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Dedicated to Buddy and My Childhood Friends – Great People and Great Friends

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides in him.  (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3:36

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Imagine if your life actually comes down to belief … and to performance based on belief, that it comes down to excellence in what you do, to virtue, and effort and sacrifice.

Yes, imagine life is a zero-sum game.  That if you fail to excel, fail to exert yourself – to try your very best to do things right, learn from mistakes, take responsibility for miscues, live honorably, befriend others, sacrifice when necessary, put others first, lead and encourage, learn your craft and do it well … imagine what eternity might be for you, if you fail to live as you optimally can. Imagine how unsatisfying your end days might be if you failed to enter the fray and give it what you had.

Imagine as a professed Christian what your burden may be if having professed belief in Christ as the Son of God you lived as it that was not so … as if your actions say “these are only words, but I do my own thing.”

U.S. Navy Seal Lief Babib writes in Extreme Leadership (a book he wrote with fellow Seal officer Jocko Willink) that “Seal training (and really, throughout a Seal’s career) very evolution was a competition – a race, a fight, a contest.”

You know I have often said that life in poverty, in public housing, with a Mom and no Dad or siblings, among tough hardcore people on the edge of survival was a state of combat – day after day with no margin of error.  I was, by the way, surrounded by friends in the same situation and they have been among the best people, strongest people and best friends I have had in my life … Brothers and Sisters to me, my family to this day.

Yes, necessity creates need for toughness and determination; and, whether people were consciously connected to this passage in the Gospel of John or not, these people lived a de facto zero sum game – gave life their very best, reached out to support and love one another, showed the courage to face life, accept its hardships and challenges and keep living as honorably as they could.

Now that is “seeing life” and experiencing the gift of life.  I contend that living life as it presents is in its very nature an act of faith, a life of courage. 

My friends are not snowflakes, weepers, cry-babies.  They do not look for government to do for them.  They do not seek handouts, make excuses, complain and whine.

They live and they laugh.  They raise good kids. Work hard.  Help others. Get up when they are knocked down. Learn from life, grow in it  – get wiser, gain understanding – excel as human beings.

They don’t need “selfies” to know who they are or remember where they have been. Celebrities hold no sway for them, but good people do.

They don’t count themselves “special.”  They are the polar opposite of Johnny Depp and Madonna.  They don’t need an audience and long ago realized entertainers are as jugglers – and jugglers come and go … while the best of us sustain to the end.

Shalom.

 

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

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Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

 

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Czeslaw Milosz’s observations of life in totalitarian societies are spot on.

Yesterday’s testimony by former F.B.I. Director James Comey suggests we are closer to totalitarian society than we have ever been.

How can I say this?

Well, we had an F.B.I. Director who admits to leaking self-serving personal views of a privileged conversation with the President of the United States to the press through an Ivy League law professor at that!  As they say in my hometown of Boston: there is no honor among thieves, they’re just as dishonorable as the rest of us.

But the leaking was not the worst of it.  Mr. Comey admitted that he conformed willingly to the benign characterization Attorney General Loretta Lynch (another career government lawyer) imposed on him regarding the Hillary Clinton email/computer server/national security breaches when her friend Ms. Clinton was under criminal investigation at the F.B.I.

So our F.B.I. Director “took a dive” upon Democrat command but was, as he testified, afraid to meet with President Trump privately or to inform the President that he was uncomfortable with discussing any ongoing F.B.I. matters … and he was unwilling to tell the public at-large that Mr. Trump was not under investigation!

While there is more that could be said, suffice it to say that we saw the presence of corruption at top levels of the federal government … and at the very top levels of the legal profession.  This is very alarming.

In addition, now that we know President Trump was not the subject of any examination of the alleged Russian hacking attempts during the last electoral cycle and we also know that Democrats in the House and Senate knew that the President was NEVER a subject of an investigation YET THEY CONTINUED PROMOTING THE NARRATIVE THAT HE WAS, implying that he was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin and that Mr. Trump “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton with the benefit of Russian hacking and support.

If, as Milosz says, truth is a pistol shot … Mr. Comey and friends, and the House and Senate Democrats never fired a shot.  I guess truth is not “their thing” – slander, lying, character assassination to overturn an election result and secure political power apparently is.

And let us not forget the media and the press – biased as they are – full of “unnamed sources” and untruths.  No Milsoz gunshots there.

The conduct of the lawyers involved, the Justice Department, F.B.I., Democrats in the Congress, of the press, reporters and media commentators was disgraceful … and very harmful to this nation.

Let’s me plain: totalitarian societies rest on lies – big lies, little lies, daily lies, foundational lies and the silence that surrounds them.

The Left and the liberals in this nation have increasingly succumbed to untruths since the explosive late 1960’s.  This is very alarming.

Mr. Comey and company provide a troubling indication of decline, loss of virtue and of liberty.

No wonder common Americans rejected Ms. Clinton and the Democrats, and the “established” Republican politicians in favor of an inexperienced political novice now under constant attack.

Shalom.

 

A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

Elisabeth Elliot

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This Elliot quote is a nugget … about as true a thing as you can find.

I have been asked often by clients, colleagues, friends and people who seek my counsel to explain another person’s consistent hurtful, dismissive, thoughtless, selfish, antagonistic, hostile or chaotic behavior.  I frequently respond by saying: if you have disordered people in your life, they bring you disorder.  Indeed with disordered people – any expectations to the contrary are misplaced.

Personally, I keep my distance from disordered people … and I mean personal distance (face to face) and distance in the multiple forms they appear to me in the mass media/mass communication society we have now.

I cite a case in point: Tucker Carlson in this television interview and commentary show last night had a guest who was the absolute picture of disorder.  From the very first question, this female guest ranted, spoke over him, would not and probably could not give a competent response to any of his inquiries.  She was loud, uncouth and incapable of civil discourse.  Yes, a belligerent, disordered soul.  I stopped watching.

If she were acting this way in a psychiatrist office awaiting a consult they’d probably have sedated her.

Disorder is frequently on public display in American culture today.

I see this in women now whereas I never saw this in the early decades of my life.  On the contrary, I recall women who were strong, dignified, insightful, balanced, wise and courageous.  They had class and commanded respect by their mere presence.   Somewhere since feminism this has changed and we are the worse for it.

In addition to the Carlson episode, I offer three recent public incidents of women displaying troubling indications of disorder.  The first is Hillary Clinton in her ongoing public, everevolving, ever-expanding blame-everyone-but-me explanations of her unsuccessful candidacy.  In her one sees the depths of disorder.  Yes, a troubled disordered soul.

The second, is Kathy Griffin’s pitiful, weepy public complaint that the Trump family is responsible for the (fittingly) public criticism of her utterly tasteless display of a decapitated bloody head of the President.  Yes, a lost and disordered soul in the era of ISIS decapitations.

Then, there is national security leaker Reality Winner whose immaturity and devotion to leftist ideology led her to violate the law by giving classified material to those who had no legal right to have it.  Yes, a confused, dangerously immature and self-righteous soul.

Four queens of disorder.  Not a good sign for them, or us, or for women … and a far cry from Elisabeth Elliot – a wise woman of extraordinary faith, service and accomplishment.

Perhaps we can pray that those who are lost and troubled can be found.

Shalom.

Not that one … (was) … evil.  But that millions had not the courage to be good.

John Fowles, in The Magus

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Seventy-three years ago today, America’s young men landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, knowing full well two things: (1) they risked their lives, (2) their country and the world needed them to defeat Germany and bring peace to Europe.

On this anniversary of the Normandy invasion a 25-year-old masculine-looking young woman, a twit, a Leftie – a Bernie Sanders supporter and Trumphater, has been arrested by the F.B.I. and is reported to have admitted to them that she took classified documents from the National Security Agency and sent them to a discredited Leftist organization whose mission it has been to interfere with America’s national security efforts.

Dandy.  In the 73 years since one of our greatest hours, we have produced gender-confused, ignorant, self-centered children whose Leftist ideology and personal fetishes seem to justify an arrogance that jeopardizes the lives of 300 million Americans, this country and Western Civilization.  In this we are way beyond pride – we are into real hate-filled pathology .. and this young woman is only one of many.

How did we get here?

Well it is probably hard to say definitively but one critical factor is that the Democrat Party has moved far to the Left and this has resulted in ideology supplanting pragmatism and patriotism.

The root of that Leftist ideology is, of course, Marxism which sees perpetual conflict between groups and fosters and sustains hostility which breaks down nation, national identity and community and furthers totalitarianism.  (It is any wonder that the Left has no regard for national borders?)  

The Democrat Party of 2017 is focused on one thing: power.  They seek it through the growth and control of an ever-expanding federal government, the implementation of laws, regulations, programs and policies that seek conception-to-grave domination of all aspects of human existence.

Make no mistake, Ms. Self-Righteous Leaker is a product of this ideology which is, by the way, the preoccupation of American education – pre-school through college.

Yes, the Democrat Left indoctrinates.  Education produces sycophants, followers. The media provides daily instruction.  The herd follows lemming-like.  Betrayal results.

If you doubt the seriousness of this – just look at the Congressional Democrats, and Leftist press and media, college professors and “special pleaders” who viciously attack the Presidency – and in so doing undermine the legitimacy of the Office.

Look at how they obstruct legislative business in the Congress (thank you, Charles Schumer, disciple of Harry Reid).  With them, do nothing matches know-nothing.  Their mantra? Better selfishness than service!

Look at the political use of government agencies and a judiciary of ideologues.

Look at how lies dominate Benghazi and other sad failures.  Look at their last presidential candidate and her inability to admit her own failure.  Look at prominent Democrats embracing “resistance” to President Trump and national government.

By the way, make no mistake opposition to President Trump is opposition to all who voted for him.  Know this with absolute certainty: the Democrats don’t just believe those who disagree with them are wrong, no – they think those who disagree with them are deplorables – irredeemable.

From D-Day to Leak Day.  Some fall from grace.

Shalom.

Comey Testimony – If there is one thing you need to know about government it is this: only in government and education can you rise so easily above your level of competence and eventually command a country’s attention.  This is just more proof that government is best when it is small and education is badly overrated.

We venerate the song of the tragedians.  It contains truth about suffering, not often God: yet God has revealed himself by means of this truth.

Reinhold Schneider

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The soul-sick and lost kill children.  I am not surprised by this.  I wonder why others are. How can they be surprised?

In an unsolicited grant of grace I learned as a small child that life can be hard and lonely – that what was once there can disappear, that betrayal comes to innocents and disappointments land deeply within, that the world can present difficult moments and some can seem a crushing weight, a dent too deep to be restored.

However, like Reinhold Schneider says … “yet, God has revealed himself by means of this truth.”  My life is testament to this, living proof of this truth.

And so too, in the Manchester Murders of the Innocents – we see not the evil doers but the good that we are made to be.  Would we cry for the loss of a small child if we were not good?  Would we swear to rid ourselves of those whose intent is evil?  Would we cry for those lost across the sea?  Or vow to arms when it is peace we want?

In tragedy we hear the Cathedral bells more clearly and lift our eyes aloft.

In yesterday, grandfathers pray for their small grandchildren and ask that God might help them keep safe his little ones.

For too long we have played a peripheral game on the far outer edge of reality in a discussion that is surreal.  How many human rights can you stack on the head of a pin?  This question while London bleeds and Paris burns, and Europe fades from view.   

Life – all life – conveys knowledge of God.  Yet, we indulge our fetishes and focus on the tragedians and bury our dead.  Our sight clouded and hearts numbed. Avoiding reality while deaths multiply and sacred faiths are targeted.

Perhaps Manchester, in the shadow of our historic overture to an Arab-Israeli-American alliance, will bring us to our senses and reminds us that we have strayed from God and faith and seeded debate to the godless and their prideful desires and ideas.

Illustratively, perhaps a new generation of leaders will turn to those before who as exiles from their native land and its precious faith wrote of Christ as Wisdom, the role of the Spirit in the world, the place for mystical understanding in mortal life, the integration of life in worship, the sacred destiny of the cosmos.  I think, in example, of the Russian Orthodox intellects like Nicholas Berdyaev, Vladimir Lossky and others who saw clearly not evil but God who prevails above all disorder and in whom all can turn to good, and peace, and purpose, meaning and understanding.

In faith, we expel evil.  Politics alone provides no impetus for action being short of clear faithful vision and the infused wisdom and courageous resolve it brings.

Let not the Manchester murders of Innocents be in vain.  Rather, let it call us to repel evil and build the brotherhood of all faithful souls.  Return to faith … and march on we must.

Shalom.

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

Christ is with those of humble mind, not with those who exalt themselves over his flock.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Clement of Rome, in Epistle to Corinthians

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Barack Obama was honored recently for his Profile in Courage.  Strange award for this former President to receive, not that awards are to be taken seriously these days … recall if you will the Nobel Peace Prize given to a man who accomplished exactly nothing for peace prior to its presentation.

Ironically, Mr. Obama is the subject today of an exhaustive biography by historian David Garrow who formally produced an acclaimed biography of Martin Luther King. “Ironically?” Yes, because “progressive” Democrat Garrow emerges from his 1000 page Obama biography to identify Mr. Obama as a hollow man, one who was cold, impersonal, and concerned most about himself.

There is, to be sure, little or nothing of either humility or authenticity about Garrow’s subject conveyed in this biography.  Garrow’s assessment is not flattering, but it is revealing, and for some it will be confirming.

The “progressive” Garrow registers disappointment that Mr. Obama so easily abandoned his once professed “progressive” politics and now favors $400,000 speaking engagements and the company of billionaires.  Unlike, Mr. Garrow – I am not surprised by this for I have been to the carnival as a young lad … and it so captures flim-flam.

Yet, when a public “progressive” turns on another as Mr. Garrow does, it delivers a significant message.

The message?  Politics is, especially among the Left, still about status and wealth and public adulation.

Many on the Left utilize politics so that they might “be somebody” – their ideas are often only a vehicle to get somewhere closer to the image they wish to acquire for themselves. Afterall, Mr. Obama and courage?  How does one square that picture?  Where is humility?  How does authenticity attend that ceremony?

For some time now I have seen in public figures people who seem to have ignored the sentiment expressed by Carl Jung above.  Isn’t life about becoming a full and complete person – coming to know the humility of an honest view of yourself and your life, so you might live comfortably in your own story, rather than spending a lifetime scheming to create an image of yourself that you desire?  Such a life is, and must be, hollow.

Lacking authenticity today, we seem too often to lack political leadership.

Ironically, like him or not, Mr. Trump in a very peculiar way is likely closer to “what you see is what you get” – that: a gross measure of authenticity when its opposite is so common.

Life deals us some strange cards, doesn’t it.

Shalom.

THROUGH SOME STRANGE COMPUTER MAGIC TODAY’S POST IS ACCESSED THROUGH “HYPOCRITES … UGH” ON THE ABOVE LINE NEXT TO “WILL”

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When there is no enemy within, the enemies without cannot hurt you.

Winston S. Churchill

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We live in a divided age.  Such is the language, antics and advocacy of “identity politics.”

This helps explain the conflict between globalists and those who champion nation.

Globalists seek to reduce national sovereignty and increase the governance and power of international bodies.  The nationalists like national sovereignty just as it is.  More to the point, nationalists seek to preserve their national identity and the mores of their culture, their religion, history, law, morality, ethos, language and social and political structure. This explains their preference for borders, legal immigration and assimilation.  This also explains the antagonism of globalists to secure borders.

Truth is globalists have been in business since post-W.W. II; yet, there record has not been altogether successful.

Their works have caused injury to ordinary workers and reduced the middle class. Where international trade was thought to forestall armed conflict and develop a civilized discourse among nations, it has not done so.

Indeed, trade is, as one should have expected, not staved off nations seeking their own advantages at the expense of others. Many do all that they can to enrich themselves at the cost to their neighbors.  Where Bill Clinton asserted trade with China would further human rights and political liberty within China – he was profoundly mistaken.

We should have learned the consequences of the move to globalism by now. Sadly those elites who benefit most are less citizens of the land they live in and more members of the international class of the wealthy that have more than one ever needs to sustain a good life.

Frankly, globalism has made some the enemy of the many.  Time to draw us together – all one in the same boat.  Especially so since enemies without are gathering in opposition to us and our Western brothers and sisters.

Shalom.

Preening Judges – Well it seems that the judges of the federal bench in San Francisco, California want to preen for the Left-wing loons, so here is a dandy way to keep them happy and in tune with their “beliefs” (that they wish to dump on the rest of us): let’s simply take all violent illegals we encounter and ship them to San Francisco on the condition that if they stray from the city by the Bay, they will be immediately deported all legal rights having been forfeited on condition of relocating to their new residence.

The California Left-wing lugnuts ought to be happy to welcome those they want others to welcome.

Start each day with a task completed.

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This simple piece of advice is from a Navy Seal’s list of things to do or remember, his prompts to keep him aimed at excellence.

Why would it be important to complete a task at the start of each day?  Because it builds the experience of achievement, of accomplishment and imparts the message and habit that “you do,” you have a goal and you achieve that goal.  As such it sets the day up for other tasks to be faced and finished.

I was, soon enough, as a child living in public housing with my mother. Work was in short supply and money was too.

We lived in a small apartment.  But it was clean and orderly and we were as well. Our living quarters were swept, dusted, organized.  We ate breakfast each morning. I was never late for school.  My clothes were clean and pressed.  I had a shower each day.  I did not miss school.  My homework was done, my reading assignments too.  I had a routine. My mother knew where I was and when to expect me to be home.  I knew where she was and we were both reliable to do and be as we were expected.

Before my feet hit the pavement each day – there were tasks done and tasks to come.

I was the first in my family to attend college – not as a brilliant student – but as a person who applied myself to the task.  The first also to become a military officer, attend law school, enter the professions, and pursue graduate study in both American foreign policy and theology.

In the course of my life I brought my mother a house, a car and a small business.

Start each day with a completed task.  Make it more than one and that is all the better. Accomplishment comes from habit.  Good habits breed achievement. But more to the point – completed tasks build toughness, confidence, fortitude.

Life is a sacred gift.  You are the biblical servant given a talant (coin) by your Master.  Your coin is life.  Use it.  Multiply the gift of life my attending to tasks, completing them – making each small thing a task well done.  Live fully … and the right way.  Achievement follows.

Shalom.

Afterthought – In a nation of dependents, have we not diminished people – made those created for full life consigned to far less, too brokenness and perpetual discontent?

Frankly, this is the godless manner of the Democrat Left.  They breed victimhood so they might reign over dependents and stay in power.

Think about it, President Obama was so proud to have grown “the dependent class.” Seems pretty sick to me.  I prefer life to bondage.  How about you? 

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