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… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife: for the child that has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Matt 1: 20

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Some ask, why is it that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph separately from Mary?

In religious narrative there are always common, good lessons to be learned – many, in fact.  Here we see that God wishes a commitment from each of us individually.  Yes, God desires that each of us grow in faith and in relationship to Him so that we might be fully grown and have stability and certainty amid life’s chaos, confusion and corruption.

What was true then is no less true now.

Think about the cost imposed when we neglect the Truth of religious narrative.  In doing so, it is really quite shocking that in the present day when there are many in the West who wish to destroy the gift of civilization that we possess –few public figures have the intellect to discuss the precious value that is in Western civilization and the disaster that would be its deconstruction.  Nor, I add are there competent discussions about the rise of China as the global power to replace the United States and its allies as the source of global strength and stability.

Suffice it to say – that lacking faith and quality education, we have ignorance and chaos – leaving us without the personage capable of leadership when we most need it.

Indeed, the election of a non-politician as President reflects the poverty of the “educated elites” and the raw fact that the average citizen sees the problems of the day when the privileged do not.

Could it be that those closer to faith are closer to wisdom and courage?

Shalom.

Dismal Elites – The idiotic statement by Chief Justice John “Short Pants” Roberts just confirms again the foolishness of the privileged “elites.”  The notion that there are not Judges with political portfolios and disposition (nay, bias) is a ridiculous claim for the Justice to make … then again he “thought” that the unconstitutional Obama “Care” mandate was a “tax.”

Lesson to be learned – the elites like to remain part of their herd … ridiculous things are said on behalf of preserving one’s place at the top of the pyramid.  Well, la-di-da!

 

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

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

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

 

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

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

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

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

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

To understand – believe …

Shalom.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is America today.  Enter Carl Jung.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is dead no more … and never was.

Shalom.

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.

 

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.

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