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Remarkable Reception for President Trump in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis are to be applauded for the warmth and dignity they display.  This could be a significant turning point.  So much for the notion that President Trump is the Devil incarnate.

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… the state threatened to become not only militarily and politically triumphant but psychologically so: the custodial Superego for millions … their Egos an instrument, pure and simple, of the state’s bureaucratic manipulation.

Robert Coles, M.D. in A Secular Mind

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Dr. Coles, an esteemed research psychiatrist, is commenting on Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz’s observations in his book entitled A Captive Mind in which he explores the consequences of (Communist) centralized state power over the individual person.

Doctor Coles ends his book about the secularized mind by focusing on the apparent need for the modern state to secure social and psychological control over its population.  And, Coles focuses on the prospects of neurochemistry and medical science in doing so.

As to the latter point, Coles draws on advances in neuroscience, biology and medicine – particularly on developments in pharmacology – reminding us that Sigmund Freud thought that in time the mind itself might be reduced to simple matter and ministered to (and perhaps altered substantially) by medications. That is to say, that the experience of being human would change rather significantly.

This, by the way, has been a theme expressed over time by a number of people from Orwell, to Huxley, to Stanislaw Witkiewicz and others, and displayed in Phillip Dick’s 1968 movie Blade Runner.

The notion of centralized control over the person leads me to think more critically of the divisions between those who despise Donald Trump and those who voted for him.

In thinking about this I see Trump as an unimportant focus.  It is not he himself that matters but rather the significance of the divide between those who voted for him and those who are clearly threatened by him, and seem to hate him.

It seems to me that the divide is what is important.

That said, I think one can make a reasonable observation that the difference is in part the distinction between those who favor centralized power and those who do not.  In effect, we are talking about those who favor government control over the social and psychological nature of the human person and those who oppose the same.

Illustratively, the Left favors imposing their “views” on others – i.e., forced “tolerance.” Some in the middle ground default to continued growth in government to the extent that sovereignty and national identity and nation itself is devolved to international organizations and competing cultures (i.e., globalists).

In opposition to this, of course, are those who favor less government and preservation of nation, individual freedom and continued American economic prosperity and ethos, and constitutional Federalism.

We have simply stated: globalists vs. nationalists.

So the question today is not Trump but what underpins the divide?  Why his adversaries violently oppose him?  Why the hatred and effort to drive him from office?

My view is that it has to do with a very fundamental question: Will we live in a country where control over the human person expands as the power of the central government and international organizations expands or will we not?

Shalom.

…”schizoid” … means out of touch; avoiding close relationship; the inability to feel.”

Rollo May, M.D., in Love and Will

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Thoughts on Tomahawks.

Well, this is a change.  For eight years we were allergic to use of force; we debased the military.  We drew “lines in the sand” and when they were crossed our inertia said, “Never mind.”  And the substantive message to others was: “you can aggress and we will do nothing.” Yes, we were chumps, easy pickings, inept.

Under President Obama we were a pinata.  Pinata’s do not protect American national security, make us safe, or lead to a stable globe.

One thing that comes to me immediately is: depersonalization.

Think about it: President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton saw the same pictures of innocent Syrian citizens (including women and children) who had been gassed, but did nothing.

The Left is schizoid.  It talks about people but shows time after time that they really don’t care deeply about people.

Think about it: abortion advocacy, calling Americans “a basket of deplorables,” their constant self-serving, the consistent centralization of power in Washington, the creation of more and more dependents, the pursuit of euthanasia, the intolerance of those who disagree, the foolish straightjacket of political correctness, lying about Benghazi, the implicit dislike of this country, disinterest in protecting our people in Benghazi knowing that this was an at-risk outpost, using the IRS and apparently the intelligence agencies for political purposes, etc.

The schizoid person is the depersonalized person.  This is not Donald Trump.

Think about it.  Trump won an election because he connected with people.  If he does anything he connects with a sizable portion of Americans.

In contrast, the Washington establishment has, unfortunately, become disconnected from the average person – the guy whose work is in steel, coal or manufacturing and has seen his employment disappear.

Today, we live in interesting political times here and in the West.  Nationalism and populism is taking the stage and the Left is shrinking.  Their time is waning, even though they do not realize it.

In nationalism and populism people matter, feeling is in play – understanding others too, likewise defending your citizens, your nation and its interests.  In this, we end the division and depersonalization of the Left.

I for one won’t miss these destructive misfits one lick.

Shalom.

… you wicked and lazy slave … Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth …”

Mt 25: 26, 30

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… “wicked,” “lazy,” “worthless” …

These are powerful words to use and to aim at another person.  However these are the words of condemnation that Jesus used in telling the story of the master who left for a journey and gave to each of his three servants money (talents) to hold in his absence.

As you may recall, these are the words the master aimed at one of his three servants when he returned and found that the servant never used the money positively, but rather buried it in the ground for fear of losing it.

Much to the master’s displeasure, he had not used what the master gave him.

This is a story about slothfulness – about not using what you have been given. It raises a serious question for us (individually) and for our culture today.  Indeed, it is a measure wisely applied to those who profess to lead us today.

What is slothfulness?  In scripture we see it is rebellion.  The slothful do not serve God in their life.  No, in not serving God they register no gratitude to God for what they have been given (a life in being, for one thing).  Nor do they show obedience to God.  They shun the works God has called them to in this life.  They “do their own thing.”

Sloth is also wastefulness.  These people (and there are many) never use their spiritual gifts to glorify God.  They waste their time, gifts, and life on things that do not further God’s intention.

The slothful are selfish. They serve, not others, but their own desires.  They are lazy, as well, – preferring things that are easy to things that are hard.  These are the people who avoid work, depend wholly on others, take the low road or sit and do nothing, or in working never fully commit themselves to excellence.  These are the people who, while doing little, believe that they know better than others.

In thinking about this parable, I could not help but think about the Democrat Party of the Left here in the United States.  They are chock full of people who never held a private job in their life.  I think of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, and Senator Charles Schumer.

Schumer, a Harvard Law School grad, never practiced law nor held a job in private industry after his schooling.  Rather as a young man with the gift of a “good education” he entered politics and never left.  He is one of those people who think, without any instructive life experience in the rough and tumble of daily work, that he knows better (always) than anyone else.  These are the slothful people who are perpetually foolish, trivial, loud, self-serving, and wrong. The Democrat Party of the Left attracts these people.  And in building dependents and the Nanny State, they breed slothfulness.

Think about it.  Does in make any sense for you to depend on the judgement of those with no life experience to speak of?  Would it not be better to cast them out to a dark place much as the master in the parable did to the lazy and wicked servant full of inertia and fear?  Have people such as these not done enough damage?

Shalom.

Surgery was a success.  Total knee replacement.  No pain killers needed.  In rehab – things going well.  Learned I have strong bones and a high pain threshold.  Interesting.

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” … the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel, of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Cor 4:4

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Last Monday while in the hospital awaiting a late morning surgery, I was asked several times by nurses if I had fasted as required and each time I was asked when I last ate or drank anything, and I replied “6:50 p.m. on Sunday.”

Just prior to surgery the anaesthetist asked me that same questions.  My response did not vary.

However my friend Marty who drove me to the hospital added, “He had Communion this morning.”  The doctor turned sort of pale.  “When?” he asked.  “About 6 a.m.,” was the reply.  “We have to reschedule to a later time today,” said the Doctor.

I apologized for the inconvenience.  I felt embarrassed.  I felt like an idiot for not thinking of the Communion offering as “food.”  A few hours of humbling silence followed.  I thought, I am a lawyer, how could I not see that issue?

In those hours of waiting I realized that years ago I would have seen the Communion offering as simply a wheat product.  But not now, not now as I routinely live … and believe.

My blindness to wheat was actually a proclamation of the sight of belief that I had acquired … quitely, earnestly over years of my conversion to Catholicism and my many, many days of attending Mass, and all that I experienced in the Mass, in my life and in my faith.

My faith had blossomed.  My sight had replaced the blindness that is of this world.

It is so very funny, strange, special how God delivers us and when He does.

How grateful I am for the sight I have been given.  I was blind and now I see!

Shalom.

Friends a little later start than normal.  Had some early chores and errands so the day sort of got eaten up.  Sorry to keep you waiting.

” … bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Mt 3:7

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These are the very wise words of John the Baptist which were addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they appeared while he was baptizing people in the River Jordan.

Often in Scripture a simple phrase gives us a reason to ponder, to think what is Jesus or the disciple saying?  What is the import of these words?

The above words are such a phrase.

The truth of the matter is that a repentant heart gives rise not just to a change in attitude but a change in behavior.

To experience a momentary change in one’s attitude is not the goal.  Rather it is to have a change in attitude that is sustained, that then changes your behavior.

I give you a case in point.  I am from a tough neighborhood. My instinct is to fight. I am not a wall-flower.  Nor are those I know from my neighborhood.

So what am I to do with that aggressive nature?  How can I move from that as my first response?  Truth is: such a disposition keeps you charged up.

Yet, in Christ, why must I be so ready to do battle, so geared for combat?

If I profess Christ, should not my attitude change?  Would I not become more settled, more anchored in the strength and certainty of Christ?  Would my behavior not be more tranquil, exhibit the patience and love of Christ?

It seems to me that is what John the Baptist is saying.  It seems to me that when we see we have not been as Christ would be and we sense our attitude has changed – then, too, our behavior does indeed change for the better.

Shalom.

Some Westerners have argued that the West does not have a problem with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists.  Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.

Samuel P. Huntington, Ph.D., in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

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Well here we are again.  Another Christmas slaughter by Islamists.  We had our California Christmas Party attacks last year – in which a man shot and killed injured his fellow employees – men and women who welcomed him and his Moslem wife and held a baby shower for their child.

Yesterday, Berlin got their Islamist Christmas present: a truck mowed down unarmed men and women at a Christmas Fair in the city.

Professor Huntington had it right. We live in an age where cultures are in conflict.  Islam and the Judeo-Christian world and world view are colliding.  And the frontline of the battle for us is as near as our local mall, public square, building or street.  So be it.

That said, things will have to change.

Allies must be formed around one simple proposition: defending Western Civilization.  Our friends in this will likely come from Europe and Asia, and perhaps selectively from the Middle East, and may include Russia.  As to the latter, let us not forget that in World War II, Russia was allied with the U.S. and England.  Yes, President-elect Donald Trump may have been correct to suggest this.

In the face of this serious existential threat to the West and our Nation, the American Left is out of step.  Their message carries an implicit opposition and rejection of America and its legacy.  They fancy open borders, “sanctuary cities,” the nanny state, income redistribution, free “stuff” for this or that group paid for by taxpayers, socialism, Communism, anarchy, godlessness, a weakened military, the imposition of “political correctness” and a focus on gender and sexual politics.  These fetishes are a luxury in a time of conflict.

The Nation’s focus and discourse shall have to change and those who would distract us from the task at hand paid no mind. 

Change.  Doesn’t the Left and the Democrat Party love change?  We’ll see, I guess.

Shalom.

Postscript – Where we are now is the direct consequence in our secular country of separating from faith, canceling belief, ignoring God and religion.  And, yes, the Democrat Party of the Left led the way with the legions of leftist college professors and the well-indoctrinated and poorly educated members of the media, entertainment industry and those whose God is wealth and privilege.  Yep, we are in a pickle.

Back after and unplanned day off-line as I had computer problems.

So sorry for the inconvenience.

The mass state has no intention of promoting mutual understanding and the relationship of man to man; it strives, rather, for atomization, for the psychic isolation of the individual. The more unrelated individuals are, the more consolidated the state becomes … (Emphasis added.)

Carl G. Jung, M.D., in The Undiscovered Self

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The Democrats lost in large part because of a Marxist ideological perspective they pursued for fifty-five years which depended on the divisiveness of identity politics that pitted women against man, Blacks against Whites, the “educated” liberal and celebrity class against the working class and made enemies of anyone who deigned to differ with them while, at the same time and consistent with their views, expanding government power into all manner of personal, economic, and social life and creating entitlements which have put our affluent Nation on the road to bankruptcy and grown a huge caste of those dependent on government (i.e., those of us who work and pay taxes) for their survival.

Yes, the “aggregate thinking” of the arrogant Left caught up with them.  People prefer being individual human beings rather than wards of the Nanny State or treated as “a basket of deplorables” by a bunch of privileged misfits who have demonstrated no particular maturity or achievement whatsoever.

As in all delightful human stories the Democrats destroyed themselves in pursuit of the Nation’s destruction.  Not to be undone in this human comedy of Democrat collapse, their Presidential candidate, her underlings and her husband by their actions and words added an implicit message that it was time to reject their idiocy and that of their Party.  Ah, all done in by their panache and deftness.

So where are we now?

We may have experienced a significant and fundamental turn in our culture – a return to a healthier state of being.  If so, we may have dispatched the ideological nonsense which has made life less full and each day more inane under Leftist politicians, their foolishness and intentional hostility.  Yes, we may have neutralized their destructive pathology.

As Jung notes we are individuals and social beings not a “basket of deplorables” owned by the State.  The mass Leftist state does not seek that you are free, prosperous and happy.  Perhaps their days and ways are now behind us.

Shalom.

… the United States … appears to be sliding inexorably away from being a civil society whose institutions express a common cultural inheritance to being an enfeebled polity whose institutions are captured by a host of warring minorities …

John Gray, in Post-Liberalism: Studies in Political Thought

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In democracy there is an etiquette as to how change is pursued.  This is particularly so given that fact the democracies can and do become totalitarian. Look at Turkey and its recent tilt.

The notion of an etiquette of change and its implicit boundaries might be useful to modern liberalism and surely to the American Left.

Without restraint, change can hollow out democracy from within.  How?

Democracies depend on the consensus of opinion among its members, preferably a majority of its citizens.  Courts and government bureaucracies are the weak link. Gain access or control over either and act without consensus, and democracy begins to slip away.

An example?  The political use of the IRS and its dereliction of duty to abide by the law on applications for legitimate tax-exempt status by conservative organizations. Or, the Supreme Court’s determination that marriage status can, after centuries and centuries of common understanding, be afforded same-sex partners.

The problem is a simple one to state: the modern liberal and the Left – certain of their “rightness” and more certain of what they want – push their objectives through law suits knowing full well that the judiciary is easier to conquer than a majority of their fellow citizens.  The result?  The Left and modern liberal gets its way and the democracy unravels, the Devil take the hind most.

Today’s driven and self-absorbed are like the French aristocracy, its privileged class and clergy who thought that despite the Revolution, their station in life would remain.  Boy, were they surprised.  Or shall I say: Girl were they surprised.

When in a democracy all things become political and the desires of a few exceed the position of the many, democracy fades.  Unions dissolve.

The judiciary is easy prey for those who want their way regardless of who or what is injured in the process, even destroyed, lost for ever.

There is an etiquette to change.  Its absence is very, very costly.

Shalom.

 

… vastness blurs and time beats level.  Enough! the Resurrection,/A heart’s-clarion!  Away grief grasping, joyless days, dejection/Across my foundering deck shone/A beacon, an eternal beam … I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am …

Gerard Manley Hopkins,

in That Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection

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Hopkins wrote this in the late 19th century.  One wonders (and hopes that) if alive today he might express that same view.   Yes, still the “vastness blurs and the time beats level.” But so much has changed!  So much.  Indeed, our culture is more inclined to be occupied by those who do not believe than those who believe.

Amid today’s godless secularism where many are actively hostile to God and particularly to Christianity, one must ask does the Resurrection still serve as the “heart’s clarion?”  Does it still dissolve grief for us, give each joy to our days and banish dejection?

Do we experience Christ as Hopkins and others routinely did?

This is the question today in the U.S. and in the West.

How did it come to having to ask this question?  The answer requires looking at history with a feel for psychology, philosophy, social theory, theology, spirituality, the ebb and flow of political existence, and cultural criticism.

Until the late Middle Ages those in Europe believed that God governed the natural world, that God orchestrated large and small events and ordained their Christian societies.  As philosopher Charles Taylor says their’s was an “enchanted world” in which God assured order and the victory of good over evil.

Yet, in that latter portion of the Middle Ages a sentiment arose within the Church and society that the greater populace fell short of a daily piety and the Church undertook to reconcile the lives of the laity with those living within professed religious congregations. Such an effort could not but impose on the laity a life style that would chafe the average person.

By the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation arose as a sharp rebuff to these Catholic efforts.  In this reaction, Protestantism provoked egalitarianism (a stimulus in time to the development of democracies).

More to the point, the Protestants took a particular aim at reducing the presence of “magic” (mystical beliefs) in religious life and experience.  (Illustratively, one can, if one visits Glasgow’s St. Mungo Cathedral, see a beautiful structure stripped of its ancient stained glass windows, religious statues and artifacts previously displayed in this Pre-Reformation Cathedral.)

This shift away from a mystical or sacramental experience of the natural world made way for the importance of the singular “self” and accelerated and examination of the world without regard to God’s governance.  In essence, the door swung open to the primacy of man sans God and elevated human reason over the Divine and life divinely experienced.

In essence, a sacramental and enchanted life diminished and we elevated man and reason free of God – a more secular being than we once had been.

Shalom.

… we are all already in a state so disastrous that there are no large remedies for it.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue

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This quote is lifted from Chapter One, “A Disquieting Suggestion,” in Alasdair MacIntyre’s widely acclaimed 1981 book on moral philosophy, its current state, and ours.

Reading it once again sheds light on the darkness of today.  Yes, on our present pitiful state of being – on our intellectual, social, political, emotional, and interpersonal deficits and the absence of wise leadership.

In Chapter One, MacIntyre imagines a world in which the natural sciences suffer a catastrophe when natural disasters are blamed on scientists and riots destroy laboratories, scientists are hung, books are burned, instruments destroyed while a Know-Nothing political movement seizes power and abolishes all science education while imprisoning all who vary from its prohibitions.

With but few remnants of scientific truths remaining, people are unable to resuscitate what once was, what once was known and common.

In this condition, people’s discourse on matters scientific invoked scientific reference here and there, but none of what they said made any sense.

What was lost, could not be recovered.

In After Virtue, MacIntyre explores what might happen if we lost our moral bearings, our reference to what we learned over the centuries, lost the place of moral reasoning and its easy integration into decisions and human existence.

As he says … a disastrous state ensues.

Now some 35 years after he wrote After Virtue, it is hard not to ask: have we come to what MacIntyre imagined in our moral ife?  Have we not lost our capacity for moral reasoning? Forfeited our intellectual legacy that stretches back 2,000 years or more?

Think about it.  Killing the unborn is a constitutionally protected right.  Selling the body parts of aborted children is acceptable.  Pornography is widespread.  Sadly, while homicides among African-Americans are largely confined to Black-on-Black violence, we listen to those who focus on the dubious proposition that White police officers are the principle cause of homicides in their communities.  Drug addictions and mass murders are too common.

Likewise, we are all bundled up in odd propositions surrounding sexual conduct and are attentive to demands pursued thereto.

Then, there is the legalization of drugs, the redefinition of marriage, unlawful expansion of federal executive initiative, an inert federal legislature, corrupt bureaucracies, unprotected national borders, the unraveling of long-standing allied relationships … The lost goes on.

We seem lost, much as MacIntyre describes.  How did we get there?

Well, I am old enough to remember when we discarded moral philosophy in law school in favor of ethics.  We did something quite the same in teacher education.  Out with moral reasoning, in with the rule book.  Applying rules is a far cry from moral life lived.

Additionally, we waltzed away from God, convinced that we were sufficient unto ourselves.

And finally, we touted but one guiding index – equality as if equality alone, detached from morality, was a Holy Grail.

Nice try – we now look and act like the crew of Monty Python, but have no remote understanding that we impose this grotesque image on one another, and in a hostile and dangerous world waiting for easy prey.

Shalom.

Note – Alastair MacIntyre is a Scot.  He has taught at a number of great universities in the U.S. and in Europe.  He arrived at Notre Dame as an atheist and Marxist.  In due time, he became a Catholic and migrated from Marxism.  Would that we might follow his path.

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