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… it came to pass … that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world would be taxed …

Lk 2:1

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This census, of course, required each person in the Roman Empire to assemble in their ancestral village or town … and this was a prelude to Jesus birth in Bethlehem as Joseph and Mary journeyed from their home in Galilee in accord with Caesar’s directive.

How many note the significance of Jesus being born at a time when the entire Roman population was assembled as a whole?  My point being that the birth of Jesus has characteristics to it that proclaim something quite special in this birth.  Illustratively, the birth of Jesus heralded the assembly of all.

Yet, there is more.  Jesus birth in a manger among farm animals makes the statement that the child’s presence exceeds mortal reality – but rather speaks to all creatures and creation.  Yes, Christ is for and of the whole of this world and the next.

Indeed, shepherds and kings come to his place of birth.  Is this not a proclamation that in Christ the humble and exalted are but one in the same?

Yes, the circumstances of this birth speak to us of its universal and eternal importance – but do we think of this in our own time?  Is this a point of reference for us?  Does this magnificent birth inspire us?  Motivate us?  Lead us in our daily existence?  I dare say: “it does not.”

Does not the star that led others to Bethlehem speak to the cosmic significance of this holy birth?  Does it not say that each birth is God’s intention?  Yet, who are we now?  Do we see these things?  Are we comforted and governed by them?

Shalom.

 

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Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.  (Emphasis added.)

Matt 7:21

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These words from Jesus are quite clear.  One must do the will of the Father if one wishes to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Yes, this is the challenge.  Do you act as God would have you act?  Or do you do what is convenient?

In an effort to join the mass do you do as they do no matter what that might be?  Do you bow to clearly sinful and disordered conduct?  Do you like to be liked more than you like to be right and abide by the truth of the matter?  Do you ignore the godlessness of the present age and pretend that it is not destroying God’s creation?  Is revolting?  Creating sickness?  Division?  Decline?

Think about refreshing your understanding of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis (Chapter 19).  Zero in on the plight of Lot in that story.  See that Lot lost all he had gained living in Sodom.

This story “adds meat to the bones” of Jesus words in the Gospel of Matthew.  The point being: what we gain outside God’s intention is not worth having and it will eventually be lost to us.  Acting outside God’s intention brings misery and grave discontent.

How many of you seek to gain without regard to God’s desire for you?  How many ask: am I doing what God intends?  How many realize that doing God’s will leads us to the corollary obligation to speak up when presented with evil or sinful conduct or its promotion?

Shalom.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the word of the Lord, because you know the labor in the Lord is not in vain.  (Emphasis added.)

1 Cor 15:58

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St. Paul is addressing the people of Corinth.  He speaks of courage.

I often say to others that “all courage flows from faith.”  Yes, St. Paul makes this point: to stand firm in life – in ordinary and troubled times – one must have faith, be of faith – trust in the word of the Lord.

There are similar passages in the Old Testament that make this point as well.  You see, that is the dynamic of faith in times that require courage of each of us.  We live in such times today.

There are many among us who prefer we listen to them, adopt their faithless views.  Much of what has been propounded by those without faith (the abortionists, the racists, those wedded to power and control, those who put their trust in gender and sexual practices – to mention but some) speak without belief – speak and act without reference to God, indeed speak as if God does not matter, does not exist or is “the enemy.”

Those of us who believe must summon the courage to speak in opposition to what is godless, destructive, divisive – even evil.  Yes, in faith comes courage and in courage we speak.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman whose thoughts went only to gender.  Her sight was very narrow – all matters centered on her concern about her gender and sexuality.  She saw her existence through that narrow bodily prism.  It was like talking to a brainwashed fanatic.  She had no point of reference but her gender and sexuality.  She had been reduced to much less than who she has been divinely made to be.

This is the nature of absurdity that the Left has given us in their “identity politics.”  People no longer see who they are – and like intemperate, spoiled children they scream and hold their breath in fits of rage and lunacy having abandoned all sense they have been given.

People like this are akin to “the possessed,” the demonic.  There is no discourse with them, nor do their words warrant our time or attention.  Sadly they discredit themselves.

Yes, we face this challenge: to restore common sense and maturity to those whose disposition is godless and hostile.  Failing to do that we will not have a nation or a community, friendship and peace.

The biggest part of our present task is to reject the poisonous fruit of “identity politics” which has propounded what is false, reductive, divisive and attempts to make normative that which is not.  Our best approach: do not listen to those who are possessed.

Yes, as St. Paul says – give yourself to the word of the Lord and have the courage to speak and witness truth to what is false and destructive.

Shalom.  

Difficult subject.  I have tweaked this several times in the hopes of not alienating others while trying to focus on restoring some good to our present circumstances.

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The psychology of the individual can never be exhaustively explained from himself  alone: … clear recognition is needed by the way (one) is also conditioned by historical and environmental circumstances … individual psychology is not merely a physiological, biological, or personal problem: it is also a contemporary problem. (Emphasis added.) 

Carl Jung, M.D. in “Psychological Types” (Collected Works, Vol. 6)

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Mass murder in Las Vegas.

Disorder does not spring up by itself no more than a flower blossoms without a seed.

The individual person does not (even in the best of times) possess much self-understanding.  In our mass communication culture, where God and religious belief is minimized or attacked, disorder is magnified.  Today we seem intent on division and antagonism.  Political correctness is not a moral structure.

When “isms” proliferate disordered conduct can displace healthy and trusted beliefs.    Those in authority can even advance chaos.

An individual’s disorder is conditioned by history, personal environment and culture – all the more when faith is lost and society has gone astray.

Evil seems to flourish when antagonism is more common.  We pay a very heavy price for division and godlessness.

It is a time to draw together, to seek what we share in common, to build friendships and foster individual responsibility so each might know prosperity and the contentment of personal achievement. 

It takes discretion and determination to avoid disorder today.  Only those with considerable self-understanding maintain a healthy distance.  Religious narrative and a relationship with God are critical today.

You had best see who you are and what precisely your culture conveys … and most certainly turn away from those who advance disorder.  Destruction is the obvious product of disordered people.  We need to get well.  To listen carefully and choose wisely.

The healthy person today will be more likely he or she who resembles as to modern society and disordered godless mass culture the disposition of a monk in plain clothes.

Shalom.

If you find this post helpful, please pass it along to others.  Thank you.

Being Reported – It is being reported by several news organizations that a senior attorney at CBS expressed an absence of sympathy for those shot in Las Vegas because “country music fans often are Republicans – (and) gun toters.”  One can only hope this is not accurately reported.  Yet, it is surely the case that political hostility must be reduced by all.

… Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take him … to make him King, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Jn 6:15

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If politics and power had a primacy – made all the difference in  the world, why would Jesus withdraw to the mountain by himself?  Why would he NOT accede to that position of power?  Because it is not of ultra importance.

No, relationship with God is preeminent.  That is the essential aspect of human existence that complete each of us and perfects as far as is possible human society.

Ignore your spiritual existence and nothing you do will succeed, but rather will only divide and destroy.

That said, what Sunday political talk show ever focuses on man’s relation to God?  What Judge seems to reflect any appreciation for what is recorded in the above Gospel passage?  What media member or newspaper?

Those who speak only of politics are unable to lead for they know little and what they know glorifies not God but them – and decline follows, after the chaos and division that they create.

Listen more carefully.  Be discrete when it comes to public chatter.  Find a home in Scripture until you hear the voices of sanity in the public square.

Shalom.

 

 

Writing is like oil painting.  You work in quiet and create a picture.  Time means nothing.  It stops.  Everything is just now, and now is eternal.

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O soul of mine, will you never be good and sincere, all one, all open visible to the beholder more clearly than even your encompassing body of flesh?

Will you never be fit for such fellowship with the gods and men as to have no syllable of complaint against them, no syllable of reproach from them?

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations, Book Ten, Para. I

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Most of what you see and hear is chaotic.  Most people make noises and do things that say: “I am sick.  Disordered.”  The wise man knows that having this warning it is best to say free of these people and their noise lest he becomes sick too.

Washington and other large cities are like glass jars full of heated molecules with a tightly affixed lid.  When you listen to the noise of the sick, you reside in that glass jar constantly assaulted by molecules over which you have no control.

Why enter the jar?

Find a quiet place to be alone and sit.  Calm yourself so that you might hear the rhythm of your breath, your heart’s work.  This is the predicate for meditation. In silence look at yourself – your habits, expectations, desires, history – from these come your discontents – the heat that hastens the speed of your molecules.  Discard these things, and accept yourself – your sacred being itself – a being that divinely created cannot be harmed but by you who have expectations dependent on the conduct of others.

Marcus Aurelius lived more than a century before Christ.  He saw the glass jar with lid and heated molecules.  Emperor of Rome, he lived on the extreme edges of his empire so he might know peace and quiet, so he might know himself, others and the gods.

Knowing your divine being your needs drop away, contentment comes to be and you see others as ones in injured state … but when you are free of expectations, housed in your sacred being compassion comes freely.  Nothing those sick ones who routinely behave in hurtful and upsetting ways can rile you, upset you, suck you into their chaos, their drama … nothing that they might do can throw you off stride.

Separation, quiet, solitude, self-understanding, knowing your divine self, suspending wants and expectations (unnecessary to the divine self which is our natural and independent state of health and existence).  In separation, quiet, solitude, self-understanding we see the jar, its lid and its heated molecules – but we are not captured.

… Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness to pray.

Lk 5:16

Marcus Aurelius, Zen and Jesus.

Shalom.

 

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds folly.

Prov 15:14

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Few see the inherent damage done by mass communication in a secularized culture.

What do I mean?  In a mass communication culture all sorts of fools speak. Each day rains down half-baked advocacy, unchallenged assertion, special pleadings designed to alter the status quo in favor of the advocate who long ago (armed with a college-educated bias favoring his or her “pet” political views) decided they are a genius and you are not – so you must do as they say.

We have mistakenly assumed that “education” is to be more trusted than experience, common sense, wisdom and purposeful tradition accumulated and honored over the centuries.

Alas we live in an age of arrogance, pride, ignorance and hyper-political nonsense.

People claim expertise they do not possess.  Bill Nye “the science guy” comes to mind. The global warming crowd labels skeptics “deniers” because (of course) they are “smarter” and know best.  Regrettably, there are only rare instances where someone calls out the self-acclaimed genius (who also fancies himself or herself “a savior”).

Never has a generation been so sure that they have license to topple venerable institutions and their moral foundation.  Rarely are rebukes plainly offered to this haughty crowd.  That said, I offer one delicious instance for your encouragement and enjoyment.

Supreme Court Antonin Scalia took exception to the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges (the “gay marriage” case) with these words:

“If … I ever joined an opinion for the Court which began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons … to define and express their identity.’ I would hide my head in a bag.” (Emphasis added.)

Don’t you just miss this kind of condor!  And doesn’t it show what we endure with those who think, as Justice Kennedy does, that they are so erudite and wise that they can sow such silliness into the public consciousness.

If there is any redeeming value in Justice Kennedy’s view it is this: it shows the waste that is a Stanford and Harvard education and provides clear caution when it comes to listening to elites and Leftists in the public square.

Best to be discerning and to build on the ageless wisdom of religious narrative while it is still accessible to you.

Yes, as has been said the educated elites could have saved themselves substantial pile of cash had they opted for a library card and a couple of bucks and change in late fees in place of their prestigious college.  Indeed, they could have saved us from their nonsense as well.

Shalom.

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

We should know that we are gods.  If we think like gods we become like gods, if we think like demons we become like demons.

The Words of a Headmaster of a Hindu School for Religious Scholars

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Suspended.

We are suspended between what is good, and what is not.  Such a plight presents a heart-felt tension on a daily basis.

My life on a mountain ridge is peaceful.  There is open space, wide and endless skies, a new sunrise each morning with colors and streams of light that are never the same from day-to-day.  In the evening, sunsets – each with their own shadows and hues.  And there is the wind – sometimes it howls, and other times it has a gentle voice, a soft and comforting voice of a sweet and lovely lady.

I live away for the crowds and the strife that was my life, my way of being.

As a lawyer I fought.  It was so easy.  I knew combat from a childhood “on the wrongs side of the tracks.”  We all knew that for we all held the short straw and others held us in contempt.

Lately I have realized that kneeling in preparation to receive the Body of Christ is the only thing I do each day that offers me the profession of humility – the declaration of my natural state, by actual state of being.  Suspended between the gods and demons, kneeling I speak the very essence of reality.

Suspended between gods and demons.  In the quiet of the ridge, I am close to God.  In this, I love and value life and others more deeply.  Finally, I know the blessing of love.  Yet, suspended I still remain, hoping that the demons depart …

Shalom.

 

‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but in every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God.’

Mt 4:4

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This is the response of Jesus to the first desert temptation of Satan.  The word more important than bread.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This, of course, is the opening line in the Gospel of John.  It asks us: to what do you give primacy?  To money?  Power?  Politics?  Yourself?  Celebrity?  Your sexual desires?  Drugs?  Alcohol?  Food?

Food?  Yes, is obesity not a sign of self-deprivation?  Self-consumption? Emotional starvation, and spiritual suffering?  Would not God fill us to satisfaction so much better than food can?  Does Jesus not so very clearly say this?

There is nothing wrong in American society that cannot be radically altered for the better if God and the Word of God is not given primacy to each of us, and to this nation and its culture.  Nothing.

The Toltec Mexican writer Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. reminds us that in our head two entities reside: one is a parasite and the other is an ally.  Each speaks to us.

The parasite is the one who reminds us of the negative things others have said about us or done to us – the words and deeds which would have us think negatively of our self, impose on us the sense that we are deficient, less worthy. The ally offers, in contrast, thoughts that we are valuable and that voice comes to us from the voices and deeds of those who have seen our value.

Don Ruiz reminds us that we must dismiss the parasite and listen to the ally, but more to the point he reminds us that “neither voice represents your whole Authentic Self” for you are not your thoughts …

In our Christian tradition, its story and its truth: you are an extension of the Word of God, a child of the Master – a word in God’s vocabulary.

There is NOTHING in you, or this nation and its culture, that cannot be corrected by simply placing God at the center of our being – the defining reality of our life, this nation and its culture … and of life itself.

Ignore the many among us who speak as godless parasites.

Shalom.

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