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… 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.

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.

Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Snow time in the mountains.  Lots of extra work.  Nasty weather coming my way.  A late post as a result.  Life is an adventure.  The wood burning stove is lovely, warm, relaxing just like the classical music.  Pretty quiet here.

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The Stoics defined philosophy as ‘striving after wisdom’ and wisdom in turn as ‘the knowledge of things divine and human.

Introduction to Marcus Aurelius Meditations (Penguin Book, Ltd.)

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Another day.  Another sign of religious bigotry.  It seems that a prominent homosexual advocacy group is airing its anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom disposition once again.

The recent complaint is that Vice President Pence’s wife teaches at an Evangelical school which stands by its religious beliefs that sexual intimacy is to be saved for marriage and that Holy Matrimony is between a man and a woman.

The objection is that the School holds to its religious tenets and that they are not the secular views projected by, at least, some homosexuals – as opposed to homosexuals per se.

Religious bigotry.  It is getting to be quite public.

I offer a suggestion for you should you need an orientation to this issue of religious bigotry.  If you encounter those who attack the basic tenets of your religious beliefs and particularly if you are a Christian and if you are a Catholic or Evangelical – simply ask the person who advocates something that violates your beliefs if they can explain to you what is the relationship between pre-Christian Stoics and early Christians or Christianity at-large.

Why would you ask such a thing?  To determine if the person critical of your faith and its canons has sufficient knowledge to offer an opinion on your faith and its articles of belief.  Further, the point is to establish that you have NO need to listen to someone ignorant of your faith, its history, its precursors and the historical evolution of Christian thought and beliefs that have provided the foundations of Western Civilization and America – its federal representative democracy and its remarkable Constitution.

Make no mistake – religious bigotry can destroy what we have in America and the West.  It is best that you stand by your beliefs and dissuade others that attacking religious belief is very dangerous.  Know what you believe and stand up for these things.

Religious bigotry is a serious matter.  We have seen the results of religious bigotry in the death camps of Nazi Germany.  We best not yield to such bigotry.

Shalom.

Postscript – It is always best to respect one another and one another’s beliefs.  Likewise it is better to build relationships with others and make of us a kind and supportive community fortified by faith.  Attacks on another’s religious beliefs are destructive.  So too is diminishing others whose views and choices are not ones you might make.

 

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.

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.

The goal of Western religions … is to bring about a relationship between human beings and God, who are not the same.  The typical attitude of the Levant, of the Near East from which our religions come, is the submission of human judgment to that power conceived to be God.  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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Having written of good and evil, we might turn to the discord exhibited by a large portion of the population in England, France, Italy, the United States and to a lesser effect in Germany.

What we see in each is a deep distrust of, and serious dissatisfaction with, elites who have governed over the last few decades.

What, one might ask, does this have to do with the above quote?

Western people are a Levant people.  It is foundational to us, our culture and its governing laws and institutions that we are owing ultimately to God alone – not the state or those who govern it.  Simply stated this belief is our identity and the bridge to one another.

When the state becomes too big and too involved in the intimate lives of its people, when it banishes God from the public square, approves of abortion, sees the nuclear family diminished, education become leftist indoctrination, dubious concepts as to marriage and sexuality promoted and forced on others, the freedoms in national Constitutions eroded, borders abandoned, the value national identity discounted, “climate change” adherence demanded of all, and economies decline if favor of globalism – we see the visceral reaction of common citizens – so deep is their belief that God alone is God and government, elites and boisterous advocates are not.

What we see today in France and England and the United States is common people in revolt.  Their anger is with the loss of their identity and all that flows from that identity which is based on a relationship with God not the state.

Secularism, damaging as it can be, has its limits … likewise elites have shown their limits.

What we see in the West is a fundamental shift with the thrust back to a restoration of our basic identity and the order of things.

No doubt the Left and the elites find this a hard pill to swallow.  Such is history.  Much is in play today.

Shalom.

 

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