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In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Democracy imposes a burden on its citizens.  The burden – to speak truth when what is false is said.  Ah, but this requires knowledge and courage.  While courage is perpetually in short supply, now knowledge is rarer yet.

Yes, the measure of our over-funded education system is failure, misinformation, ideology not free thought but special Leftist nonsense, softness, the destruction of language and belief, gutless “administrators,” the devaluing of education itself – and the long ago desertion of moral reasoning, virtue, honor or consistency.

Last year I asked my Ph.D. son what he wanted for schooling for his two young children.  He answered – “a place where they would not lose their interest in learning.”

That just about nails the problem.  A serious one at that.

You wonder why elected officials run about pedaling “socialism?”  Because they do not know what it is nor its inevitable thirst for total control and hence its inclination for the communist gulag, its hostility to human freedom, humans, religion and God.

At the present time, one is wisest who turns a deft ear to the “young, unlearned and inexperience socialists.”  And one is bravest who speaks truth in a room of silence.

Shalom.

 

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My soul, give praise to the Lord; I will praise the Lord all by days … Put no trust in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no help.  Take their breath, they return to clay and their plans that day come to nothing.

Psalm 146

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It is disheartening and quite alarming that Members of the U.S. Senate challenge the religion of nominees for the federal court or other assignments in the government.

Mind you it is only a nominee’s Catholicism or Christianity that is targeted, that is criticized.  Recently, a prospective federal judge was challenged by two female members of the Congress because he was a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus – a Catholic men’s group devoted to charitable giving.

There is nothing to say about this conduct but that it is disgusting and utterly and completely contrary to our heritage and the U.S. Constitution.  Only ignorant and bigoted people have such a view … and there is NO place in public life for such bigoted people.

By the way a number of these bigots have been women … utterly shameful.  Toxic femininity I guess.  What’s next?  Women in Klan robes burning Crosses?

We simply have to do far better than this.

Shalom.

In his inimitable, frank language, Epictetus explained that his curriculum was not about “revenues or income, or peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, slavery and freedom.”

James Bond Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior

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Navy fighter pilot James Stockdale is the only three star Admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy to have spent years of captivity in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war and become a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

He holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University where his focus was on the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus included.

Epictetus, as the above indicates, maintained a school in Rome the purpose of which was to produce students who could speak of philosophical ideas without “idle” babble. As he said “Let others practice lawsuits, others study problems, others syllogisms: here you practice how to die, how to be enchained, how to be racked, how to be exiled.”

Mind you he lived in a harsh time.  Indeed, he was a slave who gained his freedom.  He faced (as did many) a hard life with great risk.  His desire was to help others find a way to live well in the midst of real challenges.  Philosophy was his vehicle – as it was with Admiral Stockdale.

Epictetus thought that a person was responsible for his own “judgments, even in dreams, in drunkenness, and in melancholy madness.”  His view was that each person brings about his own good, his own evil, good or ill fortune, his happiness or unhappiness.  He held the view that to be a victim one must consent to victimhood and that in virtue is serenity.  Indeed, how we chose to live our daily life was key to our contentment, wisdom, survival and prosperity.

Why do I write of this today?  To raise the point that we are not captive to the language and conditions of secular culture.  As human beings we have a sacred autonomy that allows us to author a life that is positive and strong in the face of what seems hard, unjust, dismissive, hurtful, disrespectful, faithless and harsh.

We are made to know our freedom, dignity, happiness and autonomy and to encourage and respect others who possess precisely that same nature as we do.  Seems to me we could use a good deal of what Epictetus is “selling.”

Be well.

Shalom.

 

 

The Christ’s Breath

I am a hole in a flute

that the Christ’s breath moved through,

listen to this music.

Hafiz

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How do you conduct your affairs?  What does our public dialogue sound like?

What do you say with your actions?  Opinions?  Words?

I have been reading about Germany between the World Wars – in the Weimar Republic.  It was a contentious period.  A time of division.  And the rise of anti-Semitism and a decline in public morals.  In my readings, I do not see where people of faith spoke up in opposition or made a difference in any effort to do so (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, notwithstanding).

What is my point?   The breath of Christ is to move through us.

Shalom.

Postscript – I have often asked myself “Am I doing what God wishes of me?”  I suspect in some was this daily blog allows me to be the a hole in the flute … that (on a good day) my writing transits the breath of Christ.  At least, I dearly hope so.

 

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.  In your compassion blot out my offense.  Oh wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51

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This from Morning Prayer – Psalm 51 is most useful reading.  It speaks honestly of our imperfection, our capacity for sin.  More importantly it speaks to us truthfully.

It acknowledges that we fail and that sinful conduct is an offense committed against God.  This, of course, is a humbling truth.  To admit our own shortcomings, however, is essential to identifying with precision who we are and who God is.

We are merely human; while God is Perfection – and we are imperfection.

The Psalm reminds us that God desires our growth and humility and the strength to admit our failures and our sinful conduct.  In this disposition, we come to know God and in our humility acquire wisdom and the avenue to communion with others who are made just as imperfect as we are (without exception).

Progress in a well-lived life has much to do with knowing our limitations and faults and admitting them.  Such admissions anchor us in the reality of being human and the reality of a Loving God who prizes our honesty and humility.  You see, in admitting our humble humanity we order ourselves to a relationship with Our Creator.  In this, life becomes easier and good arises naturally from our modest acts and thoughts.

So I end with this, also from Psalm 51:

Oh rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue will ring out your goodness. Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.

God desires our goodness emerge from within us.  Civil society depends on this as does our human flourishing.

Shalom.

Postscript – Yesterday, a newly elected female member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Muslim and Leftist from Detroit, Michigan, choose to celebrate her being seated in the Congress by dropping a crude phrase (to wit: “Mother-F”) in reference to a member of the opposing Party.  What a classless presence in celebration of “democracy!”

This is what we have that is offered as leadership material by the Democrat Left – a coarse and vulgar person with a surplus of hatred, hostility and ignorance.  Thus saith the Democrat Left.  How sweet!!!  Does she actually eat with this mouth and kiss her children with same???

Psalm 51, Friends, Psalm 51.

You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.  For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced and the day is at hand.  Let us throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly … not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy … put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13: 11-14

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A new year is here.  We may each set a course.  Darkness or Light – that is the choice we have.

Look around you, in this culture we have divorced ourselves from what has been a true and beneficial course.  We have abandoned what is good and taken to what we want for ourselves.  We have become quarrelsome, divided ourselves from one another.  We have normalized destructive behavior – indeed legalized such conduct.  Individual responsibility is replaced by idleness and dependence.  Sexuality has displaced love.  Families have been gutted.  Babies destroyed.  Addictions and suicides abound.

Our wisest course?  To put on Light and renew our faith – make faith the very center of our consciousness and each day.

For the Christian this means a relationship with Christ must be at the center of our existence.  Anything less will be opportunity missed and the continual destruction of what has been a faith-driven culture in which civility meant a regard for one another and community.

Think about this – a new year is an opportunity to live well and seek what is good and lasting.

Shalom.

The intellectual and moral virtues perfect the human intellect and appetite in proportion to human nature, But the theological virtues do so supernaturally.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologiae

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When do you ever hear a public figure, or a cleric for that matter, suggest that intellectual and moral virtue (talent, attention or focus) serves only to perfect human nature while theological virtues introduce one to a larger reality – that which goes far deeper than intellect and appetite?  The answer: never.

Public chatter is devoid of depth and, at that, not particularly useful.  Rather it sets a very small frame of reference and excludes so much frontier that its value is less than positive given that fact that it leaves out more than one needs for full human growth and development.

In a word – public discourse does at least as much harm (probably more) than good.

That said – do you not think it is a wise idea to equip yourself with some familiarity with the theological virtues?  Why be less whole and ultimately mistaken by being poorly informed by those in public discourse who are themselves ill-equipped to offer any significant insights worth our attention?

Think about it.

Shalom.

 

 

” … what else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

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If one listens to policy makers, academics, politicians and those at the top of the income ladder, you would think that your world, your identity, your happiness, your life itself depended on government policy.  Nonsense.

Global “warming,” transgender this or that, government shut-down, health care for all, these or those socialist “perfections.” – all nonsense.  Our personal well-being depends on how we feel, the state of our interior life – the peace within or its absence.  Our spiritual growth and development and our subsequent orientation to life itself is what matters.

That said – there is a “takeaway” you can bank on – Our health is in feeling on the inside – our national foundation depends on the same thing … a healthy nation has a healthy population and that health depends on our internal growth and contentment … hence the fallacy of elite “governance” is this – the elites have no idea what a sound foundation is or who they are.  Indeed, their arrogance and blindness to self and others is the “cause” of populism here and in Western Europe – people are unsettled (ironically) because policy makers discount them, do not know them – and proceed with their “folly’ delivered as if from “on-high.”  Balderdash!

Cultures rise and fall not on policy but on the welfare of its people – that is our interior health one by one.

It follows that one must discount all the talking heads but those whose language and life reflects a sound interior life and its attendant insights usefully shared.

Be so advised.

Shalom.

Rainy Day and it begins with Sonny Criss and Blues in My Head.

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… Christ has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him … he bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you have come to share in the divine nature, and escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. (Emphasis added.)

2 Peter 1: 3-4

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We live in a noisy world.  A whole lot of nonsense spoken and visible – and we are without a filter.  That said, think about what nonsense you take in and the way it alters your state of being, your mood, your perception of the world.

Let’s me frank.  We are exposed to people who speak but know nothing.  People whose words are better ignored for the idiocy they convey.  Too many godless and childish voices and we do virtually nothing to avoid them.

Listen to Peter.  Christ is our screen – yet, we let people talk to us who know not much and surely not Christ.  Why would you let yourself listen to foolishness – to godless nonsense?  Do you let others serve you rancid food?  Of course, not.

Where is your discretion?

If you wish to digest what is good, to hear what is purifying and clean and points to eternity and the good that is freely given to you – then pay attention to Christ, to his disciples – to what is in Holy Scripture and what has good and has withstood the test of time.

Presently there is corruption all around and abundantly so in those with who dominate  public arenas.  Time to be discreet.  Sharpen your hearing and your sight by taking up the habit of reading Morning and Night Prayer (as Catholics we call this prayer of the hours).

Being engaged in a routine of morning and evening prayer orients your eyes and ears to what is good, grows your heart and soul – is an immediate guard to the depths of corruption and inanity that is ever-present in public discourse today.

Be wise.  Be a discrete listener and viewer.  Such discretion leaves the insanity and corruption to others.  You need not be drawn into all this mess for you have been given Christ.  Make this gift your foundation, your orientation to each day and what surrounds you.  Health, happiness and wisdom awaits you.

Shalom.

 

 

Beautiful Sunny Day in the Mountains.  All is quiet.

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Father in heaven, creator of all … Teach us the value of human love, show us the value of family life, and help us live in peace with all men that we may share in your life for ever.

A Portion of a Prayer from Morning Prayer for the days following Christmas.

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Do you wish one easy way to improve on the culture we now have?  Think about the above.  “Teach us the value of human love.”  “Show us the value of family life.”  “Living in peace with all men.”

It begins with love, does it not?  But what do you know of love?  More importantly – what does your culture seem to know about love?

Oh, in this culture we are swamped with sex and sexuality – but that is NOT love.

Think about the advocates focused on sexuality.  You find them in multiple voices but all focus on sexuality and sexual pleasure – and frankly focused on their self-centered desires.  How else can you define the killing of an unborn child as a “choice?”  How else can we waste time talking about “multiple genders” – something of utter nonsense?  Or how can same-sex “marriage” be the equal of Holy Matrimony?  In all these things we have been reduced to those who live far from love as it is meant to be known among human beings.

What of the “value of family?”  How can we have no-fault-divorce?  So many adulteries?  Mothers walking away from children?  Teen mothers?  Fatherless families?  Men who flee their responsibilities as fathers?

And as to peace with all men – how can we be goaded into divisions based on gender (male and female), based on race, religion, ethnicity?  How can we let peace be taken from us by divisions that are exploited for selfish political reasons all of which sow seeds of conflict and say to us: “I divide so I might rule over you?”

God rules, man does not … and those men and women who assert their leadership over us with ideas that shame God and what is good and holy ought to be dismissed promptly for their ignorance.

Amid all this – “A child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests … ” so says the Prophet Isaiah.

Love.  Where is it?  Where is it in culture?  In you?  Why do you let others hijack love from you?  Be played the fool no longer – for a child is born unto us.

Shalom.

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