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Dedicated to My Son, His Wife and My Two Grandchildren … and All the Parents Raising Children

To be a good parent … we do not need to be people who have arrived; God simply calls us to be on the way, seeking, finding, and rejoicing in what we find. (Emphasis added.)

Catherine Stonehouse, in Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.

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My son and I recently had a very interesting conversation about providing for the spiritual lives of his two small children, ages almost three and almost one.

Yes, children have – as all human beings do – innate spiritual needs and desires.

Throughout the ages people are confronted with all sorts of probative “why” and “how” and “what” and “who” questions.  Why do bad things happen?  How can we be good? What is love? How do you forgive someone? Who made the world? Why go to church?

Yes, we are all bound by these questions.  And, no – politics does not provide the answer.  And, yes – by thinking all things are political as many do in this imploding secular culture we establish one thing for sure: life and cultures demand that individuals pay particular attention to our interior, the spiritual plateau in all human beings or court chaos and destruction, disintegration.  Absent attention to the spiritual: cultures, societies, communities, families, nations, individual people are undone – destroyed – trapped in selfishness, error, hostility, destruction, conflict, injury and despair.

Frankly, we are inclined precisely in that destructive dimension in contemporary America and the West at this very moment.  

We are, of course, not human beings seeking a spiritual experience, but rather – spiritual beings seeking a human experience.

Look around you.  Do you see how costly denying God and spiritual reality can be?

Parents attend to your spiritual existence and invite your children to join you.   Individually you will each be better – together you will be a family – a sacred, life-saving vessel in a world of choppy waters and occasional gales.

I wish you smooth seas – no matter the conditions you meet.

Shalom.

Moral Indignation.  Been alive for seven-plus decades.  Ain’t met a single perfect person, nor an angel.  My conclusion: we are not perfect.  Yet, now some (armed with moral indignation) are set on tearing down statues of people they find unsavory.  With this approach the Democrat Party may find itself banished after their lengthy history of favoring the Klan and racial segregation.

In the language of Boston politics – what goes around, comes around.    

 

 

Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.

Cormac McCarthy, in All the Pretty Horses

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I’ve never been a “wisher.”  The life seemed so much more demanding than something that allowed for wishing.

You know, stuff hits you right in the face.  It happens early and it happens quickly and repeatedly on the right and wrong side of the tracks.  Me? I didn’t have the budget for wishing.  God had another agenda for me.  Hard reality. Wounding reality.  A strange way to love me, but love for sure, for hard things brought me to the experience of the battle and the gift of prayer.

Yes, prayer.  Not desperate prayer.  Not urgency.  No – but prayer of closeness, prayer of real relationship as in: “Okay, God – I see what’s here, walk me through this – you lead and I’ll follow You.”  Man, troubles are gifts.  They are the everyday sacred space between “the wish and the thing” where the “world lies waiting.”

Never fear to live.  Doing so is a common mistake.  Most people hunker down, cower, reach for a place to hide – in ego, in control, avoidance, fantasy, status, power, wealth, food, alcohol, drugs, sex, possessions.  Truth is they avoid the world that lies waiting.  They construct barricades against life.  Opt for pretending.

Listen carefully.  Most people who speak never pass the “I’ve lived” test.  Those who have hidden have nothing to tell you.  That said, your ear will hear the pitch of the ones who speak out of the pain they have lived – they are to be comforted and they can share their experience of living in a world that lies waiting.  

Life is to be lived.  Get after it.  Don’t hide.  Live.

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.

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation … not an act but a habit.

Aristotle

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Very few visible in mass media are habituated to excellence.  If you want mediocrity or less, mass media provides an endless supply of such lightweights. However, beware: if you have a diet of mediocrity you will disgorge yourself of the attitude, instinct, discipline and will for excellence.

Excellence takes strength of soul.  Excellence understands sacrificial love. Excellence honors God in its being and doing.

All have the capacity needed for excellence.  Yet many forfeit the strength of soul.  Those who forfeit strength of soul live lies – excuses are common to them, envy too – they seek nothing more urgently than to thwart the will of others, to neutralize the soul.

Those who forfeit strength of soul are weak links.  They abound in politics today. They prefer dependence to a free populace for they fear being challenged to live fully.  They keep others bound-up so they might wallow in under-achievement, the cost of which always includes dishonesty and corruption.

When mediocrity rules, men are targeted, for it is men who do the dying, who come easily to sacrificial love.  A warrior class is always necessary.  Today, the weak seek their demise.  Men are targets for the weak fear them. 

Want to see the locus of excellence in American culture, look at the middle class and those like me who lived in poverty and in daily combat.  Look, not just at me but at my petite mother – one tough cookie … and her parents, and her brothers Don and Ray.  Their habit was excellence – its byproducts: humility, confidence, contentment, compassion, joy and laughter, insight, wisdom, generosity, gratitude.

Excellence comes to those who must work hard to survive, and to whom difficulties befall because in the hardest things they live daily by strength of soul. This is why the Left so despises the middle class and seeks to make dependents of the poor.  Don’t let yourself be sold short or sold out.

Live in excellence.  You’ll scare the heck out of the elites and make of us again a great people.  And, in the habits of excellence is satisfaction.

Enjoy the life God has given you.  Don’t let anyone deny you a life of excellence – especially of moral excellence.

Shalom.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. (Emphasis added.)

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Sartre, of course, is wrong about being “condemned to be free” but he is correct in saying the human person is “responsible for everything he (or she) does.

Responsibility is largely honored in its absence now.  We can thank the Left for this. They talk about rights but never about responsibilities.  In health care they never see the sanctity of life as a gift and our responsibility to take care of ourselves, to eat properly, exercise, control our weight, avoid unhealthy vices, etc.

Indeed, the godless Left holds few “responsible” least of all themselves and those in their ranks who seek that others pay the tab for their irresponsibility. Of course, the Left does hold responsible those who expect each of us to be responsible.  Odd as it seems, even the godless Sartre is more to be trusted than the present day American Left.

I guess one can conclude that years of Leftist irresponsibility has made even Sartre a Conservative.  If you need a measure of how ill-conceived the positions and policies of the Left are – imagining Sartre a Conservative probably does it.

Shalom.

Remember – Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture – as such it must address the culture as it is.  And that now means as its political state the condition of which would be vastly improves if God and faith were given a rightful place.  Yes, if each living being saw life as a gift and took responsibility for it as such.

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics.  Fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.  (Emphasis added.)

Samuel P . Huntington

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Do not Islam and Marxism display the truth of Professor Huntington’s remarks? Is our national security not, then, contingent upon America and the West knowing who they are and who their rivals are – what is the bedrock of our identity and their identity?

American and Western identity rests on our classical legacy, Christianity, the relationship between church and state, freedom of religious expression, free speech and free elections, the rule of law, civil society and the peaceful transition of political power, free market economics, and our historic national footprint.

When cultures clash, as they do now, one must have a very clear understanding of who one is.

When cultures clash radical variation in basic identity within a society is a luxury that cannot be readily accommodated.  That said, a political party like the Democrat Left whose identity is based on: perpetual radical social and economic “change,” the centralization of cradle to grave power in the federal government, creating conflict through “identity politics” which manufactures angry “victim classes” and enslaved government dependents – compromises the nation’s security.  A state of perpetual internal flux puts in question one’s basic identity – it distracts and creates unnecessary and dangerous discord.

Indeed this is where we are today: division within while those within and without who wish our defeat grow stronger and more intent on our destruction. 

To make matters worse, very few of those who occupy political office have any inkling of the challenge we face and the fundamental question it raises.  The question?  Who exactly are we?

In a clash of cultures not knowing who you are is fatal.

Shalom.

 

 

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  (Emphasis added.)

Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years

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Do you remember the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary?  (Lk 10:38-42)

In that story Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and others while her sister Mary is seated at Jesus feet listening to him.  Martha asks Jesus if he does not care that Mary has left her to do all the preparations alone.

Jesus answered Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is precisely the wisdom Albert Einstein expresses. We all have the capacity to experience the mystical.

A life lived within mortal limits is a life not lived.  It is a life without fullness.  It is “the mystical” that makes a life, that alone completes a life.

Feodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov this: “Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystical sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world.”

We have many like Martha.  And few like Mary.  Which are you?

Those like Mary possess calm, certainty.  They see and they are not lured into all that is earthly.  They are not worrisome.  Addicted.  They are not egotists.  They are not trapped in the nonsense that prevails among the masses.  They are not captured in the present day and all its false gods and endless foolishness.

Our culture is full of Martha in many forms.  Ignore them.  They have chosen the lesser things.

Are you Mary or are you Martha?

Shalom.

Russia and Us.  It is interesting that for all the hubbub about Russia over the years, we have not been smart in dealing with them.  We have been, because we have “leaders” who do not live life on a mystical plateau, unable to see the undeniable truth about Russians which is this: Dostoevsky reveals their core, their heart – their orientation to life (even as they try to supplant him with Marxist nonsense).

The truth of who they actually are is their soft underbelly and, not being well and fully formed, our “leadership” cannot see it.

When the blind confront the blind – it is always an “eye for an eye.”  Endless folly. “Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right.”

… sanity is spiritual.  It simply is.

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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Liberals are fearful, frightened.  Having neither faith nor having sufficiently deeply examined themselves and the demonstrative nature of being human, they are in great need of reassurance.  Hence, they are “snowflakes” demanding special zones of “protection” and they relish being victims and asserting all sorts of privileges they associate with victimhood.  Yes, in such “status” they are reassured … at the expense of others – no matter the cost to other, self or society.

Fearful as they are, they seek control.  They do so by making errant ideas their idols and forcing others to conform to their fear-driven orientation.

They root in politics – local, state and national.  In this regard they create and encode fanciful notions: homophobia emerges, fascism assigned to others, genders “multiply” from two to many, “transgenderism” becomes a “human right,” marriage “re-defined” and child sacrifice legalized.

In the extreme, immaturity emerges.  One thinks of the liberal state legislators who fled the state of Wisconsin to avoid conceding power to their fairly elected opposition, or of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s obstructionist tactics intended to thwart America’s legislative business and peaceful governance, or of the bureaucracies use of “leaks” to scuttle an American Presidency.

Liberals were once better than this.  Alas, they are no more what they once were.

In life we must choose – self alone, or self in the Spirit.  That is: life with or life without God.  The liberals mistake – life without God, life without Spirit.  In this, as May notes, sanity is lost.

It profits one not at all to maintain discourse with those who forfeit sanity.  The mere semblance of dialogue with them destroys one’s own sanity – individual or nation.

We live in strange times.

Shalom.

 

All that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, slavery – is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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All these citadels of learning.  All this touting “education.”  What good has it done in and of itself?  We have ideology – the equivalent of crip-notes for life – nothing like the real experience.  Ideology gives “direction” in the way an infant has a blankie.  Yes, it makes us infants.

Imagine if Marx was a saint.  How different today might have been.  And yesterday – well even more different … so many lives would have been spared. And, no gulags.  No Che. No Fidel.  No Stalin.  No Mao.  Just disciples and peace of heart and mind.

” … something other than God … ”  Some price.  Some folly.  This is man and reason neglecting heart and soul.   Good bye, CNN … MSNBC, NPR, Washington PostNew York Times.  Good bye, for good. 

Shalom.

 

… He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.

Col 1:17

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These are the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians.  Think for a moment about what St. Paul is saying.  He is telling us that we live in God, that we have our being in Him.

Think too about today and how we operate each day.  Do you think in all that you do that you are acting within God’s ambit, framework or are you acting without any thought of what St. Paul is saying?

Think too about the discomfort you might feel in being so responsible for success in a world in which no one feels that they are immersed in God’s dominion, but rather each is alone to navigate all of life’s twists and turns, misfortunes, accidents and mistakes.

In St. Paul’s view one is never so at risk, so apt to be plagued by anxiety or fear, self-doubt or confusion.  In his view, life is easier to negotiate, faith is implicit in one’s disposition and outlook.  Are we not a far cry from that peace and certainty today?  Would it not make sense to restore St. Paul’s view to your life?  Why suffer as you do?

In St. Paul’s view we live and think and experience in a complete way, in a manner that brings us closer to our base identity: that of spiritual beings.

Think about it: your tranquility is simply a matter of adopting a point of view that gives you peace.  In a culture and age that does not understand the relationship between God and the human person, chaos flourishes and its costs are tragic but unnecessary.  This need not be the case, and surely not for you or your children.

Shalom.

 

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