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Dedicated to My Son, His Wife and My Two Grandchildren … and All the Parents Raising Children

To be a good parent … we do not need to be people who have arrived; God simply calls us to be on the way, seeking, finding, and rejoicing in what we find. (Emphasis added.)

Catherine Stonehouse, in Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.

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My son and I recently had a very interesting conversation about providing for the spiritual lives of his two small children, ages almost three and almost one.

Yes, children have – as all human beings do – innate spiritual needs and desires.

Throughout the ages people are confronted with all sorts of probative “why” and “how” and “what” and “who” questions.  Why do bad things happen?  How can we be good? What is love? How do you forgive someone? Who made the world? Why go to church?

Yes, we are all bound by these questions.  And, no – politics does not provide the answer.  And, yes – by thinking all things are political as many do in this imploding secular culture we establish one thing for sure: life and cultures demand that individuals pay particular attention to our interior, the spiritual plateau in all human beings or court chaos and destruction, disintegration.  Absent attention to the spiritual: cultures, societies, communities, families, nations, individual people are undone – destroyed – trapped in selfishness, error, hostility, destruction, conflict, injury and despair.

Frankly, we are inclined precisely in that destructive dimension in contemporary America and the West at this very moment.  

We are, of course, not human beings seeking a spiritual experience, but rather – spiritual beings seeking a human experience.

Look around you.  Do you see how costly denying God and spiritual reality can be?

Parents attend to your spiritual existence and invite your children to join you.   Individually you will each be better – together you will be a family – a sacred, life-saving vessel in a world of choppy waters and occasional gales.

I wish you smooth seas – no matter the conditions you meet.

Shalom.

Moral Indignation.  Been alive for seven-plus decades.  Ain’t met a single perfect person, nor an angel.  My conclusion: we are not perfect.  Yet, now some (armed with moral indignation) are set on tearing down statues of people they find unsavory.  With this approach the Democrat Party may find itself banished after their lengthy history of favoring the Klan and racial segregation.

In the language of Boston politics – what goes around, comes around.    

 

 

There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.

Hostile secular nihilism has won the day in our nation’s government, and the culture has turned powerfully against traditional Christians.

American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a culture … in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense (to others).

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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Dreher’s short, readable book will tell you better than others I have read (and I have read many) what we live today in a culture that is changing/eroding at a rapid and disconcerting clip.  Yes, a book to be read not once but several times – and referred to often.

For parents and grandparents who desire that their children and grandchildren be safe, stable and sane amid the hellish chaos of our disintegrating culture – this is a “must read.”

As the quotes above suggest, we are moving away from religious narrative and the underpinnings of America as it was created by our Founders.  This puts us adrift, at sea without a point of reference … without a necessary backdrop that affords a context in which to endure hardship, evil, death, betrayal, loss, disappointment, etc. – of a mortal life.

Frankly, it is simply impossible to live without an overriding wisdom narrative – and, yet we are abandoning our narrative in the face of pressure and hostility from the godless ones (hostile secular nihilists) up and down the social and political ladder.  Such is the way of pridefulness and ignorance.

The loss of a wisdom narrative leaves each to drift without guidance.  The loss places an impossible burden on the individual to create meaning out of their meager experience.

How foolish to think you can write your own narrative while you live it day by day.  Such behavior ignores the treasured records of human existence passed on for centuries.

The costs of this abandonment for the individual and the culture pile up: suicides, homicides, drug addiction, depression, insanity, aborted children, obesity, alcoholism, broken families, lost love, dependency, racial conflict, disorientation, lethargy, despair, confusion, the absence of hope – confidence and faith, of courage and optimism – intimacy, warmth, peace, laughter – human existence, itself.

As Dreher points out Christians are at a crossroad – Christ or no Christ.

So what is it?  Soul or self?  Death and despair without God, or life with God.

Shalom.

 

A Chipper Morning to Ya’ !

… and hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 5: 28-29

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Eternal life or judgment?  That is what is at stake.  Yes, at stake for you.

In the Doge in Venice is a painting by Henri met de Bles.  It is a painting depicting hell.  It is entitled Hell and it is riveting.  It captures the horror of death for those who have not chosen good deeds, denied life and are, consequently, consigned to judgment at death.

We live in a cosmopolitan culture.  We think of ourselves as “too cool” for such propositions as heaven and hell.  Our foolish and deceptive regard for self leads us astray.  Little do we recognize the evil deeds we embrace, things we do because we have lost track of heaven and hell – lived distantly from the Divine, from our soul and Creation.  Education hath become mis-education, gadgets deadly distractions, affluence and status grand intoxicants.

A case in point: today we litigate matters of religious freedom.  There are those among us who seek to silence religion, to privatize it and constrict its expression only to worship.

I give an example.  The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in which the state of Colorado seeks to compel a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The baker objects because he holds religious beliefs that are at odds with same-sex marriage.  The issue is important and simple to state: Does the state’s action violate the baker’s rights to free speech and free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

This case invokes Jn 5: 28-29.  Masterpiece Cakeshop is a clash of good deeds vs. bad deeds.  The stakes: heaven or hell.  Nothing is more fundamental to the life of a faithful Believer.  Indeed, breath itself is inconsequential to those who believe when the cost of citizenship is the consignment to hell.  Yes, this case is about life, or death.

In American and Western Culture today we encounter godless groups who invade the body politic and the courts in efforts to make bad deeds good – and in doing so implicate Believers in their misdeeds and coerce Believers to abandon and renounce their faith.

In all of this equality disguises evil …

Shalom.

 

God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. (Emphasis added.)

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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Such an interesting thought, clearly stated.  The stakes in a Christian life are not to be simply nice, or to conform to the rubric of the practices of religion – but rather to live as the children of God.  In that alone is redemption.

It is not enough to be nice, nor is it to live nicely behind closed doors while the world around you collapses.  A sequestered life is not sufficient for a Christian.

Look around you, we live in a culture that more and more resembles Sodom and Gomorrah.  New York City has a public hotel that encourages residents to engage in all sorts of sexual activity in plain view to their neighbors in surrounding apartments. Their mayor shelters nude women who solicit cash donations from tourists in Time Square. His justification?  The women are undocumented aliens and New York is a sanctuary city.

Chicago is a killing field.  The City of Angels (Los Angeles) is for the most part a shambles with widespread poverty and homelessness.  And we bar mention of God in public places.  How sick is this!

What is your responsibility?  What side of the divide are you on?

Shalom.

God, bring us to our senses.  Give us the courage to speak out.

 

What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social, or intellectual.

C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

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This, of course, is Satan speaking to his nephew in the The Screwtape Letters.

Satan goes on to describe how democracy levels all excellence, converts all to mediocrity or worse – enslavement.  In Satan’s world “no pre-eminence” is allowed, no one in the mass can be wiser than the mass.  Satan’s plan is “dumb everyone down.”

Well, welcome to the world of the American Left.  To the Obama national health “care” disaster. To the world of present day academics, the world of American socialism, the public school system, the federal government, the bureaucrat, the regulator, the “social engineers,” the “thought police” of this or that misguided “cause.”

In a degraded society, there is no excellence.  God’s gifts, like God, are unwelcomed, denied. Equality becomes a hammer, not a metaphysical state of being.  In such a state of being, democracy can do the work of the tyrant.  So says Satan in The Screwtape Letters.

It is sadly plain that much of what Screwtape said visits us today and few, so very few, among us are well-enough educated and devoted sufficiently to the mystery of God and Lady Wisdom to see what has been amply described in multiple sources over the ages.

We are hideously reduced.  Listening to whatever is the mass dialogue only makes matters worse.  Time to live wisely, to live in faith, to live with God.

We live in a moment when each Believer is called to know, and to speak and to reorient our present disastrous course.  Yes, we will have to speak truth when it is most dangerous to do so.

Shalom.

I am the way, the truth and the life.

Jn 14:6

 

 

 

What did I see … a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted … able to fan its smoldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence …

Thomas Mann, in A Death in Venice

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We used to have the bizarre and insane confined to tabloids you passed at the checkout line at the grocery.  Now their content is the daily news.

A female TV cable personality with an eating disorder who teaches dance to young girls binges on food while being driven to a prison for her incarceration.  A former Vice-President is pleased to learn his troubled, married adult son is involved with his deceased brother’s wife.  The creator of a large social media site says his creation will be the new religion.  A university study and its advocates conclude that people are the greatest threat to humankind and recommend it best to stop having children.

A presidential candidate who received millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs after approving the sale of 20 percent of American uranium reserves to them is not the subject of a criminal investigation but rather her successful opponent is. The head of the FBI lawlessly leaks information to a law professor for distribution to a major newspaper so his close friend can become special counsel to investigate the candidate who did not gain from the uranium sell-out.

We live in a tabloid world.

We live, as Thomas Mann so eloquently says, in a state of inner disintegration and biological decay.  Obesity abounds – especially among women … a sad and serious sign of disorder and decay – a “sallow ugliness.”  Sex seems to enter all cracks and crevices of public and commercial life: television – music – film – advertising … concupiscence becomes “a pallid impotence.”  Transgender fictions become rightly labeled “child abuse” by the female president of the national organization of pediatricians.  States and cities defy federal law.  Borders are erased. “Entitlements” pave the way to bankruptcy – backbreaking debt piled on the backs of our grandchildren and their children ad infinitum …

Is there any safe escape from this death spiral?  It is hard to say.  But one thing is certain: faithless, godless, sick men alone will not prevail against what we have wrought.  Nor will the silence of those who see this unnecessary, self-indulgent destruction reverse the deep dive into hell that we now witness.

Returning to faith is the only hope, the only defense, the only chance – a quick, earnest return to God and a loud, unrelenting, public stance against the sickness, corruption, destruction and evil present in all its forms must now emerge.

Shalom.    

The shadow of the Enlightenment’s failure to replace God with reason has engulfed the West and plunged us into a new Dark Age.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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It is abundantly clear to many who have studied America and the West from varied areas of expertise: historical, psychological, political, philosophical, theological, sociological, literary, psychiatric and such that we have attempted to anchor ourselves to the importance of self over God and that this is an unmitigated catastrophe.

Stated another way, we have foolishly trusted that reason alone (the individual – singularly and in the aggregate) can form a coherent, thoughtful, just, compassionate, kind and moral community.

Looking around each day, it seems impossible to believe that such a misguided and arrogant orientation has done anything but make us far worse off, weaker, more chaotic – yes, dramatically sicker, more fragmented, untruthful, corrupt, addicted, suicidal, crippled, angry, ugly, disoriented and violently anti-social.

Yet astonishingly few in the public eye recognize this – discuss it –largely because they are part of the whole sick mess and frequently doing quite well … that they are captives of this mess sitting at the top of its rubbish heap.

Look at the accurate snapshot of Washington today: the closed circle that is the Washington elite who cannot yield to the popular election of a President who is NOT one of them and who would DARE to pursue a course of action that disturbs the benefits of their cozy corrupt culture.

What you see today in Washington is the clear identity of the privileged political class that seeks not to do the will of the voter but rather preserve its own “status” in a very lucrative and easy gig.  Hey, it beats working!

Some of us who have lived broadly in our six or seven decades can tell you that the population at-large is quite different, far less civil or sane than it once was. Indeed, it is far sicker.

A lawyer I know recently recounted how a member of the Bar lost his license to practice because he drugged his underage client in order to sexually assault her.

From work, to family, to community, politics, primary and university education, etc. – in all quarters (particularly in major cities – Washington included) we regularly see evidence of the Dark Ages … yet do not stand against it.

Hell of a situation to behold.  Pitchfork, anyone?

Shalom.

The Russian Fixation – Interesting to watch the Democrat Left “Russian Fixation.”  They go way back in colluding with the Russians – Stalin, no less.

Remember Yalta and how FDR sold out Poland and Eastern Europe at Yalta – gave the Communists control over post-war Eastern Europe.  Shameful.

During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers, the U.S. did nothing to help the brave Polish people, and the Red Army sat still East of Warsaw until the Nazis could put down the uprising.  Talk about collusion!

Let’s not forget the New Deal was full of Lefties.

” … God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead … I cannot know for certain where it will end … But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you.” (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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If a devout monk can experience uncertainty, imagine the state of confusion and error of those who do not believe.

Yes, in a godless culture godless figures emerge to “lead.”  Of course, they cannot lead. Why?  They have no clue what has value, what is good and just and honorable.  What they have is simply the idiocy of unbelievers and their abundant foolishness and guarantee for destruction.

In a culture of unbelief blind squirrels might find acorns, but not men with sight who lack belief in God.

Look around, we have endless public figures who are lost and do not know it. The rule of thumb today is this: if a public figure dons a raincoat, you can leave your umbrella home.

In a culture of chaos, you are better off to do the exact opposite of what the “powers that be” would suggest.

Let’s be plain here: if you wish to have a life of value, and joy – desire one thing: to desire to please God.

Yes, set all the fools aside.

Shalom.

Sad – Godless pagan culture claims another life.  Singer Chester Bennington committed suicide yesterday at age 41.  He leaves fatherless children.  This is the real cost of the secular culture, the fruits of the failure of elites, the intellectual, political, media and celebrity classes.  Some legacy.  Yes, there are more suicides in the United States each year than homicides.  Sad.  It need not be this way.

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not be trusted by anybody.

Thomas Paine

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Writing about faith and culture as I do requires attention to the problems in culture and the ideas proposed and manifest in the culture which do serious damage to society, security, sanity, spiritual and moral life and the human being.  Hence, with the conditions we face today – one must take account of (among other things) politics and ideas expressed and policies pursued therein.

Recently Leftists have expressed the desire for a guaranteed national income for all Americans.  They argue that this is necessary because artificial intelligence, machines and robots will put many Americans out of the work force.

The public advocates of this proposition seem centered in technology enterprises which will produce these displacements.  What you see here is not compassion but rather a desire to avoid any financial responsibility for the effects their enterprises produce.

These Leftists prefer, as they so often do, that others (i.e., taxpayers – personal and corporate) be handed the bill for the consequences that their actions produce. In plain talk – they want to maximize their own financial gains at the expense of those who do not share their billions upon billions.  Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?

That Dear Friends is the modern American Left.

And that Dear Friends brings us to Thomas Paine’s wisdom.  Who, in their right mind, can trust the American Left, “progressives,” socialists, modern left-wing liberalism?

Think about it, on the one hand the Left seeks national income for all Americans at the same time it wants open borders while flooding the nation with immigrants many of whom do not seem to seek assimilation nor manifest allegiance to our nation.

Were we to follow the Left we’d soon be sending annual income checks to half the people in the world whether they live here or not.  That’s the Left. Yes, we are back to Thomas Paine.

Shalom.

Postscript – Apropos to the above Thomas Paine quote, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to resign.  Why?  His appointment was made pursuant to his good friend James Comey leaking FBI memos to a Columbia Law School law professor for distribution to The New York Times in order (as Mr. Comey testified) to secure the appointment of a special counsel.  Would it not be the better course for a man whose appointment commenced with an unlawful act to vacate his appointment as a matter of honor?

The law is too important to rest itself on unlawful behavior.  It needs to be revered, not besmirched.  I suspect Paine would agree.  A nation that does not seek the highest moral conduct weakens its foundation.

… the ‘natural’ hierarchy of species no longer applies.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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Franaszek is describing the world seen by the narrator in Czeslaw Milosz’s poem A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto.  In the poem Milosz is writing about the liquidation of the inhabitants in the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis in May 1943.

Yes, we have known a condition in which “the ‘natural’ hierarchy of the species no longer applies.”  You could say we are in such a time, or on its cusp.

I think of the Middle East and Syria, of ISIS, the destruction caused by the ill-conceived “Arab Spring,” terrorism exported to the West, the dismemberment of Venezuela, the eradication of national boundaries and nationhood itself, North Korea, and the exile of faith, religion and God in secular culture.  But I also think of the hyper-political hostility here on our shores: among the Left, the media, the press, and various leftist groups and special pleaders none of whom seem versed in history and its wise lessons.

Natural hierarchies collapse when metaphysical inquiry is lost for when it is lost so too is morality, and meaning, and virtue, and value, wisdom and compassion, community – indeed, humanity itself.

Sadly we face this on other shores and within this country.  It is most present in what now presents as the Democrat Party, the media, academia and popular mass culture.

You can see in today, the world that Milosz saw and experienced along with Koestler, Orwell, T.S. Eliot, Beckett, Solzhenitsyn and others.

A world without metaphysics is a world with but one leafless tree.

Shalom.

 

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