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… those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Mt 23:20

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Make no mistake there are distinct, substantive differences between our two major parties.

Do not be deceived the last electoral result highlighted the very real difference between the common citizen and the elites: those with power, money, status – the intellectual and celebrity class, globalists, the media, the perpetual Washington insiders whose class status is far different from Mom and Dad in small town U.S.A. , and between the ideologues, “special pleaders,” and mere citizen taxpayers.

Frankly, the privileged class lost and the most politically-focused of them (the Left and the Washington wags who are used to being “important”) are offended and not taking their bite of humble pie very well.  Yes, their obstruction and rhetoric is destructive – having gone beyond civil debate.  Actually, their behavior mimics the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature who fled their state and hid from their official duties so as to thwart the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Like all actions people take, the angry objection to the voters choice of President tells us about those who are upset.  One thing it says is this: politics and power is a high priority for them – probably too important for their and our wellbeing as a nation.  Make no mistake a subset is NOT greater than the whole.  No one is more important than the nation.

It is always hard to speak to your Brother and Sister when they must be reproached – but speak we must – speak calmly, in a soft voice, as a friend, with authority and care. Reconciliation is the goal and it must always be.

Losses are difficult for many.  Those of us who have lived modestly and, in my case, on the “wrong side of the tracks” amid the very serious conflicts one can encounter – we are used to life’s ups and downs.  We learned long ago that no one wins all the time and that it is the losses which actually teach us the best lessons, impart the greatest truth and wisdom.

The one thing that we need now is a calm conversation with those who are most displaced by their perceived loss.  For civility to return, maturity must be cultivated and in this instance it means those hurt must listen to the voices of those who care for their welfare and that of this nation.  Yelling, fighting, anger will only inflame and put much at risk … including each of us.

Remember the opposite of love is not hate – but rather: indifference.  We cannot afford to draw battle lines, engage in nasty and dishonest behavior, retribution, character assassination, or violence.   Honest, calm conversation is the need.  An end to extreme language that excites ideologues and flames the fire … it must cease today, now.

I hope we are all to the task.  It is the humble who are exalted.  They are strongest who life has humbled.  Make no mistake – in the end the humble remain standing while the prideful fall. 

Shalom.

Postscript – I am always amazed that the “talking heads” on T.V. and many elected officials talk and talk without ever citing an authority – the words of someone whose insight and wisdom they share.  You have to conclude that they are talking through their hats, haven’t cracked a book since the 3rd grade.

You wonder: why would I listen to these people?  They really do not warrant my time.  They do not.  Happy landings.

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

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If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

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.

Such a wonderful cool spring rain – gentle and quiet.  It pairs with the heart’s beat, easy breathing, the green and flowered forest, the pastures, hills, mountains, and umbrella pale gray sky.  It is a day for collecting thoughts, writing notes to friends, and making a chicken stew while incense burns and floats in the air.

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“How long are you going to keep killing people?” Lady Astor would ask Stalin brightly.  “As long as it is necessary,” he answered …

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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When he left his secret Communist espionage ring Whittaker Chambers felt “an uneasiness, an anxiety” which he identified as “spiritual.”  He pondered how and when it was that the “spirit of man” had gained its foothold in him.

He recalled he had wondered, quite involuntarily, what Communism lacked?  Why it was such “a rat’s nest of intrigue and faction?”  Why it housed a “corroding cynicism?”  What “keeps the human level of Communism so low?” Why it had “not produced a single inspired work of the mind” since the Revolution?

Chambers asked, is it God that it lacked?

He reasoned it’s killings and deceits injured the soul.

Yes, without God man’s actions most often attack the soul, and put to danger and trial the “spirit of man,” his essence, his identity – his divine inheritance.  In this is the edge of conversion in man.  

Within each of us is a longing for good, for God.  When this longing is neglected, denied (as it is by ideology and it our present highly secularized culture) man is estranged from himself, his true identity  – and meaning, purpose, intimacy, optimism, and peace are lost.

Today, we are like Chambers – captured by ideology and secularized culture. Combined they breed division and hostility and heighten anxiety, worry and isolation.  It follows the sooner one turns to God, the sooner health and civility is restored, community and fellowship are renewed, and we find peace and meaning – and become whole and one again.

Think critically.  Are you Chambers?  Is your brother or neighbor Chambers?  Your pastor?  Elected official?  Have you lost longtime friends whose lives are narrowed and governed by ideology, secularism, and utopian political nonsense?

In this past century, Mao killed 60 million of his countrymen, Stalin killed 50 million, and Hitler thirty million.  All ideologues.  Each godless.

Think about it.  140 million people killed by political ideologues.

Shalom.

Dedicated to my Grandchildren, my Nation and to you.

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Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness.  But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the Lord will come to an end.

Is 1:27-28

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It is Lent.  We are closing in on Easter and the Resurrection.  Is it not a good opportunity to take this time between now and Easter to reflect on the above and ask: What do I see around me?  What do I hear daily?  In the news?  On television?  What is the state of our culture? Our nation?  Our leaders?  Our public conversation?

Have we forsaken God?  Have we listened as if there is no God?  Have we deserted our faith?  Been led astray?  Become pagans and thought and acted as such?

What is the tone of public discourse?  Do those among us divide for the lust of power? Have some among us elevated ideology and politics above all else?

Who among us speaks with faith?  Shows the courage to offer an honest picture of who we have become and how that is so unflattering, so godless?  So destructive of person and nation?  

We live in urgent times.  In talking about the Jews and Jerusalem and Judah, the Prophet Isaiah is speaking to us, today at this hour, in this time.  You best take heed.

Nothing good, absolutely nothing good, comes to those who forsake God.

If you do not live first in faith, then who but yourself can you blame for the troubles we have and the decline we court?

Shalom.

Discouraging – It is truly discouraging to see so many House and Senate Democrats carrying Mr. Putin’s water in their efforts to delegitimize President Trump and anyone who dares to challenge the settled and corrupt ethos of political Washington.

It leaves one to conclude: (a) they are the unwitting handmaids of Mr. Putin, (b) they are showing their Leftist allegiance, (c) they love the sweet Washington honeypot that gives them privileges the voting public does not enjoy and keeps them from real work, (d) all of the above.  Whose team are these guys and gals on?  Putin’s?  Their own?  Both?

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

The moments of hell come when everything militates against the open heart.

Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs

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Those things which are true rise up and converge.  You see, what is true and good is lighter than air, cannot be held down.  Did Christ not rise up?

In his book Everything Belongs, Catholic priest Richard Rohr reminds us that “Group-think is a substitute for God-think.”  Oh, that the Left might consider this as it applies to a whole range of its misbegotten ideas, “causes,” and views!  I think, in particular, of “identity politics” – the childish, godless idea that life is “my group/my view against your group/your view.”  Such an attitude translates thus: we are good, the other guys are bad.  It divides and makes enemies, not friends.

Identity politics (a Democrat staple for decades) is shameful.  It fosters idolatry.  It says me and my group are “special” and you are: a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, a misogynist, etc.

Closing the heart opens the doors of hell.  Identity politics closes the heart.

When we separate from one another we forego the enchantment that resides in faith, and hope, and belief.  We limit our full human development; we assault the Spirit, deny God and injure the soul of others.  Identity politics is assaultive, destructive, hate-filled.

Identity politics and its name-calling denies that we are all divinely created and each only a little less than God, made in God’s image. 

Identity politics blinds us.  It keeps us from the revelation of God – God as God resides in all of us, in all that sits within Creation, and rests in the world to come.

Over the last few years I have had some wonderful chance encounters with African-Americans, individuals who were strangers to me.  In the course of simple, friendly conversations we have each shared time as friends, neighbors – just people.  In these encounters I have taken the liberty, in the light of wonderful fellowship, to simply say to them: “Thank you.  I have so enjoyed our conversation. May I offer this opinion: I am so sick of those who divide us and keep us apart.”  In each case, my comments have been met with warmth and complete endorsement.

Friends, the open heart is the gateway to heaven.  Enough with “identity politics.” Brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends will do just fine.

Shalom.

Please join in a modest act of evangelization – share this post with others if you feel so inclined.

Remember St. Francis’s dying words: “I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do.”

… Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Emphasis added.)

Mt 9: 28, 29

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Here Jesus is speaking to two blind men who approached Him.  They wanted to see.  He asked if they believed.

What if a good and contented life were as simple as believing and, in believing, seeing – seeing the world anew, seeing more completely, seeing what you have missed for so long … seeing with the eyes of faith, and living in the Spirit?

Imagine if your lack of belief made your life more confusing, less coherent, less settled, less joyful, less happy, more conflicted, more lost, more wasteful, and more difficult.

What a waste to have shunned belief in favor of unbelief and all the discord that it piles on a person, relationships, a family, a community, a nation.

Such a simple proposition, so easily ignored and at such great a cost.

This Christmas season renew your experience of The Christmas Carol.  Ask yourself: Do I believe?

Believe and your life will conform to the faith you have been given.

Shalom.

Footnote: CNN had a panel assembled to “discuss” the Trump victory.  It was quite obvious that those assembled are from the We-Know-Better-Than-The-Peasants Brigade.

David Gergan (a/k/a David Gurgle) was especially haughty and “superior.”  He of Harvard (where but there or Yale) was beside himself, just incredulous that people voted “for him” (Donald J. Trump).  The arrogance is staggering.  The absence of humility stunning.

Makes one think we have wasted a whole-lotta-moolah on college education and have much too much room for “experts” who so resemble macaws.

And yes, I have three advanced degrees – so I am not without some bona fides in raising this issue.

Mr. Gergan has been out of the work force for some time.  Can we make that official?

“today’s longing for any, even the most illusory, certainty …”

“The question tortures today many people: how does one believe … “

“The only thing to be regretted without qualification is for man to be perfectly adapted to totalitarian society … Hence we should all be sick in some way.  We should all feel despair …”

Czeslaw Milosz, in his letters to Thomas Merton

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A longing for certainty.  The very capacity to believe.  Totalitarian despair.

Milosz, living in Communist occupied Poland identifies some of what a large number of Americans experience today, and his words help explain the fundamental divide in our society and the nihilism that accompanies today’s popular culture.

As to certainty, the only certainty we possess is hope, and that comes from faith.  Yet, faith is under attack, dismissed by our elites, academics, “entertainers,” media, politicians, judges, bureaucrats, and others.

Yes, religion, a cornerstone of America, is dismissed by those who have dominated culture, commerce and national governance.

Belief.  Without religion, there is no belief.  The starting point for believing arises in and from religious experience.  Without belief, there is despair.  Without religion, totalitarians prosper and despair and its consequences thicken as death lays hold in many, premature and violent forms.

This is our present snapshot.  This is the recent electoral result.  This is England leaving the European Union and Solidarity chasing the Communists from Poland.

Certainty.  Hope.  Faith.  Religion.  Believing.  Freedom.  The desire for these produced the rejection of those at the top of popular cultural, political power, commerce and finance, in the media, in entertainment.

We have seen this statement in the recent election: “No” to the totalitarian conformity of political “correctness” and its indoctrination.  The root of this rejection is a thirst for hope and the certainty of belief, for independence, dignity, purpose and meaning, for moral order and freedom to be as God made us to be.

The godless always overplay their hand and engage childish fits when their unearned comfort is disturbed.

Shalom.

Addendum – Barack Obama says “history” will be Castro’s final judge. Wrong again, Sir.  God does the final judging.

This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the Left and modern liberalism and the wayward places their thinking gets you when they are in power. 

Thinking of history as our judge, not God, is so Leftist, so material, so temporal, so small, so narrow, and so hopeless.  Out, out dark spot!

And how about Hillary and Co. joining the “recount” brigade!  Trump holds out an olive branch of “no more investigation” and true to form Hillary takes the branch and claims the tree and all the land coast to coast that it stands on.  Liberals never could spell “grateful.”  A jackass is the perfect symbol for these people.

In a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger …

Albert Camus

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These are the post-World War II words of existential author Albert Camus.  But do they make sense?

What is the effect when one is divested of illusion?  Does this not liberate from something that is false?  Not true?  Make-believe?

To live an illusion is to divorce yourself from what is real.  It is to live what is false.

One could say that this quote suggests that Camus lived an illusion and was comfortable in it.  Such a life is childish, leads to imbalance, illness, error and chaos.

A life conformed to illusion is a life lived by the Left.

He also thought the end of illusion deprived a person of hope.  How can that be?

For a Christian, the end of illusion makes room for faith.  God fills the void that arises when illusion is dispatched, falls away, is banished, debunked.

Look about America now.  See the illusions.  See hope chocked off by “political correctness” that memorializes illusions, institutionalizes madness and immaturity.

In thinking of “political correctness,” think of how aborting a child becomes a “right.” How Holy Matrimony is distorted, “re-defined.”  How distinctions between men and women are eradicated.  How a nation’s borders are dismissed.  How ISIS cannot be plainly named by Leftist politicians who cling to their fantasies and impose them on others.

In a real way, since the end of World War II, the West has had this fundamental challenge to face: Do we believe or do we not believe?

The Left does not believe.  To them living the sickness of illusion is preferred, and faith must be challenged because it poses a threat to their distorted existence.

Yes, the battle is joined in the West and the U.S. now.  The question is simple: To believe or not believe?  That is the basic question that divides us.  That is the division the Left imposes on this culture, this nation and the West at-large.

I believe.  Do you?

I have not lost hope.  My hope has enlarged with each demonstrated failures of the Left. The more they show their failure, the more space opens itself to Belief, to God.

Stranger?  No.  Child of God?  Yes.

Where are you on this?

Shalom.

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