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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

We see the world … as we are …

Stephen R. Covey

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These seven words are worth remembering.  There is truth in them.  Our actions, inactions, thoughts and concerns tell others who we are.

Thinking about this I am struck by two things: (1) how often we meet or are exposed to difficult or disordered people in this culture, (2) how often we can conclude that those we encounter have defaulted to a status far below their full growth and development.

This brings me to Carl Jung, M.D., and this opinion: we do little or nothing to present people with an understanding of what a human being is, and how we are formed and develop.

Jung’s life work provides a useful template which we neglect at great expense.

His view was that each person had to develop as the individual person they were created to be (i.e., individuation).  To explain this process, Dr. Jung focused first on the psyche.  

Jung divided the mind into a conscious and unconscious sphere.  The latter is divided into two components: what is personal and what is collective.  The personal is composed of lifetime experiences – including things forgotten or repressed.  The unconscious is comprised of universal and timeless images and understandings that are “inherited” and formed in archetypal patterns the denial of which creates disorder, keeps one from full development and individuation.

Jung’s view is that when one attends to the conscious (the center of which is the ego) and neglects the unconscious imbalance follows, and reaction appears in dreams, dream images and fantasies intended to encourage the full experience of human life.   Those who repress or neglect the unconscious sphere rely on ego alone and their assertiveness and disposition can be punishing to themselves and others upon whom they impose their will.  Yes, rely on ego and consciousness alone and disorder arises.

The latter, those egotists who impose their will, are abundant in politics and mass media today – giving rise to the hostility, bias and rather zany and self-destructive ideas advocated by the Left and ideologues today.

The practical point to be made is this: when you encounter those who advance strange ideas and insist on your allegiance to them, and turn hostile when you pause or refute their views you are likely facing one who is imbalanced.  One who does not manifest a healthy humility, is frantic when there is no reason for such a state – is probably short of the development they can, if the wish, achieve.

When you look about, when you encounter people and groups who are insistent and aggressive, who demonize those who do not agree with them – you are wise to discount their views.  Their behavior itself discredits what they advocate or propose.

Shalom.

Amazing – It is amazing to listen to the “Priests of Climate Change” who see those who disagree with them as heretics … and use scathing words to show their discontent.  So much for tolerance, civility and a democracy that allows for difference of opinion.

 

Please note: the Post for May 30, 2017, will be added approximately noontime, U.S. East Coast time.

…Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings from his flock.  The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not.  Cain greatly resented this …

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”  When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Gen 4: 3, 4, 5, 8

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What are we to make of this story?  What might we learn?

God favored the younger Abel over his older brother, the firstborn of Adam and Eve. Cain is deeply resentful and murders his brother.  Might we carry something significant from this, something that would give us wisdom, teach us a fundamental truth about God, the world, human beings, you?

Universalism does not apply to God.  God gets to do what God wishes to do.  In faith we realize that there is a point being made, something significant to be learned and retained.

Here we realize, we do not govern God.  God gets to pick who and what is favored. We, like Cain, cause real problems when we impose our views on God, and rebel when our point of view, reasoning, expectations, desires are not met.

In God’s favoring of the younger son over the older, the story demonstrates that man’s law is not imposed on God or God’s law.

This brings me to “social justice” – a man-made vehicle to force all sorts of human claims on others.  And to “human rights” which is similarly used to disparage those who do not fit the view of this group or that.  In each instance, the proponents are Cain.  Arrogant, special pleaders – forcing views on others as if they are God.

Cain failed to force his view on God.  Might we learn something very useful from that?

I am constantly reminded that most of the liberal dialogue imposed on the public is rife with ignorance and that it does great damage … is unexamined, not put to the test.

Unabated, the liberals end as Cain – discontented with a world that does not bend to their desire, and killing others and creating conflict and division where it need not be.  Like Cain, they try to force their views on others and on God.  Disaster follows.

Shalom.

Postscript – Marxism, Marxist social theory, the Left, “progressives,” Communists, American liberals today force their views on others at all cost.  They are aggressive, arrogant, harsh, antagonistic, intolerant, conflicting, divisive, destructive and quite often wrong.  Does the Cain and Abel story inform us today?

Excarnation … the process by which religion is dis-embodied and de-ritualized.

James. K.A. Smith, in How (Not) to Be Secular

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The challenge we face in America and the West is excarnation.  The question posed: will we believe or will we not?

Failing to believe in God, we shall all the same rely on something to anchor us. That something might be our gender, or our sexual behavior, an ideology, our self to the exclusion of all others, or nothing at all …

Yesterday, little was said by American mass media of the killing of a bus load of Egyptian Coptic Christian mothers and children on their way to a monastic retreat. Why, you might ask?

The answer is really quite simple – those who govern media are excarnated.  They do not believe.  Religion does not matter to them … or to the Democrat and “progressive” Left politicians, by the way.  It is worth noting that Senator Schumer did not pop up on T.V. to rant about the killing of these innocent, unarmed believers.  Granny Pelosi was absent, too.  No surprise really. Remember, candidate Obama referred to believers as those who cling to the guns and the Bible … and Hillary thinks of believers as “unredeemable.”

The Left does not hide its hostility, nor its ignorance.

If you want to know what is at the core of the hatred of Donald Trump – it is not Trump himself but those who voted for him and their beliefs.  Religious belief is an obstacle to the pagan practices and policies of the Left.  The core of today’s problem in our nation and the West centers on belief.  

Incarnation or excarnation?

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.

… imagery can be interpreted as … psychological; for it is possible to observe, in the earliest stages of the development of the infant, symptoms of a dawning “mythology” of a state beyond the vicissitudes of time.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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I remember one of my first lectures when I entered a year of monastic life in the mountains of Colorado.  The speaker, an experienced Catholic priest, told us this: never lose touch with imagination.

Imagery.  Campbell tells us infants show signs of having a natural state of mind that exceeds the “vicissitudes of time” – that is, that accesses the mystery of life that has been recorded by varied humans, in varied cultures over the entire stretch of human history.

Oh, if that natural state were present in America and Western Culture today!  But alas, we are secularized and our ignorance is displayed in ideologies that bring us to ruin – personal and collective.

I get emails today from friends I have known over the years and with whom I have retained kind relationship.  The ones I refer to are in a twitter, a panic – turned to fear and frantic language; to wit:” Trump is a liar and those who support him are fascists, crazy, demonic, etc.”

Mind you, these are emails from people with college degrees who have cash in hand and have done well financially.  I note that they lack the state of being that brings them beyond the vicissitudes of time.  They have been sufficiently secularized, their imagination crushed and their range of experience boiled down to less than that of an infant.

These are brittle and sadly limited people.  Fear grips them.  Panic is near, and hatred within reach.  Resentment and anger has replaced calm and optimism.

When the Catholic Mass is said and the Body and Blood of Christ is consecrated the priest says “Et Verbum caro factum est.”  (And the Word was made flesh.)  This is the experience of apotheosis – an exaltation to divine rank … making what seems but one thing, yet another more glorious than our mere human perception thought it to be.  Imagination.  

We have lost the capacity to imagine, to access and experience what is Divine, Eternal, Real, beyond the vicissitudes of time.  We have been dumbed-down and where hope was once known hatred, panic, anger, antagonism has taken its place.

By the way, I sadly count those who offer attacks in emails as casualties of secularism and dismiss their “views” accordingly. Education notwithstanding they are lost … lost to the mystery, converted to all that is material, now – lost to Truth and the long yesterday of the human story.

We live very poorly today in the West… and one wonders if those who wish our death and destruction live closer to imagination than we do?   At the same time it seems the case that some among us, without imagination, pose a danger all their own.

Shalom.

I am a man … I am a splinter of the infinite deity …

Carl Jung, M.D., in Memories, Dreams and Reflections

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Think about yourself as being in a dream each day.  Think also of what you have heard reported on the news as part of the dream.  Think of the White woman seeking to lead the Democrat Party who said her job would be to tell White Democrats to “shut up” or about the skinny woman on the airplane that felt “privileged” to verbally assault a fellow passenger who attended the Inauguration. Or the washed-up celebrity who thinks of blowing up the White House.  Or the D.C. rioters and child fire-starter who at age nine or ten wanted to say by this matches: “Screw the President.”

Are the events of this dream not unsettling?

But, why?

Perhaps, you (like Carl Jung) and others are a “splinter of the infinite deity.”

Suppose that is our baseline identity, our actual state of perfection.

Just as the dream would be disturbing, so too isn’t the present day?  Are we not surrounded by troubled, sick and lost souls – yes, others who in their misdirection cross from normal to hostile and in this touch the boundary of insanity.  Has their cheese not slipped off the cracker?

Why do we not plainly identify this conduct?  And then clearly sanction those whose illness disturbs us all, eases the standard of civil conduct, and unchecked – spreads their illness.

In this unchecked coarseness are we not denying God and the sanctity of the human person – splinter as we are?

There are in this dream we now live daily insults and aggression that we need not tolerate.

Shalom.

… intolerance … is an evidence of weakness: the confident can afford to be calm and kindly; only the fearful must defame and exclude.

Harry Emerson Fosdick, in Adventourous Religion

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Well the American Left is supporting a boycott of L.L. Bean because one of the fifty members of their Board of Directors voted for Donald Trump.  So much for tolerance.

The American Left in practice.  This is their standard behavior.

” … intolerance is absurd and barbaric.”  So says Voltaire in his 1766 Essays on Toleration.

Shalom.

The day begins with the frozen stillness of a winter predawn sky and snow-covered ground … and with two Our Fathers and two Hail Marys … and the Introitus with its reassurance and certainty … Yes, in the snow-covered ground God calls us back to our purest self.  Yes, the same snow that fell on Jews in the frozen winters of their captivity in Nazi death camps.  The same snow.

 Soon enough a fire will warm the house and the burning wood will crackle, and time will be at once past, immediate and forever.

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A thought transfixed for me: for the first time in my life I saw truth … The truth – that love is the ultimate and highest to which man can aspire. (Emphasis added.)

Viktor Frankl, M.D., in Man’s Search for Meaning

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There is a scene in Schindler’s List when Oskar Schindler emerges from his residence to find ashes falling from the sky like snow flakes.  These ashes?  The burning bodies of Jews killed in the concentration camp where his factory was located.

Snow and ashes.  God and man.  Love and hate.

I am a Catholic.  My wife was Jewish.  A sweet, smart, funny, petite girl without any malice that I ever detected.  I will never understand how anyone could justify killing her because she was Jewish.  Nor will I ever understand anti-Semitism.

I would think a wise and good-hearted man might recognize that Israel should not be betrayed as it was when the Unites States failed to protect her and her population at the recent United Nations Security Council vote.

I am left with a simple conclusion: those who betrayed Israel are neither wise nor good-hearted.

Last night it snowed here.  The day holds the chill of winter as it is before the sun ascends.

In the quiet of this early morning, I readied my wood-burning stove to provide heat for the day.  First I emptied it of ashes from its prior use.  I thought of Sylvia, and those who perished in Nazi camps.  Snow and ashes.

Snow and ashes.  Do those who betray Israel ever think of snow and ashes?  It would seem not.

What have we become?  Auschwitz and abortion.  Snow and ashes.

Shalom.

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