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The existence of evil is not so much an obstacle to faith in God as a proof of God’s existence, a challenge to turn towards that in which love triumphs over hatred, union over division, and eternal life over death.

Nicholas Berdyaev, Dream and Reality

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I am particularly alarmed at the verbiage in public discourse that conveys evil when faith is needed.  Mind you, the political rhetoric on the Left, in particular, has been most troubling … and it has ratcheted up over time and found allies in what must be a free and fair press and media.

What once was helpful dialogue has turned in time to ideology, division and too often to hatred.

In this is destruction and the foretelling of violence, if it is not halted – unless cooler heads prevail, and voices come to echo faith and wisdom, unity, good will, fellowship, compassion and community.

Let’s pause to consider evil – as our words seem to tell us now that we do not know the measure of evil, its destructive force – its capacity to destroy all in its way, tear down, maim and murder.

Think of this: “Judge, not, that ye be not judged.”  These the words of Christ.

Christ does not say we ought to be silent when evil appears – but rather that we first must judge ourselves before we judge others.

Sadly, I see not much proof of pause in the words of those so quick to accuse others of evil intent and evil acts.  So think again of Christ: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote in thy brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:5)

Today we are too quick to judge, to claim a moral ground that those who judge and condemn show no evidence of actually occupying.  Nae, what we see is ideological “got-ya” moments – the opportunity to make of morality itself a weapon of evil, a way to advance one’s quest for power, one’s idiocratic ideas and demonstratively discredited ideology.

Yes, evil is being “addressed” by evil.  There can be no greater harm done, no better way to perpetuate division and nudge us closer to more violence and bloodshed, than to hijack morality to advance one’s private desires for gain, superiority, power.  Such conduct is evil itself.

A response to evil must have pure objectives – to correct, to teach, to heal, to build relationship, advance fraternity, community, repair misunderstandings, restore justice, advance love, create a stronger bond with others, with what is right and good and lasting – to grow closer to God and others – while excising us from hatred and the craven desire for power and retribution for one’s real or imagined slights and injuries.

I close with this: those who see themselves as perpetual “victims” are consigning themselves to a life of unhappiness and anger when in their mere but sacred being they are, in reality, sons and daughters of a loving God.

Evil begets evil – until we seek the Good that is above and in us.

Shalom.

 

 

 

… false seeing … a love affair with words and ideas … But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with a judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And it usually is never fixed enough to deserve your protected self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall or Pause forever.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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When you pause to think about it – each day we are surrounded by other people’s words – a virtual down-pour of words, ideas, concepts, complaints.  The mere saying of them is accepted in the culture and common discourse as if these words convey something useful, truthful.

Need an example?  We speak of “multiple genders,” children in the third grade “deciding” that they are not male, but female – not female but male.  A man says his male sexual partner is his “wife.”

Yes, words are appropriated and their meaning distorted.  What was once “A” is now “Z.”

When life as it is is abandoned, false words and proclamation emerge and Truth vanishes.  We see here a love affair with words – a love affair with self, with fantasy, distortion – words used to personal and political advantage and the “hell with reality.”  In this, a journey away from truth in favor of fiction … and the added feature of fragmenting, dividing and destroying culture and shared community. 

Think too of ideology.  Despite historic evidence to the contrary ideologues tout the utility and “benefit” of socialism and the road to Communism – advocate for it without regard to its destuctiveness.  Here we have selfishness – the desire to tear down what others have built – anything to deny reality and life.

Things successful and unbroken are smashed with these words so those who cannot wade into life as it presents, or into history and common sense – arrogantly attempt to bend us to their disorientation and even their unhappiness and hatred.

You see this battle and its divide in our political parties – one houses those who hi-jack, usurp words and ideas for their own use and the other party that fights to salvage words, protect ideas and concepts that afford common understanding, support the essential and successful structures (marriage, for example) and institutions that have given us peace,  prospertity and freedom.

The battle over words as we have seen it thus far does one remarkably destructive thing – it has the capacity to alter the experience of human experience … the likes of  which substitute illness for health.

Where are you in this battle of words and established truth?

Shalom.

Almost all the great teachers say something to this effect: “Do not judge.”

But great teachers aren’t asking us to turn off our common sense and our rational minds; they are pointing to something deeper.

The great teachers are saying  that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with “No.”

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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We must be first open to life.  For life is the gift we receive and we are (everyone one of us) recipients of life.

Life teaches.  Life is the pre-eminent teacher.  To live life is to start with “Yes.”  “Yes” affirms life and the gift and Give-Giver and our basic shared identity as human beings … sacred vessels.

It has been said that one only knows what one has first loved.  It is in the “Yes” to life itself that allows us to see, and know, and grow, understand and experience more fully.  The “Yes” avows that in receiving life, we love life and the Gift-Giver.

Absent “Yes” one tracks to divide, distort and isolate.  The need to hide or control, deceive and argue soon flourishes when the fundamental “Yes” is denied, ignored.

Absent the primary “Yes,” as Rohr reminds, we are confinded to the shallows of fickled infatuation (from the Latin meaning “false fire”) not the indispensible breath of Love.

You see nothing can be known in its proper form without that First “Yes.”

The “First Yes” brings us to the fullness of human experience – life itself, our True Self, others, The Gift and The Gift Giver.

Shalom.

 

Ekklesia (Greek word meaning church)  … signified the assembly of citizens of the polis (a city or small state in ancient Greece), who meet to make decisions.

Dairmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thosuand Years

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The history of Western Civilization aligns faith or church with governing – ekklesia with polis.  But we live in a time (a treacherous time) in which that nexus is lost … and that loss makes for a far more errant society and culture – a government more prone to chaos than tranquility, distain and division than gratitude and unity.

This is where we are now in the West and in America. 

If you want a source of our problems in government, in law and in public affairs – look no further than the disconnection between church and state and the hostility and sickness that arises when this nexus is ignored, or worse yet – attacked, disparaged and forbidden.

Really, there is not much more to say except – when you listen to public discourse ask yourself one simple question: Does this man or woman speaking convey any sense that he or she knows anything at all about who we are and who we have been for centuries, or for the tenets which have provided our foundation, survival, peace and prosperity?

If you answer in the negative – stop listening – for that speaker deserves none of your time or attention.

Shalom.

Interviewer: Q. “You knew Jesus?”

2000 Year Old Man: A. “Lovely Boy. Thin. Wore sandals.”

Carl Reiner (Interviewer) and Mel Brooks (Two Thousand Year Old Man), in a comedy rountine entitled The Two Thousand Year Old Man..”

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We often miss the humor all around us.  We miss the “important” people who, trying to be serious, are often incoherent, senseless, contradictory – hence, funny – amusing – (bordering on idiotic) whose ideas sound (well) slapstick.  We seem to let a whole lot of idiocy pass as acceptable public conversation.

Case in point: young, noisey First Term Congresswoman Cortez recently made a spectacle of herself by shamelessly proclaiming to the world at-large that she was utterly puzzled by finding that a switch on the kitchen wall of her new residence activated something she realized was a garbage disposal.

She confessed that she was mystified by this device … and she was serious!  So a woman who proposes to utterly alter the American economy with her “Green New Deal” has not had sufficient exposure to the world such that she might have heard that people have a garbage disposal installed in their kitchen.  Yes, she said it frightened her!!!

I find this comical … and a tad unsettling coming from a person full of zeal (and armed with limited knowledge) who intends to reorder American life and its economy?

Chances are if your would-be leaders do not know what a garbage disposal is, they are probably not capable of handling the government’s business.

Apparently it is time to be skeptical about people with “big ideas” and limited life experience.  Have we not had enough of these people running free of late?

And isn’t it a good idea to invoke this question as it applies to those who wish to lead: Do you know the thin guy with the sandals?

Shalom.

“The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ … or he will cease to be anything at all.”

Karl Rahner

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Have you ever asked yourself how Jesus might have experienced life, and faith, and His relationship with The Father?

Our life is more a question of fully experiencing the human and hence divine experience of being a human being than anything else.

Yes, our completion and fullness relies on the full experience of human experience for in that our gift is made for completion – for a joining of mortal and immortal reality.

We are made to know fully – from Aplha to Omega.  In this we enter the Mystery.  There is: Truth, identity and relationship with God and all others, all things.  Therein is contentment, peace, traquility and the absence of fear and doubt, and uncertainty, anger and hostility.  Therein is love – the all surpassing love that is of God, that is God.

But alas, we do not see and opt to divide one from another.  The lesser among us divide so as to control, claim authority, impose narrow views that they alone conjure up or acquire from some favortite figure whose wandering defied God.  Marx comes to mind.

In lesser “gods” is foolishness, conflict, ignorance and illness.

The land is littered with those who foolishly chose ideology over God and doing so they close the mind and heart, and alter all opportunity for wisdom, faith, tranquility, peace, truth, compassion, humility, understanding, the experience of human experience – and the transcendence that is available to all.

Yes, we are an odd lot – given fullness, we seek division and hostility.

It is far better to know how to know than be told what to know.  It is far better to know how to see than be told what to see.  This is the difference between the curse of ideologues and Christ, between the rote “believer,” and one who believes because he sees and knows from the experience God in the experience of human experience.

When we settle into division – the proclaimation of “me,” “me vs. them,”  “us vs. the others” we are the antithesis of fullness in being, we are less than we are made to be, blinded not sighted.  You see we are of the Whole, nothing less.

Shalom.

 

 

After trips and computer problems, we are back to a more regaular schedule.  Writing in the morning.  Here we go.

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Man without God is no longer man.

Nicholas Berdyaev, in The End of Our Time

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I write about faith and culture – secular culture in particular, that is: culture hostile to God, culture that “glorifies” not God but man himself and herself.

Our nation was founded on liberty that relies on belief in God and the honor that accrues to those who realize that they have a sacred relationship with their Creator.  As Berdyaev says so simply and accurately: “Man without God is not man.”

The relationship between God, and belief, liberty and the human person is vital to our success, freedom and security.  Yet, alas we see the Democrat Party of the Left acting in opposition to our wellbeing because they do not appreciate and protect our legacy of God-belief-liberty-freedom-success-security.

What we see today in the lawlessness of Congressman Nadler’s attempt to discredit a good man and excellent lawyer in Attorney General William Barr as is expected.  “Expected” you say?  Yes, we have seen this Democrat disregard for law as the product of godlessness and its predictable by-products: chaos and destruction.

For those who question this characterization of the Democrats – I sight an article by Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post from August 16, 2013 (when it used to be a relatively serious and somewhat reliable newspaper).  The article was entitled “The Lawless Presidency” aimed at Barack Obama and his lawless actions – actions that discredit the U.S. Constitution and show us man shrunken to miniture when he acts without God.

Doctor Krauthammer reports the following – Mr. Obama’s Justice Department unilaterally deviated from federal drug laws so as not to punish otherwise punishable crimes.  Likewise, the Obama administration waived portions of the dubious Obamacare law without any provison of the law allowing this.  He personally directed a “70-plus-percent subsidy for insurance premiums paid by congressman and their personal staffs – under a law that denies subsidies for anyone that well off.”  Likewise he lawlessly suspended a cornerstone of Obamacare “the employer mandate.”

Krauthhammer further reveals that Mr. Obama granted exemptions from the law to preferred businesses, unions, and “other well-lobbied, very special interests.”  Krauthammer also reports Mr. Obama unilaterally eased immigration law and exceeded his authority and gutted the legislative process in doing so.

The point to be made is this: Mr. Obama (a man of no particular achievement or work record) acted unilaterally – acted far outside his lawful authority – and no one protested and no one stopped him.  Congressman Nadler is proceeding in the same manner.

So we come to this: man unrestained and without God is far less than man and the problems he creates are utterly destructive.  A moderately faithful man would know this – alas this is the Democrat Party of the Left today.  No God, no man.

Today Democrats are a lawless and destructive cohort.  Our silence and acquiesence will be our demise.

As Doctor Krauthammer notes acts such as we saw with Mr. Obama (and like we see with the Democrats today) are “banana republic stuff.”

Shalom.

… it is difficult for churches, government, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing.  Everything divides into oppositions … vested interests pulling against one another.  Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation.

… you can lead people only as far as you yourself have gone …

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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Richard Rohr writes of two monks of the 11th and 12th century – Hugh of St. Victor monastery in Paris, France, and Richard of the same monastery.  He tells us that these monks wrote that humans have been given three different ways of seeing.  One way arises from the eyes that produce thoughts.  The second way of seeing leads to reason, and to reflection and meditation.  The third way of seeing leads to true understanding and contemplation.

It is the third way of seeing that is the rarest and most evolved.  Whereas the first way of seeing is common, it produces little depth of experience, is more concrete and binds one to the immediate without nuance.  The second way of seeing allows one to relish his or her power to conceive of the material disposition of the world.  Ah, but the third way of seeing allows one to do more – it allows one to “taste” existence, to be in awe before the underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connects one with everything!

The third way of seeing is seeing as a mystic sees – seeing as God has designed us to see.  This seeing exceeds the senses, does not rest on knowledge and intellect alone – but rather sees in a manner that expands his or her consciousness – and in this is transformed, made whole, lives in and above at the same time, is mortal and immortal, contented, whole and wise in ways that neither the senses nor intellect can offer.

In commenting on this Rohr says “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sight-edness and religious crises in the Western world.”  Hence the above quote that leads into today’s blog.

The view that Rohr shares, Dear Friends, highlights how and why “identity politics” is so destructive, so wrong-headed, so primitive, tribal, hostile, aggressive, hateful and unappetizing.  Those with greater depth of human experience cannot abide that which pits one against another in a death struggle.  We are, after all, not made to be enemies to one another but rather brothers and sisters to one another.

This historic moment requires us to see as the mystic sees.

Shalom.

Another attack on a synagogue.  We are paying a horrible price for moving away from faith and religious worship.  It is not the weapon that kills but the cold heart of one who has lost faith.

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American society is now remarkably atomized … The Left has a lot to answer here.  There is a drift toward very fragmenting tendencies among left groups, toward this sort of identity politics.

Noam Chomsky

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When a man of stature who is a Leftist, as Noam Chomsky is, indicates that identity politics is a problem, we had best all think about what precisely identity politics has done.

It has, simply stated – divided people, made neighbors adversaries, made others the target of resentment and hate.  It has turned some to violence – that is people on the Left and the Right.  But even more than that it has diminished vital institutions.  For example, it has crippled the Legislative Branch of the federal government and some state governments – leaving us with inertia, hyper-partisanship and government by executive fiat (yes, “the pen and the phone” unilateral governance).  Such division destroys democracy.

Illustratively, no judicial confirmation process can be anything but a brutal effort at character assassination.  We saw this with the Judge Clarence Thomas hearing years ago and in the recent hearing to confirm the last appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Likewise news has ceased to be journalism and become mere partisanship – losing all sense of fairness and truth in its public presence.

What identity politics does is divide and division is very dangerous as a result.  With division comes hostility, even the provocation of violence as we have seen in the streets, on college campuses and in targeted public confrontations.

In identity politics we are estranged from one another, others are seen as enemies and all things become political – all issues or opinions are a source for disagreement and opposition.  In identity politics lines are drawn and others become the enemy – humility, and humor, and collegiality fade – friendships are lost and little to nothing is accomplished.

Make no mistake a culture of extreme political partisanship and ideology has badly marred religious and educational institutions where in the former age-old beliefs are abandoned and in the latter indoctrination has replaced learning.

In the midst of this – we are a weaker nation.

Take heed – some say we cannot get to genocide without first getting to identity politics.

Form all together one choir, so that, with the symphony of your feelings and having taken the tone from God, you may sing with one voice …

St. Ignatius of Antioch, in Letter to the Ephesians

Shalom.

 

Solo piano on a Sunday afternoon.  Fitting for one of many decades – when Dear Ones are lost to mortal time yet linger in the clouds, and the sky, and the sun and shadows, and the open fields and spring breeze, in the green of it all and in the silence broken only by singular notes of the soloist at play.  

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Books are a storehouses of human ideas.  The three great religions which come from the Middle East centre their practice on a sacred book and indeed are frequently known as Religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Diarmaid MacCullough, in Christianity the First Three Thousand Years

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Our faith is a faith of ideas – ideas that led to Western Civilization, its structures, its culture, its law, the nation state, our respect for individual liberty and for freedom and democracy, trade and the free market, prosperity, greatness in education, in the arts and science, and in human existence itself as it flourished.

MacCullough reminds us the the early centuries of Christianity were spent wrestling with difficult questions, with the understandings of Graeco-Roman philosophy and Judaism.  Further, he reminds us that social and political history is derived from ideas that appear in Judaism and Christianity and in our Greek and Roman forbearers.

The truth of the matter is that social and political history is dominated by theology.  But alas this is something that we scantly recall today.  Now we have those in authority who have no earthly idea of what the Oxford Professor MacCullogh knows so well as one of the world’s leading figures on the history of Christianity.

Now we have among us childish people who wish to tear down what centuries have produced – tear down without an inkling of knowledge of the past as it generously protects us today in our institutions, attitudes, structures, default settings, common language and long-accepted ideas.

Today the ideologues on the Left and the upstart dolts in the appropriately named “genreation x” desire a scorched earth and the destruction of common and critical institutions and relationships such as between man and woman, mother and child, husband and wife, adult and child, as to biological identity and what have you.

Ignorant destruction is NOT a pretty thing.  And its sweeps can occur in far shorter a time than it took to create what will be destroyed. 

Let’s be very plain – those who pursue radical ideas – who advance radical and immediate fundamental change disclose to us that they are not smart enough to manage even the simplest tasks or intellectual activity.  If you doubt this, I recall two simple statements of our most recent past President who boasted that he would “fundamentally change America” and welcomed himself on the public stage by saying “We are the people we have been waiting for.”  Only a man with no accomplishments in his life can lay claim to such nonsense … as in “I’ve done nothing to date – but will undo what many people before me have done at great price … ”

Yes, turn your back on Christianity, and on old white men, and history and free markets and our Constitution, on the liberties it protects, and on this Representative Federalist System of autonomous states and individual freedom and expect barbarism and tribal conflict amid the unjustified destruction and chaos that befalls the anger and ignorance we see and hear now.

Some are odds with who we are and what good its conveys.  Beware.

Shalom.

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