more clearer is this than in the idiotic manner in which feminists have foolishly elevated the body over the soul and all else that is the human person.

We have built a Tower of Babel from the body parts of one gender as if all of reality relies on but one organ.  Lunacy – plain and simple.

We witness now protracted public discourse on inane subjects bolstered only by this: my genitalia matters more than anything else.

This would be humorous – give rise to a farcical one-act play, but for its destructiveness and absorption of time that could be better spent on larger issues and greater human and communal development.

Tend to the soul – silence for the fools.

Shalom.

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?

 

The most paradoxical and at the same time unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies in a totally new creation … Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has been generally left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and 20th centuries … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Well that pretty much explains the roiling discontent many feel in their souls each day and explains the concern one has for their children and grandchildren – their country, Western Civilization and the exile of God from culture.  That is to say – we no longer carry at our core the above understanding.

The abandonment or loss of this perspective also explains the errant notions that flood our culture: same-sex marriage, Marxism, feminism, racism (expressed even by those who were once its victims), fanciful ideas of multiple genders, liberal intolerance and the like.

Think about it.  Is there any reason for a Believer to adopt any of the popular mantras and divisive dispositions so present in contemporary culture?  No.  There is not.

If one believes that Christ in His resurrection conquered death, there is no need for doubt, discontent or division.  And, yes – Merton is quite right that liberal Christianity have abandoned the unconquerable truth that Christ was Resurrected and as Christians this Resurrection rescues us from all apprehension – furnishes us with certainty, frees us to live fully and in the Spirit.

So in a sense, the unease we see, the hostility and antagonism and their attendant expressions and assertions literally have no place among those who Believe as Christians.

As Merton goes on to say – “Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without … spirituality consistency.”  I add only “a moral system” at best; for I have seen in my lifetime the weak idea of “ethics” displace morality as surely as man has replaced God in secular culture.

Ironically, in the age of ethics we get endless rules and regulations of all things and the extraordinary result that those who author the rules and regulations seem never to be held to them.  Out with morality – and corruption flourishes while individual responsibility, freedom, and accountability of the rule-makers seems to disappear.

Without the recognition of the Resurrection we are (as we now show) but a culture inclined to chaos and decline, the loss of freedom and community, and the sickness of godless existence.  Our present trajectory, of course, cannot hold.  We are at a critical moment.

Where are you in your thinking and living?  Best turn to God and the Truth of the Matter.

Shalom.

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.

 

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice that thorns have rose bushes.

Alphonse Karr, in A Tour Around by Garden

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Complaining has a limited shelf life.  No one likes to be quartered with those who constantly carp.  This sort of behavior has killed many a marriage and friendship.

Such constant complaining wears one out, drags others down.

In public discourse, the Left is wearing thin.  They are the constant voice of complaint.  They are the snowflakes, the resident disgruntled.  Their taste for idiotic demonstrations makes protest nothing more than a proclamation of their sour and childish disposition.  Yes, constant complaining makes children of adults.

Make no mistake the tables turn.  People prefer optimists to pessimists, joy to anger, good to bad, palliative to caustic, calm to hysteria, life to death.

Yes, it is the rose that is the beauty – the thorn pales in comparison.

Want to annoy the Left?  Be optimistic, cheerful – turn their complaints into what they are: annoying and slightly crazed childishness.

‘Tis the season for happiness, joy, renewal, optimism, faith, strength of soul, belief and good will.  Yes, in mature people that is the season all year, year after year.

Shalom.

TV and Roses – TV is (and always has been) an opinion-shaping instrument.  Roses are not.  Roses are roses.  TV is largely aimed at shaping how you think of things like marriage, adultery, homosexuality, religion, country, race, free markets, centralized government, politics, etc.  Roses in contrast do not spread propaganda.  They just are.

Want to just be who you are made to be.  Ditch the TV.

Susan Rice – Former Obama foreign policy maven objects to Trump’s America First view.   Love that one percent growth, do ya’?  Hard to understand.

Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.

C. S. Lewis, in The Four Lives

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We are made to seek contentment, to love and be loved.  In this one fact alone is evidence of God and the essence of our sacred being, itself.   Yet, today there are piles of evidence that we are neither content, nor seemingly loving or sufficiently loved.

“Evidence?” you ask.  Yes.

Look around.  See how few intact families there are.  See the divorces.  The adulteries.  The overt expressions of selfishness and hatred.  How we have elevated sexuality and exploited the human body.  Look at the predators and those who remained silent while knowing of their assaults, their habitual abuse.  Look, too, at pornography. The sexual abuse of children.  Abortion.  Parents killing their children. The addictions.  The “normalizing” of abhorrent conduct – the fiction of “same-sex marriages,” the lunacy of multiple genders.  And the grotesque violence.  All a product of the desperately unloved.

Now contrast these things with the God who is Love.

We live in a time when God is forsaken and destruction is advanced as a substitute.  We make Sodom look tame.

Many like to point to a President as the cause of our serious problems.  Others expect “politics” or government to be the source of our health, contentment – salvation.

No, these cannot satisfy.

Our happiness resides with us, with who we are – and with the recognition that God is necessary and the source of all that is good in us, good in human existence and in this mortal world.

It is Christmas time.  The source of your happiness is born this month.  Wake up!

Shalom.

To learn to see – accustom the eye to calmness, to patience … defer judgment – grasp(ing) a case from all sides.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols

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Far too many people point to Donald Trump as the target of their discontent.  How silly!

He is a late arrival to the disorder in this country that has developed over the last five decades and accelerated dramatically in the last eight years.  

Those who blame Mr. Trump for the mess are of two stripes: (1) they are partisans responsible for the mess we are in, (2) those with knee-jerk reactions to the unsavory culture we now occupy.

The truth of the matter is we have been deconstructing this culture for most of my adult life.  Essential institutions have been weakened.  All sorts or pagan ideas and hedonistic practices have de-normalized American life.  Idiotic ideology that has proved its complete failure has been stubbornly advanced.  Few see the sickness so evident today, despite the daily evidence.

None-too-smart, the Left wishes to double-down.  Their only justification as I see it is this: hitting yourself on the head with a hammer feels so good when you finally stop.

Frankly few see at all.  As a consequence, only discreet listening is advised.  And, common sense would tell a reasonably intelligent adult: get rid of the old crowd who brought us to this broken place.

Shalom.

Polytheists have grown weary of the wildest of fictions.  Monotheists have grown weary of most of the wonderful truths.  Diabolists here and there have such a hatred of heaven and earth that they have tried to take refuge in hell.

G. K. Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man

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This is the first Christmas in my life that I have the concern that we run the risk of having Christianity stripped from our culture and this nation.

Yes, monotheists have grown weary of the wonderful truths.  We have college educated men and women who live limited lives guided by reason, but without faith.

Such a life is incomplete and, in its nature, unsustainable.  Life in reason is not and cannot be a full life, a life of depth and vision.  A culture without depth and vision cannot help but be a small life of division, a culture lacking in intimacy – a culture in which people lack peace, contentment and unity, a culture in which one forfeits a grasp of transcendence.

Absent faith, some become “disbolists” – intent on forcing their disordered thinking on others.  Make no mistake – these individuals occupy the public stage, reside in the professions, in government, education, entertainment and the media.  They form advocacy groups to advance their trouble views – discord and destruction result, decay follows.

Today, and at this Christmas, we face God versus godlessness and the times post this question: How longer will there be a Christmas in this land?

Is it not time to renew and to go forward as a witness to Christ each day?

Shalom.

” … the greatest enemy of the Gospel is ideology.  Ideology is a man-made format of how the world ought to work, and Christians instead believe(d) in the revealing truth of Scripture.”  (Emphasis added.)

Charles Colson

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Human beings since the beginning of time have wanted to proclaim their own divinity.  We do this no less today than we always have.

Think about government and politics today.  We place confidence in government in a manner that thwarts our reliance on God and diminishes the growth and development of our faith.

When we vest trust and need in government and politics we undermine our faith in God, reduce the scope of our human, psychological and spiritual existence and our wisdom, certitude and contentment.

The limits of human institutions has been recorded in the New and Old Testament.  We are less able to perfect the world than we think.  Yes, our ego is not a path to omnipotence but rather often a display of our limitations and our need of God.

Our political party on the Left does just that: having no relationship with God and relying on the (dubious) “genius” of man and woman – it stubbornly sells what does NOT WORK, namely: man’s reliance on man to the exclusion of God.  Frankly the failures of the Left are visible in history and in the world – now and for years prior to today.

The trust in man, politics, ideology and government is a primary source of our many present problems and divisions.  Only a fool would continue to advocate further self-centered reliance on man and man alone.  It is time to humbly admit our estrangement from God and take responsibility for many follies that this behavior has produced.

Vesting confidence in government as we do is vesting confidence in man and woman and that is one of the primary ways this nation draws away from God and advances secular existence to the exclusion of our relationship with God and the contentment and stability that faith produces.

Shalom.

 

 

 

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