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… left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them.

N. T. Wright, in Surprised by Hope

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For a person of faith it is never the case that can do nothing when matters are getting worse.

Why would I say that?  I say this because if one is a Christian one has a mission and that mission is the mission of Christ … to live in a manner that announces, witnesses the Good News of the reign of God.  And that Good News is that God is present and faithful … that God remains present in all times and circumstances.

In this, we can always have hope and certainty that God and Good prevail … and we always have the task of witnessing that reality … and all the more so when evil is present and on the rise.  And today we see this evil so present in culture and the godlessness of ideology in politics today, and in the errant conduct of many prey on others and promote decline of person and society.

For a Christian – doing nothing in the face of evil and self-destruction is NEVER acceptable.  We are a people of hope … of public witness, and courage.  Act we can and act we must.

Shalom.

 

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Coming Out of a Snow Storm … Renewing the Blog

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I don’t think of conversion as being once and for all and that’s that.  I think once the process has begun and continues that you are continually turning inward toward God and away from your own egocentricity and that you have to see this selfish side of yourself in order to turn away from it.  I measure God by everything I am not.  I begin with that.  (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor

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Call.  Conversion.  Covenant.

This is the essence of a relationship with God.

Our longing for God is God’s call to us.  Implicit in this call is our response.

When you yearn for God you are posting for your answer a “response.”  That is, your yearning for God implies a need for you to stay “Yes, God – I desire you, that you be in my life each and every day.”  Yes, your yearning presents a radical trust and subsequent affirmation that you wish to bring God into your life and that you trust God completely – so completely that no other thing surpasses God in your life.

A call hastens a conversion.  In this your life is changed fundamentally and forever.

In this conversation you enter a covenant.  A covenant is NOT a contract (an agreement that can be broken, altered, amended, reinterpreted).

No, a covenant is a faith relationship in which each party assumes the responsibility to be faithful to it and the other party to it.  Yes, God offers unending love and relationship with you, and you offer the same to God.  God chooses you and you choose God – all doubt, all confusion ends – in time temptation has no appeal – good seeks its presence in your life and life has new, sacred and eternal meaning.  In this you have a purpose and certainty in the face of what is yet to come and to know.

In parting, think about thiswhy everywhere does the political Left, the socialist, the Communist, the totalitarian always attack religion and God?

The answer is simple.  In a covenant with God your loyalty is to The Divine, not the state and those who wish to control every aspect of your life.  There is after all a reason why freedom of religion precedes freedom of speech in our Constitution.  The reason?  Our Founders valued God more than state … Do you?  That is the very question we face as a nation today in the United States – all referendums are referendums on God and your relationship with God, the protection of your right to free access to your faith, to God.

Make no mistake, the policies pursued by the Left in the United States are intended to destroy your relationship with God.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

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Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

We cannot reach faith by reasoning … We can prepare for it by reflection, by longing for it, and by pleading for it.  But it can only come as a gift.  Once it has been given , life assumes a new direction.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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You have heard it said that “seeing is believing” but I say it is precisely the opposite: believing is seeing.

Yes, look around you.  Listen to what you hear.  Are those who command public attention offering anything rooted in faith?  The likely answer is “no.”

In what they say what do they see?  In what they say what do they believe?

So why would you listen to those who do not believe?  Who showing no faith, possessing no convincing insight seek that you might follow them?  Advance their ideas, fetishes, fanciful fictions?  Who lacking belief cannot see?

I have never been particularly prone to be a follower.  Neither have I been bound to the plain of reason alone.  No, life evolves in each of us as lessons, challenges, setbacks, sufferings, betrayals and unexpected insights and gifts.  My point?  We are called to the path of belief by all that happens to us, all that we encounter and observe, feel and decipher in the good and the bad.

In my life believing has given me sight, the capacity to see in depth, in dimension that allows for faith to be known and experienced, for confidence to fortify, and patience to be supplied to all things.  And this sight has given me the capacity to think far more creatively and act more wisely and decisively than one might expect.  In this, fear is dispatched and opportunity takes its place.

The wise and cunning person is the faithful person, so too the insightful and decisive one in our midst.  Humility is present in them just as calm is. The best among us put ourselves to the good task, the good objective – not for themselves but for others, strangers, those yet to be born and those already gone.

The self-serving neither see nor believe but oh, they talk incessantly and many among us foolishly listen.  I have never been one of the foolish listeners.  In this I have tamed being alone quite easily and enjoyed the fruits of belief as faith has grown.

Shalom.

Where loves rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Love and power.

Jung is saying that the will of one that desires foremost that one attain power presents us with one who lacks love.

Turning this on its head, I think of one who loves … one such as Christ who loves and demonstrates this: – those governed my love indeed are powerful without needing to secure a position of power.  For it is the case that love has power particular to itself, and calm, and certainty, and in this an other-worldly/transcendent nature.  Love endures all things and surpasses all things – surpasses betrayal, suffering, loneliness, rejection, poverty, hunger, isolation, and all manner of evil deeds and the need for mortal kingship.

Think about the images of those who seek power.  Of Lenin.  Joseph Stalin.  Fidel Castro.  Adolph Hitler.  Mao.  Their legacy is not pleasant – labor camps, imprisonment, death, suppression of individual freedoms, confiscation of private property, hostility toward religion.

Think too of today and those who seek political power here, among us.  Think subjectively.  Do they seem loving?  Sacrificial?  Calm?  Humble?  Or are they smitten by status and political power?  Do they impress you as somewhat odd?  Captured by a will to power and the necessity of a public stage, a title, a preferred status, special treatment, access to wealth?

Those most likely to lead are those who have no need for power, no desire to control others or pursue radical change.  Those who divide us by race, class and gender lack the voice of love – for love does not divide, it unites.

It is a grave danger when a political party divides us by race, class and gender.  In them love is absent and there is no unity … rather division and decline.  We are strongest when there is no divide.  For that, love is essential.

Shalom.

 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Aristotle

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Throwing money at institutional “education” has set us back in that last five or six decades.  Yes, education of the mind and not the heart presents us with not whole people but slivers of indoctrination – in our case … with small-mined ideologues, life un-examined.

The heart.  The heart.  The heart.  We are more than a brain – which is but a secondary organ.  People survive brain injuries, no one survives without a heart.

Wonder why you see the sights and hear the sounds you hear in contemporary media and culture?  We have poured dubious ideas into college students but little to reveal what Aristotle knew 300 years before Christ.

Great damage is done by those who have not done the work of understanding who they are and what the purpose of a lived life is.  When we neglect the mystery and truths about mortal life, when we ignore what has been complied on this subject in the last 2500 years and in many cultures all along that time line – we are far less “educated” than we reckon.

Such is the cause of the nonsense we see daily … of the foolishness and hostility of those who vie to lead this nation, influence others, advocate all manner of mischief.

Best you see where we are and how we have missed the mark very substantially.  And better yet – best we are to listen critically and discount all those whose sing-song rhetoric does not witness in the speaker wisdom of a life fully lived and the humility and calm that such experience generates.

Shalom.

 

“How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?”

Arthur Schopenhauer, in On the Foundations of Morality

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This is precisely the kind of question that is not asked by individuals in America today.  It is precisely the sort of question in which we are of a very desperate need.

Its absence is the product of our failed education system – especially university education and makes its absence in a secular culture that denies God in favor of “trivial pursuits.”

Yes, what we concentrate on does not seek the feel and understanding of the mystery that this implicit in this question and others of its ilk.

I give you one such distraction that is our preoccupation.  It is “equality.”

Who images any one person is in every measure the equal of another in very detail?  No one who is thinking.  Yet, we chase in all sorts of “social justice” pursuits “equality.”  Likewise such a notion allows us to divide in hostility one from another.  Such estrangement does great damage – separating us woman from man, and by race, religion and income.

Yet over all these separations and distractions – one stops to help another who suffers.  One risks one’s life for another. We do this because we are who God made us to be in the doing of such things.

In contrast, the political climate separates us and with God in exile we grow further apart and weaker as people and as a nation.

My constant frustration is this: I see hardly anyone in public life who lives as if they ever ponder as Schopenhauer’s inquiry so clearly does.

We ought to be ashamed and less a pack of complainers and more individuals with interest in the defining questions of life that make us far better people and a stronger and more faithful nation.

Shalom.

“Once we go down the path of abstraction we’re taking moral risks, psychological risks.  We become drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”

Walker Percy (as reported in Robert Coles, M.D.’s book The Secular Mind)

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” … becoming drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”  It sounds like an abstraction itself but what if it is descriptive of us, of who we are – and who our “leaders” think they are?  And worse yet, what if those leaders act on this drunken misconception?

Walker Percy (himself a Catholic convert, medical doctor and extraordinary novelist) went on to say this to Coles: “Thomas Aquinas … worked his mind hard so he could understand God’s intentions.  But today, even our theologians aren’t interested in God … ”

Percy continued “a lot of folks believe in their beliefs, they believe in their ideas, they believe in themselves, and maybe they believe in someone’s politics or some social cause … ”

Centered in the head (in abstraction) creates moral and psychological risk.

Ironically, we have come to see Percy’s observations rooted in all manner of people who know little of God, history, great literature, psychology, philosophy, or moral theology who careen thither and yon in the public square like characters from a Monty Python movie telling us: “a wall is immoral,” “suspend the ‘presumed innocence’ in all “he said, she said” allocations, infanticide – once murder – is now hunky-dory … etc.

Moral and psychological risk indeed … add risk of social chaos and a rise in instability, suicide, mental illness, random violence, addictions, idleness and overwhelming discontent.

Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote of the concrete manifestation of the moral risk to which Percy referred in his presentation entitled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters” in which he was rightly highly critical of the present expectation that judges will act as “moral arbiters.”

Says the Justice: ” … there is no reason to believe that law-trained professionals can discern (the right answers to moral questions) more readily than, say medical doctors or engineers or ethicists or even the fabled Joe Six-Pack.” Yet, I add in concert with Justice Scalia this is precisely what activists judges and Leftist politicians and policy makers do today.

So this is where we are on many fronts – abortion pursuant to rape becomes “choice,” which becomes killing a child on the eve of or after the child’s birth.

Liberals have led us to the moral and psychological wasteland that Walker Percy and his colleague (Doctor, writer and psychiatrist) Robert Coles saw so clearly four or five decades ago.

Now that you might see, what will you do?

Shalom.

 

Back after a day of travel …

So long as men and women believed themselves to be responsible beings, called to choose, and accountable to God for their choices, life might be tragic, but it is not trivial.

Sydney Cave, in The Christian Way

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Ah, yes … and when Christianity is attacked, shunned and meant to be made unimportant how will we avoid the creation of tragic and chaotic circumstances and horrendous deeds – like infanticide, opiate use and producing early death, or random murders, preying on the innocent, the stripping of all that is in human sexuality and destroying the family?  And who among you understands the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

Who in the public eye connects faith and responsibility.  Surely not the Socialist whose view of God is much like that of a Communist – namely, that God neither matters nor exists (translation – God is an unwelcome competitor to those who desire all power reside in them so they might be gods and goddesses.)

When a culture departs from individual responsibility in favor of the scapegoating of a select group (“old White men,” capitalists, people of faith … etc.) it ushers in an age of terror and precipitous decline … as we see now in Venezuela … and the Democrat Left’s embrace of infanticide and the abolition of Constitutional freedoms long ago clearly defined.

Shalom.

 

Underlying most arguments against the free markets is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

Milton Friedman

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It really is amazing to see a once wealthy, stable, free market Venezuela today in ruins under socialism and to see Democrats in this country looking to create a socialist utopia here in the United States.

Think about it.  In socialist Venezuela those who govern are rich as can be … and everyone else in the country cannot find food to eat.  Make no mistake socialism makes the small class who govern very, very privileged and very, very wealthy … socialism enhances the power of those who govern while impoverishing everyone else and stripping them of freedom. 

One would think that this avoidable tragedy just might inform the Democrat Left and their brethren in mass media … but then again the “pie-in-the-sky” legions of day-dreamers never learned from Communist Cuba, Communist Russia, the national socialism of Hitler’s Germany .. and besides their advocacy of socialism is intended to place them in power so that might live very well while others grovel and claw for food.

History shows us that socialism manufactures economic destruction, corruption, poverty, starvation, totalitarian government and loss of freedom.

It is hard NOT to recognize that socialism is a failure and that those who pursue it (as Friedman says) are opposed to freedom. Venezuela provides no greater illustration of the destruction that socialism brings … and no greater proof that those pushing this in the United States should be rejected out-of-hand.

Finally, those who reject freedom never seem to be particularly faithful.  That too ought to be a clue – a warning, a signal that nothing good can come of their daydreams and desires.

Shalom

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