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The most paradoxical and at the same time unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies in a totally new creation … Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has been generally left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and 20th centuries … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Well that pretty much explains the roiling discontent many feel in their souls each day and explains the concern one has for their children and grandchildren – their country, Western Civilization and the exile of God from culture.  That is to say – we no longer carry at our core the above understanding.

The abandonment or loss of this perspective also explains the errant notions that flood our culture: same-sex marriage, Marxism, feminism, racism (expressed even by those who were once its victims), fanciful ideas of multiple genders, liberal intolerance and the like.

Think about it.  Is there any reason for a Believer to adopt any of the popular mantras and divisive dispositions so present in contemporary culture?  No.  There is not.

If one believes that Christ in His resurrection conquered death, there is no need for doubt, discontent or division.  And, yes – Merton is quite right that liberal Christianity have abandoned the unconquerable truth that Christ was Resurrected and as Christians this Resurrection rescues us from all apprehension – furnishes us with certainty, frees us to live fully and in the Spirit.

So in a sense, the unease we see, the hostility and antagonism and their attendant expressions and assertions literally have no place among those who Believe as Christians.

As Merton goes on to say – “Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without … spirituality consistency.”  I add only “a moral system” at best; for I have seen in my lifetime the weak idea of “ethics” displace morality as surely as man has replaced God in secular culture.

Ironically, in the age of ethics we get endless rules and regulations of all things and the extraordinary result that those who author the rules and regulations seem never to be held to them.  Out with morality – and corruption flourishes while individual responsibility, freedom, and accountability of the rule-makers seems to disappear.

Without the recognition of the Resurrection we are (as we now show) but a culture inclined to chaos and decline, the loss of freedom and community, and the sickness of godless existence.  Our present trajectory, of course, cannot hold.  We are at a critical moment.

Where are you in your thinking and living?  Best turn to God and the Truth of the Matter.

Shalom.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.

Ralph Ellison, in Invisible Man

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With the warmth of a wood-burning stove, I write alone in the frigid darkness while the wind howls.  Aaron Copland’s Own Town makes now the memories of the past.

Yesterday’s battles tug most when you are alone, when the earth is asleep and the ground is stone hard.

There is nothing gentle in these recollections.  Thank God the ones you loved and lost sit closest as the night takes its form.

I am a long way from the Boston I never left.  Yes, life’s markers are portable and, at times, inescapable.  Curses and blessings served on one plate.  Time teaches unforgettable truths.  Yet, joy survives in having lived it all out.

What is exterior is interior.

The trials grant us wisdom for future battles.  What was once opaque, is not.  In challenges – the gifts of insight and understanding, a sense of humor – and confidence.  Behind it all, faith waits cultivation.

Yes, Ellison is right – life is to be lived … and we are not to be controlled.  The Spirit cannot be jailed.  He must take his breath.  His heart must beat.  His dignity is of God, so too his identity.  You are his host.  He lives in you.

Shalom.

 

… the fact remains that for Christianity, a religion of the Word, the understanding of the statements which embody God’s revelation of himself remains a primary concern.  Christian experience is a fruit of this understanding, a development of it, a deepening of it.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thomas Merton on Zen

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Merton, like others, stressed the importance of acquiring the Christian experience – the full integration of Christ into one’s life.  That is, not merely treating Christian existence as the acquisition of a system of truths about God, or an explanation of how the universe came into being or how it might end.  Nor did he think that the Christian experience was meant to explain the purpose of Christian life or a set of moral norms per se.

He saw the Christian experience as more – more than “a world view,” or “a religious philosophy” sustained by a cult of believers, or a moral discipline, or a code of Law.  No, he saw the Christian experience as “a living … experience of the presence of God in the world and in mankind through the mystery of Christ.”

Yes, the integration of the reality of God’s existence through the mystery of Christ in one’s mortal life in this world.

Indeed the Christian experience is nothing less than the daily – moment to moment understanding that God is with us, in companionship, through the mystery of the gift of Christ.

Imagine, if you will, what one’s life and each breath can be like if this is the cornerstone of your human experience.  Surely if men and women acted on the strength of the Christian experience, all that is sordid, treacherous, hateful, etc. would pass from view or at the least be less present in the world.

In this coming new year, think about this.  An integrated Christian life is offered to you.

Shalom.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord!

Lk 2:11

Today is a reminder- and how we need it at this moment in our history!  The reminder: we have a Savior and He is Christ the Lord!

When you begin this new year be conscious of this question: Do those who seek your attention speak as Believers?  With the wisdom of a Believer?

To walk with consciousness of Christ is to speak within the Divine reality.  In this, we are humbly resigned to Christ’s example – in this, we gain confidence and patience … and come to know the blessing that is Christ our Lord.

Have a very Merry Christmas – and let this be the year that Christ is your foundational stone, your certainty and guide to all things in this life we share.

Shalom!

 

The happiness on this side was like an announcement of the other side.  I realized that this was an undeserved gift and I could not grasp by what grace it was bestowed on me.

Czeslaw Milosz

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These are the poet’s words near the end of his life.  He had acquired perspective, saw the whole and stopped lamenting of things past.  We should all be so inclined.

Have you ever noticed how the least bright or least development among us fester in fear, announce in the strongest terms that we must pursue this or that “adjustment,” policy, point of view lest the planet/the universe/all humankind perish?

It is always the youngest or shallowest among us – some (but this is no longer a prerequisite) with their undergraduate degree and access to a TV camera or a radio audience ring the alarm of shear doom and name those they deem responsible for the impending catastrophe.

The inexperienced always panic and shout of the sky falling.  Yet, those who live fully and examine life along the way fear less – such is the harvest of years well and properly lived.

In the wise is faith – yes, the resignation that there is a God and time proceeds as God wills that it might.  Likewise, the wise see the humor of it all, and dismiss much of the pomp and circumstance.  Their eyes see the suffering of others, the unnecessary worry many without faith carry.  The wise go quietly into the dusk.  They sleep well when the night falls.  They do not bow to mortals.  They keep their words and thought with God and love those who love also.  Their voice turns soft as light dims.

It is Christmas time – live with the wisdom it brings … hear the words of ancient choirs sung once again so we might hear and grow in wisdom – yes, acquire the settled heart of Christmas – proof  of eternal reality.

Shalom.

 

All efforts based on parliamentary control and free-market economic mechanisms proved useless in quelling the growing polarization in opinion and stance.  Different propositions were put forward, ranging from anarchism to autocratic rule, and for many young people each seemed preferable to the rotten democracy they lived under.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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These words describe the deteriorating political climate in Poland in the 1930’s and to some extent the political climate in Europe at the same time.

They so remind me of the extraordinary state of affairs and discontent in the U.S. today.  Partisanship reigns.  One Party houses the extreme Left.  Liberalism embraces nihilism and its echoes ring in the public square, mass media and the courts of law.  Anarchists, while small in number, dressed in black slash and burn.  Foundations fund the voices of Black racism.  We live in uneasy times.

Circumstances have changed.  The once stable America is less a source of certainty than it has been and the world becomes more dangerous.

We tilt Left and morals have been mothballed.  Trusted government institutions have lost their glow.  Public corruption tarnishes democracy.  Religious belief itself is in thin supply.  Education is below the waterline.  It is a troubled time.

History tells us that in such times the best young men mature more quickly … and across the land the wise turn back to faith.  Yes, extreme moments snap us into what is fundamental, personal, sure, uplifting, good and eternal – humanizing, strong, kind, heroic – the only option in dark days.

Beneath the flawless manners of a worldly gentleman he hid his compassion for all that is living.  Some people perhaps could sense it, but it was certainly known, in ways mysterious to us, to the small birds that would perch on his head and hands when he stopped in a park alley.

Czeslaw Milosz, in Goodness

Lord, bring us to our senses – to morality, honesty, kindness, compassion – Make us One.

Shalom.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart … do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him … He will make your paths straight.

Prov 3: 5, 6

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We have strayed dramatically from God.  Our nation has many among its elites who have gone far astray, who trust only in themselves – who have become corrupted.

In this circumstance we see the challenge posed for those who believe in God by those who are godless and hence pursue their selfish interest – power, and personal gain.  Yes, the questions joined now are good vs. evil, God vs. godlessness, belief vs. unbelief, Truth vs. falsehood.

In too many who occupy leadership positions God is rejected.  It is hard to imagine how it is that one can reject God, a God who is Love.

Think about God who is Love.

It is difficult for humans to imagine a God who loves freely, whose very nature is to love us without fail.  Why is this so?  Because we often love selectively – love only those who comply with our views, love only those who seem to love us as our condition of loving them.  But this is not how God loves.

Through we are sinners, God sends His Son to die for us, so we might believe in Him.

While we love on condition, God loves unconditionally.  But mind you this does not give us permission to lie, cheat, steal, be selfish, be a racist, advance sexual dysfunction and declare it normative, kill the unborn, commit adultery and violent crimes, deny reality, etc.

God loves us so that we might have peace, security, joy, contentment, a level of certainty, courage, meaning and purpose, and full growth.

Having been given love – we must love for to not love is to abandon who we are and who God is.

In the God who is love – all are worthy.  And yes, those whose behavior is rank, dishonest, selfish say: “I do not believe in anything but me.”  We have many of these people in our midst – one cannot yield to them, they must be dismissed, rejected for their ability to destroy is obvious and contrary to God and our welfare.

These naysayers now have greater influence over us and this culture than they warrant.  They are in positions of power, in academia and politics, in mass communication, law, education and entertainment – even in religious entities.

Time to restore God’s place in our life, our culture, our nation and our daily discourse.  Each of us bear this responsibility.

Shalom.

Sickness – Last night on Tucker Carlson’s show I saw yet another Law Professor (Ekow Yankah) spouting off as if a law degree itself made him smart, and wise.

Law degrees make one neither smart nor wise.  If you can read you can become a lawyer.  I know I am a lawyer.

Mr. Yankah was not just spouting off, he was advancing Black racism, yes – judging people by their skin color in just the same way feminists judge people by their gender.  Whither knowledge of moral philosophy, religion, theology, history, humility, good taste and grace?

We have a real problem of granting to lawyers, judges, academics, the media, politicians and (God help us) celebrities and entrepreneurial technologists knowledge and wisdom that they do not possess.  Granting those like Mr. Yankah any public forum is precisely what we ought not to do.  We have ignorance enough – no sense adding more and the division these thinly educated, misguided individuals now bring to us.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 5:8

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John Dunne in The Circle Dance of Time tells of a student who asks a rabbi why it is that men no longer see the face of God.

The rabbi replies that men no longer “stoop so low” – meaning that they no longer subordinate themselves to a superior reality … that our preference for our own autonomy keeps us from knowing God and ironical finding and knowing ourself.

It follows that not knowing self nor God staves off contentment, peace and loving self or another.

If you do not know yourself nor God can you know another or have peace?  Indeed the question arises – Without knowing self or God, can you love at all?  Can you find peace?  Tranquility in mortal existence?

One can justifiably ask: does our autonomy – the priority we place on our rights under the law of man in a culture that disdains faith, relationship with God … does this state of being, this consciousness leave us discontented, quarrelsome, far less than we are made to be … does this emphasis on autonomy insure our unhappiness? 

The loss of God in a mass communication culture where legal rights are extolled accentuates our unhappiness – particularly when all manner of uninformed, sparsely educated voices, ignorant and hostile and divisive ones dominate public discourse?

If we are offered the “pursuit of happiness” in our nation, are we not wiser still to subordinate ourselves to the superior reality of God?  Is it not obvious that our access to happiness requires that we bend to a superior reality.

One nation under God – – – yes or no?

If you wish to understand the chaos, division and hostility that abounds daily in this land – think about what is written here today.

From mass media to politics and mindless homicides – we show our distance from health and happiness.  This need not be.

Shalom.

 

 

… I tried to pray … in the act of seeking oneness with God, I became one with myself.

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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These are the words of an adult who had tried and failed as a child and a youth to pray – but failed to experience God.  Yet, as Chambers said: his “whole life as a man lay between those failures and (his) present need.”  God listened and Chambers received.

In describing his experience in prayer in his time of need, Chambers says that “(T)he secret spring of (his) life, which was lost in the desert of modernity, joined their impulses, broke free and flowed unchecked.”  He realized that the “almighty mind” alone could not prevail, that man did not create his own salvation.  As he says of prayer and its aftermath, “I became what I was.  I ceased to be what I was not.”

He realized that he had been captive to the “materialist modern mind,” that this paralyzed, in the name of reason, “the instinct of his soul” for God.  His rejection was not just of Marxism but of the disposition and habit of the modern, secularized world that enforced “the myth of man’s material perfectibility.” 

This is precisely the challenge we face today in America and the West.  Can we awaken those smitten by Marxism?  Yes, those among us on the Left.  Can we change the nature of this disordered culture, its personal conduct and belief, and its destructive public discourse, advocacy and action?

What Chambers came to know we too ought to know and that is this: man without God destroys man.

Yes, as Whittaker Chambers said so well: “The gas ovens and the Communist execution cellars exist first within our minds.”  This is evident in the hostility and nihilism that has become Leftist politics, policy and action today.

Shalom.

 

I do not know … by what subtle stages this conflict of the spirit of man gained on the doctrine and practice of Communism in me.  I do know that over the years the unwanted thought … crossed my mind: What is lacking in Communism?  What lack is it that keeps the human level of Communism so low, that makes the party a rat’s nest of intrigue and faction?  What is the source of its corroding cynicism … that makes us waste human life and effort without scruple …?  Why … thirty years after the … revolution … Communists have not produced one single inspired work of the mind?  What is our lack?  (Emphasis added.)

… I asked at last: can it be God?

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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Chambers, an American and a Communist Party member, recounts his thoughts in 1937 prior to his break with the Party and his renunciation of his role as a Soviet spy.

His words then are applicable today.  Why?  Liberalism and one of our two prominent political parties and its many activists groups have taken on a Marxist disposition as their guide, and foundation of their political discontent.

Indeed, how else can you explain a President signing off on selling our uranium reserves to our Russian adversaries?  How else can one explain the cozy relationship between the Clintons and Russia?  How can one explain Russian oligarchs enriching the Clinton Foundation by millions of dollars?  Or explain the Leftist feminists who link their complaints to the Marxist dogma of class, race, and “imperialism?”

We are in a Chambers Moment.  Will we conclude as he did – that we, too, need God?

I know of no other way to restore this culture or the human person to health and sanity.  We are badly disoriented and artificially divided.  God alone can make us healthy again.

In the strangest way – in a mystifying way, I see our healthy turn in the troubles of the day.

The bark is being (incident by incident) stripped off the Left.  Its principal Party is being exposed for its lying and corruption.  Its special pleaders are losing favor with the public.  The media that echoes Leftist views is dying – its newspapers have been discredited time and again.  Its campus hold seems farcical and cartoonish – a Doonesberry character of the absurd.  Feminism, too, seems like this – gender politics the same, occupying a juncture of absurdity, fantasy, abject foolishness – too much the curse to warrant any serious reflection.

Take heart.  The spirit of man cannot be denied for we are spiritual beings before we are anything else.

Shalom.

 

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