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Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another.  It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing and fostering effective selfexpression and communication.  Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners as well as a matter of good health.  (Emphasis added.)

P. M. Forni, in Choosing Civility

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One reason I have come to the open space of the country is this: the disordered nature of people is, at the least, disquieting and often so distasteful that one risks being sucked into useless conflict with the immature and uninformed.

Unpleasant conversations with fools has never been a favorite pastime with me.

Yet, today the public discourse is so poor that I have turned away from anything but a glancing pass over the “news of the day.”

We have hit a new low with female Senators swearing in public, and entertainment celebrities crudely voicing in tantum-like manner their profanity laden dislike of party A or policy B – as if anyone really cares what they have to say.

Not-so-astonishingly, the cable and network “news” people, like lemmings, fall right into line – mimicking the ill-bred and poorly educated actions and views of the foul-mouthed celebrity.  Of course, the crass conduct of Leftist advocates makes matters all the worse as to civil discourse.

As to the latter point, the destructive objectives of the Leftist advocates is patently clear when they “game” the system by offering this or that feigned outrage simply to get their own way.  No civil discourse there.  It is all the aim for power.  And that means always – an idiotic and destructive policy turn in which faith in democracy and civil discussion are both lost.  Indeed we are at that juncture now.  

I am often surprised that those who push an ideological agenda have not met with forceful response.  Knowing human nature, I suspect that relative passivity may not sustain.

These are unpleasant times.  Civility is lost, and democracy and community are on the wane.  We listen to those we ought to ignore.

Shalom.

Trust – Trust is a funny thing.  There are not a whole lot of people in your life that you can trust for the entire length of your life.  More people jump ship than stay the course.  That’s just people.  Most seek an advantage or cannot sustain the exactness required for a trusted friendship.

A long term trust-relationship requires complete honesty and that means honest self-reflection and continual growth.  There are more people who cannot meet the terms of a trusted relationship than can meet those terms.  Cherish the trusted relationships you have … do not expect to have a great number of them.  Indeed, does this not underscore the place of a faith narrative, God as we have come to know the idea of God?  When all else fails – you and God can do wonderful things together.  Imagine me painting or writing – is that not God and me in a state of trust?

 

 

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Pray, for all men need the aid of the gods.

Homer, in Odyssey

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There was a time when it was common for men and women to account for the reality of God.  Homer wrote this 800 B.C.

Would that we think this way now.

There is humility and truth in what Homer wrote.  The irony, of course, is this: in our authentic humility we become more, not less – stronger, not weaker.

Alas, how that would change us for the better – improve the public dialogue, this nation and us.

Shalom.

 

 

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.  (Emphasis added.)

Cor 5:20

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St. Paul’s words fit us to a tee today.  This is precisely the core of the problem we face in America and particularly in Washington, D.C. and national politics.

We have forsaken Christ in favor of self and power and greed.  In place of Christ: we have collusion, Commies, incompetence and corruption.  Forget the swamp – we have a cesspool.

Think about it: lobbyists, lawyers, politicos and their hacks and handlers, lots of money, career politicians, dishonesty, duplicity, a partisan press and clueless media, fools running the Justice Department, FBI, intelligence agencies, in the State Department – and past Presidents asleep at the switch, and investigations that are at best “selective.”

So where are the Christians?  Their voices?  Who is to set the standard of decency?  Honesty?  Service?

Yes, there are some Members of the Congress who stand tall.  I think of Mr. Nunes of California, Mr. Goudy of South Carolina – and there are others – more in the House of Representatives than in the Senate.  But is there not a place and time for Christians to speak up publically?

Remember, America is a country which (unique in history) built a free nation on the relationship between faith and liberty.  Religion and its presence … hence, religious freedom is vital to our individual liberty and national prosperity and character.

Believers must speak when the conditions require.

Frankly we are failing our ancestors who built this Great Nation and we are failing the God who made us and entrusted us with this land and this Nation’s mission.  Shame on us.

What will you do?

Shalom.

 

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.  (Emphasis added.)

Alexis de Tocqueville

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Open up The Wall Street Journal today and you’ll see stories about a government agency established in 2008 which has done virtually nothing … a story about how Iran was able to purchase American airplane parts through one of our NATO “allies” despite our embargo prohibiting such purchases, our collecting a handful of the 11 million illegal aliens in the country (many with felony histories) … details about how once again we focus on gun “control” and regulations regarding gun purchase in the wake of the Parkland murders without any thought that people, government failure and a sick culture are the problem.

Likewise you’ll find an opinion piece that laments the shape of American culture with focus on the decline of democracy in America without once mentioning our nation’s peculiar and extraordinary linkage of freedom and religion (that is, Christianity – to be specific) as the foundation to our representative democracy.

Yep, you got it!  We have lots of tongues wagging that is for sure.  But those speaking are unrestrained by the rigor to learn before vocalizing.  Their words are unstudied – they speak but do not know.  They make repeated mistakes.  One, they do not know of America’s unique and religiously inspired origin, nor do they understand that Christian morality is the essential ingredient of peaceful civic life in America’s representative democracy with its autonomous states and federal system.  Two, they ignore primary causes of our decline as found in the last five to six decades: radical egalitarianism, radical individualism, the adoption of the failed ideas of Marxism and socialism, destruction of the family, advancement of identity politics that divide us on fundamental fault lines of race, gender, sexual morality, ethnicity, class, ideology and the like.

The fact of the matter is quite simple.  Liberty and religion go together.  Deny faith and liberty is extinguished.  In their place – bigotry, hatred, division, hostility, vast ranks of intergenerational idled dependents, addictions, declining mortality, social chaos, institutional failure, corruption, abortion, sexual self-destruction – all tributes to nihilism.

Public voices would be well served by spending a few pennies to pick up a used copy of de Tocqueville’s two-volume Democracy in America …We’d all be well served if their mouths remained silent until they actually know who we were as Americans.

Shalom.

With Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Prayers.  Let us remember the men and women who selflessly respond everyday to dangerous circumstances in order to attend to, defend and rescue others notwithstanding the danger that is posed to themselves.

 

 

 

If, today, genuine order has become incredible it is because people are not fully capable of experiencing themselves as persons with sufficient dignity and responsibility to contribute to an order in which all are fully and personally concerned.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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In monastic life time and space are ordered so monks may live in an orderly manner – a manner of calm and peace, without stress – where one’s heart beats quietly and one’s mind is not conflicted, ones soul is engaged and the Divine is present.

Modern secular life is far from this state of being.  Yet, this state of being is precisely being itself.

Monks live in quiet.  They reserve time each day for work, prayer, reading and meditation.

As Merton says “a monk renounces a life of agitation and confusion for one of order and clarity.”  It is the nature of their space and its ordered time and the regularity within space and time that gives rise to clarity and an ordered life.

The monks bend to what is human by design.  You are no different from the monk as a human being but that you do not order your space and time – and not doing so you are at the “mercy” of others, other’s pressures and demands.

Mind you, those who live as godless secularists are likely to be disordered and be well assured that disordered people bring disorder to all others and any institution over which they preside.

Take measures to order your time and space.  Be vigilant that you not listen to those who are disordered – who show no stability, insight, peace, humility and wisdom.

Order your time and your space.

Shalom.

Anti-State of the Union – A few meaningless actors and actresses and one or two lesser luminaries will hold their own state of the Union where they will harangue others with Leftist nonsense.

Funny thing about them – they are full of viewpoints about how we must live our lives but they seem to have little education beyond high school (at least one is a high school drop-out) and show no evidence that they have lived particularly well.

These folks only have sway if we listen to their foolishness.  Why give them any due?

Humility is the truth about ourselves, the whole truth – about our weakness, our failures, our history, our virtues, our gifts.

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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My life has taught me that humility is surely a natural goal as we age.  Humility leads to wisdom and there are no shortcuts.

Yes, you will grow in wisdom and stature from birth to death – if you simply and honestly learn from your life along the way – from your mistakes, misconceptions, errors, failures, losses, heart breaks, modest acts of good fortune and courage, from betrayals, deceptions and time’s fashionable untruths.  Indeed, life’s calamities are (when honestly received) the path to humility.

In living a long time, I have also learned this: people resist humility and doing so make a mess of life – their own and the lives of others.

Rather than grow, people resist recognizing their own human shortcomings.  People seem to prefer defense to honestly.  They deny their wrongdoing and miscues.  That, by the way, is often a signal of their own frailty.

Some see their education, or status, wealth, profession or possessions as designations that raise them above the common folk.  Ah … no humility in this diversion.

Elites almost by definition shun humility … no fun to be a commoner apparently.

Ironically, humility gives one freedom.

Life is easier when you see your capacity for miscues, for being wrong.  When you have that baseline understanding that people are imperfect – all of us, you included – and hence prone to mistake and endless folly, life actually becomes amusing, fun, far more relaxed, and quite entertaining.

To show the essential place of humility in life I offer just this one thing: Saint Bede cited the incarnation of the Son of God as an extraordinary act of humility.

Think about it: if God would offer Himself to us in such and action is it not sure indication that humility must be a central part of our human existence???  How could it be otherwise?

Think critically about your growth in humility.  Have you aged well in this regard?  You will know if life comes to you easily, without strain, with pathos and laughter, understanding, insight, mercy, compassion, and a divine humor and honesty.

Shalom.

Humility’s Absence.  Humility is scarce in secular mass communication culture.

Case in point: in a new book on the media by Howard Kurtz, Kurtz reports that young Jonathan Martin, a New York Times reporter, labeled Donald Trump and those that work for him as racists and facists.

Martin makes this claim as one with a simple B.A. in history from an obscure small college.  “Higher education” being what it is today, one might assume that Martin’s schooling is about the equivalent of a ninth grade education at a rigorous prep school of yore.

Today’s public discourse is flooded with under-educated people, lacking humility, throwing about all sorts of nasty assertions.  This, by the way, is a primary reason why I do not miss television and forsake newspapers but for The Wall Street Journal.  No sense taking on foolishness, now so common.  Humility absent, one’s access to truth is limited.  Listen and read very selectively.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the word of the Lord, because you know the labor in the Lord is not in vain.  (Emphasis added.)

1 Cor 15:58

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St. Paul is addressing the people of Corinth.  He speaks of courage.

I often say to others that “all courage flows from faith.”  Yes, St. Paul makes this point: to stand firm in life – in ordinary and troubled times – one must have faith, be of faith – trust in the word of the Lord.

There are similar passages in the Old Testament that make this point as well.  You see, that is the dynamic of faith in times that require courage of each of us.  We live in such times today.

There are many among us who prefer we listen to them, adopt their faithless views.  Much of what has been propounded by those without faith (the abortionists, the racists, those wedded to power and control, those who put their trust in gender and sexual practices – to mention but some) speak without belief – speak and act without reference to God, indeed speak as if God does not matter, does not exist or is “the enemy.”

Those of us who believe must summon the courage to speak in opposition to what is godless, destructive, divisive – even evil.  Yes, in faith comes courage and in courage we speak.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman whose thoughts went only to gender.  Her sight was very narrow – all matters centered on her concern about her gender and sexuality.  She saw her existence through that narrow bodily prism.  It was like talking to a brainwashed fanatic.  She had no point of reference but her gender and sexuality.  She had been reduced to much less than who she has been divinely made to be.

This is the nature of absurdity that the Left has given us in their “identity politics.”  People no longer see who they are – and like intemperate, spoiled children they scream and hold their breath in fits of rage and lunacy having abandoned all sense they have been given.

People like this are akin to “the possessed,” the demonic.  There is no discourse with them, nor do their words warrant our time or attention.  Sadly they discredit themselves.

Yes, we face this challenge: to restore common sense and maturity to those whose disposition is godless and hostile.  Failing to do that we will not have a nation or a community, friendship and peace.

The biggest part of our present task is to reject the poisonous fruit of “identity politics” which has propounded what is false, reductive, divisive and attempts to make normative that which is not.  Our best approach: do not listen to those who are possessed.

Yes, as St. Paul says – give yourself to the word of the Lord and have the courage to speak and witness truth to what is false and destructive.

Shalom.  

We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it normalizes by mass media and rendered unproblematic.

Bell Hook, in Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

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I have been alarmed recently by the loose talk about racial conflict.  Some talk of the need for violent racial conflict aimed at “white oppression.”

Words can inflame.  Their use requires care.

The above words are ideological.  Their base: racism, feminism and socialism.

Ideology is a no guide to good.  It narrows the sight and hardens the heart.  Where ideology appears, faith better serves.  You see if peace is to prevail, God is required.  Our best actions do not separate by gender, race, antagonistic political fiction.

I know of no problem that can be solved without kind, honest, conversation.  I know of no peace that is made without care, no embrace that binds without humility and love.

People do bad things.  All people.  This is the human dilemma since the beginning of time.  It is embodied in the story of Adam and Eve – the Fall from Grace, Original Sin.

Our only path to love and fellowship is through growing our relationship with good, becoming wiser, more humble, thoughtful friends and neighbors.  Peace can never be insured through divisive ideology.  Ideology is the language of the lesser heart, its pitch is calibrated to hatred.  Yet, relationship with God dissolves anger, raises us up by bringing us to our knees.

There is an inmost center in us all where truth abides in fullness.

Robert Browning, in Paracelus

Shalom.

Lord, give us the strength of faith to know the truth about ourselves so we might live in peace as one.

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.

Freud … replace(d) religion with psychology.  In this therapeutic vision, we should stop the fruitless searching for a nonexistent meaning and instead seek self-fulfillment.

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In a section of his book (“The Triumph of Eros”) Dreher shows the overt contemporary shift in America (and Western) culture to the glorification of Self over God; and, then discusses the subsequent rise of eros which produces a dramatic divide between and Believers and non-believers and the subsequent attack on religion and those who are religious.

As sociologist Philip Rieff so simply states – the shift presents this: “Religious man was born to be saved.  Psychological man was born to be pleased.” (Emphasis added.)

As time unfolds we see that “pleasing” found its base in sexual matters: in easy no-fault divorce, lurid entertainment, contraception, abortion, “re-defining gender,” same-sex marriage, female teachers (often married with children of their own) engaged sexually with young and under-aged students, homosexuality and its advocacy, and now “transgenderism.”

Recent decades seem to have established that in an unbelieving culture “freedom” produces carnal chaos.

Yet, the shift we have witnessed has one very fundamental flaw: cultures survive when their normative institutions support and protect what is implicitly good and ordered to human prosperity and happiness.  Absent institutions which do this and culture fragments, and then eventually collapses.

You see it is a hard-sell to convince neutral listeners that bad is actually good.

Illustratively, a failure to maintain a steady growth in the birth rate will finally result in a vulnerable, aging population and extinction – first, by the way, manifest in the presence of fractured families, out-of-wedlock births, and children born to teenage mothers accompanied by the growth of a dependent class composed of able-bodied workers who have been consigned to inactivity.

Perhaps the most troubling part of what we see around us is: the ignorance of elites who do not contemplate the course of self-destruction upon which we have embarked.

As the esteemed philosopher, Canadian Charles Taylor so succinctly states:

“The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaning of the cosmos).” (Emphasis added.)

We live in a time of testing – of a very fundamental test and it is this: God or no God.

Yes, each of us must elect God or godlessness and the chaos and utter collapse and death that godlessness brings.

In a sense this is a privileged time.  Few generations has faced so critical a challenge, faced a war as to preserve the goodness of being and believing … and make no mistake: it takes courage to elect God in the presence of the aggressive godless class – social relations being what they are per se.

Good luck, Friends.

Shalom.

The Great Divide.  Want to know how great the divide is between “the elites” and the rest of us?  Harvard University named Bradley Manning (a “transgendered” man previously convicted of espionage) as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.  Or is it the Kennedy School of National Destruction?  Birds of a feather flock together.

Was there really any wonder?  God or no God?  Your choice.

 

 

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