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Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

John 13:21

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Betrayal.  It is hard to imagine anything more disillusioning than violating a relationship.

Think about it, one has a trusted relationship and violates that trust.  You can see it in a man who fathers a child but deserts his child and the woman with whom he fathered the child.

Imagine Judas who was mentored by Jesus.  Think of what he did.  He sat at the table with Jesus and his disciples and took his morsel given at the table and walked away … from Light to Darkness – that is betrayal.  Judas choose alienation over sacred loyalty, over friendship, over duty and obligation, over faith, over honesty, over trust, evil over good, his own desires over God.

And then there is Peter.  Pledging his loyalty to Jesus, he denied knowing Our Lord three times before the cock would crow.  Yes, cowardice got the best of Peter.  Yes, for Peter fear dominated faith.  Yes, Peter, too, choose alienation.  Yes, for Peter trust was abandoned, friendship was dishonored – God denied.

Look about you today.  Are we a culture of trust?  Or is betrayal more common?

Are we a culture of heroes or betrayers?  One in which citizen is alienated from citizen?  A culture of unity or division?  Is division commonplace?  Is it the way of a political party?  Do women create division from men?  Do father’s desert their children?  Men and women divorce one another with ease?

Alienation.  Betrayal.  Distrust.  Hero or coward?  Loyal or not?  Divisive or unifying?  Neighbor or not?  Friend or enemy?  One alone or many together?  God-full or Godless?

Shalom.

The more the powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will, the more is the unconscious forced into the background.  When this happens, it becomes easily possible for the conscious structure to be detached from the unconscious images.

Richard Wilhelm, in The Secret of the Golden Flower

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To be whole and have psychic health, full development and contentment, our conscious life must be attached to our unconscious life.  Without an unconscious life, life and our experience of it is distorted, limited and chaotic.

Indeed, it seems that this is precisely where we are in our country today.

Look at the celebrity and political class and those in control of higher education (the “teaching” intellectuals) and you see not mature and insightful individuals but narrow people full of self-assertion, anger and extreme and destructive notions.

Yes, being stuck in conscious alone is a superficial state of being, a fragmented and  unhealthy state of being.

Carl Jung in a 1931 essay noted that the disconnection of consciousness from the unconscious makes for the modern man who Jung identifies as “unhistorical” – that is void of any of the broader lessons of human history.

Jung’s observation might explain the measure of ideas offered and advanced by the American Left today as well as the limited use that can be made of public discourse among those engaged in news reporting and commentary.

I find nothing so much as the separation of conscious and unconsciousness to explain what I see among public personalities, see in the conduct and discourse of the elites.  Sadly, this reminds me of the tragic decline in the German culture in the inter-War years.

Disordered development creates great risk for cultures – and a failed education system and rejection of faith makes for increasing the risk of serious error and destruction.  And make no mistake religious narratives all over the world instruct us in symbols and metaphors that open us to our unconscious.  Ban or undermine religion and we increase our collective and individual danger.

Our individual full psychological and spiritual development is critical, indispensable to our flourishing and survival … and a sign of how far we are from health is evidenced by our reaction to the horrible shooting of people in New Zealand last night.  Immediately our public commentators see it as a product of political opinion when it is rather an indication of psychological sickness – disorder all too common to its counterparts around the world.

Shalom.

 

Christians are meant to be the continuing revelation of God’s Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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While our challenges may be many and run deep within us, our country and our culture, our task is quite clear: to be the continuing revelation of Christ in this world.

What makes this task initially challenging is that we are (independent of God) merely humans and as such we get angry, become busy, self-absorbed, weary and preoccupied.

Look about, many are angry (especially those in the secular Left – the socialists, Communists and radicals).  Confrontation can be quite hostile, even physical.

What is one to do?  Remain calm.  Be soft-spoken.  Avoid anger.  Simply respond quietly.  Perhaps take up your calling to speak to others of the truth of the Gospels.  Our task is to share Christ with others, to quell the hostility – defuse the anger.

In our most trying times – it is the peace of Christ which resides in us and gives us voice, courage and wisdom.  Yes, the peace of Christ in troubled times.

Shalom.

Postscript – Those who dislike Trump make their position known in rather intense and obvious ways,  We see this with Democrat Members of Congress and the news and celebrity class.  But few people ask: How did we elect Trump?

Well the news of the very wealthy in business, law and entertainment paying huge amounts of money to get their “little darlings” into once “elite” colleges tells you exactly why we have Donald Trump as President.  The elites live separately from the vast majority of all other Americans.  They live (as the Clintons so clearly do) above and apart from the vast sea of working Americans who pay their taxes without loopholes and privileges.

The arrogance of elites elected Trump, and their elected state, local and national representatives go one better – they ignore the will of the common voter on borders, the national deficit, abortions, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, education, religion and all manner of Leftist (i.e., socialist and Communist) public policy.

This is a divide that creates very real problems.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Living in a world of secular time … the older awareness of higher time has receded … the best way to try to grasp the change in time experience is in terms of alternations in our understanding of order …

Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age

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Taylor is making a vital point that is often overlooked and it is this – when cultures change the nature of human experience also changes and, mind you, those changes cannot be considered as always beneficial to humans and their experience as humans.  Indeed, those changes might well accrue to the individual and collective detriment of the human person, their life and community.

To make his point as to secular time and its distinction with time as previously considered he notes that once the idea of a King’s Two Bodies (divine and mortal) was easily accepted and conveyed in some sense as an eternal reality.  Now, Taylor notes, this idea in a secular age is considered odd.

Likewise, he recalls that there was a time in Europe where each year in small villages one day a year the villagers would change titles, duties, attire, roles and authority.  This was Carnival and its disposition implicitly looked at time and order and status differently than we do today.  His point?  Order and time were once seen in ways we do not see either now.  Carnival was a reminder that we are sacred beings in a sacred order.

Well, so what?

Taylor goes on to make the point that today “nations, states and churches” are not seen in the same regard as they once were.  These entities no longer provide the meaning and identity that they once did and no longer connect us to a “Great Chain of Being.”

When cultures change (not always for the better, for sure) ideas like the value of a nation and its citizenship can be changed to a degree that neither borders nor nations or the documents or authorities that provide legal protection to the individual are any longer valued or protected.  This may help explain the seeming insanity of many who discount the worth of America, the nation state, religion, borders, and the privilege of being an American citizen or part of Western Civilization.  Make no mistake the West is in a pickle with elites choosing to honor global organizations and rule over national autonomy.

What to conclude?  Listen carefully to those who purpose “change” for none of those who I have seen have any intellectual, social or psychology depth to suggest that they can improve on what we have.  Rather they seem destined to create chaos on the way to total destruction.  

If you doubt how quickly things can “go South” just look at Venezuela where national poverty and social, economic and spiritual deconstruction have ushered in a dark and dangerous time in a once wealthy and educated society.

When those who advocate change drive with their eyes closed.  Death and damage ensue.

Shalom.

Postscript – When a culture entertains ideas like “one need not have borders” or “aborting a child is a ‘choice” the culture has already changed radically and not for the best. When language has changed so radically that fundamental concepts are challenged in ways that deviate from long standing norms – one has to beware of the cultural deconstruction that is underway.  Yes, we can see the culture and the nation decompose.

Sleet, snow and a warm fireplace in the mountains – a quiet day of classical music, tidying up and starting the Christmas cards.

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It is tragic to see how blatantly [one] bungles his own life and the lives of others, yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Aion (Collected Works, Vol. 9, Part II)

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Jung speaks of the individual, yet what he says is no less true of the aggregate.

Yes, Jung’s words can be applied to us in the aggregate as a body of people, a nation … and frankly ought to be as a means of introspection, self-examination and correction.

Frankly, President Trump’s “drain the swamp” precisely captures the sentiments of the vast voting public who knows we are way off course.  Indeed, the midterm election to the extent that the Trump’s political party gained seats in the Senate and the minority party gained seats in the House by running more middling candidates is an indication that voters realize Washington is a swamp, with swamp creatures and swamp-like behavior.

I write about faith and culture and have a background in law, theology, politics and public policy.  That said I have strung together a handful of tragic “bungles” manifest in today’s culture … things that we are not acknowledging which can lead to tragedy.

Here they are:

  • we are a populace with little knowledge or appreciation of Western Civilization or America’s history and its unique government structure
  • we have departed from a belief in God and the practice of faith – and lost any sense that there is a natural order to things material and spiritual
  • our affluence has bred softness, arrogance and the expectation of entitlement
  • our “elites” are afforded status and attention they do not warrant
  • we have a very poor understanding of the psychological and spiritual development needed to be a healthy, mature human
  • the role of family has declined while dependence on government, immorality, division has increased
  • we are largely ignorant of the U.S. Constitution and abuse it routinely by shaping it to political demand
  • professions like law, news reporting, university teaching and government service have lost their integrity
  • we have neglected our military and allowed our adversaries to gain an advantage on us
  • secularism has dramatically altered for the worse the experience of being human.

Time to look at ourselves honestly and stop bungling ourselves into tragedy … or extinction.

Shalom.

Elites – Look at England.  The British people wish to leave the EU and restore their national sovereignty and their Prime Minister cannot and will not negotiate a break with the EU.  Much like our situation in America – the elites are disconnected from the population, do not recognize the value of the average citizen – rather they scorn them.  This is much the remarkable position of Democrats and life-long swamp denizens.

 

 

Then they set out along the black top in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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McCarthy writes of a father and his most beloved son who walk under the grayest of skies in a burned out and broken America.  It is both a compelling book and extraordinary movie.  In both I am struck by the love of the father for the son and the son for the father, and by the grayness of the sky amid the ruin.  The latter reminds me of the verbal and video landscape of the present days where hostility is thick as fog and division seems the only objective of the public voices we hear and where each day brings stories of death, cruelty, hatred and the commentaries of the C- and D+ scribes and talking heads whose range of thought is a tad lower than that of a carnival barker.

In a most extraordinary land darkness has descended.  What was once one is now fragmented into many bruised parts .

He could not construct for the child’s pleasure the world he’d lost without constructing the loss as well and he thought perhaps the child had known this better than he.  He tried to remember the dream but could not.  All that was left was the feeling of it … he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was his own ashes.

This father like me had lived a dream – a dream in better times.  I was conceived when the Second World War was near its triumphant end.  My childhood was spent on a street of veterans and their families – remarkable men and women whose childhood commenced in the Great Depression and turned then to World War – its millions dead, others murdered in Stalin’s gulag.

How does one speak of what we had and lost?  How does one make that the known experience of an adult son?  Give him the optimism purpose and meaning I, poor as we were, knew so well?

How do my grandson or my granddaughter gain what had been, but now is so damaged?  How can my ashes live to sign their forehead?

The Road.  Where this father and son had the dark shadow and penetrating cold of a dying orb – they at least had silence.  We have the unstoppable voices and words of those whose lips bring darkness and cold.  They are now our dismal cover.

“You have to carry the fire … It’s inside you.  It always was there.  I can see it.”

So says the father to the son.  So say I to you, this day.

Shalom.

News as Soap Opera – This is where we are in a superficial mass communication, digitized social media culture.  We interview people with no achievement or proclaim and, in doing so, cannot distinguish people of substance from people who have no particular accomplishment.  We are more soap opera than not.  We can no longer tell the difference between depth and shallow, or what is substantive and what is not.  A real astonishing decline.

… human institutions succeed of fail in large part because of the good traditions or bad traditions that animate them – and because good traditions, once lost, are difficult if not impossible to re-establish – we must guard and nourish all our valuable traditions.  (Emphasis added.)

Antonin Scalia

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The First Congress, acting under the Constitution, adopted a resolution that requested the President to “recommend” to citizens they adopt a day for “public thanksgiving and prayer.”  Hence, Thanksgiving Day.  Yes, faith has a root in America, its history and traditions.

Good traditions, once lost, had very hard to re-establish  Whither, reverence for the American flag.

Beware of those who destroy traditions – attack them, discard them – they exact a great cost on community, fellowship, history, faith and identity.

Think about this.  We live in an age where a small group attack tradition and with it our identity – individual and collective.  We flourish with God, but not without.

Shalom.

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