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The text has disappeared under the interpretation.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil

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In America today we do a very poor job attending to the problems we face.  The principle mistake: we fail to determine the source of the problem.

We are most frequently trapped by the parameters of the problem itself, as it appears on the surface to us.  We let the problem define us.  We have lost touch with our text.

Yes, all problems tell us of the human person, his and her propensities, limitations, recurrent mistakes and failures.  Yet, in losing text, we lose context. Context lost, we fumble around making all sorts of mistakes and enemies while sustaining the presence of the problem, even institutionalizing it so that it becomes a permanent (but utterly unnecessary) presence in our life and culture. (Think how accommodations to race institutionalize racism.)

I give you an example.  Thinking about “activism” today, one might ask why so much of this?  Why do women assemble dressed as “vaginas” and with “pink pussy hats” to air their grievances?  Why do disgruntled Blacks burn down their neighborhoods, or Leftist and anarchists dress in black, wear masts, assemble to destroy private property, set fires, throw rocks at others?

We rarely ask: where does this come from?

In reading about Catholic monk Thomas Merton’s admiration for writer Albert Camus, I saw something of the origin of the activism we witness today. Indeed, I see the grand fallacy of social activism as it appears today … and yes, I see text lost to poorly formed interpretation.

Merton (like many liberals) admired French intellectuals who thought that it was an intellectual’s duty to be politically engaged.  In Camus, Merton saw an intellectual who did so.  He was smitten.

Camus, like his Leftist colleagues, saw the tension between a belief in things transcendent and evil.  Being without faith, Camus mistakenly dismissed God altogether.  His faulty reasoning: a good God would not allow evil to exist.  He failed to understand this basic proposition: God is perfect Good and as such not evil, yet God made the human being as an imperfect image of the Divine and it is man, not God, who besmirchs good with less good or evil.  In the godless Camus, the text is lost: it is NOT God but man who authors evil.

So Camus’ activism and today’s activism is imperfect man acting without God (without text and context) and producing evil when good is desired.  This the grand mistake of social activism.  We do not, as mere humans, possess the capacity to produce perfection – a world that is without evil.

All godless activism leads to politics and power and these divide, foster hostility – particularly when ideology replaces a more learned view of human existence.

Yes, there is an enormous price paid for text lost.

So we have now, real division – social activists who hate others and this nation. ‘Tis a very sorry state – one that may well destroy us.

Think about the lost text.  Christ was not a social activist.  He did not revolt.  He sustained in the midst of evil.   He was the willing, innocent victim of political power.  He suffered and died to glorify God and the truth man and of the Judeo-Christian story.

Truth and perfection does not come from man, nor in mortal life.  The truth of the matter is that we live for what is transcendent.  Camus, French intellectuals, Merton and the activists have it exactly wrong.  Christ does not.

Shalom.

 

 

June 11, 2017

This is the day of Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad.

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There have ever been and will ever be men who … will seek to exempt … parts of their faith from (authority) … to keep their minds floating between liberty and obedience.

Alexander de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America (Volume II)

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In Texas a 19-year-old women with two adorable little girls –  ages one and two – and no husband drove to a house with a 16-year-old boy and remained there for 15 hours (doing who knows what) while leaving her children unattended in the auto.

Having been left in the overheated auto, the children died.

Today stories like this are commonplace.  Between this story and the pathetic behavior the former F.B.I. Director and a host of others (particularly in the Obama administration) and among Democrats in the U.S. Congress and the media – it ought to be obvious that we are a nation in moral crisis.

Likewise, it ought to be obvious that those who voted for Mr. Trump are making a moral statement about the dire condition of this nation and that they are ridiculed and condemned by public figures, Hollywood celebrities and a sundry airheads and ideologues in the media and the press.

Yet, what is our focus?  Foolishness.  Bathroom privileges, hunting for Russians in the electoral process, expansion of the debt ceiling on the way to eventual bankruptcy, the celebration of deviant behavior, etc.

In the face of this there is nary an intelligent thought given to the place of morality in public life and the history of our country.  And, de Tocqueville was correct: we trade our faith and its tenets for the opportunity to live as we wish. Hello, child sacrifice that we call “choice” and codify as “the law of the land.” Shameful.

One wonders were are the men and women in public life with the intellect, analytical skill, wisdom, courage and humanity to recount the truth that without faith, without a prominent and protected place for faith in culture – moral decline and eventual destruction is a certainty?

Our education system (especially the once “elite” colleges, law and graduate schools) produces ignorance and ideologues – those without wisdom, moral strength or worth.

Liberal Christopher Lasch was once asked about the decline in civility, personal industry and self-restraint in America and he explained it quite easily when he said it was the result of the decay of religion in our nation.  Yes, he saw the hazard in exiling God and faith from the center of culture, law and governing.

In a short time in America, our liberal elites and the unchurched mass have undone hundreds of years of wisdom through the pursuit of unbridled freedom to do as they wish … and children ages one and two and the unborn suffer unto death.

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Shalom.

We had best pray that those who are lost, might come to their senses and to faith, and for two little children who are now dead.

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

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Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country … To the land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great nation … And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Gen 12: 1, 2, 3

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I sit in the morning fog in God’s green land.  Behind the mist are the pastures and the hills and mountains that I am sure to see when the veil is lifted and the sky is opened. I listen to De Profundis and Palestrina’s Gloria from Missa Papae Marcelli.

The news of the world is troubling.  In this land we wake to stories of overdoses, and of the murder of two young Muslim teenage boys on the eve of their high school graduation, both honor students on their way to college, and of conflicts and hostilities in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  In our legislature the Party out of power acts like spoiled children, turns to obstruction while problems pile up and division disheartens.  Small groups act like angry pagans demanding this or that.  Racism surfaces among those once its victim.  The morning fog cannot hide the shame of this.

It had been four centuries without a prophet until Jesus emerged.  Four centuries.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters wondered why God was silent.  Then we received The Word, Immanuel – “God with us.”

We have been given the opportunity to become the children of God, to become the great nation that Abraham was called to bring forth.

Children of God and children of Abraham, but how do we act today?  We act as if there was no Abraham, no Jesus and there is no God.

Today we seek to create good through human acts but in place of good is conflict, discontent, selfishness, hatred.  The flesh and the will of man cannot triumph … it is God who perfects man, not man who prefects man.  Like Abraham we must be His vehicle, His instrument.

Like you I see the conflict, the needless hurt, the arrogance of man and woman, the reliance on self as if we are God.  We have credited ourselves with wisdom and power we do not have.

The good and wise man is humble, speaks softly – sees others as his family.

Are you the good and wise man?  Am I?

Shalom.

 

 

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

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If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

Shalom.

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

“It all approaches neurosis.”

William F. Buckley

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William Buckley’s above comment, made in 1980, referred to the liberal Left which refused to accept, despite overwhelming evidence, that Alger Hiss (an elite and a “golden boy of the New Deal”) was a Communist spy.

The Hiss matter is a reminder of how Communist, “progressive” and socialist “true believers” cannot accept facts or reality that disturbs or proves flawed their worldview, their ideology and all their wishful, fanciful notions.

The fact of the matter – it is the rare person who, once committed to an ideology, ever changes their view.  Having invested much on lies and that which is untrue, they prefer to sustain their views regardless of what evidence to the contrary is offered, established, proven in court and with convictions, or independent corroboration.

People, you see, avoid truth if it becomes inconvenient to accept it.  Likewise, many are not interested in the task of growth and self-examination … so their errors and mistakes are defended and facts contrary to their view are rejected out of hand.  Media, Leftist politics, universities and the privileged class are full of these people.

Yes, this seems like neurosis … and we see lots of it today.  Of course, in its violent strand (which we see today) in mob actions and brutal, hateful comments, unsubstantiated and slanted stories, as well as constant character assassination – neurosis becomes psychosis, i.e., real disorder.  We have plenty of this today, too – just look at the daily attacks on the President.  (The Left disdains those who dare to even suggest that they might be wrong.)

Many on the Left, including their media members, have gone mad – yes, bonkers. Pass out the rubber pencils and the “meds” please.

We live in an age of public psychosis.  Think of the hysteria of the celebrity class … can’t tell them too clearly from “journalists” and “talking heads” these days.

Shalom.

… when we are most human … we have greatest access to the soul …

Thomas Moore, in Care of the Soul

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We’ve come to a point where we miss the significance of being a human being. We have substituted racial identity, sexual identity, political identity as our primary identity.  We are homosexual before we are a human being.  We are Black before we are a human being.  We are “Democrat” or “progressive,” or “socialist” before we are a human being.

Of course this is not all people, but this is surely enough people that we have accommodated these identities into the culture in a manner that has been disturbing and destructive.

We have given special position and concern to race, sexual conduct, political preference and in doing this we have lost the single thing we have in common on this planet – that we are human beings first and foremost.

We need not be individualized to the point that we are less human beings and more a far lesser and insignificant designation of our own choosing.  In this specification we have created division and discord and balkanized a culture – separated ourselves from one another and made us perpetually at odds with each other … and much weaker as a nation.

To show you how bizarre this has become: Bradley Manning – the undersized, immature, young Army clerk who gave away national security secrets that exposed each of us and this nation to our adversaries and was sentenced to a long prison sentence only to be pardoned by Mr. Obama – is soon to be released from military prison.  The young Mr. Manning (having secured a sex change operation at taxpayer expense) will not be returning to private life however but rather has decided to remain in the military for the benefits it provides. Real public servant is he.  

So a sexually confused and disordered young man who committed espionage gets a sex change operation, a pardon from Mr. Obama (God knows why), and stays in the military – all at your expense even though his conduct made you and your family more vulnerable to nuclear attack and death.  

Do you see how a disturbed man’s sexual “identity” (disordered as it is) trumped his obligations and identity as a human being?  Selfish and sick to the core.  Do you see how Mr. Manning’s sexual disorder impressed Mr. Obama as something of importance?  Very disturbing. Feminized Democrat governance as cheap daytime soap opera!

Anyone who does not think this nonsense puts us as grave danger is fooling himself or herself.  We are human beings with obligations to one another.  That missing – watch out below … all tumbles.  Do you think of a moment that his “soldier” will defend you or die for you???  Heck, his Commander-in-Chief didn’t see anything off-kilter in this sordid matter.  How’s that for insanity?

Apparently the circus is in town … I hope it’s a not permanent addition.

Shalom.

Man of the People – It is reported that Mr. Obama received $3 million dollars for a foreign speech last week.  I guess “the Man of the People” conceives he and the wife will have a hard time existing on a lifelong pension with paid protectors and others handsome allowances.  Just plain folks they are.  St. Barack of the Freebie and False Persona. What a country!  And people attack Trump!!!  Hey, Barack is now “Mr. Gravy Train.”

… the Almighty will not pervert justice …

Job 34:12

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The Comey matter has generated a whole lot of conversation which reflects a broad ignorance among the politicos, media personalities and commentators (lawyers included).

Well aside from the inane partisanship among the Democrat Left, assessment of Mr. Comey’s worth is simply summed up in Job and the applicable quote above. To wit: Comey perverted justice.

You see, an investigator does not have the power to make the decision as to whether a person is or is not prosecuted, nor does he serve as a jury determining a person’s innocence or guilt.

Lest we exclude Ms. Loretta Lynch (the Attorney General) from her unforgivable behavior in meeting privately with the husband (Bill Clinton) of a person (his wife, Hillary Clinton) while his wife is the subject of a very serious FBI investigation – Ms. Lynch might well be reminded that she, too, in her inexplicable airport runway meeting served to pervert justice.

Neither Mr. Comey (head of the FBI) nor Ms. Lynch (the Attorney General of the United States) displayed any rudimentary regard for justice nor any evidence of the simple requirements of their ethical duties as lawyers.

Far beyond the obvious breach of legal ethics and of their respective, defined roles as judicial officers – both Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch remind us that a bright, well-educated person might be expected to grasp the concept which Job pronounces – that is: that justice is to be cherished not perverted.  Alas, neither were up to the task.

Sadly the mish-mash of frantic, idiotic public comments about Mr. Comey’s lawful dismissal by President Trump just underscores the worthlessness of listening to the news media, politicians, and self-claimed legal wizards on virtually any matter they care to mention.

Voices of the uninformed are many these days.  Talk though they may – they have not much of value to say.  Best find truth in what can be trusted.  Scripture will do very nicely.  To wit: Job works just fine in sorting out Mr. Comey’s dismissal and Ms. Lynch’s poor judgment.

Shalom.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called to one body; and be thankful.

Col 3:15

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We live in a hyperbaric environment.  Such are the doings of a highly politicized, secular mass communication culture.

Yes, the “news” is instant and almost inescapable.  And, yes – this keeps us ginned-up, on edge – involved in things we have, frankly, no control over on a day to day basis.

We are, to be honest, cranked up and riled by the daily news – a savage murder here, a major government screw-up there, a celebrity meltdown next, then a grotesque dishonesty, and the sprinkling of partisan name-calling and calamity here and there, oddball advocacy and opinions on top of it all.

My point?  We are apt to forfeit the peace of Christ that is our gift as Christians. Yet, we need not be swept up in the confusion, sin, shame, actions of others, foolishness and the anxiety and doubt that others create.

We can be at peace.  Yes, rest in Christ.  Stay in the peace of Christ.  That is your constant, your stability, your present and your future – here and for all time.

Quiet down.  Stay in Christ.  Stay in the stability that is that peace.

Shalom.

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