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All efforts based on parliamentary control and free-market economic mechanisms proved useless in quelling the growing polarization in opinion and stance.  Different propositions were put forward, ranging from anarchism to autocratic rule, and for many young people each seemed preferable to the rotten democracy they lived under.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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These words describe the deteriorating political climate in Poland in the 1930’s and to some extent the political climate in Europe at the same time.

They so remind me of the extraordinary state of affairs and discontent in the U.S. today.  Partisanship reigns.  One Party houses the extreme Left.  Liberalism embraces nihilism and its echoes ring in the public square, mass media and the courts of law.  Anarchists, while small in number, dressed in black slash and burn.  Foundations fund the voices of Black racism.  We live in uneasy times.

Circumstances have changed.  The once stable America is less a source of certainty than it has been and the world becomes more dangerous.

We tilt Left and morals have been mothballed.  Trusted government institutions have lost their glow.  Public corruption tarnishes democracy.  Religious belief itself is in thin supply.  Education is below the waterline.  It is a troubled time.

History tells us that in such times the best young men mature more quickly … and across the land the wise turn back to faith.  Yes, extreme moments snap us into what is fundamental, personal, sure, uplifting, good and eternal – humanizing, strong, kind, heroic – the only option in dark days.

Beneath the flawless manners of a worldly gentleman he hid his compassion for all that is living.  Some people perhaps could sense it, but it was certainly known, in ways mysterious to us, to the small birds that would perch on his head and hands when he stopped in a park alley.

Czeslaw Milosz, in Goodness

Lord, bring us to our senses – to morality, honesty, kindness, compassion – Make us One.

Shalom.

 

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… he who has hatred nourishes the devil.

St. Basil, in Sermo III De Charitate

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A group supporting the Democrat Party candidate for Governor in Virginia posted a television ad that depicted a white man driving a pickup truck with a Confederate flag on it and a bumper sticker of his Republican opponent.

The ad displayed minority children running in fear from the truck.  The implication was that the driver (a White male) intended to harm the children.

This was despicable.  It branded all White males as racists, those who do harm to children.  While the controversial ad was eventually “pulled” by the group that authored it, the Democrat candidate never renounced it.

This is what we have come to.  Identity politics allows the maligning a race and a gender without a shred of conscience.  What next?

I have yet to hear anyone remind us that the Nazis embraced identity politics and unspeakable deeds followed.

Hatred is integral to identity politics.  Allowed to flourish it will lead to a very evil end.

Where is the kindness we once knew?  The care of others.  Morality.  Decency?  Honor?

Unless we confront those who advance hatred or tolerate and excuse it, we will earn a results that will be catastrophic.  Shame, shame, shame.

The prudent sees the evil … but the naive go on, and are punished for it.

Prov 22: 2,3

Shalom.

Footnote – I grew up in poverty in a city whose legacy included signs in shop owners’ windows which read: “No Irish Need Apply.”  For decades I practiced law and my clients were predominantly minorities, usually poor, and often children.  Truthfully, I strongly resent being placed in a pickup truck hunting children, minority children.  I refuse to be so characterized.

Shame on those who think they can do this.  Imagine their disordered way of living … they think they can woo white and white male voters by coloring them as racists, bigots.  Who thinks like this?

 

 

 

[Apologies for having to weave comments about the state of politics into blog posts, but I offer this: we live in a mass culture where politics is a dominant part of the conversation and one thing we are all exposed to … and I add that ideology is a prominent denominator which displaces religious belief and dramatically instills a fundamental orientation to the individual, groups and public discourse.  Where faith once set the table, now ideology does – hence the errors of ideology are a necessary part of correcting what is wrong.]

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… intelligence is fine, but if it doesn’t come along with incisiveness, judgment, emotional maturity it doesn’t do much good.  (Emphasis added.) 

Gregg Popovich

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This from the San Antonio Spurs legendary basketball coach Gregg Popovich.

He makes a point that puts our “educated class” in the crosshairs.  We grossly overstate the value of higher education.  Just look at the standard product of liberal education or the professors and administrators who populate “higher” education.  Loons.  We produce loons too often.

Forget “the nutty professor” – these people are misguided and undeveloped … and as an added “bonus” egotistical and destructive.  They lack insight, incisiveness, good judgment, social and emotional maturity, life experience, humility and wisdom.  Yet, we applaud the likes of former President Obama (he of a Harvard – yikes – education) who was awarded a Nobel Prize for doing nothing and offered up the same level of achievement while in office for eight years.

He and others are Woody Allen’s Zelig – people without any substance whatsoever who morph into whatever role they are given without any capacity for success, or appetite for hard work.  Today’s “educated” elite know little while assuming they know everything.  They talk a “good game” but do little that is useful and less that is not “politically-“correct.”

Interestingly, the aveage middle class voter rejects their “game” and them – and doing so is precisely what we need.  Intellect with nothing else is useless and often destructive.  We have government boondoggle and waste galore to prove the point, if elite arrogance does not make the case.

We are called to full human development – spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, physical, psychological and mature development.  Alas if only our educational system aspired to this.

Shalom.

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.  With Major Major it had been all three.  Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.

Joseph Heller, in Catch 22

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We live in a subpar age, and Washington, D.C. and the federal government, the military excepted, is the epicenter of “the way below average.”  Yes, the vaunted are moronic – so inept that even their corrupt practices are all thumbs lampoonery.

Think the Trump dossier episode.  Hillary and Bill and their hand-puppets at the Democrat National Committee paying for a comic book version of an intelligence report implicating candidate Donald Trump in a bizarre illicit romp with Russian ladies of the night – the “content” of which is drawn from Russian government sources.

How inept must you be to allege Trump is doing the Russians bidding when you yourself are in bed with the Commies and beholding to them.  Talk about “unimpressive.”

I’ve seen a lot of life.  Lived a number of very interesting experiences.  I can tell you this: Washington has a surplus of slugs and dullards who screw up regularly – but most when they try to be too clever, too cute – and nowhere more so than when they try to thread the needle as to criminal conduct or questionable behavior.

Let’s face it, the guy with a Harvard, Yale or Georgetown B.A. ain’t likely to know much and surely not likely to be a criminal genius … supplemental law degree or not.  These are paddy-cakers and what they lack in character and good judgment, they make up it hubris.

Think the Clinton Foundation, the Trump dossier, Bill Clinton’s escapades and idiotic lying about sex with an intern.  Think too of “the tarmac meeting” and (God help us) Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and just about anything FBI Director James Comey touched, the Benghazi debacle, giving Russians access to America’s uranium reserves, Eric Holder’s “fast and furious” resulting in the death of a U.S. Border Agent … so many other inept exercises gone south.

Indeed, we have people in politics and government who make Joe Heller’s Major Major look like a Mensa member.

What might one say?  Only this: Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.  (Ps 146:3)

Shalom.

Biggest Problem – Perhaps the biggest problem we face is this: dubiously educated “elites” who have the highest regard for themselves and no regard for God or others.

 

 

… morality is the extraordinary human capacity that made civilization possible.

Johathan Haidt, in The Righteous Mind

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The 9th Circuit Federal Court in San Francisco has cleared the way for a case to be heard which would strike down a 145 year old California statute that currently makes prostitution illegal.

Oh, isn’t that just dandy!  And so California.  So Sodom and Gomorrah.  Such legal scholars – so full of wisdom and insight.  Wonder how many California judges were pals of Harvey Weinstein?

Currently under California law prostitution is considered disorderly conduct subject to a $1000.00 fine and six months in jail.  (I assume in most cases the penalties are less.)

This is liberalism today.  

The liberal argument being made is this: people have the right to consensual sex including prostitution – sex for money.

One wonders what is next?  Enslavement for money?  Hey, we kill unborn children. Planned Parenthood sells body parts.  I assume the “Golden” State horizon inclines toward the legalization of sex trafficking, selling children.  Why would one assume otherwise?

Liberalism and liberals have brought us to the brink of civilization.

Jonathan Haidt is an esteemed psychologist who focuses on moral development, neurology and evolutionary biology.  He is “spot on” as to the relationship between civilization and morality.  No morals and civilization is done … gone … 

Time to hold the line.  Stand against those who destroy.  This is on you … me … us.

Will we be, or will we not be a healthy, congenial, moral, faithful, honest society – full of neighbors and families who help one another, refuse to see gender, color, class as dividers that close our hearts to one another?  Liberals or its opposite?

God help us all.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; the same freedom which extended vices …

Edward Gibson, in The History of the Decline of the and Fall of the Roman Empire

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Vices.  The decline and fall of people and nations.  So it is.

Today we see evidence of corruption – in Hollywood, in government, in politics, in Washington, D.C., in the news media, in academia, in individuals and among groups.

Corruption is corrosive.  It destroys.

Yesterday we learned from news reports that there appears to have been some things very irregular about approval of our Nation’s sale of uranium to a company with Russian participation and that the sale has profound risks and potentially dangerous consequences to America’s security and survival.

It was reported that beginning in 2009 FBI had an on-going investigation of Russian criminal behavior (involving bribery, extortion, money laundering and blackmail) intended to secure access to American uranium used in nuclear weapon production.

We also learned from the reports that the investigation utilized a source with first hand knowledge of the Russian criminal behavior and access to evidence and documents about the crimes.  Again from the reports, it is alleged that that Russia used  “kickbacks” to further their crimes.  It is reported through leaked government emails belonging to  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that she was aware of the investigation, as was (as to the reports) Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and then U.S. Attorney Rob Rosenstein (now at the Justice Department).  The reports presume that President Obama knew of the investigation, given that he would eventually have to approve the transaction if it was recommended by the government panel with authority to do so.

We know that Ms. Clinton and Mr. Holder were on the panel that approved the sale.

It is reported that the FBI was not permitted to inform the Congress of their investigation and the concerns that it raised about Russia’s criminal conduct.

It is reported that the Clinton Family Foundation received a donation from nine shareholders in the company (Uranium One) that served to present Russian interests in the transaction and that their “contribution” to the Clinton foundation totaled (as reported) $145 million, and that “the donation” was paid before Ms. Clinton voted (along with other members of the panel, Mr. Holder included) to approve the sale – later approved by President Obama.

We are also told that Mr. Clinton received a $500,000 speaking fee from a Russian organization around the time the transaction was pending or approved.

The appearance of corruption emerges from this news.  It is troubling to say the least.  Ironically while Democrats were looking for President Trump’s collusion with the Russians they may have been better served by looking in the mirror or at their own Party’s government officials.

We might say: it is not pride that goeth before the Fall but vices … vices which attach risk to each of us – particularly because it is reported that some uranium has been shipped from the U.S. to unknown locations. 

How might others do such a thing?  Money is a fair answer.  But in Washington power enters the transaction and, among Leftists in government hostility toward the nation might be a factor.  Hard to imagine anything else.

Reminds me of this from Ernest Hemingway in For Whom the Bells Toll – “He did not care for lying at first … Then later he had come to like it.  It was part of being an insider …”

Shalom.

As to all who are lost, the goal is their restoration and salvation.

Begin the morning in the dark and quiet again – but there is a glimpse of sunrise to come where the clouds have parted.  In the background the chants of the Monks from the Monastery of St. Ottilien.  Peace is in the air … beautiful, eternal, above all mortal being.

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” … at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Gen 2:23

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We have lost our way and make grave errors that antagonize and divide, make us enemies in the most fundamental areas of our life – in the most sacred areas – places from which our happiness, joy, and contentment – meaning and purpose are meant flow.

Perhaps no area of error and divergence is any greater than that of  understanding man and woman – understanding their sacred identity and divine value.

God willed the creation of man and woman.  They share perfect equality, one to the other.  Each possess inalienable dignity as they are made to be.  Efforts of any kind to subvert this are reckless, utterly destructive, contrary to nature, God’s will and doomed to fail.

Men treat women as your equal, revere them, protect them, defend them.  Women, see your extraordinary dignity, your special gifts, your most cherished honor to bear a child and love so deeply.

In creating man and woman as helpmates to one another, we see God’s wisdom and goodness.  Together in Holy Matrimony we see God’s image – – – God as pure spirit, pure and steadfast love, and union with us.

Men and women: marry and honor your pledge of union.  No absent fathers.  No single mothers.  No out-of-wedlock births.  No more abortions.  No more rebellion against God.

Men and women are made for one another – as a communion of persons in the intimate manner in which God is unified with the human person.  Two as one – complimentary to one another.  One flesh, “bone of my bone.”

As one we are entrusted with creating new life – sharing in God’s work of divine Creation.  In this we have personal responsibility for the world around us: how it will be, what it will do  – whether it is dominated by Good or Evil, Truth or Lie, Life or Death.

Does not our faith and heritage give question to “same sex marriage,” to “multiple genders” and a self-claim to gender?

Shalom.

Prayer for the Dying

All-powerful and merciful Father, in the death of Christ you have opened a gateway to eternal life.  Look kindly upon Margaret McCurdy who is suffering her last agony.  United to the passion and death of your Son, and saved by the blood He shed, may she come before You with confidence.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Your prayers for Margaret McCurdy are welcome.

 

 

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful. (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of December 9, 1958

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We are willful.  We prefer our ways to the ways of He who made us. This one thing accounts for our disorder, and eventually to a demise.  It is for each of us the single challenge in our life.

Done well life is a process of submission to God.  Yes, we grow when we decline so He might gain. In shorter the shadow we cast, the greater we are – the healthier we become, the more certain and the calmer we are.

Look around you.  We now have organizations that work to advance selfishness, sin – one preferred method of rebellion and godlessness or another … and we have many who co-exist with those who advocate disorder and sickness.  The enablers can sink this culture, jeopardize our health and wellbeing.

The tug-of-war between good and evil is a consistent part of the human story from the beginning of time.  Flannery O’Connor reminds us in this December 1958 letter that God does not miraculously meddle in each and every human affair, rather He offers the grace to grow, mature, come to faith and meaning through life experience, the sacraments, belief, worship.  In grace we grow in dignity and our implicit responsibility is to defend and preserve the sacred value of life itself.  Yes, this may put us at odds with others … but is it not Jesus who asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:48)

To reject grace is to reject God and life itself.

Look about.  Do you see bad being called “good?”  This is the condition of our time, and the ageless challenge: good or evil – life or death, God or His adversary?

Shalom.   

 

If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things work out.

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture

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I’ve never been a fan of whiners so the well-healed NFL football players, coaches and owners who put their social complaints on the captured audience of ticket-holders and television viewers have lost my interest and respect.  Shame on them.  Nothing admirable about them – nothing.

Just watched Patriots Day about the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Excellent movie.  More than that a terrific story about tough-minded, loving men, women and children who rallied together as one to see that those who killed innocent people were apprehended and punished.  It is a story about courage, toughness, achievement, honor, resolve, determination, individual strength, shared mission, sacrifice, community, love.

I grew up in Boston in a very testy public housing complex.  I know these people.  Many have been my friends for 64 years and more.  They are my family.  They would sacrifice for me and I for them.  Several recently faced tragic medical situations, I kept in touch: encouraging and caring.  I prayed for them and, as is always the case in tragic situations, I drew closer to God and became more thankful for all that we are generously given – especially for friends, neighbors, the capacity to care for others – and love God and others more than self.

Today, I see the legions of complainers in American culture today and am sickened by this – disgusted with them.  I knew a far different life.  I knew the life of taking what you get and moving forward, proving the obstacles non-existent, defying others who thought less of me by being more a person than they were.  I was not a genius but I was a hard worker, determined, tough, a realist who saw the near-empty glass and said: “Damn, I’ll fill the thing and more like it.”

I knew the bigotry that befalls the guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  The thoughts others affix to the poor neighbor and its residents.  This was my badge of courage – a badge shared by others in my same situation.  I saw life being raised with one parents and not much money.  I lived that life.  Became the first in my family to go to college.  First to graduate from college, go to law school, become part of a profession.

I became an Army officer.  Went on to graduate school at Johns Hopkins, worked in the U.S. Congress on foreign policy matters, had a successful law practice helping the poor, the sick, the under-represented.  People wrote articles about my work, about me.  I walked my wife through a devastating illness that took her life at age 29.  I left law in my late 50’s to earn a graduate degree in theology at Notre Dame, became a Catholic convert and vowed religious Catholic Brother.  I raised a successful son with his own Ph.D.  By the grace of God, he is a better man than I am – talented, smart, a terrific son, father and husband.  Ya, I was busy … I had no time to whine nor taste for it.  Like those around me, I saw bigotry and said “Screw you, I’ll show you who I am and what I can do.”  Their bigotry was motivation to me.  I didn’t sit on my fanny or make a political statement: I lived and defied those who discounted me and my friends.

At the end of the movie Patriots Day the men and women who participated in the hunt for the hate-filled brothers who killed and maimed children and adults spoke of visiting those wounded and without limbs and made this point: none were bitter – but rather they were optimistic, courageous – ready to strive, to live and prosper.  Yes, working class people I know are – not whiners … they are Boston Tough. 

Damn it, we ought to learn from them.

Shalom.

 

There is an internal longing for harmony and happiness that lies deeper than ordinary fear or the desire to escape misery or physical destruction.

Czeslaw Milosz, in The Captive Mind

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The politics of the Left in American today fuels anger, conflict, division and violence.  It does not seek to heal but rather to dominate and destroy those who disagree with them.  They proceed just as Milosz saw under Communist rule in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Today in American, Czeslaw Mislosz would likely be persona non grata among those on the Left for he appealed not to hate and hostility but to our better human nature: the divinely planted desire for harmony and happiness.

Would not this nation excel if we sought first harmony with others?  Of course it would.  But first we must say to those who shout, malign, insult and act out violently: “Stop – calm down – are we not brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends?”

The fever pitch is far too loud today.  The angry voices of the Left are breaking bonds that hold us together.  The distance between the privileged elites and the common person is far too great.  Those on top act in isolation and expect others to conform to their wishes despite any discomfort those wishes might cause in the life condition and circumstances of those without privilege.

Those in power forget that communities are built on relationships from which trust and fellowship flow, and harmony is the common treasure.

Nothing would become us more at this moment in American history than to say to those who shout: “Be quiet, sit down – let’s share a table and a meal and talk about things we have in common and the harmony and happiness that we each seek because God made us good and wishes our relationship with Him and one another.

Think about this.  Reach out.  Practice harmony.

Our present task: restoration of this culture.

Shalom.

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