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… left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them.

N. T. Wright, in Surprised by Hope

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For a person of faith it is never the case that can do nothing when matters are getting worse.

Why would I say that?  I say this because if one is a Christian one has a mission and that mission is the mission of Christ … to live in a manner that announces, witnesses the Good News of the reign of God.  And that Good News is that God is present and faithful … that God remains present in all times and circumstances.

In this, we can always have hope and certainty that God and Good prevail … and we always have the task of witnessing that reality … and all the more so when evil is present and on the rise.  And today we see this evil so present in culture and the godlessness of ideology in politics today, and in the errant conduct of many prey on others and promote decline of person and society.

For a Christian – doing nothing in the face of evil and self-destruction is NEVER acceptable.  We are a people of hope … of public witness, and courage.  Act we can and act we must.

Shalom.

 

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Recommend Highly – Historian Victor Davis Hanson has written a MUST READ essay entitled “Autopsy of a Dead Coup” which explains and identifies those in politics, the Washington bureaucracy and “consulting,” law, intelligence apparatus, media and celebrity who violated the law in an attempt to dislodge a properly elected President while ignoring the legal transgressions of his former opponent and her aids.

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Aristotle … believes that when we feel anger in the right amount, at the right time and toward the right people, it is virtuous.  Without it we wouldn’t stand up for ourselves or for important principles.  Failing to feel anger when we are wronged is a vice … (Emphasis added.)

Edith Hall, in “Aristotle’s Pursuit of Happiness,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec 2-3, 2019

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I have for years now felt disgust for those who, having been wronged, do nothing about it.

Alas, Aristotle tells me why I fell that way.  In failing to stand up for yourself, you license another to pursue an evil path and in doing so you forfeit your dignity and the dignity of others who might well be the next victim of injustice or evil.  Yes, doing nothing you advance corruption of the culture and the victimization of others.

Failing to stand up for yourself is cowardice.  Nothing makes a man look worse that a failure to defend himself from those who abuse him or others, especially those who are vulnerable.  How I wish I did not see this conduct in men … but such a man says to us in his inaction this: those who will not defend themselves will never defend you.

He who will not act on righteous anger does endorses corruption and rewards evil.  How dare these people impose the fruits of their failure on others!

A chain is never stronger than its weakest link.  “Weak links” hurt us all.

Shalom.

God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

Shalom.

 

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Democracy imposes a burden on its citizens.  The burden – to speak truth when what is false is said.  Ah, but this requires knowledge and courage.  While courage is perpetually in short supply, now knowledge is rarer yet.

Yes, the measure of our over-funded education system is failure, misinformation, ideology not free thought but special Leftist nonsense, softness, the destruction of language and belief, gutless “administrators,” the devaluing of education itself – and the long ago desertion of moral reasoning, virtue, honor or consistency.

Last year I asked my Ph.D. son what he wanted for schooling for his two young children.  He answered – “a place where they would not lose their interest in learning.”

That just about nails the problem.  A serious one at that.

You wonder why elected officials run about pedaling “socialism?”  Because they do not know what it is nor its inevitable thirst for total control and hence its inclination for the communist gulag, its hostility to human freedom, humans, religion and God.

At the present time, one is wisest who turns a deft ear to the “young, unlearned and inexperience socialists.”  And one is bravest who speaks truth in a room of silence.

Shalom.

 

Snow time in the mountains.  Lots of extra work.  Nasty weather coming my way.  A late post as a result.  Life is an adventure.  The wood burning stove is lovely, warm, relaxing just like the classical music.  Pretty quiet here.

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The Stoics defined philosophy as ‘striving after wisdom’ and wisdom in turn as ‘the knowledge of things divine and human.

Introduction to Marcus Aurelius Meditations (Penguin Book, Ltd.)

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Another day.  Another sign of religious bigotry.  It seems that a prominent homosexual advocacy group is airing its anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom disposition once again.

The recent complaint is that Vice President Pence’s wife teaches at an Evangelical school which stands by its religious beliefs that sexual intimacy is to be saved for marriage and that Holy Matrimony is between a man and a woman.

The objection is that the School holds to its religious tenets and that they are not the secular views projected by, at least, some homosexuals – as opposed to homosexuals per se.

Religious bigotry.  It is getting to be quite public.

I offer a suggestion for you should you need an orientation to this issue of religious bigotry.  If you encounter those who attack the basic tenets of your religious beliefs and particularly if you are a Christian and if you are a Catholic or Evangelical – simply ask the person who advocates something that violates your beliefs if they can explain to you what is the relationship between pre-Christian Stoics and early Christians or Christianity at-large.

Why would you ask such a thing?  To determine if the person critical of your faith and its canons has sufficient knowledge to offer an opinion on your faith and its articles of belief.  Further, the point is to establish that you have NO need to listen to someone ignorant of your faith, its history, its precursors and the historical evolution of Christian thought and beliefs that have provided the foundations of Western Civilization and America – its federal representative democracy and its remarkable Constitution.

Make no mistake – religious bigotry can destroy what we have in America and the West.  It is best that you stand by your beliefs and dissuade others that attacking religious belief is very dangerous.  Know what you believe and stand up for these things.

Religious bigotry is a serious matter.  We have seen the results of religious bigotry in the death camps of Nazi Germany.  We best not yield to such bigotry.

Shalom.

Postscript – It is always best to respect one another and one another’s beliefs.  Likewise it is better to build relationships with others and make of us a kind and supportive community fortified by faith.  Attacks on another’s religious beliefs are destructive.  So too is diminishing others whose views and choices are not ones you might make.

 

Post for Today, January 15th, 2019 is Delayed … Snow removal and stacking fire wood – walking on ten inches of snow with a glorious sun and blue sky above.

Today’s Post Late Afternoon

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The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Your contentment comes from being who you are.  That is a process of discovery.  A matter of inquiry and honest self-examination … of knowing what a man is or what a woman is, of knowing that you are mortal and wondering what, if anything, comes after mortality …

Those who know who they are and were made to me – need not play-act a personality, nor long to be someone they are not.

Finding out who you truly are is a matter of living what comes your way for you discover yourself when all matter of things (good and bad) are looked at squarely and lived through with confidence and expectation that after all is said and done trials illuminate who we are.

Shalom.

Remember you are an actor in a drama of such sort as the Author chooses – if short, then a short one; if long, then in a long one.  If it be his pleasure that you should enact a poor man, or a cripple, or a ruler, see that you act it well.  For this is your businessto act well the given part, but to choose it belongs to Another.  (Emphasis added.)

Epictetus, in Enchiridion

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Can’t say more about this than – live the life you have been given … see hardship as that which teaches, makes you stronger – wiser.

Those who try to fashion their life and elect to avoid this or that or play a “pat hand” do damage to self and others.  Life is not static nor does it belong to only us.

Take heed.

” … act well the given part … “

Shalom.

 

 

 

In his inimitable, frank language, Epictetus explained that his curriculum was not about “revenues or income, or peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, slavery and freedom.”

James Bond Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior

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Navy fighter pilot James Stockdale is the only three star Admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy to have spent years of captivity in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war and become a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

He holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University where his focus was on the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus included.

Epictetus, as the above indicates, maintained a school in Rome the purpose of which was to produce students who could speak of philosophical ideas without “idle” babble. As he said “Let others practice lawsuits, others study problems, others syllogisms: here you practice how to die, how to be enchained, how to be racked, how to be exiled.”

Mind you he lived in a harsh time.  Indeed, he was a slave who gained his freedom.  He faced (as did many) a hard life with great risk.  His desire was to help others find a way to live well in the midst of real challenges.  Philosophy was his vehicle – as it was with Admiral Stockdale.

Epictetus thought that a person was responsible for his own “judgments, even in dreams, in drunkenness, and in melancholy madness.”  His view was that each person brings about his own good, his own evil, good or ill fortune, his happiness or unhappiness.  He held the view that to be a victim one must consent to victimhood and that in virtue is serenity.  Indeed, how we chose to live our daily life was key to our contentment, wisdom, survival and prosperity.

Why do I write of this today?  To raise the point that we are not captive to the language and conditions of secular culture.  As human beings we have a sacred autonomy that allows us to author a life that is positive and strong in the face of what seems hard, unjust, dismissive, hurtful, disrespectful, faithless and harsh.

We are made to know our freedom, dignity, happiness and autonomy and to encourage and respect others who possess precisely that same nature as we do.  Seems to me we could use a good deal of what Epictetus is “selling.”

Be well.

Shalom.

 

 

The Christ’s Breath

I am a hole in a flute

that the Christ’s breath moved through,

listen to this music.

Hafiz

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How do you conduct your affairs?  What does our public dialogue sound like?

What do you say with your actions?  Opinions?  Words?

I have been reading about Germany between the World Wars – in the Weimar Republic.  It was a contentious period.  A time of division.  And the rise of anti-Semitism and a decline in public morals.  In my readings, I do not see where people of faith spoke up in opposition or made a difference in any effort to do so (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, notwithstanding).

What is my point?   The breath of Christ is to move through us.

Shalom.

Postscript – I have often asked myself “Am I doing what God wishes of me?”  I suspect in some was this daily blog allows me to be the a hole in the flute … that (on a good day) my writing transits the breath of Christ.  At least, I dearly hope so.

 

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their life style.  That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Brennan Manning

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There are many around us who profess Christ but do not act like Christ.  That circumstance is as old as dirt itself.  But what effect does it have on us?

Do we simply forfeit our belief, and on what basis?  Do we conclude that if the man next to me says he is a Christian but does not act thus – are we to abandon our beliefs?  Does this in any reasonable manner justify the rejection of Christ, his denial?

That hardly seems justifiable.

I am from a hard background – one where hardships and injustices, rejections and betrayals, and where deaths, poverty and bigotry were common.  None of those things made me apt to divorce myself from Christ or Christianity.  Perhaps this was simply because hardship made me and others in my family and community tougher – more independent, more loyal to one another and our professed beliefs.

I spent a good deal of time at the University of Notre Dame and in vowed religious life.  I can tell you without any hesitancy – I saw in both religious life and life at Notre Dame that many among each cohort did not live as one might reasonably expect those who professed Christ as their Savior – as the Son of God – might live.  Yet their failures only deepened my resolve to live as Christ would desire me to live.  I concluded from this one simple truth – many who claim Christ are neither faithful enough nor strong enough to commit to a life of faith, a life growing in relationship to Christ.

I guess my hard knocks life in Boston made me one hard dude when it came to living my beliefs … indeed I became more committed the more my faith was attacked and the more the principals in the faith showed their failure to abide by their faith.  About the only thing these episodes showed me is this: I was tougher and they were weaker.

In this regard I think of this historic quotation to encourage you: “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!”

Shalom.

 

 

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