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Please note: the Post for May 30, 2017, will be added approximately noontime, U.S. East Coast time.

…Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings from his flock.  The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not.  Cain greatly resented this …

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”  When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Gen 4: 3, 4, 5, 8

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What are we to make of this story?  What might we learn?

God favored the younger Abel over his older brother, the firstborn of Adam and Eve. Cain is deeply resentful and murders his brother.  Might we carry something significant from this, something that would give us wisdom, teach us a fundamental truth about God, the world, human beings, you?

Universalism does not apply to God.  God gets to do what God wishes to do.  In faith we realize that there is a point being made, something significant to be learned and retained.

Here we realize, we do not govern God.  God gets to pick who and what is favored. We, like Cain, cause real problems when we impose our views on God, and rebel when our point of view, reasoning, expectations, desires are not met.

In God’s favoring of the younger son over the older, the story demonstrates that man’s law is not imposed on God or God’s law.

This brings me to “social justice” – a man-made vehicle to force all sorts of human claims on others.  And to “human rights” which is similarly used to disparage those who do not fit the view of this group or that.  In each instance, the proponents are Cain.  Arrogant, special pleaders – forcing views on others as if they are God.

Cain failed to force his view on God.  Might we learn something very useful from that?

I am constantly reminded that most of the liberal dialogue imposed on the public is rife with ignorance and that it does great damage … is unexamined, not put to the test.

Unabated, the liberals end as Cain – discontented with a world that does not bend to their desire, and killing others and creating conflict and division where it need not be.  Like Cain, they try to force their views on others and on God.  Disaster follows.

Shalom.

Postscript – Marxism, Marxist social theory, the Left, “progressives,” Communists, American liberals today force their views on others at all cost.  They are aggressive, arrogant, harsh, antagonistic, intolerant, conflicting, divisive, destructive and quite often wrong.  Does the Cain and Abel story inform us today?

Remarkable Reception for President Trump in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis are to be applauded for the warmth and dignity they display.  This could be a significant turning point.  So much for the notion that President Trump is the Devil incarnate.

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… the state threatened to become not only militarily and politically triumphant but psychologically so: the custodial Superego for millions … their Egos an instrument, pure and simple, of the state’s bureaucratic manipulation.

Robert Coles, M.D. in A Secular Mind

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Dr. Coles, an esteemed research psychiatrist, is commenting on Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz’s observations in his book entitled A Captive Mind in which he explores the consequences of (Communist) centralized state power over the individual person.

Doctor Coles ends his book about the secularized mind by focusing on the apparent need for the modern state to secure social and psychological control over its population.  And, Coles focuses on the prospects of neurochemistry and medical science in doing so.

As to the latter point, Coles draws on advances in neuroscience, biology and medicine – particularly on developments in pharmacology – reminding us that Sigmund Freud thought that in time the mind itself might be reduced to simple matter and ministered to (and perhaps altered substantially) by medications. That is to say, that the experience of being human would change rather significantly.

This, by the way, has been a theme expressed over time by a number of people from Orwell, to Huxley, to Stanislaw Witkiewicz and others, and displayed in Phillip Dick’s 1968 movie Blade Runner.

The notion of centralized control over the person leads me to think more critically of the divisions between those who despise Donald Trump and those who voted for him.

In thinking about this I see Trump as an unimportant focus.  It is not he himself that matters but rather the significance of the divide between those who voted for him and those who are clearly threatened by him, and seem to hate him.

It seems to me that the divide is what is important.

That said, I think one can make a reasonable observation that the difference is in part the distinction between those who favor centralized power and those who do not.  In effect, we are talking about those who favor government control over the social and psychological nature of the human person and those who oppose the same.

Illustratively, the Left favors imposing their “views” on others – i.e., forced “tolerance.” Some in the middle ground default to continued growth in government to the extent that sovereignty and national identity and nation itself is devolved to international organizations and competing cultures (i.e., globalists).

In opposition to this, of course, are those who favor less government and preservation of nation, individual freedom and continued American economic prosperity and ethos, and constitutional Federalism.

We have simply stated: globalists vs. nationalists.

So the question today is not Trump but what underpins the divide?  Why his adversaries violently oppose him?  Why the hatred and effort to drive him from office?

My view is that it has to do with a very fundamental question: Will we live in a country where control over the human person expands as the power of the central government and international organizations expands or will we not?

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!

Posting for Thursday, April 13, will be later today.  Have had the pleasure of an unexpected visit.  A little time with an old friend.

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… because it is my habit to think in terms of people first, and their function in life only secondly, I failed to measure accurately how much Hiss’s regard for me had been regard for me as a Communist organizer … Thus my personal feeling for Hiss got in the way of my sober judgment … I nursed the unlikely hope that my break (from the Communist spy network) might have shaken Alger Hiss.  Nothing could have been more unrealistic. (Emphasis added.)

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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To understand the cost imposed by those who elevate politics above all else you need only ponder the above words from Whittaker Chambers who, having broken from his role as a Communist spy, went to see his friend and Communist colleague, Alger Hiss, an official at the U.S. State Department and a man (like other high-ranking Soviet spies in the West) from established and elite family origins.

Surely the difference between ideologues and others is this: the ideologues drained themselves of all regard for person – either their own or another’s.

The Left ideologue shows no regard for those outside their circle of belief and a life entirely committed to their political disposition.  They are, shall we say – “without sentiment or feeling – less human – more callous.”

Case in point.  In Whittaker Chambers meeting with Hiss in the latter’s comfortable home, he sits down with Hiss and his wife for a near-Christmas dinner and in the course of the meal Chambers begins to explain his rationale for leaving the espionage ring.

He reminds Hiss of “the Soviet government’s deliberate murder by mass starvation of millions of peasants in the Ukraine and the Kuban,” the multiple acts of Soviet betrayal of others in Germany and Spain, “the gigantic ulcer of corruption and deceit” in Stalin’s regime and his “purging” and murder of “thousands” to secure his totalitarian grip on the Soviet state, its military and secret police.

That done, Chambers records his words had not “made the slightest impression on his host.”

If you wonder what danger is posed by ideologues it is simply this: they forfeit their humanity and any regard for faith (seen as their arch-enemy) in favor of politics, political power, and total control.  They are, like Hiss, Stalin and others, a far cry from those who place faith at the center of their life. They are wilfully depersonalized.  

As to our plight in America, the West and Christendom today – the choice is clear: politics and power or faith lived in its primacy.  Think about it this Easter week.

Perhaps the Whittaker-Hiss encounter will come to mind when you engage the fanciful Leftist who begins to spout their utterly predictable dribble.

Shalom.

… you wicked and lazy slave … Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth …”

Mt 25: 26, 30

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… “wicked,” “lazy,” “worthless” …

These are powerful words to use and to aim at another person.  However these are the words of condemnation that Jesus used in telling the story of the master who left for a journey and gave to each of his three servants money (talents) to hold in his absence.

As you may recall, these are the words the master aimed at one of his three servants when he returned and found that the servant never used the money positively, but rather buried it in the ground for fear of losing it.

Much to the master’s displeasure, he had not used what the master gave him.

This is a story about slothfulness – about not using what you have been given. It raises a serious question for us (individually) and for our culture today.  Indeed, it is a measure wisely applied to those who profess to lead us today.

What is slothfulness?  In scripture we see it is rebellion.  The slothful do not serve God in their life.  No, in not serving God they register no gratitude to God for what they have been given (a life in being, for one thing).  Nor do they show obedience to God.  They shun the works God has called them to in this life.  They “do their own thing.”

Sloth is also wastefulness.  These people (and there are many) never use their spiritual gifts to glorify God.  They waste their time, gifts, and life on things that do not further God’s intention.

The slothful are selfish. They serve, not others, but their own desires.  They are lazy, as well, – preferring things that are easy to things that are hard.  These are the people who avoid work, depend wholly on others, take the low road or sit and do nothing, or in working never fully commit themselves to excellence.  These are the people who, while doing little, believe that they know better than others.

In thinking about this parable, I could not help but think about the Democrat Party of the Left here in the United States.  They are chock full of people who never held a private job in their life.  I think of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, and Senator Charles Schumer.

Schumer, a Harvard Law School grad, never practiced law nor held a job in private industry after his schooling.  Rather as a young man with the gift of a “good education” he entered politics and never left.  He is one of those people who think, without any instructive life experience in the rough and tumble of daily work, that he knows better (always) than anyone else.  These are the slothful people who are perpetually foolish, trivial, loud, self-serving, and wrong. The Democrat Party of the Left attracts these people.  And in building dependents and the Nanny State, they breed slothfulness.

Think about it.  Does in make any sense for you to depend on the judgement of those with no life experience to speak of?  Would it not be better to cast them out to a dark place much as the master in the parable did to the lazy and wicked servant full of inertia and fear?  Have people such as these not done enough damage?

Shalom.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

… fascism … is not a phenomenon of the right … it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left.  This fact … is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites.  In reality they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents.  (Emphasis added.)

Jonah Goldberg, in Liberal Fascism

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If we ever needed a moment to put Goldberg’s observation in clear view, we got it yesterday with the details of the arrests of two immigrant young men (at least one who was scheduled to be deported) of a 14-year-old girl in a public high school in affluent, hyper-liberal, “politically correct” Montgomery County, Maryland, the murders committed by a Muslim radical a few paces from the British Parliament in London, and the news that candidate and President-elect Donald Trump and his staff were the subject of surveillance initiated during the last days of Barack Obama’s tenure as President and in concert with Mr. Obama’s curious expansion of the distribution of such information within the government.

Well, what exactly do we see in these three events that explain Mr. Goldberg’s point?

One, the “constituents” Mr. Goldberg refers to are those who seek a totalitarian state which will control its citizens from cradle to grave and, in this, eliminate freedom as we have known it in the United States.

Two, the quest for centralized state control is the unifying theme of those on the Left: the Democrat Party, the “progressives” and Marxists in the U.S. and in the West, and the radical Muslims in the Middle East.

Three, in our present state here and in the West, we see that the Fascist Left seeks to destroy the freedom upon which America and the West has flourished.

Four, the Left, indeed, is at war with America and Western Civilization and wishes to destroy its foundational institutions: family, faith, gender, sexual mores, racial harmony, law and police authority, morality, Constitutional protections afforded a free people, the American genius of sovereign states in a Representative Democracy of three equal branches of federal government and governed by free elections, free market economics, honest and open intellectual inquiry and an independent and free press and media.

Five, to explain why it is that Democrats and Leftist desire the eradication of national borders and the staunch opposition to vetting prospective immigrants to this country is quite simple: this is the Left’s way of waging combat against this Nation.  Yes, dangerous immigrants and immigration at-large are designed to eliminate America as it once existed.  Yes, the export of jobs and industry and open access to America’s national security secrets and wealth (a special thanks are due the Clintons, the old line elites, and Mr. Obama) are much like Mr. Obama’s crushing deficit spending – namely a way the self-loathing Left seeks to destroy our country.  Ditto, the grotesque expansion of the dependent class now reduced to serfdom, government-induced enslavement.

Look Folks, this is where we are.  This is where England and our European allies are.  This is where the (once) Free World is.  We have met the enemy and they are closer than you think.  But, alas, the dialogue has not been joined.  We have not explained what we now have as a life-altering circumstance, and a threat to this Nation and the West.

Shalom.

” …  from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat … “

Gen 2:16

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In standing between good and evil the human person is more than animal.  He possesses more – that more is conscience.  He and she must choose what is good, not what is evil.

Our choices, you see, either bring us closer to God, or separate was further and further from God.  It is in the first that full life is known and experienced, and in the second that death comes to us before our mortal end – a death that extends into eternity.

We die as we live.  Conscience is always in play.

Funny how this proposition is lost to us today.  We no longer imagine the dynamic of an existence between good and evil and the role this plays for us in active choice, decision-making, and the vital place for conscience in our daily existence.

Case in point, the nitwit Democrat Liberals (and their bed mates in the teachers’ union) who run affluent Montgomery County, Maryland, welcomed an 18 year old illegal immigrant and another 17 year old friend into the school system placing them with 14 year old students in the 9th grade.  (The school system, predicatively, prides itself in ignoring an immigrant’s legal status.)  Well, these two non-English speaking geniuses were arrested this week for pushing a ninth grade girl into a boy’s bathroom in a local high school and sexually assaulting and raping her.  The authorities, of course, never vetted these young men – had no idea who or what they were.

No sense of responsibility for good and evil equals no conscience, and evil emerges.

In the above case, the Country school administrators, the teachers’ union, Country Liberal Democrat pols and those who support them ought to be held equally accountable for their part in this heinous assault.  Choosing evil has its price … or surely must have its price in a good and faithful society.  And that price ought to be the exile of the fools who prepare the way for evil, yes, an immediate exile for those who are a threat to public safety.  Send them far East of Eden, never to be seen again.

Let’s face it, in our secular age, we seem to think and act as if one’s mortal end is the end of our existence, that all in mortal life is all that is, and all that matters.

With such an ignorant mindset, the onus (it follows) is for us to live as fully as we fancy in the here and now – conscience aside.  Hence, we proceed to ignore reality, consume all that we can, acquire all we can, glorify ourselves, fuel our life experience with drugs, sex, alcohol, greed, power, status, celebrity (however fleeting) and the false idea that we are “masters” of all and wiser and more sure-footed than others.  Baloney.

Does one wonder why so many pursue selfish interests to the absolute exclusion of common sense and others – even family?  Or why divorce is so common? Likewise that children are abandoned?  Mental illness and obesity flourish? Suicide, too? Gang violence? Adultery? Pornography, as well?

In a culture without conscience, do not the executioners prevail in number while the innocent are, like the girl who was raped, offered up by those who choose evil and its furtherance?   Have we not had more than enough of the agents of evil: the Liberal Democrat and the “progressives” (Marxists) that gather with them?

Tree of good and evil, Friends.  Let’s get real.

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.

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