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A Chipper Morning to Ya’ !

… and hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 5: 28-29

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Eternal life or judgment?  That is what is at stake.  Yes, at stake for you.

In the Doge in Venice is a painting by Henri met de Bles.  It is a painting depicting hell.  It is entitled Hell and it is riveting.  It captures the horror of death for those who have not chosen good deeds, denied life and are, consequently, consigned to judgment at death.

We live in a cosmopolitan culture.  We think of ourselves as “too cool” for such propositions as heaven and hell.  Our foolish and deceptive regard for self leads us astray.  Little do we recognize the evil deeds we embrace, things we do because we have lost track of heaven and hell – lived distantly from the Divine, from our soul and Creation.  Education hath become mis-education, gadgets deadly distractions, affluence and status grand intoxicants.

A case in point: today we litigate matters of religious freedom.  There are those among us who seek to silence religion, to privatize it and constrict its expression only to worship.

I give an example.  The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in which the state of Colorado seeks to compel a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The baker objects because he holds religious beliefs that are at odds with same-sex marriage.  The issue is important and simple to state: Does the state’s action violate the baker’s rights to free speech and free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

This case invokes Jn 5: 28-29.  Masterpiece Cakeshop is a clash of good deeds vs. bad deeds.  The stakes: heaven or hell.  Nothing is more fundamental to the life of a faithful Believer.  Indeed, breath itself is inconsequential to those who believe when the cost of citizenship is the consignment to hell.  Yes, this case is about life, or death.

In American and Western Culture today we encounter godless groups who invade the body politic and the courts in efforts to make bad deeds good – and in doing so implicate Believers in their misdeeds and coerce Believers to abandon and renounce their faith.

In all of this equality disguises evil …

Shalom.

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation … not an act but a habit.

Aristotle

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Very few visible in mass media are habituated to excellence.  If you want mediocrity or less, mass media provides an endless supply of such lightweights. However, beware: if you have a diet of mediocrity you will disgorge yourself of the attitude, instinct, discipline and will for excellence.

Excellence takes strength of soul.  Excellence understands sacrificial love. Excellence honors God in its being and doing.

All have the capacity needed for excellence.  Yet many forfeit the strength of soul.  Those who forfeit strength of soul live lies – excuses are common to them, envy too – they seek nothing more urgently than to thwart the will of others, to neutralize the soul.

Those who forfeit strength of soul are weak links.  They abound in politics today. They prefer dependence to a free populace for they fear being challenged to live fully.  They keep others bound-up so they might wallow in under-achievement, the cost of which always includes dishonesty and corruption.

When mediocrity rules, men are targeted, for it is men who do the dying, who come easily to sacrificial love.  A warrior class is always necessary.  Today, the weak seek their demise.  Men are targets for the weak fear them. 

Want to see the locus of excellence in American culture, look at the middle class and those like me who lived in poverty and in daily combat.  Look, not just at me but at my petite mother – one tough cookie … and her parents, and her brothers Don and Ray.  Their habit was excellence – its byproducts: humility, confidence, contentment, compassion, joy and laughter, insight, wisdom, generosity, gratitude.

Excellence comes to those who must work hard to survive, and to whom difficulties befall because in the hardest things they live daily by strength of soul. This is why the Left so despises the middle class and seeks to make dependents of the poor.  Don’t let yourself be sold short or sold out.

Live in excellence.  You’ll scare the heck out of the elites and make of us again a great people.  And, in the habits of excellence is satisfaction.

Enjoy the life God has given you.  Don’t let anyone deny you a life of excellence – especially of moral excellence.

Shalom.

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.

 

 

What did I see … a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted … able to fan its smoldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence …

Thomas Mann, in A Death in Venice

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We used to have the bizarre and insane confined to tabloids you passed at the checkout line at the grocery.  Now their content is the daily news.

A female TV cable personality with an eating disorder who teaches dance to young girls binges on food while being driven to a prison for her incarceration.  A former Vice-President is pleased to learn his troubled, married adult son is involved with his deceased brother’s wife.  The creator of a large social media site says his creation will be the new religion.  A university study and its advocates conclude that people are the greatest threat to humankind and recommend it best to stop having children.

A presidential candidate who received millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs after approving the sale of 20 percent of American uranium reserves to them is not the subject of a criminal investigation but rather her successful opponent is. The head of the FBI lawlessly leaks information to a law professor for distribution to a major newspaper so his close friend can become special counsel to investigate the candidate who did not gain from the uranium sell-out.

We live in a tabloid world.

We live, as Thomas Mann so eloquently says, in a state of inner disintegration and biological decay.  Obesity abounds – especially among women … a sad and serious sign of disorder and decay – a “sallow ugliness.”  Sex seems to enter all cracks and crevices of public and commercial life: television – music – film – advertising … concupiscence becomes “a pallid impotence.”  Transgender fictions become rightly labeled “child abuse” by the female president of the national organization of pediatricians.  States and cities defy federal law.  Borders are erased. “Entitlements” pave the way to bankruptcy – backbreaking debt piled on the backs of our grandchildren and their children ad infinitum …

Is there any safe escape from this death spiral?  It is hard to say.  But one thing is certain: faithless, godless, sick men alone will not prevail against what we have wrought.  Nor will the silence of those who see this unnecessary, self-indulgent destruction reverse the deep dive into hell that we now witness.

Returning to faith is the only hope, the only defense, the only chance – a quick, earnest return to God and a loud, unrelenting, public stance against the sickness, corruption, destruction and evil present in all its forms must now emerge.

Shalom.    

The shadow of the Enlightenment’s failure to replace God with reason has engulfed the West and plunged us into a new Dark Age.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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It is abundantly clear to many who have studied America and the West from varied areas of expertise: historical, psychological, political, philosophical, theological, sociological, literary, psychiatric and such that we have attempted to anchor ourselves to the importance of self over God and that this is an unmitigated catastrophe.

Stated another way, we have foolishly trusted that reason alone (the individual – singularly and in the aggregate) can form a coherent, thoughtful, just, compassionate, kind and moral community.

Looking around each day, it seems impossible to believe that such a misguided and arrogant orientation has done anything but make us far worse off, weaker, more chaotic – yes, dramatically sicker, more fragmented, untruthful, corrupt, addicted, suicidal, crippled, angry, ugly, disoriented and violently anti-social.

Yet astonishingly few in the public eye recognize this – discuss it –largely because they are part of the whole sick mess and frequently doing quite well … that they are captives of this mess sitting at the top of its rubbish heap.

Look at the accurate snapshot of Washington today: the closed circle that is the Washington elite who cannot yield to the popular election of a President who is NOT one of them and who would DARE to pursue a course of action that disturbs the benefits of their cozy corrupt culture.

What you see today in Washington is the clear identity of the privileged political class that seeks not to do the will of the voter but rather preserve its own “status” in a very lucrative and easy gig.  Hey, it beats working!

Some of us who have lived broadly in our six or seven decades can tell you that the population at-large is quite different, far less civil or sane than it once was. Indeed, it is far sicker.

A lawyer I know recently recounted how a member of the Bar lost his license to practice because he drugged his underage client in order to sexually assault her.

From work, to family, to community, politics, primary and university education, etc. – in all quarters (particularly in major cities – Washington included) we regularly see evidence of the Dark Ages … yet do not stand against it.

Hell of a situation to behold.  Pitchfork, anyone?

Shalom.

The Russian Fixation – Interesting to watch the Democrat Left “Russian Fixation.”  They go way back in colluding with the Russians – Stalin, no less.

Remember Yalta and how FDR sold out Poland and Eastern Europe at Yalta – gave the Communists control over post-war Eastern Europe.  Shameful.

During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers, the U.S. did nothing to help the brave Polish people, and the Red Army sat still East of Warsaw until the Nazis could put down the uprising.  Talk about collusion!

Let’s not forget the New Deal was full of Lefties.

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not be trusted by anybody.

Thomas Paine

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Writing about faith and culture as I do requires attention to the problems in culture and the ideas proposed and manifest in the culture which do serious damage to society, security, sanity, spiritual and moral life and the human being.  Hence, with the conditions we face today – one must take account of (among other things) politics and ideas expressed and policies pursued therein.

Recently Leftists have expressed the desire for a guaranteed national income for all Americans.  They argue that this is necessary because artificial intelligence, machines and robots will put many Americans out of the work force.

The public advocates of this proposition seem centered in technology enterprises which will produce these displacements.  What you see here is not compassion but rather a desire to avoid any financial responsibility for the effects their enterprises produce.

These Leftists prefer, as they so often do, that others (i.e., taxpayers – personal and corporate) be handed the bill for the consequences that their actions produce. In plain talk – they want to maximize their own financial gains at the expense of those who do not share their billions upon billions.  Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?

That Dear Friends is the modern American Left.

And that Dear Friends brings us to Thomas Paine’s wisdom.  Who, in their right mind, can trust the American Left, “progressives,” socialists, modern left-wing liberalism?

Think about it, on the one hand the Left seeks national income for all Americans at the same time it wants open borders while flooding the nation with immigrants many of whom do not seem to seek assimilation nor manifest allegiance to our nation.

Were we to follow the Left we’d soon be sending annual income checks to half the people in the world whether they live here or not.  That’s the Left. Yes, we are back to Thomas Paine.

Shalom.

Postscript – Apropos to the above Thomas Paine quote, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to resign.  Why?  His appointment was made pursuant to his good friend James Comey leaking FBI memos to a Columbia Law School law professor for distribution to The New York Times in order (as Mr. Comey testified) to secure the appointment of a special counsel.  Would it not be the better course for a man whose appointment commenced with an unlawful act to vacate his appointment as a matter of honor?

The law is too important to rest itself on unlawful behavior.  It needs to be revered, not besmirched.  I suspect Paine would agree.  A nation that does not seek the highest moral conduct weakens its foundation.

… 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.

The loss of the Christian religion is why the West has been fragmented for some time now, a process that is accelerating … (we are) stripped of ancestral faith.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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What in particular has been lost?

To answer this question is to chart a course back to health and stability, joy, meaning and purpose, resolve, determination, responsibility, identity, intimacy, strength and courage.

So what is the answer?  Well here is part of it.  We once identified God with Creation – with our beginning, our origin, and this nexus of God and Creation placed God in the present moment of each day.  Having disconnected God from Creation, we are lost.

Lost, we are without stability, comprehension, understanding, hope and certainty.  We lack vitality.  We have nothing to fight for or to defend.

In our present state, our capacity for belief and the ability to have a full human experience are absent.  Yes, some among us have become like the Zombies in the Walking Dead – mindless, soulless stumble bums.

Losing the presence of God, nothing is sacred – when once all was sacred.

Having lost sacramental consciousness, the Spirit suffers – we are less than we have been created to be … more uncertain, anxious, frightened, confused.  We have been hollowed out.

Our medieval ancestors had it so much easier.  Imagine that.  They saw God in all things, revealing Himself through people and events, in places and things.  In contrast, we live starved of full human experience, and the experience of the Divine.  A pathetic and tragic disposition.  Those “with less” had so much more.

Think about it.  Without God we lose humility – sit and stand alone – dependent on self; this a desperate state given too frequently to addictions, suicides, violence, desolation, hopelessness – crushed by the burden of life without God, without belief.  In our midst stand sad clowns and crazies, and those in a stunned stupor – flat, nonsensical, troubled, unpredictable, explosive.

So what might one do?

St. Benedict reacted to the corruption and chaos produced by the fall of Rome by removing himself from the destruction and concentrating on his faith life, on Christ, prayer, living a modest, careful and caring life.  He dedicated himself to living his faith daily and in all things.

You can do the same and you need not flee to the desert or take a place in a cave.  No, you can “hunkered down” in place.  Make space between the confused and you, between you and Christ and those lost to belief.

The times call for a Benedictine presence.  Your witness can save others and sustain Christianity just as St. Benedict did.  Fear not.  This, too, shall pass.

Shalom.

 

… 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.

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