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An angry enemy is a conquered enemy.

Bangambiki Habyarimana, in The Great Pearl of Wisdom

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Screaming little women roaming the halls of Congress.  An angry enemy is a conquered enemy.  What am I saying?  What do I men?

When you get older, and have housed a range of experiences, one of the things you realize is this: never make a decision when you are upset.  You see, you cannot be successfully led anywhere useful by unfettered anger.  Anger is not smart – it is anger – expressing incoherently most often.  At best it is sustaining motivation.

The women in the corridors of Congress are Freud’s hysterical ones.  Those weighted down with anger are those weighted down with illness, discontent, an un-particularized hostility to not the one who may have offended them – but whole classes of people.  They are the German Nazis persecuting innocent Jews.

Unfettered anger is the fuel for the totalitarian, the bigot, the crazed.

These women take an actual or imagined personal experience and magnify it – in their troubled minds it is not X or Y who did them wrong but all letters of the alphabet.  So small is their shadow that all in the cosmos of a larger class must be “guilty” – punished, destroyed –  dismembered in life … and even after death.

Nazis aimed at innocent Jews.  That is who we find in the corridors of the Congress this week.

The angry enemy is a conquered enemy … conquered by their own irrational cosmic hostility.  The gender made to love is now the gender captured by hate.  A very sorry state of affairs.  Sort of reminds me of Miss Hillary, and Lizzie Borden, and Screaming Senator Lizzie Warren from Massachusetts.

Those who are perpetually unhappy are perpetually ill, and growing sicker by the day.

The peace of the Lord stands in wait.  The more perpetually angry one is the greater the distance from self soul – maturity – wisdom – tranquility, love and God.

These angry women meet the enemy in themselves but blinded – they do not see.

Shalom.

Contradictions – When you watch witnesses or find out that others you know tell X about themselves and then you find out that this part of X is not exactly true or that not X is also part of the person’s identity and life, you ought to begin to be suspect.  More to the point, if X is augmented by Y, and Z, and other significant details about what this person first proclaimed, you are probably looking at a disordered individual – someone with real problems.  Best not to rely on their story … the rendition they offer is (demonstratively) not what it was said to be.  You can bet you are looking then at a person with a chaotic life the likes of which just don’t make sense.  There are no small number of these people.

 

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Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence?  We call it prejudice.

Michael Crichton, in State of Fear

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In the present moments of political discourse, you’d best listen carefully to the voices and keep calm when howling packs appear.

Once feminism sought equality – and rightfully so.  But is this the voice we now hear?  Some listen and hear “gender.”  In this, the adoration of one, and the condemnation of another.  Does the voice of prejudice sound like the voice of bigotry?

Man and woman.  We are complimentary to one another.  Each completes the other.  But do our words and deeds show this?  Live this?  Believe this?  Or is war our way?

The violence against women must be sternly punished.  Bigotry is violence too.  Division brings destruction … defies nature, fosters conflict.

The educated class knows little of nature and its laws and ways.  It sleeps with ideology – a thin and paltry cocoon that blinds the eyes, hardens the heart, numbs the senses, kills the mind, and freezes the soul.

Spiders sleep in cocoons where butterflies once lived.

Today: opinion without evidence.  Bigotry ascends.  Caution in need.  Or shame takes treacherous flight.

Shalom.

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; reproaches us for sins against the law and accuses us of sins against our training.

Wis 2:12

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From the Book of Wisdom.  How vibrant is our sacred narrative!  But do we read it?  Take heed?  See how it fits our mortal life?  Today, no less!!!

Are we not a culture that finds the righteous man inconvenient?

What shows us any evidence that the accusers know the wisdom of their faith?  Or possess humility?  Or have accurately assessed their failure before they condemn others unjustly?

Who but God reproaches us so that we might grow and become friends to one another?

Do you bother to study the lessons that you have been given?  If not, why not?

Shalom.

… within the progressive societies … every last vestige of the ancient human heritage of ritual, morality, and art is in full decay.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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Professor Joseph Campbell was a pioneer in field of comparative mythology.

In The Hero of a Thousand Faces he shows us that the myths of the world have but a limited number of responses to the riddle of life, and he presents in his book the shared elements of that quest to understand life itself.

Critical to quest is in recorded mythology, as the book title shows us, is the story of the hero.

In the final section of The Hero of a Thousand Faces Campbell focuses on the loss of the hero’s story in modern life and culture.  He observes that the systems of symbols which conveyed the hero’s story have collapsed – and in its place is something far less in content and instruction, namely – the self-determining individual sans our accumulated knowledge and wisdom, respect for the truths previously discovered and the traditions, institutions, and beliefs which guided us over many ages.

Losing track of our legacy, we are very much alone, leaderless and much poorer and weaker as a result.  Yes, our stories, and the symbols in them, once connected our conscious and unconscious life.  Today, we lack the insight and stability which that connection provided.

Look about today – those civilians who occupy leadership positions are dreadfully under-accomplished – offering a college degree and “big ideas” but no experience, wisdom or moral acumen.  In the absence of substance, self-reflection or familiarity with our long history they give us increased risk in place of value.  Where we once found meaning in group – we are now very much alone, divided and among adversaries who scorn our identity, our history, and faith – and promote the end to our borders as a way to destroy who we are, and what we have achieved.

I caution you about replacing a successful legacy with nothing as today’s disgruntled, inexperienced, arrogant adversaries demands.

The irony, of course, is this: now more than ever we need the presence of heroic men and women who will help us recover the coordinated, whole, spiritually charged soul we once possessed.  Absent this, the prognosis: chaos, suffering and decline.

Shalom.

Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking.  One but the shadow (i.e., the opposite side) of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D. in “On the Psychology of the Unconscious,” Collected Works 7

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When you look out on the landscape of culture today, it good to have some familiarity with those like Carl Jung who have made a concentrated and sustained life effort to understand the nature of human existence and the path to a healthy and meaningful life and culture.

I supplement the above with these additional quotes from Dr. Jung:

Man is not only governed by the sex instinct; there are other instincts as well … in biology you can see the nutritional instinct is just as important as the sex instinct … in … civilized societies the power drive plays a much greater role than sex … (Dialogue with C. G. Jung, ed. by Richard Evans)

It takes much energy to be in love.  In America, you give so many opportunities both to men and women that they do not save any of their vital force for loving. (Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, ed. by Wm. McGuire and R.C. F. Hall)

These passages make one think of those in power, of the feminist movement that seems driven by the desire for political power and some of their female disciples who seem narrowly focused and limited developmentally as a result – and, of course, these words bring to mind numerous male counter parts.  Yes, it makes me think that power has its GREAT price and that power seekers often have little fullness or balance and as such are very likely NOT the people that you would want to have power and surely not influence over you, your children, others and this nation.

I dare say politics today shows us that far too many people in power (especially those who live their entire adult life in politics and public office and high level government executive positions) seem to be rather unbalanced and possessed by myopic views, narrow insights, and little to no wisdom.

Jung and others, like the late father of comparative mythology Joseph Campbell, are truly a treasure when it comes to explaining how we are, what we see, what we are living and understanding the disorder we experience in today’s exclusively secular culture.  Both Campbell and Jung can impart valuable insight which opens one up to the truths so obviously presented in religious narrative over the ages – an area by the way of which we have grown pathetically ignorant … and done so at enormous and unnecessary cost.

Time to put down the “smart” phone and the i-pad and put the tattoo money to some good books with insights that can shape and save your life and Western culture.

Shalom.

 

Then they set out along the black top in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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McCarthy writes of a father and his most beloved son who walk under the grayest of skies in a burned out and broken America.  It is both a compelling book and extraordinary movie.  In both I am struck by the love of the father for the son and the son for the father, and by the grayness of the sky amid the ruin.  The latter reminds me of the verbal and video landscape of the present days where hostility is thick as fog and division seems the only objective of the public voices we hear and where each day brings stories of death, cruelty, hatred and the commentaries of the C- and D+ scribes and talking heads whose range of thought is a tad lower than that of a carnival barker.

In a most extraordinary land darkness has descended.  What was once one is now fragmented into many bruised parts .

He could not construct for the child’s pleasure the world he’d lost without constructing the loss as well and he thought perhaps the child had known this better than he.  He tried to remember the dream but could not.  All that was left was the feeling of it … he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was his own ashes.

This father like me had lived a dream – a dream in better times.  I was conceived when the Second World War was near its triumphant end.  My childhood was spent on a street of veterans and their families – remarkable men and women whose childhood commenced in the Great Depression and turned then to World War – its millions dead, others murdered in Stalin’s gulag.

How does one speak of what we had and lost?  How does one make that the known experience of an adult son?  Give him the optimism purpose and meaning I, poor as we were, knew so well?

How do my grandson or my granddaughter gain what had been, but now is so damaged?  How can my ashes live to sign their forehead?

The Road.  Where this father and son had the dark shadow and penetrating cold of a dying orb – they at least had silence.  We have the unstoppable voices and words of those whose lips bring darkness and cold.  They are now our dismal cover.

“You have to carry the fire … It’s inside you.  It always was there.  I can see it.”

So says the father to the son.  So say I to you, this day.

Shalom.

News as Soap Opera – This is where we are in a superficial mass communication, digitized social media culture.  We interview people with no achievement or proclaim and, in doing so, cannot distinguish people of substance from people who have no particular accomplishment.  We are more soap opera than not.  We can no longer tell the difference between depth and shallow, or what is substantive and what is not.  A real astonishing decline.

I often wonder what the world would be like today if some of our modern religions taught that self-knowledge … was the paramount goal of the spiritual path.

Randy Davida

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I might frame what Mr. Davila (the Publisher of The Mastery of Self: A Toltec Guide to Personal Freedom) said a little differently.

I might say that we would all be far better served if we realized that religious narratives address our human development and well-being – that they speak to our full growth – psychologically, socially, emotionally, inter-personally, intellectually and spiritually.

As to our spiritual growth think of psyche (Greek for soul); and I suggest you do too.

Our spiritual growth is growth of our psyche – the deepest form of self.  Religious narratives present a dimension of observation, insight and understanding that enriches us at the very core of our being – in the soul/psyche.

Frankly, far too many people in our culture (and particularly among those who wish to govern us) neglect their full growth and development and present evidence of this daily.

They are as to full human development – lost souls – confined to error, ego, ideology, desire for status, wealth and attention … and, regrettably prone to poor, and even destructive, ideas and policies.  In a word – we are poorly served and poorly led by those who (forsaking religion and religious narrative) have little wisdom and not much of use to offer us.

My “take-away” from Mr. Davila’s words is this – we neglect religion, do not see its narrative as useful and informative in a very fundamental way, and turn our back on the ageless wisdom of our faith and, hence, we face a multitude who seek to lead us without knowing who they are and who we are.

Living without the self-knowledge contained in religious narratives is destined to produce error, ignorance and egotists prone to foolishness and serious mistake.

Each of us would be wise to take only the pulse of those in public life as a way to monitor the state of chaos, calamity and confusion present today – while focusing on our individual acquisition of the wisdom and insight present in religious narrative.  Absent that – the unknowing are led by the unknowing.

Shalom.

Postscript – As some of you know I am trained – in law, government and politics, international relations and American foreign policy, and theology.  I have long been interested in the relationship between faith and secular culture.  After a great deal of reading, thought and experience, one has to conclude that neglecting our religious heritage is a very unwise thing to do – for religious narratives deal entirely in the human person and his or her peace and prosperity – personal, communal, familial, psychological , intellectual and spiritual.  Neglecting religion produces poor results.

… let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  (Emphasis added.)

President George Washington, in His Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796

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Once upon a time we were wiser and nicer.  Having dispatched wisdom and kindness, we are not consigned in perpetuity to live the ignorance and nastiness that has become us today.

“But how,” you ask, “can things change for the better?”

In answer I tell you that no one may simply present himself to a Court of Law and argue a case.  No, one must be credentialed to the law.  Training is required.  License, in good order and standing, is required.  We can learn from this.

At present we listen to anyone that shouts loud enough of their fanciful “desires and wants.”  Illustratively, no one asks those who propound the oddest of ideas to state their case as to faith, religious narrative, wisdom complied over the Ages, what history has taught, what is known of cause and effect psychologically, emotionally, socially – indeed, least of all judges who have as their credentials but two things: one, that they are but lawyers, and two, they know a politician or political group which will promote their interest in becoming a judge.  Mind you, Courts are occupied with those who have little training but law – and let it be known from me (a lawyer, with advanced degrees in theology and international affairs and foreign policy) that virtually anyone who can read can become a lawyer.

Studying law does not equip one with wisdom – and surely not with the learned ability to discern social policy, advance it, or question those before the Court who seek to advance their views of “man’s perfection” or the “way” society ought to run or be organized as their prejudice so poorly “informs” them.

To make our turn back to wisdom – make the proponents of change lay out very broadly and in detail the defense of a proposed change and explain the ramifications – personal and material costs – in embarking on their (usually poorly examined) proposals.

And remember, the cornerstone of wisdom is neither desire nor “equality.”  It is more complex than such simple thinking – indeed, its acquisition resides amid religious principle.

Shalom.

Postscript – This is the third and final blog post on Tradition.  I suggest reading each one beginning with the first entry two days ago.  Suffice it to say, we display a poverty of intellect that is shocking and explains more than any other factor (save our ignorance of religious narrative and the history of Western civilization) what we see as gross disorder and destabilization of our fundamental institutions today – running from marriage, procreation, gender, family and education to our institutions of governance and our sacred fundamental documents like the Constitution and an appreciation of the Federalist Papers and the design and unique working of a Representative Democracy with power shared by its citizens with both autonomous state government and the federal government.

… the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing?  For this man is preforming many signs.  If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him and the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation.”

Jn 11:47

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Power is intoxicating and easily so.  Herein, we see the chief priests and Pharisees gathering after Jesus calls Lazarus back to life.  Their thoughts?  How can we preserve our status?  

Is this not the way of the “powerful” and the privileged?  Is this not a truth that conveys over all time?  Those at “the top” of the ladder want to remain at the top of the ladder.

Such a disposition turns one’s back on God.  ‘Tis the way of political people, the self-important, far too often.

Oddly, the strongest among us are not those at “the top,” but those who are humble and guided by faith, knowing full well there is a God and they are not God.  In their mortal existence the strongest are immortal by choice, by faith, by belief.

It is an old story – one we prefer to neglect.  Offered a Messiah, we guard our vaunted place in the pecking order.  This is tedious to those who know and believe.  Tedious indeed!  Why concede the tedious ones a grant of authority?  Would you not prefer those who welcome the Messiah be those who lead?  Are they not the wiser?  Braver?

Where are you on such things?

Shalom.

 

The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced both donors without love and recipients without gratitude.

Antonin Scalia

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These words are from an address given by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Among his observations are these:

  • “a Christian should not support a government that suppresses faith or one that sanctions the taking of innocent life”
  • he knows of “no country in which the churches have grown fuller as the government has moved leftward”
  • the most religious nation in the West (the U.S.) is a capitalist society that is “least diluted by socialism”  (Emphasis added.)
  • since FDR’s New Deal, the U.S. has taken on the increasing role of a welfare state (i.e., taking tax proceeds of all and dispensing them to select individuals and groups that are deemed “needy” – and building political constituents in the process)
  • “Christ’s view was that you should give your goods to the poor, not that you should force someone else to give his (to others)”  (Emphasis added.)
  • “to the extent that the states takes upon itself one of the corporal works of mercy that would have been undertaken privately, it deprives individuals of an opportunity for sanctification and deprives the body of Christ of the occasion for interchange of love among its members”
  • the welfare-state does not contain or convey the Christian virtue of altruism
  • “governmentalization of charity effects … the donor but also the recipient … What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement … the teaching of welfare socialism is that the world owes everyone a living.”

What Scalia lays out is the decline of the role of faith in secular culture – and with it the loss of moral conduct long displayed by acts of religiously inspired service.

Likewise socialism fundamentally changes the way humans experience themselves, others and the nature of fellowship and community – indeed it blunts the power of love and hope … it deprives us of faith and sanctification.

Make no mistake, religion and God have been shunned in the post-New Deal environment – and, frankly, when moral conduct is not fostered through a population who has an active faith – hostility and faithless division takes its place.  There we become a troubled and self-destructive culture with less opportunity to make of us brothers and sisters to one another.

Converting to socialism and BIG government is, quite simply, destructive.

Shalom.

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