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… the Light has come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought by God. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 19, 20, 21

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I have been focusing on the Gospel of John and the teachings that Jesus brings us in it.  I do so for a particular reason and it is this: we in the United States, especially among elites – those of privilege … including the media and entertainment class, lawyers and the judiciary, and university teachers and administrators, have lost contact with God, or have rejected God, religious narrative and Christ and this underlies all of our problems and our deteriorating public discourse and the reduced quality of those serving in public life.

Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture.  About the intersection between faith and the culture in which we live.  There is no moral guide without faith and religious narrative.

The loss of recognition of faith’s invaluable importance to a healthy culture is crippling, destabilizing.  In its absence all sorts of ideas and wants are pushed forward without a glimmer of depth or understanding.  The subsequent foolishness is and can be both costly and utterly destructive.  We seem to have adequately demonstrated this quite clearly in the last five to six decades.

We are unhealthy, divided, crude and increasingly ignorant and wasteful.

Things have got to change.  We must return to the source of our wisdom and humanity – to faith – knowledge of it and life lived in it.

Look at the above words.  Read them.  Pause to think about them.

Do you see evil in this culture?  Among the most vocal advocates?  Or do you see good? Light?  Is faith banished or welcome?  Is God dismissed or welcome? Is Light manifest?

Or does one hear actors and celebrities, elected officials even – talking hatefully and doing so without hesitation?  Is the media truthful or are they not?

Those who are not truthful are not of the Light.  They destroy and there is no reason to give them ear.

Shalom.

Common Mistake – I recently watched an interesting report on the BBC about suicide among homosexuals.  The claim was made that it is a serious problem and that its cause is the denial of equality.

The common mistake?  Not all matters and forms of human behavior depend on “equality.”

There is far more to a healthy life than “equality.”  It is not the essence of human existence.

Indeed “equality” is invoked by political advocates without any evidence that they have studied the concept.  They use “equality” in an undifferentiated way.   Big mistake.  A mistake of ignorance.

The result in this case is this: neither “equality” nor suicide are understood.

Our ignorance grows seemingly in direct proportion to the growth of educational institutions and budget increases in education.

June 11, 2017

This is the day of Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad.

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There have ever been and will ever be men who … will seek to exempt … parts of their faith from (authority) … to keep their minds floating between liberty and obedience.

Alexander de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America (Volume II)

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In Texas a 19-year-old women with two adorable little girls –  ages one and two – and no husband drove to a house with a 16-year-old boy and remained there for 15 hours (doing who knows what) while leaving her children unattended in the auto.

Having been left in the overheated auto, the children died.

Today stories like this are commonplace.  Between this story and the pathetic behavior the former F.B.I. Director and a host of others (particularly in the Obama administration) and among Democrats in the U.S. Congress and the media – it ought to be obvious that we are a nation in moral crisis.

Likewise, it ought to be obvious that those who voted for Mr. Trump are making a moral statement about the dire condition of this nation and that they are ridiculed and condemned by public figures, Hollywood celebrities and a sundry airheads and ideologues in the media and the press.

Yet, what is our focus?  Foolishness.  Bathroom privileges, hunting for Russians in the electoral process, expansion of the debt ceiling on the way to eventual bankruptcy, the celebration of deviant behavior, etc.

In the face of this there is nary an intelligent thought given to the place of morality in public life and the history of our country.  And, de Tocqueville was correct: we trade our faith and its tenets for the opportunity to live as we wish. Hello, child sacrifice that we call “choice” and codify as “the law of the land.” Shameful.

One wonders were are the men and women in public life with the intellect, analytical skill, wisdom, courage and humanity to recount the truth that without faith, without a prominent and protected place for faith in culture – moral decline and eventual destruction is a certainty?

Our education system (especially the once “elite” colleges, law and graduate schools) produces ignorance and ideologues – those without wisdom, moral strength or worth.

Liberal Christopher Lasch was once asked about the decline in civility, personal industry and self-restraint in America and he explained it quite easily when he said it was the result of the decay of religion in our nation.  Yes, he saw the hazard in exiling God and faith from the center of culture, law and governing.

In a short time in America, our liberal elites and the unchurched mass have undone hundreds of years of wisdom through the pursuit of unbridled freedom to do as they wish … and children ages one and two and the unborn suffer unto death.

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Shalom.

We had best pray that those who are lost, might come to their senses and to faith, and for two little children who are now dead.

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

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Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

Elisabeth Elliot

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This Elliot quote is a nugget … about as true a thing as you can find.

I have been asked often by clients, colleagues, friends and people who seek my counsel to explain another person’s consistent hurtful, dismissive, thoughtless, selfish, antagonistic, hostile or chaotic behavior.  I frequently respond by saying: if you have disordered people in your life, they bring you disorder.  Indeed with disordered people – any expectations to the contrary are misplaced.

Personally, I keep my distance from disordered people … and I mean personal distance (face to face) and distance in the multiple forms they appear to me in the mass media/mass communication society we have now.

I cite a case in point: Tucker Carlson in this television interview and commentary show last night had a guest who was the absolute picture of disorder.  From the very first question, this female guest ranted, spoke over him, would not and probably could not give a competent response to any of his inquiries.  She was loud, uncouth and incapable of civil discourse.  Yes, a belligerent, disordered soul.  I stopped watching.

If she were acting this way in a psychiatrist office awaiting a consult they’d probably have sedated her.

Disorder is frequently on public display in American culture today.

I see this in women now whereas I never saw this in the early decades of my life.  On the contrary, I recall women who were strong, dignified, insightful, balanced, wise and courageous.  They had class and commanded respect by their mere presence.   Somewhere since feminism this has changed and we are the worse for it.

In addition to the Carlson episode, I offer three recent public incidents of women displaying troubling indications of disorder.  The first is Hillary Clinton in her ongoing public, everevolving, ever-expanding blame-everyone-but-me explanations of her unsuccessful candidacy.  In her one sees the depths of disorder.  Yes, a troubled disordered soul.

The second, is Kathy Griffin’s pitiful, weepy public complaint that the Trump family is responsible for the (fittingly) public criticism of her utterly tasteless display of a decapitated bloody head of the President.  Yes, a lost and disordered soul in the era of ISIS decapitations.

Then, there is national security leaker Reality Winner whose immaturity and devotion to leftist ideology led her to violate the law by giving classified material to those who had no legal right to have it.  Yes, a confused, dangerously immature and self-righteous soul.

Four queens of disorder.  Not a good sign for them, or us, or for women … and a far cry from Elisabeth Elliot – a wise woman of extraordinary faith, service and accomplishment.

Perhaps we can pray that those who are lost and troubled can be found.

Shalom.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s civilize men and society.  My Mother saved my life.  I think of her everyday.  Maybe someday women will come to understand and cherish this: as birth-givers they are more important than men.  Seeking equality with men is a step down.  We have lesser gifts.  God bless Moms!

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There is a deep malaise in society … in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other … There is … a vacuum inside us …

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Today I read an article about how parents of young men and women offer obituaries of their sons and daughters that candidly acknowledge the opiate use which took their life in the hope that with an honest statement about a very tragic and very serious national problem we might awaken to this deadly addiction.

Where might we begin?

There are many strands to this epidemic.  Of course, we have been very lax in   proscribing the use of painkillers.

Indeed, three months ago when I was being discharged from the hospital after knee replacement surgery, the nurse overseeing my discharge informed me I was to get a prescription for a powerful and potentially addictive painkiller even though I had had no pain and required no pain medicine after the operation.  I refused the offer over the nurse’s suggestion that I take the prescription “just in case.”

Yes, we routinely throw drugs into the mix for just about anything that “ails” us.

But I turn to Thich Naht Hanh’s point.  We do not stand on spiritual ground; we have little understanding of spirituality and, in this, life seems to lack meaning. We float or stumble about without a secure base, the inner strength and the resolve.

Hanh’s concern is that the elders in culture do not convey, do not project – values that display and confirm spiritual existence.

He notes that even priests do not  “embody the living tradition” of their professed faith. When this is so, ritual loses meaning – and worship seems thin – more ceremony than deep, lasting experience.

The elders of our culture had best renew their faith and renew it at depth, so they might daily convey its presence in all that they do, how they conduct their affairs and how determinative spiritual existence is to all they think and do.

The malaise has taken a huge toll on us – from opiate addiction, to broken marriages, abortion, coarse public behavior, gender and sexual confusion, political hostility and division, crass self-promotion and selfishness, the crude quest for money and status … All this while we neglect the spirit and our spiritual needs and development.

We are far less than we once were and can be.  Hanh is right.  Starting with spiritual existence is fundamental to our welfare, and survival.  Elders must show the way. Parents must lead, faith be restored.

Shalom.

Christianity is not a matter of opinion, but an external fact, entering into, carried out in, indivisible from, the history of the world.

John Henry Newman, in Difficulties of the Anglicans

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From the first Eucharist to now there has not been one hour in the history of the world that someone, somewhere has not been receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

I have recently been watching the recorded conversations between William Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge, each Christian – each Catholic.  The conversations date back to the 1970’s and 1980’s.  They are fascinating.  They probe, in part, the dismissal of belief and of Christianity by many.  They lament its loss and deplore the consequences that result.

I, too, have been alarmed and actually surprised how many in the United States and in Europe can dismiss Christianity and pin their hopes on collectivism, socialism – two impulses, and schemes, that nowhere have shown success, or produced excellence of any sort.  Gulags, yes – they have done well to imprison their charge, produce totalitarian regimes and execute millions when it proved “necessary” in order for one man or small group to retain power.  But success, harmony and wellbeing it has not furthered.

I think we do not know and appreciate the gifts of Christianity.  Likewise, I think that when we dismiss Christianity, we cancel what is unique and humanizing in the history of the world, what orders reality to the Truth about humans, and human existence and excellence.

I give but one example and it comes from Plato.  Plato, whose thoughts are infused into Christianity, opined that one was not to look to the immediate and the everyday but rather to focus on the universal and the ultimate.  He shifted human focus to a larger spectrum.  In this, Plato shifted our view of reality to the soul where excellence and virtue resided.  He saw this as the way to the Supreme Soul that is God – the ultimate in excellence and virtue.

Plato also envision that God’s nature was oneness and goodness.  In this, human life was linked to morality and to divinity, to God.

Each of these propositions are housed in Christianity.  Yet, can you imagine how easily we come to dismiss Christianity (actually oppose it) without anyone posing competent inquiry to those who blithely deny Christianity and the existence of God?  This seems to me a scandal and a reflection of widespread ignorance and the abject failure of our educational system.  Indeed, better to have no schools given what they produce.

We are, it seems to me, reckless and ignorant at the present moment.

Today, one longs for an intelligent and fervent defense of Christ, Christianity, our heritage, and the existence of God … but in its place we talk of access to “potties” and fixate on trivia and sexual fetishes, government subsidizes and this or that bacchanal.

Having seen all my life the lunacy of institutions and those who are apt to command them, even I am amazed at what I now see as the disordered nonsense of most public conversation and politics.  Where, oh where, is there a hint of Plato or Newman???

Shalom.

Dear Friend’s Correction – My Dear (and very bright and truly lovely) Friend Carol commented that I may not (in the text) be correct in saying the Eucharist has been shared hourly somewhere since its inception.  She may be right.  (I am always willing to defer to smart people who are earnest and very nice – I’d be a fool to rely on my our limitations.)  FYI – in my comment in the text, I rely on a point made by Malcolm Muggeridge in his conversation with Bill Buckley on Firing Line – a comment that went unimpeached.  By regard for Carol and my assessment of my own limitations allow me to place Carol above Buckley and Muggeridge.  Tally ho!

The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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We live so that we might grow in wisdom and understanding become fully human and in this come to know God and in that know both meaning and purpose.

Alas many opt for not growing.  They reside exclusively in their ego and stand on the smallest plot of life and land.  Without growth they are godless and utterly destructive of self and others.  They are a common bunch and the worse among them attack and diminish the mere thought of faith – particularly Christianity and, of course, the West and its Civilization.

We have many godless and dumb in our midst.  In their unchecked ignorance they attack what is time-tested and good.  Without morals, they know not good from evil.  We give them far too much attention.  When Believers are fewer in number, their voices soften when they should be the loudest and the strongest … for the ignorant threaten survival having long ago crippled civility.

We would be wise to anchor ourselves to Truth.

Recall if you will the end of Dante’s Paradiso when Bernard beckoned Dante look upward and Dante reports that he had already fixed his eyes on the lofty Light “in which Itself is true.”  Further, he notes that his vision was greater than speech … this Light “Different it is from all that are known … beyond the unknown as well.”

We are in decline.  We think we know more than we do.  Truth is: we have dumbed-down.  Most of what you hear is nonsense.  Many that you meet are disordered – to be avoided and when that is not possible we must correct, challenge, confront.

Few realize the coin we see has two sides: one our destruction, the other our rebirth. The mad crowd of the badly mistaken delivers the former, while the faithful few know rebirth … yet, who speaks loudest, whose voices multiply and go unchecked?

A faithful one speaks.  Silence is collaboration.

Shalom.

Observation – President Trump would be wise to worship regularly.  We need to see faith in play.  The divide we know how requires that his leadership be tethered to his faith, our faith – that indispensable place of faith in life, culture and governance.  Let the godless Left be clearly visible – make them carry their destructive and godless ways and see if the public at-large wishes to be housed in their small and unseaworthy boat.

Please share this post with others if you are so inclined.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things.  (Emphasis added.)

Phil 4:8

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This is from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians.  It speaks of virtue.

We are not a healthy society, not a virtuous society.  Yes, there are virtuous people.  You can see them in the military men who occupy positions in the present administration of President Trump.  One thinks of General Mattis, General Kelly, General McMaster.

Sadly one does not see it in critical places like universities, in the Church leadership, in the Congress, in the Judiciary.  Without virtue we will  perish.  If there is one thing that we need and must insist upon it is: virtue.

Truth.  Honor.  Justice.  Love.  Grace.  Excellence.  Purity.  These are the things we lack within the culture and in critical institutions.

When it is lacking, those who fail in this regard need our scorn, and surely not our silence nor our support.

We must stand for these virtues.  Accept nothing less of leaders and one another. Those who lack virtue must be called out, held accountable, dismissed from public life and possession of any position of authority.

When those such as Hillary Clinton go unpunished for breaches of national security and laws governing national security, we lose self-respect.  Likewise when others are unpunished for unlawful use of the IRS to thwart the legitimate political interests of American citizens, we lose self-respect.  And when the former President’s national security advisor lies and appears to escape punishment for using classified surveillance material for political purposes, we lose self-respect.  In these unpunished things – virtue is denied and the esteem and authority due America is lost.

A critical part of our present ills, a part that can spell our doom, is the lost of virtue.

There is no greater problem we face than this.  We had better place this at the top of our tasks – the restoration of virtue must be our national priority lest we destroy ourselves.

Shalom.

Fraud of the First Order – Barack Hussein Obama, “the self-righteous one,” with yet another “speech” for $400,000.00.  Two incredible things about this: (1) it shows what a fraud he and the Democrat Party is, and (2) it is unimaginable that anyone would think that this guy has anything to say that is worth their attention, let alone their money.

Wonder if Chris Matthews and the MSNBC crew still get chills when they think of Mr. O?

Such a wonderful cool spring rain – gentle and quiet.  It pairs with the heart’s beat, easy breathing, the green and flowered forest, the pastures, hills, mountains, and umbrella pale gray sky.  It is a day for collecting thoughts, writing notes to friends, and making a chicken stew while incense burns and floats in the air.

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“How long are you going to keep killing people?” Lady Astor would ask Stalin brightly.  “As long as it is necessary,” he answered …

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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When he left his secret Communist espionage ring Whittaker Chambers felt “an uneasiness, an anxiety” which he identified as “spiritual.”  He pondered how and when it was that the “spirit of man” had gained its foothold in him.

He recalled he had wondered, quite involuntarily, what Communism lacked?  Why it was such “a rat’s nest of intrigue and faction?”  Why it housed a “corroding cynicism?”  What “keeps the human level of Communism so low?” Why it had “not produced a single inspired work of the mind” since the Revolution?

Chambers asked, is it God that it lacked?

He reasoned it’s killings and deceits injured the soul.

Yes, without God man’s actions most often attack the soul, and put to danger and trial the “spirit of man,” his essence, his identity – his divine inheritance.  In this is the edge of conversion in man.  

Within each of us is a longing for good, for God.  When this longing is neglected, denied (as it is by ideology and it our present highly secularized culture) man is estranged from himself, his true identity  – and meaning, purpose, intimacy, optimism, and peace are lost.

Today, we are like Chambers – captured by ideology and secularized culture. Combined they breed division and hostility and heighten anxiety, worry and isolation.  It follows the sooner one turns to God, the sooner health and civility is restored, community and fellowship are renewed, and we find peace and meaning – and become whole and one again.

Think critically.  Are you Chambers?  Is your brother or neighbor Chambers?  Your pastor?  Elected official?  Have you lost longtime friends whose lives are narrowed and governed by ideology, secularism, and utopian political nonsense?

In this past century, Mao killed 60 million of his countrymen, Stalin killed 50 million, and Hitler thirty million.  All ideologues.  Each godless.

Think about it.  140 million people killed by political ideologues.

Shalom.

Spent today with family and friends.  Perfect.  Posting late in the day.

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… Dick’s physics was so hard for ordinary people to grasp … he did not use equations … people … were baffled by him.  Their minds were analytical, his was pictoral.

Freeman Dyson (speaking of Richard Feynman)

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In mass secular culture, we are “dumbed down.”  Think about it.  We see the same images, we hear the same dribble from TV’s talking heads.  Idealogues confirm one thing: they have reduced their existence to mass-think, unexamined utterances.  Ditto the most inane ideological product of ideologues: political “correctness.”  That, in and of itself, is madness and repressive.

Education has, in this country, become close to useless for its superficiality and conformity.  Dull, unthinking people study “communications” and anchor a news network … not a salvageable thought in their brain.

Let’s give just one contemporary example.  The chattering media types look at President Trump’s carefully targeted and expertly executed cruise mission strike on a Syrian air base and ask (with indignation): How can he do this after previously saying that we should not be involved in Syria?  These lads and lassies see statement “A” and compare it with action “B” without asking themselves: What changed?

Think about it.  Statement “A” in a moment of time.  Action “B” at a subsequent point in time.  Would not a thoughtful and wise (and “educated”) person whose job it is to follow the news of the globe be able to see that perhaps conditions arose to warrant Action “B?”

Why for instance could they not see any of the following:

  • President Obama’s shameless inertia said to our adversaries “we are weak” and “unengaged” – take what you want
  • silence is a tacit approval of the use of poison gas on innocent civilians and is an extremely dangerous disposition in an area and era where terrorists offshore and in our midst show a delight in killing others by any means possible
  • North Korea in developing their missile capability boasts that they are prepared to use these nuclear weapons on us and anyone in their area of interest.

My point is this: We are not thinking wisely, critically and we are not at all aided by this dullness.

Shalom.

 

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