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When you try to extinguish a tantrum by ignoring it, the first response … is called extinction burst.  People do whatever it is you are trying to ignore louder, longer and more enthusiastically.  This might make you believe that ignoring them isn’t working, but what it actually means is that it is. (Emphasis added.)

Albert J. Bernstein, in Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry

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Whether it is Code Pink, the juvenile dweebs in college throwing childish fits, or some racial group pitching a public tantrum, it is always best to ignore them  – unless, of course, they break the law in which case they should be treated accordingly.

Society gains nothing but rather loses a great deal when it honors uncivil, intemperate, deconstructing, insulting, anti-social and childish behavior. Tantrums fall squarely in this category and we have plenty of tantrum-throwers around today.

Heck, the Democrats in the Congress fall into that category: sit-ins on the House of Representatives chamber floor are an example.  The juvenile departure from their legislative duties and their foot-dragging as to the public business – including processing of the President’s Executive Branch appointments is another. Childish, very childish. Behavior that demeans them and fails America.

This week Jaime Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, called out those in the federal government (particularly those in charge since the “Great Recession” of 2008) whose “stupidity” and gridlock deadened economic growth and impeded the natural strength of corporate America to bring prosperity to the nation’s citizens.

Yes, childish behavior has an economic cost.  Listen up, Liz Warren.

Since we cannot rely on the press and media to be fair, intelligent and honest critics of the central government any longer, it behooves us to heed the words of Albert Bernstein: ignore the tantrum throwers … walk away from them – even when they are a political party or call you nasty names like “bigot,” or “fascist.” And by all means do not reward such people in the “hopes” that they will change.  They will not.  As a footnote: one would do well to ignore media reports of these childish fits – hear the report and simply tune-out.

Indulging and rewarding bad behavior only teaches that “holding one’s breath” prompts the “nannies” among us to cave in thereby guaranteeing more bad conduct and more ludicrous “demands.”  One would think by the way that “educated adults” might know this … then, again – maybe they are not adults …

You can’t run a country ceding treats to the impudent.  We do ourselves a great disservice by rewarding bad behavior … and childish conduct robs us all.

The world is a dangerous place.  Others aim to get their way at our expense.  No time left for childish conduct.  Such conduct shows our weakness; giving in to it shows our disarray.

Shalom.

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

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

 

… the Light has come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought by God. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 19, 20, 21

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I have been focusing on the Gospel of John and the teachings that Jesus brings us in it.  I do so for a particular reason and it is this: we in the United States, especially among elites – those of privilege … including the media and entertainment class, lawyers and the judiciary, and university teachers and administrators, have lost contact with God, or have rejected God, religious narrative and Christ and this underlies all of our problems and our deteriorating public discourse and the reduced quality of those serving in public life.

Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture.  About the intersection between faith and the culture in which we live.  There is no moral guide without faith and religious narrative.

The loss of recognition of faith’s invaluable importance to a healthy culture is crippling, destabilizing.  In its absence all sorts of ideas and wants are pushed forward without a glimmer of depth or understanding.  The subsequent foolishness is and can be both costly and utterly destructive.  We seem to have adequately demonstrated this quite clearly in the last five to six decades.

We are unhealthy, divided, crude and increasingly ignorant and wasteful.

Things have got to change.  We must return to the source of our wisdom and humanity – to faith – knowledge of it and life lived in it.

Look at the above words.  Read them.  Pause to think about them.

Do you see evil in this culture?  Among the most vocal advocates?  Or do you see good? Light?  Is faith banished or welcome?  Is God dismissed or welcome? Is Light manifest?

Or does one hear actors and celebrities, elected officials even – talking hatefully and doing so without hesitation?  Is the media truthful or are they not?

Those who are not truthful are not of the Light.  They destroy and there is no reason to give them ear.

Shalom.

Common Mistake – I recently watched an interesting report on the BBC about suicide among homosexuals.  The claim was made that it is a serious problem and that its cause is the denial of equality.

The common mistake?  Not all matters and forms of human behavior depend on “equality.”

There is far more to a healthy life than “equality.”  It is not the essence of human existence.

Indeed “equality” is invoked by political advocates without any evidence that they have studied the concept.  They use “equality” in an undifferentiated way.   Big mistake.  A mistake of ignorance.

The result in this case is this: neither “equality” nor suicide are understood.

Our ignorance grows seemingly in direct proportion to the growth of educational institutions and budget increases in education.

On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors … When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own. This quality is essential to dialogue.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Tradition is profoundly important.  It is, as Thich says, essential to dialogue. Without tradition one cannot easily acquire the experience of another for traditions convey human experience, reality discovered over centuries, truth as to human beings and the supernatural.

In America, today, we have little constructive or civic dialogue between the Left and the rest of us.  Rather, we hear very harsh, hostile and angry language from the Left.  Their word and conduct decry this fact: those at war with others are at war with themselves.

War, you say.  Yes.

The Left feels betrayed.  They lost power and an election that felt sure they would win … one they and their candidate felt entitled to win.

Indeed, they feel rejected and cannot come to understand as they must, in these circumstances, that they must look within to ask: why is this so?  Why did so many others not favor them?

Yes, they have been betrayed.  But not by those who voted for their opponent – but rather by their ideology – an ideology which attacks tradition and faith that is its common witness.  In short, the Left has attacked and opposed tradition and religion.

As to ideology, it has no long human history.  It is a recent human construct, a fiction of intellect – not a vehicle of human and divine truth.  It is simply: a lie … and to live a lie is a personal betrayal, self-deception from which no authentic dialogue can arise.

In the West, the modern liberals and the Left have chosen intellect over faith, power over humility, what is false on its face from what is and has been sustained truth about humans and eternity.

If we are to have a civil society, the Left will have to see their errors and change their ways rather dramatically.  On our part, we must be present in kindness and calm to receive them when they desire to advance civil community once again.

Shalom.

… those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Mt 23:20

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Make no mistake there are distinct, substantive differences between our two major parties.

Do not be deceived the last electoral result highlighted the very real difference between the common citizen and the elites: those with power, money, status – the intellectual and celebrity class, globalists, the media, the perpetual Washington insiders whose class status is far different from Mom and Dad in small town U.S.A. , and between the ideologues, “special pleaders,” and mere citizen taxpayers.

Frankly, the privileged class lost and the most politically-focused of them (the Left and the Washington wags who are used to being “important”) are offended and not taking their bite of humble pie very well.  Yes, their obstruction and rhetoric is destructive – having gone beyond civil debate.  Actually, their behavior mimics the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature who fled their state and hid from their official duties so as to thwart the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Like all actions people take, the angry objection to the voters choice of President tells us about those who are upset.  One thing it says is this: politics and power is a high priority for them – probably too important for their and our wellbeing as a nation.  Make no mistake a subset is NOT greater than the whole.  No one is more important than the nation.

It is always hard to speak to your Brother and Sister when they must be reproached – but speak we must – speak calmly, in a soft voice, as a friend, with authority and care. Reconciliation is the goal and it must always be.

Losses are difficult for many.  Those of us who have lived modestly and, in my case, on the “wrong side of the tracks” amid the very serious conflicts one can encounter – we are used to life’s ups and downs.  We learned long ago that no one wins all the time and that it is the losses which actually teach us the best lessons, impart the greatest truth and wisdom.

The one thing that we need now is a calm conversation with those who are most displaced by their perceived loss.  For civility to return, maturity must be cultivated and in this instance it means those hurt must listen to the voices of those who care for their welfare and that of this nation.  Yelling, fighting, anger will only inflame and put much at risk … including each of us.

Remember the opposite of love is not hate – but rather: indifference.  We cannot afford to draw battle lines, engage in nasty and dishonest behavior, retribution, character assassination, or violence.   Honest, calm conversation is the need.  An end to extreme language that excites ideologues and flames the fire … it must cease today, now.

I hope we are all to the task.  It is the humble who are exalted.  They are strongest who life has humbled.  Make no mistake – in the end the humble remain standing while the prideful fall. 

Shalom.

Postscript – I am always amazed that the “talking heads” on T.V. and many elected officials talk and talk without ever citing an authority – the words of someone whose insight and wisdom they share.  You have to conclude that they are talking through their hats, haven’t cracked a book since the 3rd grade.

You wonder: why would I listen to these people?  They really do not warrant my time.  They do not.  Happy landings.

In living we are directly doing the will of God … our very existence is contact with His will … life is holy and a responsibility of God and man.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man is Not Alone

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If you can imagine that your existence is willed by God, that each moment of your existence fulfills God’s will – would you think differently … act differently … feel differently than you do?

If one’s very existence touches the will of God, would you make different choices in life than you now do?

Each day I awake and in due time look at the news of the world.  Typically, I see some article that tells of something like this: a man tried to drown his two twin children, or a school teacher threatened to flunk a student with whom she was sexually involved if that student “broke” off their “contact.”

Seeing these things, I am repelled – not just by the event but by the fact that these things are thought newsworthy.  

These reported stories make me ask: Why would I want to know this?  What effect does reading this have on me?  On others?  Do these stories not bring us down? Sow seeds of despair?  Turn our appetite for life sour?

I am sure that every day there are any number of horrible acts committed and that newspapers and the news media in-general have their pick of horrible stories to convey – but is there any glancing thought that feeding others these stories has a debilitating effect?

The mere reporting of such stores tells us that the lost souls offering these stories neither conceive of living as collaborating with God’s will, nor that life itself is holy, sacred, divine in its creation and ought to be respected as such.

The truth is if you look around you will see all sorts of actions which deny that life is holy, sacred and divine.  Having seen this so clearly, I have decided to ignore this crap.

My view is quite simple: why do I want to have my spirit be poisoned by the godless conduct of those gripped by evil and its manifestations?  I know such people and acts occur, but why must I be made a party to them each day? Consequently, I’ve come to “keep by distance” from these reports just as I reject a diet of rotten food.

Why bathe in other people’s dirty water, or each rancid food?

Shalom.

If this post strikes a positive cord for you, please send it to others.  The process of reclaiming the public square and public space calls for our participation … and that means you and me together.

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.

Christianity is not a matter of opinion, but an external fact, entering into, carried out in, indivisible from, the history of the world.

John Henry Newman, in Difficulties of the Anglicans

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From the first Eucharist to now there has not been one hour in the history of the world that someone, somewhere has not been receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

I have recently been watching the recorded conversations between William Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge, each Christian – each Catholic.  The conversations date back to the 1970’s and 1980’s.  They are fascinating.  They probe, in part, the dismissal of belief and of Christianity by many.  They lament its loss and deplore the consequences that result.

I, too, have been alarmed and actually surprised how many in the United States and in Europe can dismiss Christianity and pin their hopes on collectivism, socialism – two impulses, and schemes, that nowhere have shown success, or produced excellence of any sort.  Gulags, yes – they have done well to imprison their charge, produce totalitarian regimes and execute millions when it proved “necessary” in order for one man or small group to retain power.  But success, harmony and wellbeing it has not furthered.

I think we do not know and appreciate the gifts of Christianity.  Likewise, I think that when we dismiss Christianity, we cancel what is unique and humanizing in the history of the world, what orders reality to the Truth about humans, and human existence and excellence.

I give but one example and it comes from Plato.  Plato, whose thoughts are infused into Christianity, opined that one was not to look to the immediate and the everyday but rather to focus on the universal and the ultimate.  He shifted human focus to a larger spectrum.  In this, Plato shifted our view of reality to the soul where excellence and virtue resided.  He saw this as the way to the Supreme Soul that is God – the ultimate in excellence and virtue.

Plato also envision that God’s nature was oneness and goodness.  In this, human life was linked to morality and to divinity, to God.

Each of these propositions are housed in Christianity.  Yet, can you imagine how easily we come to dismiss Christianity (actually oppose it) without anyone posing competent inquiry to those who blithely deny Christianity and the existence of God?  This seems to me a scandal and a reflection of widespread ignorance and the abject failure of our educational system.  Indeed, better to have no schools given what they produce.

We are, it seems to me, reckless and ignorant at the present moment.

Today, one longs for an intelligent and fervent defense of Christ, Christianity, our heritage, and the existence of God … but in its place we talk of access to “potties” and fixate on trivia and sexual fetishes, government subsidizes and this or that bacchanal.

Having seen all my life the lunacy of institutions and those who are apt to command them, even I am amazed at what I now see as the disordered nonsense of most public conversation and politics.  Where, oh where, is there a hint of Plato or Newman???

Shalom.

Dear Friend’s Correction – My Dear (and very bright and truly lovely) Friend Carol commented that I may not (in the text) be correct in saying the Eucharist has been shared hourly somewhere since its inception.  She may be right.  (I am always willing to defer to smart people who are earnest and very nice – I’d be a fool to rely on my our limitations.)  FYI – in my comment in the text, I rely on a point made by Malcolm Muggeridge in his conversation with Bill Buckley on Firing Line – a comment that went unimpeached.  By regard for Carol and my assessment of my own limitations allow me to place Carol above Buckley and Muggeridge.  Tally ho!

This concludes the last in a series of posts on conversion.  This series has been offered to you so that you might see the manner in which conversion can appear to you in the present day and circumstance.  We are in need of restoration. Politics and the Left have led us astray, created deep division and godlessness, despair.  You can learn from Whittaker Chambers journey.

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… I tried to pray, it was as if the spirit from my boyhood … took my hand and knelt and prayed beside me, so that in the act of seeking oneness with God, I became one with myself(Emphasis added.)

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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Chambers had tried to pray as a boy and was unsuccessful.  Yet, when he needed God most – in his most desperate hours, when his world organized around the Communist narrative no longer held, … God guided him to prayer.

As Chambers writes “The secret springs of life, which had been lost so long in the desert of modernityjoined with impulses, broke free and flowed unchecked.” (Emphasis added.)

He records that the two mirages: one, of the Almighty Mind and the other, the Communist political fiction that man has the power to plan and execute human salvation – were illusions which had dragged him into the desert.

His daily prayer, he reports, “tore through (him) … a transformation with the force of a river … (and he) became what (he) was … (as he) ceased to be what he was not.” (Emphasis added.)

Yes, this is conversion!

As Chambers writes “the whole web of the materialist modern mind” fell.  No longer, he writes, did modernity and its rationalism cover “the spirit of man,” thwart “the instinct of his soul for God.”  He saw in this conversion that it was a “myth” to think of “man’s material perfectibility” which, he saw, as the “modern intellectual mood which gives rise to Communism” and, by implication, man’s sick fixation on all things “political.”

In his illumination, Chambers claimed the truth of this axiom:

“Man cannot organize the world for himself without God; without God man can only organize the world against man.” (Emphasis added.)

This Dear Friends is conversion.  This Dear Friends is our state today.  This Dear Friends identifies the nonsensical babble of the transgender crowd, the feminists, the abortionists, the pagans, the anarchists, the Democrat Left, the “progressives,” “the social engineers,” the morally vacuous academics and college administrators, the “open border” fools, those who demand endless “entitlements” and “safe spaces,” those who attack and diminish the place of faith in civic life and discourse, etc.

We have been led into the desert of hyper-political secularism and the idea that the human person can create salvation.

It is time to come to the sacred springs of Truth. Absent that: disintegration and disaster.

Think about this.  It is vitally important for you and this Nation to do so.

Shalom.

Such a wonderful cool spring rain – gentle and quiet.  It pairs with the heart’s beat, easy breathing, the green and flowered forest, the pastures, hills, mountains, and umbrella pale gray sky.  It is a day for collecting thoughts, writing notes to friends, and making a chicken stew while incense burns and floats in the air.

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“How long are you going to keep killing people?” Lady Astor would ask Stalin brightly.  “As long as it is necessary,” he answered …

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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When he left his secret Communist espionage ring Whittaker Chambers felt “an uneasiness, an anxiety” which he identified as “spiritual.”  He pondered how and when it was that the “spirit of man” had gained its foothold in him.

He recalled he had wondered, quite involuntarily, what Communism lacked?  Why it was such “a rat’s nest of intrigue and faction?”  Why it housed a “corroding cynicism?”  What “keeps the human level of Communism so low?” Why it had “not produced a single inspired work of the mind” since the Revolution?

Chambers asked, is it God that it lacked?

He reasoned it’s killings and deceits injured the soul.

Yes, without God man’s actions most often attack the soul, and put to danger and trial the “spirit of man,” his essence, his identity – his divine inheritance.  In this is the edge of conversion in man.  

Within each of us is a longing for good, for God.  When this longing is neglected, denied (as it is by ideology and it our present highly secularized culture) man is estranged from himself, his true identity  – and meaning, purpose, intimacy, optimism, and peace are lost.

Today, we are like Chambers – captured by ideology and secularized culture. Combined they breed division and hostility and heighten anxiety, worry and isolation.  It follows the sooner one turns to God, the sooner health and civility is restored, community and fellowship are renewed, and we find peace and meaning – and become whole and one again.

Think critically.  Are you Chambers?  Is your brother or neighbor Chambers?  Your pastor?  Elected official?  Have you lost longtime friends whose lives are narrowed and governed by ideology, secularism, and utopian political nonsense?

In this past century, Mao killed 60 million of his countrymen, Stalin killed 50 million, and Hitler thirty million.  All ideologues.  Each godless.

Think about it.  140 million people killed by political ideologues.

Shalom.

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