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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.

 

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The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing that I lack …

Psalm 23:1

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Do you ever ask yourself how did Jesus endure what he did?  In this question I suppose it is wise to realize that his strength came from his intimacy with the Father.

Yes, our strength, peace and contentment comes from our intimacy with God our Father.  Yet, think about this: what happens when we drift away from God?  When a culture divorces itself from God?  When God is no longer welcomed in the public square?

In such circumstances whither strength?  Courage?  Confidence?  Hope?  Friendship?  Community?  Family?  Love?  Peace?  Tranquility?  Insight?  Truth?  Wisdom?  Certainty?

Do you wish disintegration?  Illness?  Confusion?  Division?  Hostility?  Destruction?  A nation’s decline?  Then deny God … and you will gather all these and much more that is injurious.  Be certain of this – Western Civilization itself rests on Christianity, Judaism and the belief in God and our relationship with God.  And be certain of this as well: there are within and without those who deny God and aim to destroy those who believe in God and nation’s which reflect that belief.

Perhaps the tragic fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris is the impetus we need to realize that we in the West are a people whose very existence rests on belief in God and the faith which embodies that belief.  Make no mistake in this one thing we are in a very, very serious struggle.

Shalom.

Late start to my writing day.  Bitter, rainy and cold.  So much like life in Boston in the late fall, winter and near Spring – often providing a St. Paddy’s day snowfall.

Something about the raw chill of it all that bespoke life as it really is.  Such weather prohibits fictions of what life actually is.  You bones speak the truth … they are ancient in origin.

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… contemporary belief may be powerless to do more than “borrow light  and lightness from ancient lamps” and provide a sliver of hope for the few who are still driven “to take comfort in the periodic company of like-minded others, who day … ‘share the thing ancient that will not quite die.”

Roger Luden, borrowing from John Updike in Luden’s Believing Again.

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If you were to sit a bed watch for a dying culture you would ask: “Who believes?”  And, “Do I believe?”

One can make a plausible case that a death watch may well appear in a culture like our’s which moves intentionally away from religious belief.  Ah, yes – such is our moment.

As expected we are influenced in mass culture by unbelievers – the mavens of privileged,  immoral chaos, and self-exaltation.

I cannot tell you how to believe.  But I can tell you that belief is a gift if you dare seek God or look for the ancient sacred things destined to remain even if we die within.

I can tell you that my belief began when I was a child and observed the calamity so present in the conduct of others, the institutions and shallowness and lunacy they unwittingly displayed all the while those running them were thinking they “were something” other than small potatoes.

My vision has only been more confirmed with the ages – and now: mothers seek to “choose” to kill their children – born and unborn … and humans can mate with virtually anything, anywhere, anytime.  No sanctity there, people.

Believing.  What has your life told you of this?  What does today say of this?

The blind among us cannot see … and many are blind despite their eyesight.  In a dying age those who are sick cannot be saved but the children can be made stronger, wiser and more immune to human nonsense.

Shalom.

Joseph Campbell reacquaints Christians with the aura of meanings that hover about the religious incidents and stories of the New Testament.  As in treating Jewish history, it is in this aura – that is, in the connotations that by their nature blossom out of metaphors – that the deepest significance of the stories of Jesus’ life and work are to be found.

Many elements of the Bible seem lifeless and unbelievable because they have been regarded as historical facts instead of metaphorical representations of spiritual reality.

Robert Kennedy, Ph.D. in the Introduction to Thou Art That

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Census and almanacs, polls and quantification, ideologies and mere personal opinion or advocacy of one’s fetishes and fancies dominate dialogue today – that is, dialogue from radio, to the television, the internet, the college classroom, graduate schooling, to news print and newspaper editorial boards and political discourse (such as it is).

The point as to the above?  We know little and routinely misinform. Gibberish and nonsense pervades and too often prevails.  Chaos and decline follows – at enormous costs.

The problem is simply this – we understand nothing of depth in our ancient stories and the record of human history.  Hence, we live poorly, in a shallow way – in ignorance and without meaning.  Yet, we proceed unchecked, without pause as if all is well and what is said is true.  Yes, we drive with ears plugged and eyes closed.  Disaster tumbles out effortlessly – the byproduct is toxic … deadly.

Absent spiritual development – we are doomed to fail … and the absence of spiritual growth at high levels of authority produce greater problems than can be imagined.

Shalom.

 

… Jung’s system … functions as a religious path … fragmentation and wholeness are the pairs of opposites at the center of the religious quest.  (Emphasis added.)

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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I am a religious guy.  Faith is, and always has been, important to me.  I studied theology at the University of Notre Dame after years of law practice.  I lived as a vowed religious for close to ten years.  I am, one might say, someone interested in religion, one who believes that religion plays a vital part in the life and well-being of a human person.

That said, but for one very helpful and insightful person I met in my vowed religious life (Br. Tom Moser, C.S.C), I see no one who makes the point that our psychological health and contentment (along with our spiritual development and happiness) is dependent on our journey to wholeness as Carl Jung, M.D. so brilliantly describes.  

I can only imagine what society would be like if more people were whole and contented, and understood themselves and others more fully.  I can imagine in such a state – greater calm, wiser individuals and institutions, more humane behavior, less division, hostility and chaos – more fellowship and unity that breached all these artificial divides created by others so they might “reign” and enjoy an elevated status, power, health, fame and adoration.

Think for a moment about the disorder you see around you and the antagonism that flourishes in the public square.  Is it not utterly unnecessary?  When you have fully developed men and women – my assertion is that it is indeed unnecessary.

I pray that we will take on the task and sacred duty to grow in fullness.  Yes, a whole person is happier than one who is fragmented (broken) and divided within and as manifest in their outward conduct and troublesome disposition.

Shalom.

Talk About Fragmented – According to news reports a California politico is apparently confirming that he had and extramarital affair with Democrat U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.  Ms. Harris has not denied this report.  Do we need more immorality, greater destruction of the family and marriage?  Have we not had quite enough of this in public life?

Abortion Pays – Planned Parenthood had a profit of over $200,000,000 last year (according to news reports).  And we subsidize this tax exempt organization!  This is the Left turning life upside down.  Is this the best we can do?

It is reported that Governor Cuomo, Democrat of New York signed a bill making it lawful to abort a child up to the day of the child’s birth.  Scruples?  I guess not.

 

For some reason the post for January 23, 2019 appears under the Title Heading of the Blog and is identified thus Firm in Courage and Faith.

Difficult winter weather demands a great deal of attention when you live on a ridge in a sparsely populated area.  My mornings and some part of the afternoon are taken up with winter in the wilderness.  Hence my postings are often done in the mid-to-late afternoon … but they are done daily as they have been dating back to 2011.  Now in year eight.  Tally ho.

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Many of our young are uprooted.  They no longer believe in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and they have not found anything to replace them.  Spiritual leaders need to address this very real issue … They have not been able to translate the deepest values of their traditions, perhaps because they themselves have not fully understood or experienced them.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If our children are lost it is because we have failed them.  The elders have disappeared.  In their place are un-accomplished cosmetic, confused figures who thirst for power, notoriety, fame, wealth, celebrity, fulfillment of their own (and hence) selfish desires.

You cannot call these figures anything less than misinformed, ignorant, craven, selfish, wrong and destructive – the least accomplished of an over-indulged and over-educated generation.  Their failure is plain in themselves and in the lives of young people – from teen years to their 20’s and beyond.

Many of our children are aimless, impractical and rootless.  They know neither history nor themselves.  Tradition is a stranger to them – they are cut off from their past and many exist without ambition and initiative – in a sea of ease, affluence and institutions that cater to them and expect little of them.  Such softness breeds contempt and challengers none to excel, to exceed the hardships and errors that all life brings.

The young now threaten our collapse.  We own this bitter harvest.

Those who do not know the past know neither the present nor the future.  These young men and women like their priests and elders fail to acquire the experience of human experience.  In this: all is immediate or not at all.  Nothing is past, nothing is tomorrow.  All is now or a vague dream with no concrete avenue nor action to realize its accualization.

We have left them without a map, a charter, without access to wisdom and with but avant guard failed “isms” of the Left – pipe dreams with dissipating smoke soon dissolved into failure.  In high station we have a Jelly Bean Cleric and the Sex Scandal Band.

In the dock stand the men and women slightly younger than me.  “Our body ourselves” has failed as well it would and our children are lost … the shame is on us.  But no one takes the blame.  Honor is not in them.  And down we go.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

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.

 

Our culture has lost any clearly defined spiritual standards and aims, and our cultural values have become impoverished.

Christopher Dawson, in The Judgment of the Nations

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Dawson wrote this in a book published in 1942, when World War II was in full bloom. Three years earlier T. S. Eliot took the view that we faced the choice between a Christian culture or a pagan culture.

The question of culture and our well-being has been with us for eight or nine decades.  Yet, isn’t it odd that those occupying space in the public square speak with no particular appreciation for what Dawson and Eliot and many others (to wit: Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Danielou, Romano Guardini, Nicholas Berdyaev, Paul Tillich, et al) saw as the problem we faced in the West – namely, the disintegration of our culture.

I write about faith and culture and by necessity must address the words, thoughts, actions and inertia of those who command places in the public square.  Yes, I see a mix of theology, culture, history, religion, public policy, law, psychology, philosophy and literature as required to understand who we are today, what risk we run, what wrong turns we have made, and are making, what is lost, derided, discarded and abused by those who have our attention.

The ignorance of those in the public square is monstrous and embarrassing.  Political people alleging that a border wall is immoral while abortion is not as but one example.  Astonishing.  Simply, astonishing.  So many who speak with “certainty” minus doubt or evidence of serious inquiry.

What is my bottom line?

Throughout the centuries we have understood that faith grounds observation. 

No less a man than Albert Einstein offered this to validate the place of faith in intellectual inquiry and life – “God does not play dice” – i.e., mathematicians might say “Both God and the Pythagorean theorem … are believed to exist independent of the physical world; and both give it meaning.”

Faith is a necessary ingredient in human life, community, culture, peaceful existence, civility, full human development, human progress, knowledge, contentment, health, prosperity, intellectual growth and wisdom … and it is the absence of faith that generates the bulk of discord, abhorrent behavior, destruction, division, disorder, violence and hostility in our culture and that of the West today.

If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of things.

Mencius, 371-288 B.C.

The same can be said of citizens and those who claim to lead.

Shalom.

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