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… 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.

The problem of living … begins in the relation to our own selves, in handling our physiological and emotional functions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man is Not Alone

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Rabbi Heschel makes a very important point: to live well – to live in a healthy and stable and contented manner – we must confront ourselves.  The task of living is personal.  Yes, even sacred – especially sacred.

Called into being, it is best to know why you are here and how you are called to be – not in a vocational sense, but rather in the fullest manner of human existence, which is in essence spiritual existence.

When you think about the absolute importance of this task of intimate knowing of self (and in the doing – knowing of God our Creator and Initiator) you might look around and ask: if we are to know our self, how is it that so many focus on knowing themselves by being part of a group?  A political group?  A herd of one sort or another?

Are we just feminists?  Homosexuals?  Democrats?  Socialists?

Are these identities not just superficial?  Are they not reductionist?

Do they not say so much less about us than what we might actually and accurately say about our self by simply saying: I am a human being, a spiritual being?

American author Midge Decter commenting on feminism offered that freedom created the contemporary “women’s movement” insofar as the broad range of freedom and opportunity in American society “frightens … [today’s woman] and disorients her and burdens her terribly … (and that) the movement offers her the … escape contained in the idea that she is not free at all.”  [Emphasis added.] (See: “You’re On Your Own, Baby,”  The Women’s Quarterly, Winter 1996, p. 4.)

If you think Ms. Decker is wrong, ask yourself this simple question: Is it not the case that the disordered people you know frequently have ignored knowing fully who they are in favor of some concocted notion of a life image that they alone design – a false and unexamined identity, frequently a “herd” identity?

Is not our age one in which people avoid the hard work of critical and honest self-examination in favor of group identity?  Do we not from this see the reduction and destruction in “identity politics” and all the idiotic and childish folly and division that such hollow, plastic, much-to-do-about nothing “identity” discourse brings us?

Neglecting the task of knowing self has its great costs – and they are personal, interpersonal, familial, and societal.  We seem to live in age of foolish and sick distraction.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worse in one another.

Fulton J. Sheen

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Yes, without God we are a wreck, create chaos, division and hostility.  Without God, things are destroyed.  Marriage.  Community.  Peace.  A person.  Even a Nation.

Wonder where we are?  Why we are unhappy?  Fearful?  Antagonistic?  Petty? Foolish? Irritating?  Confused?  Divided?  No God.  That’s why.

Listen to the discussion about the election and the state of life in the U.S.  Does anyone – commentators or candidates – mention God?  The place of belief in community?  In a people who claim a nationhood?  You know the answer; and, it is, “No.”

And the scribes and intellectuals – what wisdom do they offer on the importance of God to the human person, to community, to a nation, to America, Western Civilization?  The answer, of course, is “None.”

We are lost.  Without meaning and purpose. Without direction.

Have you heard one insightful word from the nominal figure in the White House in eight years?  Again, “No.”  Rather we hear only ideological gibberish from the Left and those transfixed on doctrines of race, gender, class, etc.  With each word they destroy and subtract from the sum of human knowledge.  What a mess.

It is the language and experience of God, not government, that we need.  Yes, shrink government and grow God is the prescription for the sickness that is killing us.

We are in need of fixing and the fixing is as to the Spirit, as to each of us and who we really are in being human, capable of love of others rather than, and self-sacrifice, honor and virtue.  But, no one speaks of this so we might know and heal. In the absence – disorder and inevitable collapse.

Father, bring us back to You …

Shalom.

Postscript – Dear Mr. Putin – Can you please put me on the list of those receiving top secret emails disclosing our national security secrets?  I understand that Chelsea Clinton, Anthony Weiner and others have these emails on their computers.  I don’t want to be the only one “out of the loop.”

To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity, a sense of one’s own reality and of one’s ability to give oneself to society – or to refuse that gift. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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For man to be man – whole, healthy and at peace – he and she must know solitude, the ability to be alone and know he can be in solitude.  For only in solitude is one alone with God, alone with self and soul, alone in intimate quiet with others – past and present, living and deceased.

Yes, there is a monk in all of us, and in some a hermit. We are, you see, contemplative.

Yet, as society grows more intrusive, totalitarian, more governed by rote and simple-minded ideology, more homogenized by mass communication – man is devalued, degraded and the experience of being fully human fades from existence.

In such circumstances we are invaded, the soul assaulted – the sacred inalienable is destroyed and sickness is the norm.  Yes in these conditions we are estranged from our self and one another – left insecure, fearful, anxious, uncertain, unhappy, resentful and dependent.  Yes, today culture deprives us of our humanity.

Listen to Merton:

When men are … submerged in a mass of impersonal human beings pushed around by … forces, they lose their true humanity, their integrity, their ability to love, their capacity for self-determination.

In such a society, solitude is a casualty.  Such a society is held together not by love but by violence and the treat of punishment by those claiming “authority.”

Yes, solitude must be sought in such a society for man and freedom are lost without it, so to: family, community, friendship, faith and meaning.

In solitude one learns to listen and discovers hope.  Yes, solitude is as required as water, air, and food is required.  For we are spiritual in nature and human in form and solitude is an existential need, a necessity of personal autonomy, individual and collective health and flourishing, and required for a free people in a responsible and secure self-governing nation.

We combat the present assault by being spiritual and seeking solitude.  Freedom and the human being vanish if solitude ceases.  We must savor and protect our spiritual existence or we shall cease to be human and free.

Shalom.

Note – A man with a gun was shot by Secret Service personnel near the White House yesterday.  Makes me wonder how it is that the President and those in the White House warrant greater protection than was afforded the men at Benghazi when they were under attack.

Everything to do with religion, everything it is and asserts, touches the human soul …

Carl Jung, M.D., in Letters, Volume 1: 1906-1950

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Do you wonder how it is that we are lost today?  Adrift.  Confused.  Unhappy. Disoriented. Discontented.

We live more so a soulless existence, days without meaning – in a quandary. We are bound by what is physical and estranged from ourselves, from reality, from what we are: spiritual beings.  And we are misled by those who discount and exile religion, faith, our faith narratives.

If there is one critical source of our discontent it is a loss of faith, and hence a loss of self, of soul.

Yes, many in command are soulless.  In this, we are quite ignorant of human existence. We simply have neglected what we should know from a comprehensive knowledge of human history, its reflection in our nation’s story, and the vital role faith plays in sustaining healthy, insightful, congenial, wise people and cultures.

Jung knew that our psyche corresponded to what we know as divine, the divine images we find in our faith narratives throughout time.

Jung, in writing about archetypes and the collective unconscious, noted: ” … man is not so much interested in objective explanations of the obvious, but he has an imperative need – to assimilate all outer experience to inner, psychic events.”

Yes, the soul matters – living at depth is required if sickness and self-destruction is to be avoided.

Life and all that we experience goes to the soul, to the interior where it has lasting meaning, provides depth of life and understanding, links us with others, allows us to “read” situations better, remain calm when all about us are frantic and fragmented.

And where now is the soulful leader?  The soulful discussion?  Where is the certainty we ought to know?  The confidence we need?  The wise voice?

Anyone who has lost the historical symbols and cannot be satisfied with its substitutes is certainly in a very difficult position today: before him there yawns the void, and he turns away from it in horror.  What is worse, the vacuum gets filled with absurd political and social ideas, which all are distinguished by their spiritual bleakness.  But he cannot get along with these pedantic dogmatisms … (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D. in Collected Works

Does this not explain the foolishness of Bernie Sanders, the ranting and superficiality of Mr. Trump?  The utter confusion and dishonesty of Mrs. Clinton? The disengagement and estrangement of the President?  The inertia of elected officials and institutions?  The insanity of those who wish to deconstruct historic and indispensable institutions – from our representative democracy, to marriage and family?

Is it not time to salvage what works, what gives us meaning and houses wisdom and fellowship and healthy relationships, civic order, leadership, confidence, kindness, sanity?

Shalom.

 

In my darker moments I have a bad hunch.  The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the anomie of … popular culture … the rising radicalism of the politically correct … the increase demand of all levels of government for the money of the people … these things may come together at some point in our lifetimes …

Peggy Noonan, in The Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2010

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Yes, these things and a few more have finally come together and we see them in the American voter today.

The fact is that during the last six decades America, led by the Left, has been deconstructed.  The bonds have more than frayed.

The Party of perpetual “change” and government expansion has done us wrong, drastically wrong and people feel the dislocation and see the chaos created by the Left in all quarters: domestic and international, in the economy, in security affairs, in the family, the schools, in their communities, in neighborhoods, and in their government – especially in the federal government.

Think about it.  In the last six decades we have seen the government grow, become more intrusive and far less competent. We have legalized abortion, use tax revenues to fund organizations that sell the body parts of unborn children. We have “re-defined” marriage, scoffed at religion and those who are religious. We have seen the growth of out-of-wedlock births and swelled the rolls of those dependent on government and the tax dollars of a dwindling number of working Americans.

We have seen the growth of special pleading groups that seek something from a government which rarely denies any demand.  We have seen the Civil Rights movement quickly become a quota system and create greater race consciousness that has morphed into Black racism for too many among us.  We have made police officers our enemy.

We have seen the President act, not as the equal of the judiciary and the legislature, but rather as a monarch who chafes if anyone questions his “authority.”

We have created a sea of “entitlements” which we are unlikely to be able to meet.  Our military has been shrunk as the world has become more dangerous. We have upset the stability in the Middle East and reduced our leadership role dramatically.

We have grown the welfare state, ballooned our national debt, and dampened the economy.  We have managed the decline of our education system and reduced secondary and college education to political and cultural indoctrination.

We have allowed the IRS to become political, have had a Secretary of State whose misdeeds did Edward Snowden-like harm to our national security, and have a Commander-in-Chief who appears to have been missing when we were attacked in Benghazi.

Yes, deconstruction is frightening.

Indeed, we see that particularly in immigration.  Common Americans know a nation that cannot control its borders and bestows benefits and privileges on those who enter illegally or without proper scrutiny is a country on the verge of disintegration.

Yes, the stakes are quite high.  Yes, things have come together in our lifetime.

Shalom.

Destiny waits in the hand of God.

T.S. Eliot, in Murder in the Cathedral

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Our dignity is intrinsically mysterious.  It is bestowed on us in our creation.  Yes, we are glorified by God, dignified in this act, made sacred each one.

In our dignity there is God, the Creator – He who is Glory calls us into being so we might know Him and His Glory, and His love of us and of all His creation.

Yes, like God – we have infinite value, a value that resides in Him and imparted to us.

It is our sacred destiny to know our value, to claim our dignity.  This we either embrace or reject in life, in our walk through life.

To claim one’s dignity requires a relationship with God: a confidence in the worth He bestows on us no matter our imperfections, blemishes, failures, wrong doing. Yes, to claim dignity is to maintain an honest appraisal of our self, to face honestly who we are, the circumstances we live, and to grow in self-awareness and confidence in God.

The many who reject this task cause enormous problems for themselves and all they encounter, or who surround them.

Our dignity is our destiny.  Thus enters the significance of freedom – that is, liberty, the pursuit of happiness (our dignity and destiny) and the essential place in life of religious freedom.

In a culture of faith, man is free to discover his worth, his sacred dignity and in doing so fulfill his destiny.  In a society that makes God unwelcome, this is not so.

Alas, the modern secular world is a world of fear, laziness and enslavement. Fear of seeing our self as we are, submitting to God as Sovereign, Ruler of All Creation and lazy in that we seek only what is “easy” no matter the self-deception and its destruction – yes, our enslavement.

Dignity: it must be seized.  Your destination: your sacred destiny.  Yes, ours is a spiritual drama lived best in a free society where faith resides in welcome.

God deny you peace, and give you glory.

Miguel De Unamuno, in The Tragic Sense of Life

Shalom.

If freckles were lovely, and day was night

And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,

Life would be delight – – – But things couldn’t go right

For in such a sad plight

I wouldn’t be I.

e.e. cummings

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Last night I saw a focus group of very average Americans (all ages, status, occupations, race, ethnicity and religions) discussing what they feared in American today.  It was quite interesting.

As to what they feared, the group bundled together these things: immigration, ISIS and loss of their country.  These three were interlaced, intertwined, connected – like a ball of string tangled, twisted, all knotted up.

Rather than conclude an incoherence, it was really quite revealing, quite accurate and perceptive.  Indeed, it was in its three parts a very astute recognition.  The recognition: we are losing our identity.

Frankly, the group articulated a very widespread feeling, and may well explain Donald Trump’s popularity.

Perhaps without really understanding what he has done, Trump addresses a very serious issue that is very much in play, namely: identity – personal and national.

Without I being I … things couldn’t go right.

Thank you, e.e. cummings.  Eureka, Donald Trump.

For years our national identity has been under attack, and the ruling elites have done nothing but hasten its demise.  Burning the flag, banning prayer in schools, catering to this group over that group, attacking faith and those who believe, advancing all sorts of ideologically foolishness and fetishes, propounding hatred of country and scorn of self.

The deconstructionists of the Democrat Party of the Left and their wacky institutional allies have had their way – trampled on America, its people, who they are and what they believe.

Bye-bye God, religion, family, marriage, quality education, motherhood, hard work, gutting out hardships, individual responsibility, effort and dignity, local government, common sense, defense of country, a national border, enforcement of our laws, civility, manners, humility, gratitude, community, respect for others and for private property, morality, the sanctity of the child and of pregnancy … on and on …

Yes, the focus group identified the vital importance of identity.

One cannot be well who does not know who he or she is.  Nor can a nation be a nation when each alone must define themselves.  Sad plight, yes – but far worse: a sickness, a nauseating confusion and loss of meaning, purpose, existence.  There is nothing so destructive as self-rejection.  And that is what the godless, secular Left has given us and what must be repudiated in no uncertain terms.

Yet, this is and has been the course of secularism in American since the end of World War II.

We have told lies about ourselves and it is extraordinarily destabilizing.

We are not godless, not socialists, not communists, not unjust, not racists, not bigots, not greedy, not imperialists, not slaves to Big Brother, not in need of the Nanny state nor of ill-formed jurists, nor in need of being saved by self-satisfied elites who are most often confused individuals, living poorly and wrong far more than they are right.

No, we don’t need to be spoon fed blatant self-destructive nonsense that serves others in advancing their fiction for their own benefit.

Secularism in the hands of the lunatic fringe (another name for the elites) has been erasing our identity.

It is now our turn to define who we actually are.

Be who we are and always have been – of God, free Americans – proud of our history and courageous and strong of heart.

Shalom.

When the lambs is lost in the mountains, he said.  They is cry.  Sometimes comes the mother.  Sometimes the wolf.

Cormac McCarthy, in Blood Meridian

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Sometimes the wolf.  Yes, sometimes the wolf.

The wolf.  He runs in packs.  See one, know that another is close at hand  … and … they have their companions.

Nothing is more disconcerting than knowing the likes of Jimmy Carter, and now Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, et al.

Why you ask?

They do not know what Cormac McCarthy knows.  Like their followers, they are blind and deft lambs in a forest of wolves.

Inexperienced.  Ill-equipped.  Unrealistic.  Sheltered.  Misguided.  Wrong.  Lost.

In a world of wolves, one must have been cut, bled, fought back, stood up to others bigger than oneself and more menacing.  Encountered those who will kill you, and be happy to do so.

My fortune was knowing the ones who would chop you up into small pieces and put you in a trash compactor, so that all traces of you were eradicated. “Doing the Houdini” they called it.

Likewise, those who pulled your teeth from your mouth after killing you, so there would be no identifiable elements of you when, and if, your body was discovered.

Yes, that was my forest and those were my wolves.

Wolves have their way.  And they teach a necessary lesson.  A lesson of life and survival: where blood soaks earth, where Abel meets Cain.

It does not pay to choose a shepherd who does not know well the wolf and his world.

Russians and Turks.  The Ukraine.  Russia in Syria.  The idiotic unleashing of the factious “Arab Spring,” the failed rescue of the Iranian hostages, the idiotic Hillary Russian “reset button,” unprotected emails and unauthorized servers, the Iran nuclear “executive agreement,” power vacuums for ISIS, unwillingness to say “radical Muslim terrorists,” the shame of Benghazi, unsecured borders, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Fort Hood shootings, closing “Gitmo,” watering down intelligence reports, unilateral presidential action and decision-making, dispatching of our best military officers, excusing deserters, fear of engagement and use of force, grave warnings laid down and then abandoned, vacating the Middle East, abandoning Israel and our allies, withdrawal from the world …

There is no withdrawal.  The wolves find you.  They roam.  They hunt.  They are made that way.

Sometimes the wolf.

God and men of war have strange affinities.

No God, no men of war.  Then, no lambs.  Only the wolf.

Shalom.

True love is tested when betrayed.

Toba Beta

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I sit in the predawn dark.  Only the sound of a ticking clock and Arva Part’s Passio – yes, the melodic vocal piece, sacred story of the betrayal of Christ converted to triumph.

Yes, true love is tested when betrayed.  Well only for the brave and wise is this so.  That is, the very brave and the very wise who are courageous enough to love – love past the deceptions and the deceits.

Your father deserts you.  Love despite the hurt.  Not he who left, but love all the same.  Your mother departs for no reason at all – no reason, yes – no reason in particular or in the general.  Love despite the hurt.  Not she who left, but love all the same.  Your wife strays.  The brave and wise – those few rare heroes in life – love despite the hurt.

Let betrayal teach you – teach you how to love, teach of its strength and durability, teach you who to love, and when to love.

Never abandon love, stay with it – in you it is life, invincibility and courage, calm and certainty.  In you there is the Divine’s imprint; in love, it is acknowledged and glorified. 

There is a hero’s heart in those like that.  They are the ones you want in your boat.  And all such boats are small ones; they carry but a few in number from shore to distance shore.

The others, the betrayers, are left to cannibalize one another, devour their own flesh, drown in their own waste – suffocate in the mess they make .

Betrayal is the great divide.  It separates who loves and who does not.  On one side we have those who will never die and on the other – those dead before they die, and once gone are erased not just from memory but from the record of all time.

You see those in eternal life live in bliss, without the remembrance of betrayers: those governed by fear manifest in deceptions, large and small.

For the Christian, betrayals are the gateway.  Those who betray forfeit life. Those who do not, live forever; and, in daily life live stronger, wiser – able to endue anything that comes to them, any of the darkness that descends around them.

It is never a sign of weakness to have been betrayed.  No, it is a part of life. The best are betrayed.  Judas appears.  Peter denies.  The powers of darkness seek our death.

In it all, I can tell you this – I defy dark powers with the repulsion that borders love and, close to love’s magnetic call, walks me from revenge to the strength of pure defiance, then to a place where you can on longer be hurt by deeds of shrunken ones.  There is no need for revenge then.  You have crossed over from mortal to beyond.

Those who love despite betrayal are as Christ and it is said on them: You have suffered for us, have mercy on us.”

Be there.

Shalom.

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