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… left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them.

N. T. Wright, in Surprised by Hope

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For a person of faith it is never the case that can do nothing when matters are getting worse.

Why would I say that?  I say this because if one is a Christian one has a mission and that mission is the mission of Christ … to live in a manner that announces, witnesses the Good News of the reign of God.  And that Good News is that God is present and faithful … that God remains present in all times and circumstances.

In this, we can always have hope and certainty that God and Good prevail … and we always have the task of witnessing that reality … and all the more so when evil is present and on the rise.  And today we see this evil so present in culture and the godlessness of ideology in politics today, and in the errant conduct of many prey on others and promote decline of person and society.

For a Christian – doing nothing in the face of evil and self-destruction is NEVER acceptable.  We are a people of hope … of public witness, and courage.  Act we can and act we must.

Shalom.

 

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Coming Out of a Snow Storm … Renewing the Blog

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I don’t think of conversion as being once and for all and that’s that.  I think once the process has begun and continues that you are continually turning inward toward God and away from your own egocentricity and that you have to see this selfish side of yourself in order to turn away from it.  I measure God by everything I am not.  I begin with that.  (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor

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Call.  Conversion.  Covenant.

This is the essence of a relationship with God.

Our longing for God is God’s call to us.  Implicit in this call is our response.

When you yearn for God you are posting for your answer a “response.”  That is, your yearning for God implies a need for you to stay “Yes, God – I desire you, that you be in my life each and every day.”  Yes, your yearning presents a radical trust and subsequent affirmation that you wish to bring God into your life and that you trust God completely – so completely that no other thing surpasses God in your life.

A call hastens a conversion.  In this your life is changed fundamentally and forever.

In this conversation you enter a covenant.  A covenant is NOT a contract (an agreement that can be broken, altered, amended, reinterpreted).

No, a covenant is a faith relationship in which each party assumes the responsibility to be faithful to it and the other party to it.  Yes, God offers unending love and relationship with you, and you offer the same to God.  God chooses you and you choose God – all doubt, all confusion ends – in time temptation has no appeal – good seeks its presence in your life and life has new, sacred and eternal meaning.  In this you have a purpose and certainty in the face of what is yet to come and to know.

In parting, think about thiswhy everywhere does the political Left, the socialist, the Communist, the totalitarian always attack religion and God?

The answer is simple.  In a covenant with God your loyalty is to The Divine, not the state and those who wish to control every aspect of your life.  There is after all a reason why freedom of religion precedes freedom of speech in our Constitution.  The reason?  Our Founders valued God more than state … Do you?  That is the very question we face as a nation today in the United States – all referendums are referendums on God and your relationship with God, the protection of your right to free access to your faith, to God.

Make no mistake, the policies pursued by the Left in the United States are intended to destroy your relationship with God.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

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Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

Where loves rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Love and power.

Jung is saying that the will of one that desires foremost that one attain power presents us with one who lacks love.

Turning this on its head, I think of one who loves … one such as Christ who loves and demonstrates this: – those governed my love indeed are powerful without needing to secure a position of power.  For it is the case that love has power particular to itself, and calm, and certainty, and in this an other-worldly/transcendent nature.  Love endures all things and surpasses all things – surpasses betrayal, suffering, loneliness, rejection, poverty, hunger, isolation, and all manner of evil deeds and the need for mortal kingship.

Think about the images of those who seek power.  Of Lenin.  Joseph Stalin.  Fidel Castro.  Adolph Hitler.  Mao.  Their legacy is not pleasant – labor camps, imprisonment, death, suppression of individual freedoms, confiscation of private property, hostility toward religion.

Think too of today and those who seek political power here, among us.  Think subjectively.  Do they seem loving?  Sacrificial?  Calm?  Humble?  Or are they smitten by status and political power?  Do they impress you as somewhat odd?  Captured by a will to power and the necessity of a public stage, a title, a preferred status, special treatment, access to wealth?

Those most likely to lead are those who have no need for power, no desire to control others or pursue radical change.  Those who divide us by race, class and gender lack the voice of love – for love does not divide, it unites.

It is a grave danger when a political party divides us by race, class and gender.  In them love is absent and there is no unity … rather division and decline.  We are strongest when there is no divide.  For that, love is essential.

Shalom.

 

Back after a day of travel …

So long as men and women believed themselves to be responsible beings, called to choose, and accountable to God for their choices, life might be tragic, but it is not trivial.

Sydney Cave, in The Christian Way

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Ah, yes … and when Christianity is attacked, shunned and meant to be made unimportant how will we avoid the creation of tragic and chaotic circumstances and horrendous deeds – like infanticide, opiate use and producing early death, or random murders, preying on the innocent, the stripping of all that is in human sexuality and destroying the family?  And who among you understands the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

Who in the public eye connects faith and responsibility.  Surely not the Socialist whose view of God is much like that of a Communist – namely, that God neither matters nor exists (translation – God is an unwelcome competitor to those who desire all power reside in them so they might be gods and goddesses.)

When a culture departs from individual responsibility in favor of the scapegoating of a select group (“old White men,” capitalists, people of faith … etc.) it ushers in an age of terror and precipitous decline … as we see now in Venezuela … and the Democrat Left’s embrace of infanticide and the abolition of Constitutional freedoms long ago clearly defined.

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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Democracy imposes a burden on its citizens.  The burden – to speak truth when what is false is said.  Ah, but this requires knowledge and courage.  While courage is perpetually in short supply, now knowledge is rarer yet.

Yes, the measure of our over-funded education system is failure, misinformation, ideology not free thought but special Leftist nonsense, softness, the destruction of language and belief, gutless “administrators,” the devaluing of education itself – and the long ago desertion of moral reasoning, virtue, honor or consistency.

Last year I asked my Ph.D. son what he wanted for schooling for his two young children.  He answered – “a place where they would not lose their interest in learning.”

That just about nails the problem.  A serious one at that.

You wonder why elected officials run about pedaling “socialism?”  Because they do not know what it is nor its inevitable thirst for total control and hence its inclination for the communist gulag, its hostility to human freedom, humans, religion and God.

At the present time, one is wisest who turns a deft ear to the “young, unlearned and inexperience socialists.”  And one is bravest who speaks truth in a room of silence.

Shalom.

 

Snow time in the mountains.  Lots of extra work.  Nasty weather coming my way.  A late post as a result.  Life is an adventure.  The wood burning stove is lovely, warm, relaxing just like the classical music.  Pretty quiet here.

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The Stoics defined philosophy as ‘striving after wisdom’ and wisdom in turn as ‘the knowledge of things divine and human.

Introduction to Marcus Aurelius Meditations (Penguin Book, Ltd.)

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Another day.  Another sign of religious bigotry.  It seems that a prominent homosexual advocacy group is airing its anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom disposition once again.

The recent complaint is that Vice President Pence’s wife teaches at an Evangelical school which stands by its religious beliefs that sexual intimacy is to be saved for marriage and that Holy Matrimony is between a man and a woman.

The objection is that the School holds to its religious tenets and that they are not the secular views projected by, at least, some homosexuals – as opposed to homosexuals per se.

Religious bigotry.  It is getting to be quite public.

I offer a suggestion for you should you need an orientation to this issue of religious bigotry.  If you encounter those who attack the basic tenets of your religious beliefs and particularly if you are a Christian and if you are a Catholic or Evangelical – simply ask the person who advocates something that violates your beliefs if they can explain to you what is the relationship between pre-Christian Stoics and early Christians or Christianity at-large.

Why would you ask such a thing?  To determine if the person critical of your faith and its canons has sufficient knowledge to offer an opinion on your faith and its articles of belief.  Further, the point is to establish that you have NO need to listen to someone ignorant of your faith, its history, its precursors and the historical evolution of Christian thought and beliefs that have provided the foundations of Western Civilization and America – its federal representative democracy and its remarkable Constitution.

Make no mistake – religious bigotry can destroy what we have in America and the West.  It is best that you stand by your beliefs and dissuade others that attacking religious belief is very dangerous.  Know what you believe and stand up for these things.

Religious bigotry is a serious matter.  We have seen the results of religious bigotry in the death camps of Nazi Germany.  We best not yield to such bigotry.

Shalom.

Postscript – It is always best to respect one another and one another’s beliefs.  Likewise it is better to build relationships with others and make of us a kind and supportive community fortified by faith.  Attacks on another’s religious beliefs are destructive.  So too is diminishing others whose views and choices are not ones you might make.

 

The Christ’s Breath

I am a hole in a flute

that the Christ’s breath moved through,

listen to this music.

Hafiz

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How do you conduct your affairs?  What does our public dialogue sound like?

What do you say with your actions?  Opinions?  Words?

I have been reading about Germany between the World Wars – in the Weimar Republic.  It was a contentious period.  A time of division.  And the rise of anti-Semitism and a decline in public morals.  In my readings, I do not see where people of faith spoke up in opposition or made a difference in any effort to do so (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, notwithstanding).

What is my point?   The breath of Christ is to move through us.

Shalom.

Postscript – I have often asked myself “Am I doing what God wishes of me?”  I suspect in some was this daily blog allows me to be the a hole in the flute … that (on a good day) my writing transits the breath of Christ.  At least, I dearly hope so.

 

A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

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The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Theology is not made by mystics; mystics are formed by theology.

Thomas Merton, in Ascent to Truth

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In a sense the above proposition raises the question as to one’s journey to God.  Is this trajectory intellectual or does it require an ascetic disposition?  Does one think oneself to God, or is there a personal disposition that brings one to God?

As to the latter question, I suppose that when one’s life is absorbed by, and full of, the satisfaction of all personal desires then one might think of the importance of an ascetic disposition – a sparser life.  That is to say – a life void of multiple distractions and endless obligations, a simple life of few attachments and tasks – one with privacy and quiet might be better than a fully engaged life if one desires God.

As to intellect, it seems that thinking alone will not of itself bring us God for God is not a mental proposition but far more the totality of all that a human is, and can be by their mere (divine) creation.

So where does that leave us – or at least – me?  A modest life fully lived, accepting of all that comes one’s way (good or bad) is necessary for the experience of God.

By a life fully lived, I mean one that is examined so one comes to know one’s faults, short-comings, personal history honestly seen, one’s gifts and deficits and the mysterious joys of having been helped, nurtured, taught, loved and accepted by those placed in one’s life without whom each of us would be far poorer and more likely lost than found.

What am I saying?  Yes, intellect plays a part in our journey to God – we learn from our narrative and all those who over the Ages unbundle the mystery of a Loving God.  Yes, maintaining a life that is prepared in its honesty and humility to find God is also essential.  And yes, the acceptance of life as it is presented is the essential ingredient of obedience that brings us to God for this acceptance says clearly – “I accept my gift of being … I trust in the Gift-Giver.” In this, it seems to me one meets God …

Do not underestimate the value of acceptance and obedience.  Is that not the humbling road we must choose?

Friends, journey well and wisely this year.

Shalom.

 

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