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Took a Day Off Yesterday – Needed the Rest

The work of human thought should withstand the test of brutal naked reality.  If it cannot, it is worthless.

Czeslaw Milosz, in The Captive Mind

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Thinking itself is not sufficient except that one seeks and seizes the truth that stands in front of them.

You may judge a society by its capacity to see truth – especially when it is unpleasant.  Those who accommodate truth as it is presented are the strongest and wisest among us.

Most truths have been recorded in the recorded works of human history.  But do we teach them?  Not particularly.

Too often today, people try to create their own lives and their own “truths.”

In many instances the repeat of untruths are designed to attain the status of a trusted truth of the ages.  In weak and decaying cultures those repeated untruths are accepted or adopted and in the doing the culture and nature of human experience is fundamentally changed and the culture declines.  The more untruths that are given the hallowed status of truth the more rapid the decline accelerates.  In such a time only the brave speak of truth.

Yes, I am living through such an accelerating time.  The plunge is astonishing in its speed, depravity, chaos and destruction.

The way of truth is like a wide road.  It is not difficult to know it.  The evil is only that men will not seek it.

Mengzi, 372-289 B.C.

Shalom.

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Joseph Campbell reacquaints Christians with the aura of meanings that hover about the religious incidents and stories of the New Testament.  As in treating Jewish history, it is in this aura – that is, in the connotations that by their nature blossom out of metaphors – that the deepest significance of the stories of Jesus’ life and work are to be found.

Many elements of the Bible seem lifeless and unbelievable because they have been regarded as historical facts instead of metaphorical representations of spiritual reality.

Robert Kennedy, Ph.D. in the Introduction to Thou Art That

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Census and almanacs, polls and quantification, ideologies and mere personal opinion or advocacy of one’s fetishes and fancies dominate dialogue today – that is, dialogue from radio, to the television, the internet, the college classroom, graduate schooling, to news print and newspaper editorial boards and political discourse (such as it is).

The point as to the above?  We know little and routinely misinform. Gibberish and nonsense pervades and too often prevails.  Chaos and decline follows – at enormous costs.

The problem is simply this – we understand nothing of depth in our ancient stories and the record of human history.  Hence, we live poorly, in a shallow way – in ignorance and without meaning.  Yet, we proceed unchecked, without pause as if all is well and what is said is true.  Yes, we drive with ears plugged and eyes closed.  Disaster tumbles out effortlessly – the byproduct is toxic … deadly.

Absent spiritual development – we are doomed to fail … and the absence of spiritual growth at high levels of authority produce greater problems than can be imagined.

Shalom.

 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Aristotle

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Throwing money at institutional “education” has set us back in that last five or six decades.  Yes, education of the mind and not the heart presents us with not whole people but slivers of indoctrination – in our case … with small-mined ideologues, life un-examined.

The heart.  The heart.  The heart.  We are more than a brain – which is but a secondary organ.  People survive brain injuries, no one survives without a heart.

Wonder why you see the sights and hear the sounds you hear in contemporary media and culture?  We have poured dubious ideas into college students but little to reveal what Aristotle knew 300 years before Christ.

Great damage is done by those who have not done the work of understanding who they are and what the purpose of a lived life is.  When we neglect the mystery and truths about mortal life, when we ignore what has been complied on this subject in the last 2500 years and in many cultures all along that time line – we are far less “educated” than we reckon.

Such is the cause of the nonsense we see daily … of the foolishness and hostility of those who vie to lead this nation, influence others, advocate all manner of mischief.

Best you see where we are and how we have missed the mark very substantially.  And better yet – best we are to listen critically and discount all those whose sing-song rhetoric does not witness in the speaker wisdom of a life fully lived and the humility and calm that such experience generates.

Shalom.

 

 “… a myth is not a lie.  A mythology is an organization of symbolic images and narratives, metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and the fulfillment of a culture at a given time.”  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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This is an excerpt from an exchange the comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell had with a young radio interviewer who insisted a myth is a lie.

As Campbell tells the story since his host seemed not to comprehend what a metaphor was he asked the young, snappy, “educated” radio host to give him an example of a metaphor.  The host resisted but eventually responded, “My friend John runs very fast.  People say he runs like a deer.  There’s a metaphor.” To which Campbell replied, “That is not a metaphor.  The metaphor is John is a deer.”  The interviewer shot back, “That is a lie.”  And Campbell said, “No, that is a metaphor.” 

I look around and see a fake American Indian Princess running  to become the President of the United States, and a female adulterous fornicator doing the same  … and Senator Spartacus – a 49-year-old man with the same aim who has never been married or raised a family who seems to be a religious bigot, a Virginia Governor and Attorney General who dressed in “Black face” and a Virginia Lt. Governor who has been accused by two competent adult women to have sexually assaulted them.  And, then we have the fanciful, young up-start, done-nothing socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the 70 Congressional Co-Sponsors of her insanely zany Green New Deal proposal … and I ask myself: “How the hell did we get here with these loons?”

Surely part of the answer is contained in the Campbell “metaphor” story.

We have lots of very poorly formed and poorly educated people in positions of authority.  They are, like the radio host Campbell encountered, none-too-bright, and dangerously unrestrained in the exercise of their ignorance.

Yes, these people are in public forums – on television and radio, in the print media and among the technological and Hollywood elites and a good majority of politicians – yes, we are surrounded by nut-cases each of whom has an erroneous collection of “popular” but wrong-headed views – like the world is not “fair” and it must be, or inequality exists and it mustn’t.  These people are the snappy (but ignorant) radio interviewer.

Across a broad spectrum – these people and their childish views have become far to politely welcome.  Yes, they lead us down the dumb road of the un-examined foolishness of the Left, the “progressive,” the socialist, the Communist.

It seems to me we are more than adequately warned that there are many wrong-headed people among us with limited ability and preposterous ambitions.  Who among you wishes to allow any one of them to loose their pathology on you and the innocent children of this country?  A myth is NOT a lie.

Shalom.

Adultery is injustice.  He who commits adultery fails in his commitment.  He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based.  He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents’ stable union.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2382

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When one dishonors the marriage by committing adultery – one: (a) shows his or her lack of integrity, (b) violates our covenant with God as reflected in the covenant of  marriage, (c) abuses one’s spouse and bestows on the spouse a grave injustice, (d) undermines for all the sacred institution of marriage, (e) damages the culture at-large, and (f) undermines the morality, virtue and welfare of children and others.

Each party in an adulterous relationship is responsible for the damage that is done by such behavior.  Each diminishes themselves in a deeply significant and serious manner.  Each party to the adultery establishes that they are to be neither trusted nor held in esteem.

The next presidential election will be a referendum on the moral state of this culture, national government and this nation.  I say this because we have a series of very dubious positions held in the areas of sexuality, family, abortion, equal application of the law applied parties holding privileged positions for whom the law seems not to have applied.

The present climate necessitates that we ask ourselves is this candidate a person to be trusted?

On the Democratic side we have a candidate who seems to have falsified her heritage by claiming a status as a Native American that she does not possess in order to secure a position at an American university.

Another women candidate seems to have committed adultery with a married man (and notable womanizer) who enjoyed a political status that allowed him to advantage his adulterous partner by helping her receive several lucrative positions in state government.

So the question might be: can you trust someone who falsifies their background to secure a position she does not deserve, or trust an adulterous woman who used her adultery to parley a few choice jobs at taxpayer expense?  Stated another way do you want to led by people lacking in character, morality, honesty and virtue?  

Have we not enough examples of poor behavior and are we now in a critical place where we need people of virtue in positions of leadership?

For what it worth, I have found in my lifetime that those who cannot be trusted are seldom bright or trustworthy … succumbing to acts of distrust they lack good character and strength sufficient to warrant positions of leadership in any venue.

Shalom

Interesting – Isn’t it interesting that today’s woman can wrap herself in the “Me Too” movement and at the same time can excuse or overlook a woman’s (or their own) adultery notwithstanding that being a partner to adultery itself is a painful betrayal to another woman who stands by as an innocent.  This sisterhood thing only goes so far … you put in on and you take it off.  No honor or consistency there.

A sane person in an insane society must appear insane.

Kurt Vonnegut, in Welcome to the Monkey House

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An insightful and very good and funny guy I grew up with in Boston called to today and amid the multitude of laughs he asked me: “What can we do to rid ourselves of the insanity in Washington?”

The last time we talked he asked me what I thought of term limits?  I responded I was for them and he asked what about two terms in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate?  My answer, “No I’m thinking more like 36 hours and then you’re out.”

After a hearty laugh he asked – “Why 36 hours?”  I responded “Clown Car Rule.”  “What?” he asked.  “Ya, you’ve been to the circus and seen the small clown car with a dozen clowns who climb out.”  “Ya,” my pal says.  I explain, “They never let those twelve drive the car coast to coast.  The Congress is a clown car.  Few hours and you’re out – can’t cause much trouble that way.”

Now I add this: Members of Congress ought to be issued large rubber feet, red bulbous noses and seltzer spray bottles.  Yep, look at these people – one guy wears his glasses in the tip of his nose and thinks this is normal, another guy has a grotesque hair-plug job, another has a brother who is an Orthodox Jew living and Israel and he is surprised that his family of origin is Jewish!  Good gosh!  Then you got a phalanx of angry women who make ‘war” on men – all men.  Now there are religious bigots piping up.  And you got the “free everything” people … absurd, ridiculous … and the Socialists who have never held a job in the private economy!  Loons – the insane thinking the sane are insane.

So today my pal asks – “How do we fix this Washington mess?”  My response?  “You can’t.  The culture is sick – you replace one screwball and there is another … an endless supply … Tell you what, we’d be better off if we closed universities for a decade – we might then begin to see people return to a somewhat even keel … maybe … after all, life is counter-intuitive – less ‘education’ smarter people.”

That’s what Washington looks like these days.  Lotta’ whack-jobs running loose.

Shalom.

For some reason the post for January 23, 2019 appears under the Title Heading of the Blog and is identified thus Firm in Courage and Faith.

Difficult winter weather demands a great deal of attention when you live on a ridge in a sparsely populated area.  My mornings and some part of the afternoon are taken up with winter in the wilderness.  Hence my postings are often done in the mid-to-late afternoon … but they are done daily as they have been dating back to 2011.  Now in year eight.  Tally ho.

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Many of our young are uprooted.  They no longer believe in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and they have not found anything to replace them.  Spiritual leaders need to address this very real issue … They have not been able to translate the deepest values of their traditions, perhaps because they themselves have not fully understood or experienced them.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If our children are lost it is because we have failed them.  The elders have disappeared.  In their place are un-accomplished cosmetic, confused figures who thirst for power, notoriety, fame, wealth, celebrity, fulfillment of their own (and hence) selfish desires.

You cannot call these figures anything less than misinformed, ignorant, craven, selfish, wrong and destructive – the least accomplished of an over-indulged and over-educated generation.  Their failure is plain in themselves and in the lives of young people – from teen years to their 20’s and beyond.

Many of our children are aimless, impractical and rootless.  They know neither history nor themselves.  Tradition is a stranger to them – they are cut off from their past and many exist without ambition and initiative – in a sea of ease, affluence and institutions that cater to them and expect little of them.  Such softness breeds contempt and challengers none to excel, to exceed the hardships and errors that all life brings.

The young now threaten our collapse.  We own this bitter harvest.

Those who do not know the past know neither the present nor the future.  These young men and women like their priests and elders fail to acquire the experience of human experience.  In this: all is immediate or not at all.  Nothing is past, nothing is tomorrow.  All is now or a vague dream with no concrete avenue nor action to realize its accualization.

We have left them without a map, a charter, without access to wisdom and with but avant guard failed “isms” of the Left – pipe dreams with dissipating smoke soon dissolved into failure.  In high station we have a Jelly Bean Cleric and the Sex Scandal Band.

In the dock stand the men and women slightly younger than me.  “Our body ourselves” has failed as well it would and our children are lost … the shame is on us.  But no one takes the blame.  Honor is not in them.  And down we go.

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.

 

There is a deep malaise in society.  We can send email and faxes anywhere in the world, we have pagers and cellular telephones, and yet in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other.  There is a kind of vacuum inside us, and we attempt to fill it by eating, reading, talking, smoking, drinking, watching TV, going to movies, and even overworking.  We absorb so much violence and insecurity every day that we are like time bombs ready to explode.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Hanh is a Buddhist monk.  He is writing about the spiritual deficits in contemporary life and the cost our culture exacts from the health, grow and full development of the human person in a highly secularized society.

Here we are with a Vietnamese monk talking to us about the fundamental needs we are neglecting when virtually no public voice offers a similar critique of how we live, what personal costs accrue from how we live and the consequences of the policies we promote and institute.

Think about it, a person uses a handgun in a random killing and we focus on the gun.  If an arsonist sets a fire in which some people are killed do we focus on the match?

What am I saying?  Hanh is talking about the way we live and the personal, psychological and spiritual deficits that we foster and that are the impetus for so much of the disordered behavior we see and suffer from.  

When the heart and soul are neglected destruction follows.  We have so changed the experience of being human that we have lost our way – are less than we are made to be.

The level and kind of hostility and disordered behavior we witness is both striking and very alarming.

Things unravel fast when the basics are neglected.  We see this now.  Where is the competent public voice on this?

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.

 

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