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Dedicated to Friends – and to Butchie, Roger, Giel and Diane

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If you want to be reminded of the love of God, just watch the sunrise.

Jeannette Walls, in Half Broke Horses

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I am rarely ever unhappy.  In this is grace and with grace vision.  I see … and I believe.

Never had much trouble believing.  It just seemed right … obvious.  Think of the sunrise.  When your father deserts the family there is still sunrise, and Mama and her strength of soul that is belief.

My sunrises now are of slopping emerald green pastures, purple mountains and, cows and calves gracefully, slowly eating their way down the incline as the pink on the sky fortells of the inevitable Father Sun.

We get all tangled up in ourselves and in a small screen that is our life span when there is an endless unfolding movie and we see it in the sunrise.

Context.  We lose it more often than we retain it.  Yet, wait – think of lunch with an old friend and his old friends – they are the sunrise and Mama’s strength and belief.

Rest your eyes and heart and soul on sunrise, cows and calves, and pastures and mountains, the sky, Father Sun, friends, Mama, belief, and God.  Happiness follows.

Shalom.

 

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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.

Life demands for its completion and fulfillment a balance between joy and sorrow.  But because suffering is … disagreeable, people naturally prefer not to ponder how much fear and sorrow fall to the lot of man.  So they speak … about progress and the greatest possible happiness, forgetting happiness … is poisoned if the measure of suffering has not been fulfilled.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Psychotherapy and a Philosophy of Life (Collected Works, Vol. 16)

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Where are the adults and wisdom figures today?  Not in politics.  Not in higher education.  Not in media.  Not in journalism.  Not in public life.  Not in the law.  Surely not in the established bureaucracies of the government.  And most assuredly not in entertainment.  Not among the Leftists and the whining ideologues, nor among the “professional” advocacy class and the liberals on television or the products of “identity politics.”

Nope, we are short of mature, wise adults.

In large measure this is due to having few people with honestly examined lives.  Few who are familiar with human psychology, philosophy, the history of Western Civilization or history itself, few familiar with the Classics of literature, and fewer still who are spiritually developed and hence engaged in faith and guided by a religious narrative.

Super-power notwithstanding, a nation does not survive that is not populated with those who are broadly educated and are humbled by a life in which both joy and sorrow have been experienced.

When I look at the assembled collection of Democrat presidential aspirants I think only of this – “what a motley crew!”  Not a one to whom I’d feel comfortable giving a sharpened pencil.  Likewise, I prefer not to give attention to anyone in journalism – such is the state of that enterprise today.

So where does this leave one?  To the task of independent self-education – becoming familiar with a range of disciplines that instruct as to the collected understanding of the human person for good and ill.  And from this base – to the individual life lived to experience and know both joy and sorrow … which renders us sober, grateful, insightful, steady, humble, wise, courageous, faithful and joy-filled.  

Alas the miss-mash we see in the nonsense of a secular society stripped of wisdom and insight ought to call us back to common sense, more silence than chatter, and quiet application of life dedicated to proper education and conduct now simply honored in their abandonment.

Shalom.

Happy Easter!!!

“… dying he has destroyed our death, and rising her has restored our life.”

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There is no human life on earth that is not subject to sin and death.  Sin fractures relationships with others and indeed fragments our very self.  Death is “that ubiquitous reaper.”  But Christ changes that default setting that bedevils man and woman, child and adult.

Christ on the Cross redeems each of us from sin and neuters the dread of death, the pain of this mortal exodus.  In Christ we are upright in soul and being – sin does not imprison and death does not threaten.

In Christ we have a whole new existence – human wholeness, spiritual expanse, contentment, strength, truth, humility, certainty amid the unknown, community, friendship everlasting.  In Christ, all troubles teach and insight and wisdom abounds, patience too.

In Christ, love prevails as love is practiced in all manner of life’s encounters.

Imagine a culture in which consciousness of Christ was for each of us – the substance of each daily transaction, each moment, each idle hour, each day month after month, year after year.  Imagine Western Civilization restored to its formative reality – Imagine America and Americans at their historic best – humble, compassionate, brave, sacrificial, honorable, hardworking, strong, independent, dignified, sober, gentle, just, forgiving, confident, grateful for each day and each breath, faithful and kind.

The worm, Friends, is turning.  We have gone too long divided, disgruntled, angry, joyless, self-serving and without Christ.

The truth of the matter is quite simple – we need not “fundamentally alter America.”  Those who think this are mistaken, ignorant of many things – and in need of faith.  For them we might pray.

Shalom.

 

Christians are meant to be the continuing revelation of God’s Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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While our challenges may be many and run deep within us, our country and our culture, our task is quite clear: to be the continuing revelation of Christ in this world.

What makes this task initially challenging is that we are (independent of God) merely humans and as such we get angry, become busy, self-absorbed, weary and preoccupied.

Look about, many are angry (especially those in the secular Left – the socialists, Communists and radicals).  Confrontation can be quite hostile, even physical.

What is one to do?  Remain calm.  Be soft-spoken.  Avoid anger.  Simply respond quietly.  Perhaps take up your calling to speak to others of the truth of the Gospels.  Our task is to share Christ with others, to quell the hostility – defuse the anger.

In our most trying times – it is the peace of Christ which resides in us and gives us voice, courage and wisdom.  Yes, the peace of Christ in troubled times.

Shalom.

Postscript – Those who dislike Trump make their position known in rather intense and obvious ways,  We see this with Democrat Members of Congress and the news and celebrity class.  But few people ask: How did we elect Trump?

Well the news of the very wealthy in business, law and entertainment paying huge amounts of money to get their “little darlings” into once “elite” colleges tells you exactly why we have Donald Trump as President.  The elites live separately from the vast majority of all other Americans.  They live (as the Clintons so clearly do) above and apart from the vast sea of working Americans who pay their taxes without loopholes and privileges.

The arrogance of elites elected Trump, and their elected state, local and national representatives go one better – they ignore the will of the common voter on borders, the national deficit, abortions, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, education, religion and all manner of Leftist (i.e., socialist and Communist) public policy.

This is a divide that creates very real problems.

 

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

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.

 

 

A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

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The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Insanity is contagious.

Joseph Heller, in Catch 22

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Well, New Year’s Eve.  Resolutions, hopes and all that stuff.   Me?  I’d like a lot less insanity … and I lot more quiet.

Elizabeth Warren (of the high cheek bones) has announced she has formed and “exploratory” committee to assess whether or not she should run for President.

Oh, goody!

We need a faux Indian princess for President – especially one who is utterly unable to present herself to others but that she is screaming with the crinkled-up face that not even a mother could love.

Gee, I hope Lizzie does the old Cal Coolidge thing and dons the War Bonnet that created that infamously odd-ball photo of the taciturn Yankee (who, by the way was alsonot related to any American Indian).   History could be made, People!

Suggestion to the Princess: have the Exploratory Committee look for your husband.

The guy is M.I.A.  Frankly, I think in reality he is the “Invisible Man” from comic book lore.  Yes, when you think of sacred bliss with the Princess – being invisible qualifies for the heading “some guys have all the luck.”

Then there are the endless radio ads telling us of do-good community efforts – like early January 1st a.m. free rides for the completely intoxicated New Year’s Eve party-goers.

Imagine how many of these guys get dumped off at a house that isn’t their’s …

Yep, do-gooders … ain’t they something.

How about the do-gooder ad that introduces us to a guy (“Louie” who sounds about a half-step away from a dead-end) who tells us with glee that he had not paid his taxes in years and some do-good operation interceded and Ol’ Louie’s got out from under a huge debt just like that … shazzam!  Magic, I tell you!!!

Doesn’t that just make you so happy to have fully paid your taxes all these years!  After all, think of all we got to finance all the “great” things Father Government has done – all the efficiency and perfection they have authored.  Wow.

Louie missed out on being part of all that.  Poor Louie – that’s missing “all the good experiences” taxpayers have!

My hope for the future?  Fewer lunatics in public life, fewer people stampeding to “do-good” since their efforts are often less helpful than they think – and more humility, more responsible people who mind their own business and leave others alone, smaller government, fewer “advocates” of their particular insanity or fetish, fewer people who desire to “change” the world or make everything “better.”

Give me humility, responsibility, less non-stop public chatter and end to talking heads and CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CBS and the rest, and a renewed habit of wrapping fish in the likes of our “leading” newspapers.  Quiet would be just fine.

The alternative?  I join Yossarian in the hospital censoring out-going mail of all words but conjunctions.

Shalom.

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