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This concludes the last in a series of posts on conversion.  This series has been offered to you so that you might see the manner in which conversion can appear to you in the present day and circumstance.  We are in need of restoration. Politics and the Left have led us astray, created deep division and godlessness, despair.  You can learn from Whittaker Chambers journey.

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… I tried to pray, it was as if the spirit from my boyhood … took my hand and knelt and prayed beside me, so that in the act of seeking oneness with God, I became one with myself(Emphasis added.)

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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Chambers had tried to pray as a boy and was unsuccessful.  Yet, when he needed God most – in his most desperate hours, when his world organized around the Communist narrative no longer held, … God guided him to prayer.

As Chambers writes “The secret springs of life, which had been lost so long in the desert of modernityjoined with impulses, broke free and flowed unchecked.” (Emphasis added.)

He records that the two mirages: one, of the Almighty Mind and the other, the Communist political fiction that man has the power to plan and execute human salvation – were illusions which had dragged him into the desert.

His daily prayer, he reports, “tore through (him) … a transformation with the force of a river … (and he) became what (he) was … (as he) ceased to be what he was not.” (Emphasis added.)

Yes, this is conversion!

As Chambers writes “the whole web of the materialist modern mind” fell.  No longer, he writes, did modernity and its rationalism cover “the spirit of man,” thwart “the instinct of his soul for God.”  He saw in this conversion that it was a “myth” to think of “man’s material perfectibility” which, he saw, as the “modern intellectual mood which gives rise to Communism” and, by implication, man’s sick fixation on all things “political.”

In his illumination, Chambers claimed the truth of this axiom:

“Man cannot organize the world for himself without God; without God man can only organize the world against man.” (Emphasis added.)

This Dear Friends is conversion.  This Dear Friends is our state today.  This Dear Friends identifies the nonsensical babble of the transgender crowd, the feminists, the abortionists, the pagans, the anarchists, the Democrat Left, the “progressives,” “the social engineers,” the morally vacuous academics and college administrators, the “open border” fools, those who demand endless “entitlements” and “safe spaces,” those who attack and diminish the place of faith in civic life and discourse, etc.

We have been led into the desert of hyper-political secularism and the idea that the human person can create salvation.

It is time to come to the sacred springs of Truth. Absent that: disintegration and disaster.

Think about this.  It is vitally important for you and this Nation to do so.

Shalom.

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.

God created man in His own image … male and female He created them.

 Gen. 1:27

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As you know this blog seeks to explore the place of faith in contemporary secular culture. In doing so, I look out the window of my small cottage onto the world and I often comment on the antics and misdeeds of modern culture and the people who populate it.

Yes, this makes for harsh language, for the actions of the modern secular person and their organizations are far, far from the image of God.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortions are legal and constitutionally protected, nearly 60 million unborn children have been killed.  Hardly seems like the majority of the Court in Roe v. Wade could have acted as if they were made in God’s image.  Ditto – abortion advocates – especially feminists for whom the life of a child gives way to their own desires. Made in God’s image?  If judged by their actions, No.

So how does one explain this departure from the essence of God’s creation of man and woman?

The answer is in the tree.  The tree?  Yes, the tree.

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)

Yes, many among us have elected what can be fairly judged as evil and made a place for their views in this land.  Yes, judges, and those who would be mothers, and politicians and multiple self-serving advocates would seem to have furthered evil, institutionalized it..  That is America today.  That is the product of godless secularism, the Democrat Left, of the Marxists parading at “progressives.”

This is the view from my cottage window, and why I write as I do … and why I so often close the shutters of my window – so I might live free of evil, and its carnage, and absurdity and its lies, its anger and hostility, and its advocates in robes and in plain clothes.

Finally, make no mistake – to be made in God’s image requires we choose good – not evil. To do otherwise is to take the gift of our life and deny God.

Further, such evil as we pursue, multiplies evil.  Today, we see it in the destruction of marriage, the attacks on this Nation and its borders, the distorted appetites of fallen people marshalled into protected legal status – as if these appetites are want of a God who seeks that we choose what is good and pure.

Our task?  Return to God, or live with the shutters closed.

Shalom.

In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing … Creedless shells … tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland.  (Emphasis added.)

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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We live in a time of cultural crisis.  We are creedless.  Without a guiding story and the lessons such stories have provided over the ages.  The overarching narrative for centuries past imparted meaning, gave purpose and direction and identity, situated one on the map and within human history – a place in the sacred story of being.

Now we creedless shells.  And we are not just lost, but rather spinning in disorder and an immaturity that extends to people in their heretofore mature years.  Gray haired snowflakes, fear-filled idiots.  They populate, and seem even more present in mass media and within the celebrity status so cheaply bestowed on all measure of ill-informed moron whose face is projected on a screen or television.

The stories of various cultures over recorded human history have often included a hero who dies only to return from the netherworld to lead others to a good and ordered life of human meaning and fullness.  From this, the mortals become Creedal People – believers, those with an ordered existence, people who live in confidence, with purpose, in joy, with courage, intimately, in community, without fear, with understanding, and insight, and wisdom.  Think of the Christ story.  Ah, but now we reject Christ and the Christian story.  Indeed public mention is unwelcome.  Bigots shout Believers down and wimpish, little officials defer to the ignorant ones.

Rejecting the Christian story what takes its place, and what are the consequences?  Just look at contemporary American culture and see the small-scale, self-serving nitwit narratives that divide and destroy.  What are they?

I am woman, hear me roar.  Yes, the story of woman always short-changed and their need for status and superiority.  The “war on women” – its flipside: men are the problem – and more particularly White men.  Goodbye, amore – hello women obesity … and the war on men.   Division grows.

Religion is exiled – no prayer in public places, no trace of Judeo-Christian narrative in the civic square – unbelief the way for today.

The primacy of politics.  Nothing matters but politics and all things are political. Public toilet use becomes a “civil rights” issue, the nation has a “criminal past’ – so its borders do not matter, the country must be dissolved from within.

Family is destroyed.  Gender does not matter.  It is “redefined” to fit one’s fetish. In its place John and Bill, Jane and Betty – transgendered little Billy.  Child sacrifice is resurrected after centuries of sanity … and its efforts protected and publically funded. And no one sees anything unusual about this.  The fabrication of homophobia becomes an “illness.”

Race relations go sour – a fine by-product of the Civil Rights era, and Black racism has its public figures.  Tables turn and fellowship is dampened.

Christ is dispatched.  Children become snowflakes – unable to live life as it presents itself.

The liberal and others mimic Marxism and think they are “just grand.”  Dependent citizens grow as does taxpayer-supported-welfare for the “do-good” organizations.

The environment matters more than the human person and far more than the unborn child.  We have become less a nation, and more comprised of angry and discontented fools – migrants in a feverland.

Shalom.

… God is pure life, and we are terrified of such life because we cannot hold it or possess it, and we do not know what it will do to us.

Alan Watts, in Behold the Spirit

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As a former vowed Catholic Brother with a graduate degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame and a focus on living faith in secular culture, and a long career as a lawyer, I am often asked by others: How is it that people claim to be religious and Catholic yet show little more than a rote or superficial sign of faith?

The question is meant to ask: How come these people do not live at a greater depth?  That they can endorse public policy like abortion that the Church most surely opposes?

The basic question, I suppose, is this: Why don’t people live more faithfully?

Alan Watts has the answer just about right, in my view.

People tend to hold onto their life with a death grip.  There is, in this, a reluctance to trust God.  They fear falling “into the hands of the living God.”  Faith, you see, is a matter of trust and people would rather trust themselves than God or anyone else.

Of course, this is a most fragile and strenuous way to live.  Imagine having to be “in-charge” of all that will come your way!  Imagine buying into the fiction that this is even remotely possible.  By the way, as one who has had a lifelong interest in and made a study of politics in its many iterations, I can tell you without hesitation that “progressives” (i.e., Communists) fancy government control of all aspects of life and do so in lieu of faith.  What I am saying, as one who studies faith in secular culture, is this: no God, and government fills the void; and that in this, religion and liberty are banished and central control over all aspects of life are, in time, placed in the hands of a few “true (godless) believers.”

Perhaps, you see more clearly why retaining “In God We Trust” on our currency might matter … and might be opposed.

Abandon God and the nightmare begins in earnest.

Shalom.

Observation – Lies are common to human existence, but don’t forget the Left (communism) is built in a lie and all its iterations share that foundation.  Faith, of course, deals in Sacred Truth.  Ever wonder why the Left so intentionally attacks and excludes religion?  Pray in public and see what response you get.  Remember, religious freedom is a fundamentally protected right under the U.S. Constitution.

… the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements – inferences, guesses, deductions – it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, heard, or otherwise enjoyed.  To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom …

Alan Watts, in The Wisdom of Insecurity

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Mindfulness.  Do you experience the moment in the moment?  Do you experience life in each breath?  Do you see at any given moment what is around you?  On today’s horizon? Do you feel life?  Your heartbeat?

Are you standing in the moment?  In that, do you know the invisible reality of the Spirit? God?

When you chase tomorrow, you lose today.  When you chase tomorrow, you forfeit your True Self.  When you chase tomorrow, you miss God in the present … and God in the forever and a day, God in all the tomorrows come what may.

If you miss today day after day you will miss your life from your first breath to your last.

Our culture aims us to tomorrow and with it stocks us with fear and perpetual distraction.

In this we are captured, easily deceived, unsettled, destroyed – diminished and lost, sad, and worried.  In this we discard instinct and the knowledge it brings by design.  Yes, we become less human and less organic, less full and developing, and instead become like a cog, a widget, a valueless part of a constantly rotating Rube Goldberg machine doing this and that for no particular reason or objective.

Mindfulness.  Do you live in the now or in some fog of confusion that is tomorrow?

Don’t let others force you into fear and uncertainty.  Don’t let others reduce you. You are more than a widget and surely more than the small, inane and insane definitions foisted on you by those in mass secular culture who would control you by sustaining their disordered views.

Shalom.

When woke in the woods and in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father reaches out to touch his young son in the opening line of a story about a father’s love and duty to shepherd his son in post-apocalyptic America.

Constraints.  Shepherds have constraints.  Fathers, too.

With constraints comes identity and meaning.  In constraint is form and purpose. And other and self – true self in the constraint of another.

Rather puts the rest to selfishness and legal and political claims and the insistence on “equality” so often in demands that distort the value of self and other, and kill both.

The 19th century French sociologist Emile Durkheim led us to this truth: the fewer constraints one has the greater the risk of suicide.  What is true of man and truer yet of society.  When anything goes, everything goes!

Without bonds and obligations, relationships that are honored – death cometh.

I am often struck my how clueless public figures are and especially those who comment on the daily news.  None seems to see what is clearly in front of them.  One might ask but a simple question – if a book about the love of a father for a son in post-apocalyptic America can be a best seller and a motion picture, what does that say about us, about today?

When we do NOT wonder what that says, what dies that say???

Durkheim observed that those who had least demanding religious obligations committed suicide more than others with a religion that expected more of them. Likewise those in families were less likely to commit suicide than those alone. Those married least likely than those not married.  Those with children least likely than those without children.

Perhaps, someone might inform Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and his colleagues and then school the Left, the Democrats, feminists, abortionists, the media, Hollywood, Ivy Tower types and the other “deconstructionists” who seem hell-bent to destroy time tested institutions, mores and identities that save us from self-destruction.  

In the deep glens … all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy

This from the last sentence in The Road.

Shalom.

The way to knowledge, and self-knowledge, is through pilgrimage.  We imitate our way to truth, finding our lives – saving them – in the process.

Paul Elie, in An American Pilgrimage

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Life requires patience and, hence, faith.  Done well, as an act of faith, perseverance, and growth, living assembles truths over time and stacks them like firewood to warm and make secure in the frigid moments we encountered.

Seeking the truth is a personal experience.  No one does the pilgrimage for you. You are called to this.  It is a sacred call to each.

Many defer.  They have their problems, their sickness and they create great discord, calamity and foolishness in their committed deferral.

They are the constantly confused, the addicts, the convicts, the inaugural protesters, the rabid ideologues with small minds and muddled thoughts, the serial adulterers, the perpetual drunks, the free-loaders, the scammers, the habitual complainers.  They live in the past and in their disordered thoughts, resentments and excuses.  They father children and flee their responsibility.  They live off of others and expect to be coddled, excused, catered to.

Pilgrims.

Those who defer destroy.  All are equal, yet some choose to deny the sacred call to life. That is their choice, and hence – their responsibility.  They know nothing of truth and their words are nonsense, devalued by their own choosing.  They elect their own state of inequality and then demand what others rightly gained.  Their words need no heed.

Only a fool or devil encourages sickness.  Truth and contentment come from the journey – often a hard and difficult but necessary and satisfying pilgrimage.

There are no good answers gotten on the cheap.

We are formed as pilgrims.

Shalom.

Nothing like starting the day in the darkness with Gregorian chants setting the tone of the soul for the day that is to come.

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“You have to envy a writer like Flannery O’Connor, who saw the enemy clearly, namely a certain sort of triumphant humanism …”

Walker Percy

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Triumphant humanism.  We are immersed in it and yet do not notice, and surely do not examine it.  Walker Percy did in his novel The Thanatos Syndrome and in the first annual Eudora Welty Lecture from which the above words are selected.

We had a look at the sound and appearance of triumphant humanism with the words and person of wimpy Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe “awards” show.  No candidate for the Marine Corps is she.  And oh, so predictively she seized her opportunity to deliver a “morally” conceived political lecture rather than simply accept an award and humbly issue a “thank you” and recede in good taste from the dais.

In her words we see triumphant humanism is a loose and mushy “tenderness” that has supplanted actual moral thought.

Soft and fuzzy is the way of actors and actresses whose job it is, not to think, but rather to memorize other people’s words and recite them.  Having accomplished that, they eagerly warp themselves in self-righteousness and skip right to sharing their ill-formed notions of morality.

That is triumphant humanism: opinion without restraint or study, faith, familiarity with religious narrative, God, or any knowledge about the life of the average person but that which can be gleamed from the roof-top garden of a 6 million dollar, five-story Manhattan townhouse you own and occupy.

In triumphant humanism, the self is far less the self than it has ever been, sincerity is faked, and it can be said of those in its ambit that “deep down inside, they are really shallow.”

Yes, they have the substance of ghosts, the vanished person.  Among the acting-class, they are soon enough “the well forgotten celebrity.”  Sort of like Oakland – there’s no “there” there.  But whimper they will – and endlessly about: climate, nuclear free zones, overpopulation, “the poor,” etc., while happily shunning the middle class and supporting and defending the killing of 60 million children in the womb.  Strange disposition.

Walker Percy nailed triumphant humanism in The Thanatos Syndrome when his character Fr. Rinaldo Smith complains that in contemporary life in America morality has become “tenderness” – and abandoned any reference to justice, or the dignity of life and the human person.

And, in this predicate, Percy has Fr. Smith ask Dr. Tom More: “Do you know where tenderness always leads?” To which, More relies, “No where?” Only to have the Priest respond, “To the gas chamber.”

Triumphant humanism, sans God has but one direction.  We see it in abortion now don’t we.  And in euthanasia.  And hear and see it in wimpy, preachy actresses and others of the Left persuasion who prepare the way for “rationed medical care.”

In the end what we are talking about is this: culture and identity.  Who are we? What have we become without God?

Yes, we have awakened to see it is precisley this struggle – of culture and identity – that is today. 

Shalom.

Question – There are many countries in the world where you can be killed if you are a Christian.  Might it happen here?  What are you apt to do about this?  This is the world we live in.  Do you elect faithful people?  Are you governed by them?  I a time of prosperity it ode snot matter quite so much.  When the pie contracts, the truth become quite important.

Know Thyself

The Inscription at the Entrance of the Temple of Apollo

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In his book The Mastery of Self, Toltec Indian Master Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. describes a scene where all about you are in a state of inebriation – some in a drunken stupor, others on their way to that state, and still others happily swirling about, carrying on and loudly chattering all sorts of nonsense.

He sets this scene to introduce the reader to the proposition that we must seek to know our self and not get caught up in the things that keep us from ourselves and the peace, happiness and stability that self-knowledge brings.

Ruiz tells us that when we attach ourselves to something that is not a part of us as we are made to be, we make an emotional and energetic investment that attaches us to objects, beliefs, ideas, and roles that are false – not natural to us – not indigenous to us and hence they breed sickness and disorder.  

Likewise, he notes that a similar disorientation occurs when we are presented a regime in which rewards and punishments commit us to beliefs and behaviors that are false and disorienting.

In my view this is precisely the circumstances presented by identity politics and by ideologies in a secularized culture.  Each disposition being the central sickness of Democrat Leftist worldview and politics and those who ignore the truth of religious narrative.  In these we are, you see, reduced to less than who we are when we are only a Black person, or a feminist, or a socialist, etc.

In actuality we are more: we are a sacred being – more than a human being, we are a spiritual beings … and all that defines us as less destines us for sickness, obesity, addiction, confusion, disorder, intimate failure, immorality, child sacrifice, divorce, unhappiness, hostility, fear, anxiety, depression, despair, self-destruction.

Quite honestly, public figures and public discourse shows us this daily.  Look at former President Clinton and President Obama – each of shattered, sick family histories – the most peculiar breeding grounds.  Look at virtually any “celebrity.” Same thing.  Look at the guests on interview television.  I think of poor, confused Lauren Duca in her recent conversation with Tucker Carlson.  Folks, we are at the gathering that Ruiz describes.

Throw a rock in the Congress and you’ll hit a Lizzie Warren or some such.  Such is the condition of secularized America.  Lots of individuals generating discord and calamity.

Best to recess.  Reject what makes you sick.  In quiet seek to know thyself.

Shalom.

Note – Disorientation has its national security hazard.  Think radical Islam.  They attack the West now as we are vulnerable.  They believe.  We do not.  We can thank secularists, the Left, the Democrats, ideologues, anarchists, atheists, abortionists, feminists, etc. for hastening our vulnerability. Disorientation divides and weakens.

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