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Dedicated to My Son, His Wife and My Two Grandchildren … and All the Parents Raising Children

To be a good parent … we do not need to be people who have arrived; God simply calls us to be on the way, seeking, finding, and rejoicing in what we find. (Emphasis added.)

Catherine Stonehouse, in Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.

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My son and I recently had a very interesting conversation about providing for the spiritual lives of his two small children, ages almost three and almost one.

Yes, children have – as all human beings do – innate spiritual needs and desires.

Throughout the ages people are confronted with all sorts of probative “why” and “how” and “what” and “who” questions.  Why do bad things happen?  How can we be good? What is love? How do you forgive someone? Who made the world? Why go to church?

Yes, we are all bound by these questions.  And, no – politics does not provide the answer.  And, yes – by thinking all things are political as many do in this imploding secular culture we establish one thing for sure: life and cultures demand that individuals pay particular attention to our interior, the spiritual plateau in all human beings or court chaos and destruction, disintegration.  Absent attention to the spiritual: cultures, societies, communities, families, nations, individual people are undone – destroyed – trapped in selfishness, error, hostility, destruction, conflict, injury and despair.

Frankly, we are inclined precisely in that destructive dimension in contemporary America and the West at this very moment.  

We are, of course, not human beings seeking a spiritual experience, but rather – spiritual beings seeking a human experience.

Look around you.  Do you see how costly denying God and spiritual reality can be?

Parents attend to your spiritual existence and invite your children to join you.   Individually you will each be better – together you will be a family – a sacred, life-saving vessel in a world of choppy waters and occasional gales.

I wish you smooth seas – no matter the conditions you meet.

Shalom.

Moral Indignation.  Been alive for seven-plus decades.  Ain’t met a single perfect person, nor an angel.  My conclusion: we are not perfect.  Yet, now some (armed with moral indignation) are set on tearing down statues of people they find unsavory.  With this approach the Democrat Party may find itself banished after their lengthy history of favoring the Klan and racial segregation.

In the language of Boston politics – what goes around, comes around.    

 

 

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds folly.

Prov 15:14

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Few see the inherent damage done by mass communication in a secularized culture.

What do I mean?  In a mass communication culture all sorts of fools speak. Each day rains down half-baked advocacy, unchallenged assertion, special pleadings designed to alter the status quo in favor of the advocate who long ago (armed with a college-educated bias favoring his or her “pet” political views) decided they are a genius and you are not – so you must do as they say.

We have mistakenly assumed that “education” is to be more trusted than experience, common sense, wisdom and purposeful tradition accumulated and honored over the centuries.

Alas we live in an age of arrogance, pride, ignorance and hyper-political nonsense.

People claim expertise they do not possess.  Bill Nye “the science guy” comes to mind. The global warming crowd labels skeptics “deniers” because (of course) they are “smarter” and know best.  Regrettably, there are only rare instances where someone calls out the self-acclaimed genius (who also fancies himself or herself “a savior”).

Never has a generation been so sure that they have license to topple venerable institutions and their moral foundation.  Rarely are rebukes plainly offered to this haughty crowd.  That said, I offer one delicious instance for your encouragement and enjoyment.

Supreme Court Antonin Scalia took exception to the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges (the “gay marriage” case) with these words:

“If … I ever joined an opinion for the Court which began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons … to define and express their identity.’ I would hide my head in a bag.” (Emphasis added.)

Don’t you just miss this kind of condor!  And doesn’t it show what we endure with those who think, as Justice Kennedy does, that they are so erudite and wise that they can sow such silliness into the public consciousness.

If there is any redeeming value in Justice Kennedy’s view it is this: it shows the waste that is a Stanford and Harvard education and provides clear caution when it comes to listening to elites and Leftists in the public square.

Best to be discerning and to build on the ageless wisdom of religious narrative while it is still accessible to you.

Yes, as has been said the educated elites could have saved themselves substantial pile of cash had they opted for a library card and a couple of bucks and change in late fees in place of their prestigious college.  Indeed, they could have saved us from their nonsense as well.

Shalom.

… there is no god more jealous than single-payer health care.

William McGurn, in The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2017

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This is Mr. McGurn talking about the infant Charlie Gard and how the courts deprived his parents of their rights to make lawful decisions as to his medical care.

Mr. McGurn understands precisely the totalitarian power of centralized government and how that power takes liberty and freedom from innocents – in this case a sick infant and his devoted and loving parents.

I have represented parents, innocents, and impaired medical patients in such cases.  I won each of my cases in this area and I know from real world experience that Mr. McGurn is exactly correct in what he says.

A few points in Charlie’s case to amplify the danger that a single-payer regime presents for all of us.

One, hospitals can go to court to override the lawful wishes of parents who diligently, wisely and faithfully care of their sick child.

Two, the hospital’s interest can be as simple as this: a child may occupy a bed that does not earn them sufficient pay-out and they resent the child’s occupancy of that space.  Yes, I have seen this.

Three, a hospital may have the view that the child’s “quality of life” is not sufficient to warrant his treatment and by this reasoning they can deprive the child of life-support care, i.e., the hospital can end the child’s life over the lawful objection of his parents.

Four, as in Charlie’s case the court may appoint a Guardian over the affairs of the child who will opt to side with the court and the hospital, thereby validating the death of a child.  Imagine a Guardian as someone claiming to represent a child with whom he has no conversation, of whom he has no knowledge and with whom he has no relationship! Imagine that Guardian being paid by the state – yes, this does happen.

One wonders if that Guardian would like Charlie’s parents to determine that her or his children deserve the same result: that is, death over their objection.

Case in point, the Guardian in Charlie’s case runs a “charity” that supports “assisted suicide.”  (As reported by Mr. McGurn of The Wall Street Journal.)

Yes, a single-payer system is a stacked deck.  A deck that is aimed at the weakest among us, and at those the state deems “disposable.” Honestly do you ever hear of a prominent actor and his wife or politician and his wife having their medical decision-making as to their child taken from them? No you don’t.

This is the single-payer system.  Or shall we say this: in Satan’s single-payer system the costs to innocents greatly exceeds money.

Mr. McGurn’s concern ought well be noted.

Shalom.

God, we pray for little Charlie Gard, for his parents, and for us as we learn the reach of godlessness and suffer its consequences.  Help us correct the wrongs we see.  Help us to value once again parents, children, family and faith.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. (Emphasis added.)

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Sartre, of course, is wrong about being “condemned to be free” but he is correct in saying the human person is “responsible for everything he (or she) does.

Responsibility is largely honored in its absence now.  We can thank the Left for this. They talk about rights but never about responsibilities.  In health care they never see the sanctity of life as a gift and our responsibility to take care of ourselves, to eat properly, exercise, control our weight, avoid unhealthy vices, etc.

Indeed, the godless Left holds few “responsible” least of all themselves and those in their ranks who seek that others pay the tab for their irresponsibility. Of course, the Left does hold responsible those who expect each of us to be responsible.  Odd as it seems, even the godless Sartre is more to be trusted than the present day American Left.

I guess one can conclude that years of Leftist irresponsibility has made even Sartre a Conservative.  If you need a measure of how ill-conceived the positions and policies of the Left are – imagining Sartre a Conservative probably does it.

Shalom.

Remember – Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture – as such it must address the culture as it is.  And that now means as its political state the condition of which would be vastly improves if God and faith were given a rightful place.  Yes, if each living being saw life as a gift and took responsibility for it as such.

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics.  Fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.  (Emphasis added.)

Samuel P . Huntington

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Do not Islam and Marxism display the truth of Professor Huntington’s remarks? Is our national security not, then, contingent upon America and the West knowing who they are and who their rivals are – what is the bedrock of our identity and their identity?

American and Western identity rests on our classical legacy, Christianity, the relationship between church and state, freedom of religious expression, free speech and free elections, the rule of law, civil society and the peaceful transition of political power, free market economics, and our historic national footprint.

When cultures clash, as they do now, one must have a very clear understanding of who one is.

When cultures clash radical variation in basic identity within a society is a luxury that cannot be readily accommodated.  That said, a political party like the Democrat Left whose identity is based on: perpetual radical social and economic “change,” the centralization of cradle to grave power in the federal government, creating conflict through “identity politics” which manufactures angry “victim classes” and enslaved government dependents – compromises the nation’s security.  A state of perpetual internal flux puts in question one’s basic identity – it distracts and creates unnecessary and dangerous discord.

Indeed this is where we are today: division within while those within and without who wish our defeat grow stronger and more intent on our destruction. 

To make matters worse, very few of those who occupy political office have any inkling of the challenge we face and the fundamental question it raises.  The question?  Who exactly are we?

In a clash of cultures not knowing who you are is fatal.

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 social disintegration which has followed in the wake of … (Leftist) “liberation” has seldom provoked any serious reconsideration of the … assumptions – vision – which led to such disasters.

Thomas Sowell, Ph.D.

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Yesterday an Oberlin-educated liberal woman New York judge released a mentally ill man on his own recognizance (without posting bail) after the man had entered a New York City police station and tried to take a female officer’s gun from her. (A loss for those in need of mental health treatment, the police, the citizens of New York City, the judiciary, the rule of law, compassion and common sense.)

With this, I thought of Thomas Sowell and how American liberalism has damaged and destroyed society without any accountability but for the increasing disdain that much of the common folk in the Republic are beginning to show at the ballot box.

Lest people think Dr. Sowell is part of the “White Power” band that the present day sing-song liberals so often implore to justify bursts of Leftist anger, Thomas Sowell, is African-American, a U.S. Marine who fought in Korea, a Harvard and Columbia-educated man with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.  He has, by the way, long been a clear-headed critic of the American Left and the nonsense they propose and force on others.  Yes, smart, good, informed people debunk the Left and American liberalism as it should be debunked … and they are right as rain.

Ironically, yesterday I heard Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a lawyer, offer reasonable concern for the under-tested marketing of vaccines now used on children.  For his concern, Mr. Kennedy (a liberal) has been lampooned by the Left, shunned and discounted for stating his concern.

That is today’s American Left – strongly intolerant of views that are not their own.

Yes, we live in a dark era of social, political and personal disintegration – a disposition sustained and spread by American liberalism today.

Whither truth, honesty, intellect, common sense, free speech, morality, decency, maturity and humility?  No sense listening to these guys anymore.  They have ruled themselves “out-of-order.”

Shalom.

Bravo!  President Trump in his Speech in Poland raised this critical issue: The West and America are unique and worthy of respect and existence.  The issue is now will the Left and the Marxists be seen for their errors, mistakes and godlessness and will they repent?  

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… philosophers of the Enlightenment sought to use reason alone to establish a new basis for political and social life, one that was separated from the past.  They tried to create a secular morality that any reasonable person could understand and affirm … they extolled the freely choosing individual. (Emphasis added.)

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In his book Simply Sane, psychiatrist Gerald May, M.D. tells the story of a heroin addict whose addiction was tied to the frustration he experienced when that he was not as “responsible” as he expected he ought to me.  That is to say, each of life’s frustrations promoted him to seek a way to feel powerful and full, whole and strong.  His route to the experience of autonomy was heroin.  For others, of course, it is alcohol.  For others sex.  Still for others, make-believe – or consumption, or prescription medication, or status, or the stage, showing-off, or wealth … yes, even violence, spousal or child abuse.

So much for the Enlightenment and the notion of the individual’s power, wisdom, discipline – his or her ability to cope with their own poor choices and a world full of others who get to “freely choose” … only to enhance the odds of calamity and disappointment in each individual life.

In Chicago last weekend,  some of those “the freely choosing individuals” managed to “freely choose” to shoot 100 other “free choosers.”

Look around you.  Is it not possible that we have over-estimated people’s capacity for all this self-acclaiming navigation?

Think, Bill Cosby.  He was a “Free Chooser.”  Think about abortion mills, lot of “free choosing” going on there.  How about the federal “genius” who attempted to “rescue” children from a religious cult in Waco, Texas, and managed to burn to death scores of those same children while getting several federal agents killed as well.  Another “free chooser.”  Nitwits beyond imagination.

Don’t you think we have demonstrated the obvious limits of the human person? Are we not worse off for having ushered God out of the spotlight in favor of “freely choosing individual?”

Look about in politics, lots of delusional “free choosers” there?  No shortage of calamity. No a surplus of humble (hence wise and less dangerous) good old people – each skeptical of the omnipotence the Enlightenment (we might call it the “Stupid-ment”) ascribed willing-nilly to the imperfect human being.  Ya, that heroin addict might have been sober and content to expect less of himself and others.  It is, afterall, hard enough just being … just being a human being.

It always strikes me as real idiocy that we do not understand the wisdom and power of humility.  I often gag when I hear the graduation speaker or college prof tell the audience” “go and change the world!” Balderdash.  Wisdom would say: be skeptical of your alleged genius, focus on doing no harm – cherish established wisdom and the traditions which house it.

Shalom.

By the Way: Memo to the Enlightenment Wizards – We now know from brain studies that reason has nothing to do with moral development or initiating moral choice, rather these matters are instinctive.  Yes, the human person is designed to seek good and reason only fortifies the instinct or justifies the errant decision to override what is instinctive. “Freely choosing individual” … my Aunt’s banana!!!

… the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body … your bodies are members of Christ … the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body … your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you …

1 Cor 6: 13, 17, 18, 19

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In my lifetime, I have endured the so-called “sexual revolution.”  I have seen the damage it does.  I have seen it tarnish womanhood, destroy families, make children the object of sexual predators, the growth of pornography, adulteries, out-of-wedlock births … homes without fathers, mothers with children by different men who have long since departed without any responsibility whatsoever.

I have seen the growth of human trafficking and how the “sexual revolution” has drained meaning from life and debased the human person – child and adult.

We have acted as if there is no God, as if we are the masters of our own body – free to do with it what we wish … and free to use others in precisely the same selfish and coarse way.

This, Dear Friends, is a critical problem – we have turned the pages of history back to pagan times – codifying and protecting child sacrifice, and “redefining” marriages and “gender” without regard to human history, religion, social, psychological, emotional and moral well-being or common sense.

Little attention is paid to the place of sexual expression in the articulation of a country’s moral structure and spiritual development and welfare, its stability and meaning.  Less attention is paid, it seems, to the essential place of sexual expression in Christianity, the development of Western Civilization, and in the individual health, development and contentment of the human person.

The “sexual revolution” has been extraordinarily destructive.  We now see married female teachers with a husband and small children involved sexually with their underaged students – children as young as 12 or 13.  Does anyone really think that this is not a sign of decay?  Do you see where the “sexual revolution” has taken you, your children, your family?

In this present conduct we are destroying self and the nation.  This 4th of July take a real look at this culture and what we mindlessly endure, accept in silence. Is this who you are?  We are?  What you want?  What you want for your children?

Shalom.

Postscript – I recall attending services at a synagogue in South Bend, Indiana, and listening after services to a Rabbi who was both a religious scholar and a lawyer housed at the prestigious Jewish Rabbinical institute in Cincinnati.  The Rabbi’s speciality was the evolution of Jewish family life over the centuries and he offered this: in this view the two most significant events in Jewish history were, one, the destruction of the Temple, and, two – the establishment of monogamy in Jewish marriage.  When you think about the “sexual revolution” – think about that observation.

If we wish to please the true God and to be friends to the most blessed of friendships, let us present our spirit naked to God.  Let us not draw on anything of this present world – no art, no thought, no reasoning, no self-justification – even though we should possess all the wisdom of the world.

Philokalia

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In a mass communication culture where we are assaulted with words, noise, chatter endlessly we would do well to think about the above words recorded by 4th and 5th century Orthodox Christians.

Yes, we are to know about the world, to gain knowledge – but we are not to be encased in reasoning, self-justification, art, thought or other artifacts of the present world – from trinkets and valuables, to politics and ideology because we are at ground zero spiritual beings … those tied to God by God’s creation of us and the world we occupy.

We are not consumers, pundits, lawyers, actors, CEO’s, professors … etc.  We are more than those things.  We have an eternal identity.

In today’s world it is wise to ask: how can I be exactly and precisely who God made me to be?  In this objective is health, stability, calm, contentment, quiet, patience, wisdom, morality, laughter, good judgement, ease, friendship, strength, loyalty, honor, love and salvation.

Ironically, in a culture that seeks to draw you in and under – the task is to stay afloat and aloft – above all the calamity, craziness, conflict and confusion.

Yes, the task at present: to live a monk’s life in mass culture, to take on independence and autonomy, gain humility and pleasure in all that God has given, all that God does, all that we have been made to be, all that God is.

Shalom.

If you find this helpful, please share it with others – friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues.

 We can all get better at living, gain peace, tranquility, stability and purpose – come to know joy as God provides it.

 

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