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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.

 

Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.

St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

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St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest, died in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, 76 years ago today.  He was 47 years old.

He died a martyr when he voluntarily stepped forward to request that he be permitted to take the place, in an execution, of a fellow inmate who had a wife and children.

The Camp Commander agreed and Fr. Kolbe was placed in a dark and dingy cell with nine other men to be starved to death.

Having survived two weeks without food, Fr. Kolbe was given an injection of carbolic acid to kill him.  It is reported that his appearance at death was as if he had been enveloped by the love of God.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is truly an appropriate measure to apply to ourselves and our culture and those in it – and particularly to those in politics who profess to “lead” us, serve us, protect us – keep us sane and safe … and to those in the professions and education, and to those in religious stations who have vowed to keep us close to Christ, and to the Father.

On this anniversary of Fr. Kolbe’s death, I suggest that you take time to reflect on your obligation to live up to your faith, to live as Fr. Kolbe did, as Christ did. Likewise, it is a good time to ask: Do those with public voice live as Fr. Kolbe did?

Remember “Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.”

Shalom.

Question.  Who among those who clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend resembled Fr. Kolbe?  Answer: No one, it seems.

 

Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

C. S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory

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Lewis wrote this in 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany.  As sabres rattle, we come to this again.  Culture exists under the shadow of the Infinite.

The question for us is this: we knew this in 1939, but do we know it now?

It is hard to answer that question in the affirmative.  We kill the unborn child. Sanction illicit relationships.  Rely on reason, not God.  Favor pride over humility. A dropout makes a “social network” that takes the place of face to face contact and we think it is grand.  Loyalty is missing.  Character is not easily seen. Morality is breeched.  Excuses and lethargy are abundant.  Education shows it is not worth the price.  Many are lost.

The road ahead is the road restored.

When sabres rattle you’d best be standing under the shadow of the Infinite.

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.

 

“… the person is irrevocably a person in history, and the interchange between external event and the individual life is a matrix of poetry …”

Helen Vendler, in The Music of What Happens

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Yes, we cannot ignore the challenges that time brings us, that are posted by the times of our mortal existence.

If our interaction with history in its daily iterations and broad sweeps presents life as “a matrix of poetry” it also is life as spiritual journey (at least to those who do not – as many do – sit stubbornly in their laziness, refusing all but the life of an ideologue, a dullard).

So if history is the exchange between us and it, who in our current public dialogue offers any recitation that this is so?  Who among our clerics?  Who among those of letters? Who tells the spiritual story in a secular culture before many can no longer hear at all?

Who is your daily voice of faith?  Who nudges you into spiritual reality?  What do you do to awaken your soul, become what a human being is: a spiritual being seeking fullness of life mortal and eternal?

If someone believes that he is a Christian and yet is indifferent to the fact that he is, then he truly is not a Christian.

Soren Kierkegaard, in Works of Love

Shalom.

Let’s be truthful – When the government gives subsidies to health insurance companies, we are NOT keeping Obamacare health insurance premium costs down, we are merely having present and future taxpayers absorb the cost increases.  Let’s face facts: Obamacare is a disaster – designed by fools, supported by untruths.  We can no nothing well that hides the truth of the matter.  Fiction is not fact.

My suggestion?  How about legislation that says “pigs can fly.”  We can call it Obama-air.

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

 

 

 

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  (Emphasis added.)

Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years

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Do you remember the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary?  (Lk 10:38-42)

In that story Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and others while her sister Mary is seated at Jesus feet listening to him.  Martha asks Jesus if he does not care that Mary has left her to do all the preparations alone.

Jesus answered Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is precisely the wisdom Albert Einstein expresses. We all have the capacity to experience the mystical.

A life lived within mortal limits is a life not lived.  It is a life without fullness.  It is “the mystical” that makes a life, that alone completes a life.

Feodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov this: “Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystical sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world.”

We have many like Martha.  And few like Mary.  Which are you?

Those like Mary possess calm, certainty.  They see and they are not lured into all that is earthly.  They are not worrisome.  Addicted.  They are not egotists.  They are not trapped in the nonsense that prevails among the masses.  They are not captured in the present day and all its false gods and endless foolishness.

Our culture is full of Martha in many forms.  Ignore them.  They have chosen the lesser things.

Are you Mary or are you Martha?

Shalom.

Russia and Us.  It is interesting that for all the hubbub about Russia over the years, we have not been smart in dealing with them.  We have been, because we have “leaders” who do not live life on a mystical plateau, unable to see the undeniable truth about Russians which is this: Dostoevsky reveals their core, their heart – their orientation to life (even as they try to supplant him with Marxist nonsense).

The truth of who they actually are is their soft underbelly and, not being well and fully formed, our “leadership” cannot see it.

When the blind confront the blind – it is always an “eye for an eye.”  Endless folly. “Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right.”

Personally, I have found the Devil easier to believe in … it seems quite extraordinary that anyone should have failed to notice during the last half century, a diabolic presence pulling us downward as gravity does instead of pressing upwards as trees and plants do when they grow and reach so resolutely and beautifully after the light. (Emphasis added.)

Malcolm Muggeridge, in Jesus: The Man Who Lives

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Muggeridge wrote the above in a book published in 1975.  Matters have only gotten far worse in the West and in America in the last 45 years.

Yes, pagan behavior is now widespread and the quest of the godless now is that pagan ways be accepted as normal … and that Godly ways be banished.

Killing has increased.  Racial hostility has ramped up to besmirch the 1960 efforts at racial harmony.  Many divisions have grown – enhanced by Leftist “identity politics” which is aimed to divide and stoke anger – even violence.

Nations have come to doubt their value and now deny their history, their heritage, their achievement, their legitimacy.  Their confusion and self-doubt, even self-loathing, is evidence of Satan’s work.

Now there is darkness where once there was light.

This brings to mind Satan’s third test of Christ in the desert – his offer that all the kingdoms of the world might be Christ’s if he but worshiped Satan. (Mt 4: 1-11)

In thinking about what Muggeridge said I think, in particular, how politics dominates so much of our public commentary and attention.  In this I hear not Christ but Satan … the third temptation continues and is aimed at the godless masses so conformed to “identity politics” to seek power over all by “any means necessary.”

Yes, I hear the voice of Satan in the words of many selfish advocates.

The antics of the American Left in their relentless attack on the Presidency and their refusal to offer constructive action to serve their nation and restore faith and moral conduct to civic life is further indication of the decline Muggeridge observes … and echoes Satan today.

While our political life is important, it is not a greater goal than faithful life and the community of friends that can be, and must be, in America in the hostile and violent world we face today.

Think about it – Have we not focused too much on politics to the exclusion of God?  Have we not failed Christ, and the Loving Father at very great cost?

Shalom.

Question – The liberal protesters invaded the U.S. Senate Chamber today and interrupted Senate business by shouting incoherently predictable Leftist drivel. My question: Who the hell designated these people the moral arbiters of the planet?  They do nothing. Know nothing.  Contribute nothing.  Work at nothing. Create nothing.  Offer nothing.  Earn nothing.  Build nothing.  But expect people to listen to them.

 

Had the privilege of attending an evangelical service and to hear the testimony of a former pro football player, so I am posting later than normal.

__________

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Rom. 8: 28

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Today I had the privilege to listen to a very large, strong, warm-hearted, athletic man discuss his journey from urban poverty to the National Football League – a man who could not read and in the course of his career became addicted to drugs.

I saw a behemoth of a man candidly discuss his shame at not being able to read -a man who feared of being “discovered” as one who could neither read, nor write and who, in time, became a drug user.

I saw a man of courage in his public story.  I was a man who recounted those who stooped to help him when he fell.  I heard him tell of those of faith who never stopped being his friend, his brother.  I heard him warmly describe his parents dedication to their faith and his participation in worship as a child.  I heard a man speak of the grounding in “Christian values” that never quite left him, despite his troubles.

In the course of his story you could see how his failures combined with his faith and the presence of others of faith – gave him the opportunity to move past his fear.  You heard how his faith was strengthen by the presence of faithful men and women who never stopped caring for him and encouraging him to get and remain sober and to grow in faith.

In a way he, and others, who fail and continue to work at getting better, getting sober, giving more of himself to God are conforming to God’s call to them, are conforming to God purpose for them.  Yes, some must fall so others might learn, so others might see, so others might hear God’s voice.

There is great humility in failure, and in failure humility grows when we discover that we are not forsaken in failure, that we are still loved by God.

Do not fear failure.  Know that God works all things for good to those who love Him.  You are never too old to be new again.

Shalom.

 

 

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