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The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the known and unknown together into a living whole.

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

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You recall that faith is a virtue.  Why is that?  Well it is not merely a matter of knowing but a matter the Spirit, of “spiritual courage” as C.S. Lewis says.

In faith we exceed the fade of a particular time or Age.  In faith we live beyond the limits of science and its (sometimes) temporary “certainty” – that is: its “truth” subject to change, its own evolution, its trek to greater understanding as science and discovery grow over time.

Faith is wedded to “belief” and belief is a derived (in Germanic origin) from a word connoting “beloved” – love.

In faith then is belief and love – far more than reason but not limited by mere rationality.

Faith, like your life itself, is about so much more.  Does one not have confidence in one’s spouse, one’s child, one’s brother, one’s sister, one’s father, one’s mother, one’s best friend?  Does not that faith capture something larger than reason?

If one has faith in one’s best friend or spouse or sibling could not one have faith in God … belief in the One who is Love itself?

Imagine the poverty and despair of those who cannot believe in love … or a whole culture where belief is missing.

Think of this, in a culture of unbelief is not the experience of human experience reduced?  Would not addiction, homicide, suicide, hostility, division, anxiety, abortion, infanticide, adultery, divorce, hatred, alcoholism, selfishness, self-destruction, cowardice, chaos, amorality, nihilism, conflict, despair, corruption, greed, indifference, ignorance, unhappiness, lawlessness, loneliness, lust, envy, lying, dishonesty, suffering, vanity, violence and evil grow?

Shalom.

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Missed posting yesterday.  Stood with a friend in a long anticipated hearing on a complicated and contested legal matter.  Matter “concluded” at long last.

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The theological virtues are above the nature of man, whereas intellectual and moral virtues belong to the nature of man … Therefore the theological virtues should be distinguished … The intellectual and moral virtues perfect the human intellect and appetite in proportion to human nature, but the theological virtues do so supernaturally.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Theologiae

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If this be so, how can you neglect faith?  If your perfection requires your spiritual development, who would be foolish enough to listen to the endless number of people like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, A.O.C., et al when they speak about anything whatsoever.

Yes, in the present time, there are not many people in politics, news, the celebrity class, academia, the “professions” or what have you who warrant our time or attention.

Let’s face it, we are NOT discreet listeners.  Indeed, we should be.

I often hear others say (in response to some injustice) “how can X or Y let this (the injustice) happen?”  It is, in all honesty, a childish reaction to the world around them and injustice in particular.  It is a question asked by one who does not know what Aquinas and others have talked about for ages … the primacy of faith and perceptions derived from faith are central to all inquiries and understanding of the world we inhabit and those people and events in it.

Mathematicians know this, scientists too.  Those few among us who still muster belief itself and match belief with their intellect and life experience know this as well.  They, as a consequence, do not need to ask of injustices done to innocents and others.

Indeed, the proof of the fundamental role of faith in one’s existence is this: even atheists ask the fundamental question like: “Why this injustice?”

Their question confirms the place of, and need for, faith.  Their question is a faith question.  Their question reflects the insight of Aquinas and many others we ignore and in this make fools of ourselves and anyone of the many who daily listen to the nonsensical “public figures” who do not possess the modest intellect or common sense sufficient to wonder much at all about what they see and what they say.

Alas, following Aquinas and other giants of intellectual, moral and spiritual maturity allows us to be who we are designed to be.

Smarten up, people.  What is eternal is above all that is not.  We consume what is not eternal and this is the central fault you see.

I know except that things perishing and transitory should be spurned and things certain and eternal should be sought.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Augustine, in Soliquia

Just can’t make this any plainer to you, Friends.

Shalom.

Postscript – The contested hearing yesterday was frankly pathetic.  The judge and lawyers were childish in their narrow range of thought and lack of depth of examination or understanding as to the events before them.  It was much like watching people playing “judge” and “lawyer.”  It would have been silly if not so pathetic.  We are sadly ill-bred and in this lies decline and injury to all.  First faith – insight and wisdom follows.

, … Communism is not new.  It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith.  Its promise was whispered in the first days of creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: “Ye shall be gods” … its force derives from a single vision … The Communist vision is the vision of man without God … (It) restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God.

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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Let’s be clear Social Democrats are simply the prelude to communism.

The trajectory from socialism to communism is likewise simple – grand promises, division and the building of resentment of others, massive government spending on huge, unworkable “programs” that build insurmountable debt and destroy both freedom and productive economic activity of industry, finance and individual and aggregate wealth followed by a draconian tax system and little or no economic growth, the temptation for government to increase the quantity of money and thereby unleashing preposterous inflation and poverty and then a Venezuelan utopia of want, chaos, starvation and totalitarianism.

Make no mistake, when God is denied evil prevails.  Without God, freedom does not exist, the soul grows sick and we despair.

If you do not know the story of Whittaker Chambers, you might want to.  It is a compelling and painful story, a cold shower – an early wake-up call, a warning issued anew.

Just once I would like to see a TV interviewer ask of the young Congressional Leftists upstarts about Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss, about post-War Communist espionage, about Lenin and his life, about Cuba and its repression and anemic economy, about Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and its human costs, about the tenets of National Socialism, about Cambodia and Pol Pot.

I’d like to have just one “journalist” ask Bernie Sanders about his work history and failed marriages, about what he means by saying he is a “cultural Jew” or ask Lizzie Warren if she sees how her Indian “gig” is the equivalent of Hollywood celebrities paying others to get their seemingly unaccomplished children into college.

The Democrat Leftist in and out of government get a free ride because we no longer have informed public discussion conducted by learned mature men and women.  No, we have in their place members of the Nada Generation – the product of an education system destroyed by government and flush with ideologues not scholars – individually insignificant puppeteers, childish individuals with destruction on their mind and air-bubbles in their “think tank.”

When God is lost all sorts of pathology emerges and wisdom and commonsense fade from view while self-destruction and annihilation present themselves.

God is the far better choice.  God is the only choice.

Shalom.

 

“Genetically, two black people are more likely to more different to be each other than a black person and a white person … while the physical differences are clearly visible between a white and a black person, the total amount of difference is much smaller than between two black people.”  (Emphasis added.)

Adam Rutherford, in A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

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The Left with its “identity politics” is (as it is with their absolutism of socialism and Communism) utterly and thoroughly well behind the scientific curve.

Yep, our knowledge of genetics tells us that we all share genetic markers from a very small pool of the first humans on the planet as well as a whole lot of people over the entire life of humans on the planet.  The consequence?  Bye, bye ethnic, class, race, religious, and status distinctions that are used to separate us one from another.

Yes, the divisions we create are nonsense.  We are more alike than different one from another.  Translation?  Threat the “Dividers” with the contempt they so rightly deserve.

Don’t be fooled into embracing their trap of “division” which makes us vulnerable to their control.  No. No. No.  We are scared beings.  Each of us … and far more alike than different.  Let’s start living this reality.  Let’s understand we share a common past and its accumulated wisdom.  Live right.  Do not be duped by those who divide.

Shalom.

 

 

Faith and reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which it soars to the truth.

St. John Paul II, in Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason

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Well there you have it!  This is precisely why a goodly number of the college “educated” class and the many who claim to be “intellectuals,” pundits, “social” activists, and the Leftwing ideologues along with the sparsely educated members of the legal and juridical community seem so “off track.”

Faith and Reason leads to Truth.  Reason alone leads to chaos and destruction – exactly where we find ourselves today.

Ever since “the Enlightenment” the battle between faith and reason has raged.  In an exclusionary secular culture (which our culture is) – faith is attacked, discounted, scoffed at and ignored … and we see everywhere the end product.

Need I recite once again?  Hostility and division.  Aborting children is only a mother’s “choice.”  Infanticide – just fine.  The legitimacy of “same sex marriages” was in the U.S. Constitution all these years but we only found it recently.  There are multiple genders and we get to name the growing number of such.  Families can function quite well without fathers.  We ought to destroy the American economy and our wealth in order to build a Green New Deal economy.  A nation needs no borders and we are to welcome anyone and everyone from anywhere.  All things will be Bernie Sanders “free.”

These things, and a legion of other such notions, are the product of reason without faith.

The Communists and the fascists have shown us how “well” that formula “works.”

Yet, the ideologically indoctrinated faithless cabal marches on despite the evidence to the contrary.  Imagine the stupidity one must possess to look at human history and the form and footprint of Western and Eastern civilizations and conclude that faith, the life of the spirit played no positive part in forming these civilizations.

Really quite astonishing to imagine this … and even more destructive to believe this.

Shalom.

The Seduction of Unreason is a wide-ranging yet subtle consideration of the intellectual’s abiding fascination with absolutism, and as such it is a perceptive, compelling and invaluable document.  His (Author Richard Wolin’s) indignation at the folly and perversity of so many major European thinkers is wholly justified and peculiarly invigorating.  (Emphasis added.)

John Banville, in The Irish Times

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This is unusual.  For the first time in eight years of writing this blog, I begin with a quote from a book review … a review of Richard Wolin’s The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism.

Why would I do this?  There are several reasons.  First, we live in times in which the Left calls the Right fascist and the Right calls the Left fascists … and no public commentators seem to have any insight reflective of Wolin’s keen observations that history shows us that intellectuals in the West over the last century or so have flirted with fascism.

Secondly, in contemporary America very few have come to the justifiable conclusion that it is the post-modern American leftists who, across a very broad range, have manifest an alarming fascist orientation.  (We saw an example of this just yesterday when Members of the House of Representatives could not resolve that a Member of that body displayed a rather plain hatred of Jews.  And we see routinely on college campuses how the exercise of responsible speech is under assault.)

What Wolin (a Professor on Intellectual History) is telling us is that modern liberals show contempt for the values held dear by classical liberals who favored protection of individual freedoms and limited governmental power.

We see, for example, just this year the Democrats dismantle, in the Kavanaugh Hearings, the presumption of “innocence” until proven guilty.  Likewise we see the implicit tones of fascism in identity politics which divides us and beckon displays of hatred.

We see attacks on freedoms in the U.S. Constitution and preposterous notions like the Green New Deal which is destined to destroy wealth, explode our nation’s debt, and abandon our uniquely free market economy.  And we see more of Wolin’s observations confirmed in the careless morphing abortions into infanticide, and the astonishing corruption in the federal justice system with its selective prosecutions and politically motivated inquiries.

So why bring this up?  Wolin is a student of intellectual history – of the ideas that govern us and challenge us … and at present we see a multitude of destructive ideas and “causes” advanced by the Democrat Left and virtually no informed analysis of the nature or consequences of what is being proposed or pursued.  This is NOT a good sign.

Applying Wolin’s critique to today would be helpful.  Alas we have few so well read or informed.

Shalom.

Postscript – The Congresswoman who stirred Congress up with her anti-Jewish comments is Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. Ms Omar is a Muslim native of Somalia.  Members of Ms. Omar’s extended family held positions in the former Somali government that blended Marxism with Islam.  She and her family members fled that country and ended up gaining admission to the United States.  Ms. Omar brings a blend of Marxism and her Muslim faith to her politics.  It is little wonder that she is anti-Israel, hostile to Jews and a Leftist.  This is the Democrat Party of the Left today.

 

… narcissistic orientation is one in which experiences as real only that which exists within oneself while the phenomena of the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are only experienced from a viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.  The opposite pole of narcissism is objectivity … the faculty to see other people and things as they are … to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and wants.

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

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Narcissism.  We know it as selfishness and it is quite abundant.  Human beings are quite selfish.  We find it in families, professional associations, the entertainment industry, the media and other lines of work that have a public face.  It runs rampant in politics, in professional associations like Bar Associations and among the coveted and esteemed associations like the judiciary and the tenured faculty.

Selfishness is the root cause of corruption.  In selfishness others are mere objects or obstacles to one’s exclusive satisfactions.  Many people are imprisoned in this narcissism and they make others miserable.  There is no love or friendship with the narcissistic lot.  To them others are objects to be used or destroyed.

What is one to do?  For a calm and pleasant life – be very selective with whom you mix and mingle.  Maintain an objective point of view.  Be realistic.  See the world and others as they are not as you wish them to be.

Yes, there are good people who genuinely care about living a humble and kind life and thus treat others with the upmost dignity and concern.  Those people ought to be your circle of friends.  The others are to be kept at arm’s length or avoided altogether.  Narcissists, you see, are quite destructive to self and others.

When you think about it, do you not see the value of quiet, solitude, a small group of good friends, the value of a monastic disposition, life in God’s great space and beauty, the place of Christ in the life of a Christian?

Be realistic.  See what is.  Avoid unreal expectations or self-deception.  Things are what they tell you they are.  Acknowledging reality is the cornerstone of a life of peace, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, relative ease and love.  We live in a fallen world among many who are centered on self and self only.  Consider yourself so advised.

Shalom.

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

Shalom.

 

 

 

In our time we should emphasize what unites rather than what divides.

Pope John XXIII

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These are the words of Pope John XXIII on his death-bed.  I cite them today because they fit so well the circumstances we face now.

There is great division in this land.  It seems as if people desire that we be divided, fragmented, at odds with one another … divided and separated from God and faith, self and one another.  Today hostility is heightened and friendship diminished.

This brings me to my long-term concern with how one lives one’s faith in a secular culture – now that one is apt to be estranged from spiritual existence in a culture that manifests so much discontent, anger and self-destruction.

My own course has been an attempt to understand both God and culture.  To look at our history as a nation and Western Civilization, to see the challenges we face, review our failures and our successes, look closely at our psychological health and development and our nature as spiritual beings.

It follows that my reading encompasses history, philosophy, psychology, theology, mythology, literature and the like.  But my inquiry has also experienced and thought about monastics and their ability to live faith and grow spiritually and as healthy humans notwithstanding the shape of the world over many centuries.

What I have come to understand is this: (1) if you wish to live your faith and do so deeply, you need to know how a culture can deter you from faith and your spiritual development, and (2) in seeking to live your faith in a secularized culture, you would be wise to learn from the monastic experience for it has over many years allowed men and women to grow spiritually and in contentment through their separation from the culture at-large, their silence, solitude, study and simple life style.

I might add that if you wish to assist others in finding faith in secular culture it becomes necessary to identify those things in culture which make a healthy spiritual existence quite difficult and those things which incline to foreclose one’s spiritual development and ultimate peace and contentment that daily living of one’s faith allows.

In short, what I am saying is this – to live faith in secular culture – you do well to take an informed assessment of the culture, become familiar with the nature of monastic existence and make use of its framework so you might exist within a secular culture while living fully in your faith.  Yes, in this you will be living at an arm’s length or more from the present culture as it is endlessly extended to you in a mass communication and the highly visualized and extensively noisy storm of images and words.

In practical terms it is wise to adopt a monastic disposition in an intrusive secularized culture. 

Shalom.

Postscript – In the 1950’s we held the Communists in check when they invaded Korea, would we do less in facing them in our own country?

The existence of evil is not so much an obstacle to faith in God as a proof of God’s existence, a challenge to turn towards that in which love triumphs over hatred, union over division, and eternal life over death.  (Emphasis added.)

Nicholas Berdyaev, in Dreams and Reality

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Who among us thinks counter-intuitively?   You?

In a mass secularized culture, if you are not careful your thinking and life experience will be altered in a fundamental way that will strip you of what you and those before you knew and by which you were shaped and well-informed.

Yes, in a short time – secularization has altered the human experience as we once knew it … and we are the worse for this.  Life itself has lost its sacred nature, its joy and meaning.  Such turns make it easier to divide us and see innocent, defenseless babies as the object of our violence and destructive of them.

Who among us can see this as good, justifiable?  Have we not seen such action in the extermination camps of the 1930’s and 1940’s?

Shalom.

 

 

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