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The existence of evil is not so much an obstacle to faith in God as a proof of God’s existence, a challenge to turn towards that in which love triumphs over hatred, union over division, and eternal life over death.

Nicholas Berdyaev, Dream and Reality

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I am particularly alarmed at the verbiage in public discourse that conveys evil when faith is needed.  Mind you, the political rhetoric on the Left, in particular, has been most troubling … and it has ratcheted up over time and found allies in what must be a free and fair press and media.

What once was helpful dialogue has turned in time to ideology, division and too often to hatred.

In this is destruction and the foretelling of violence, if it is not halted – unless cooler heads prevail, and voices come to echo faith and wisdom, unity, good will, fellowship, compassion and community.

Let’s pause to consider evil – as our words seem to tell us now that we do not know the measure of evil, its destructive force – its capacity to destroy all in its way, tear down, maim and murder.

Think of this: “Judge, not, that ye be not judged.”  These the words of Christ.

Christ does not say we ought to be silent when evil appears – but rather that we first must judge ourselves before we judge others.

Sadly, I see not much proof of pause in the words of those so quick to accuse others of evil intent and evil acts.  So think again of Christ: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote in thy brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:5)

Today we are too quick to judge, to claim a moral ground that those who judge and condemn show no evidence of actually occupying.  Nae, what we see is ideological “got-ya” moments – the opportunity to make of morality itself a weapon of evil, a way to advance one’s quest for power, one’s idiocratic ideas and demonstratively discredited ideology.

Yes, evil is being “addressed” by evil.  There can be no greater harm done, no better way to perpetuate division and nudge us closer to more violence and bloodshed, than to hijack morality to advance one’s private desires for gain, superiority, power.  Such conduct is evil itself.

A response to evil must have pure objectives – to correct, to teach, to heal, to build relationship, advance fraternity, community, repair misunderstandings, restore justice, advance love, create a stronger bond with others, with what is right and good and lasting – to grow closer to God and others – while excising us from hatred and the craven desire for power and retribution for one’s real or imagined slights and injuries.

I close with this: those who see themselves as perpetual “victims” are consigning themselves to a life of unhappiness and anger when in their mere but sacred being they are, in reality, sons and daughters of a loving God.

Evil begets evil – until we seek the Good that is above and in us.

Shalom.

 

 

 

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After trips and computer problems, we are back to a more regaular schedule.  Writing in the morning.  Here we go.

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Man without God is no longer man.

Nicholas Berdyaev, in The End of Our Time

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I write about faith and culture – secular culture in particular, that is: culture hostile to God, culture that “glorifies” not God but man himself and herself.

Our nation was founded on liberty that relies on belief in God and the honor that accrues to those who realize that they have a sacred relationship with their Creator.  As Berdyaev says so simply and accurately: “Man without God is not man.”

The relationship between God, and belief, liberty and the human person is vital to our success, freedom and security.  Yet, alas we see the Democrat Party of the Left acting in opposition to our wellbeing because they do not appreciate and protect our legacy of God-belief-liberty-freedom-success-security.

What we see today in the lawlessness of Congressman Nadler’s attempt to discredit a good man and excellent lawyer in Attorney General William Barr as is expected.  “Expected” you say?  Yes, we have seen this Democrat disregard for law as the product of godlessness and its predictable by-products: chaos and destruction.

For those who question this characterization of the Democrats – I sight an article by Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post from August 16, 2013 (when it used to be a relatively serious and somewhat reliable newspaper).  The article was entitled “The Lawless Presidency” aimed at Barack Obama and his lawless actions – actions that discredit the U.S. Constitution and show us man shrunken to miniture when he acts without God.

Doctor Krauthammer reports the following – Mr. Obama’s Justice Department unilaterally deviated from federal drug laws so as not to punish otherwise punishable crimes.  Likewise, the Obama administration waived portions of the dubious Obamacare law without any provison of the law allowing this.  He personally directed a “70-plus-percent subsidy for insurance premiums paid by congressman and their personal staffs – under a law that denies subsidies for anyone that well off.”  Likewise he lawlessly suspended a cornerstone of Obamacare “the employer mandate.”

Krauthhammer further reveals that Mr. Obama granted exemptions from the law to preferred businesses, unions, and “other well-lobbied, very special interests.”  Krauthammer also reports Mr. Obama unilaterally eased immigration law and exceeded his authority and gutted the legislative process in doing so.

The point to be made is this: Mr. Obama (a man of no particular achievement or work record) acted unilaterally – acted far outside his lawful authority – and no one protested and no one stopped him.  Congressman Nadler is proceeding in the same manner.

So we come to this: man unrestained and without God is far less than man and the problems he creates are utterly destructive.  A moderately faithful man would know this – alas this is the Democrat Party of the Left today.  No God, no man.

Today Democrats are a lawless and destructive cohort.  Our silence and acquiesence will be our demise.

As Doctor Krauthammer notes acts such as we saw with Mr. Obama (and like we see with the Democrats today) are “banana republic stuff.”

Shalom.

… it is difficult for churches, government, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing.  Everything divides into oppositions … vested interests pulling against one another.  Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation.

… you can lead people only as far as you yourself have gone …

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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Richard Rohr writes of two monks of the 11th and 12th century – Hugh of St. Victor monastery in Paris, France, and Richard of the same monastery.  He tells us that these monks wrote that humans have been given three different ways of seeing.  One way arises from the eyes that produce thoughts.  The second way of seeing leads to reason, and to reflection and meditation.  The third way of seeing leads to true understanding and contemplation.

It is the third way of seeing that is the rarest and most evolved.  Whereas the first way of seeing is common, it produces little depth of experience, is more concrete and binds one to the immediate without nuance.  The second way of seeing allows one to relish his or her power to conceive of the material disposition of the world.  Ah, but the third way of seeing allows one to do more – it allows one to “taste” existence, to be in awe before the underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connects one with everything!

The third way of seeing is seeing as a mystic sees – seeing as God has designed us to see.  This seeing exceeds the senses, does not rest on knowledge and intellect alone – but rather sees in a manner that expands his or her consciousness – and in this is transformed, made whole, lives in and above at the same time, is mortal and immortal, contented, whole and wise in ways that neither the senses nor intellect can offer.

In commenting on this Rohr says “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sight-edness and religious crises in the Western world.”  Hence the above quote that leads into today’s blog.

The view that Rohr shares, Dear Friends, highlights how and why “identity politics” is so destructive, so wrong-headed, so primitive, tribal, hostile, aggressive, hateful and unappetizing.  Those with greater depth of human experience cannot abide that which pits one against another in a death struggle.  We are, after all, not made to be enemies to one another but rather brothers and sisters to one another.

This historic moment requires us to see as the mystic sees.

Shalom.

Another attack on a synagogue.  We are paying a horrible price for moving away from faith and religious worship.  It is not the weapon that kills but the cold heart of one who has lost faith.

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American society is now remarkably atomized … The Left has a lot to answer here.  There is a drift toward very fragmenting tendencies among left groups, toward this sort of identity politics.

Noam Chomsky

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When a man of stature who is a Leftist, as Noam Chomsky is, indicates that identity politics is a problem, we had best all think about what precisely identity politics has done.

It has, simply stated – divided people, made neighbors adversaries, made others the target of resentment and hate.  It has turned some to violence – that is people on the Left and the Right.  But even more than that it has diminished vital institutions.  For example, it has crippled the Legislative Branch of the federal government and some state governments – leaving us with inertia, hyper-partisanship and government by executive fiat (yes, “the pen and the phone” unilateral governance).  Such division destroys democracy.

Illustratively, no judicial confirmation process can be anything but a brutal effort at character assassination.  We saw this with the Judge Clarence Thomas hearing years ago and in the recent hearing to confirm the last appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Likewise news has ceased to be journalism and become mere partisanship – losing all sense of fairness and truth in its public presence.

What identity politics does is divide and division is very dangerous as a result.  With division comes hostility, even the provocation of violence as we have seen in the streets, on college campuses and in targeted public confrontations.

In identity politics we are estranged from one another, others are seen as enemies and all things become political – all issues or opinions are a source for disagreement and opposition.  In identity politics lines are drawn and others become the enemy – humility, and humor, and collegiality fade – friendships are lost and little to nothing is accomplished.

Make no mistake a culture of extreme political partisanship and ideology has badly marred religious and educational institutions where in the former age-old beliefs are abandoned and in the latter indoctrination has replaced learning.

In the midst of this – we are a weaker nation.

Take heed – some say we cannot get to genocide without first getting to identity politics.

Form all together one choir, so that, with the symphony of your feelings and having taken the tone from God, you may sing with one voice …

St. Ignatius of Antioch, in Letter to the Ephesians

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.

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.

The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the known and unknown together into a living whole.

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

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You recall that faith is a virtue.  Why is that?  Well it is not merely a matter of knowing but a matter the Spirit, of “spiritual courage” as C.S. Lewis says.

In faith we exceed the fade of a particular time or Age.  In faith we live beyond the limits of science and its (sometimes) temporary “certainty” – that is: its “truth” subject to change, its own evolution, its trek to greater understanding as science and discovery grow over time.

Faith is wedded to “belief” and belief is a derived (in Germanic origin) from a word connoting “beloved” – love.

In faith then is belief and love – far more than reason but not limited by mere rationality.

Faith, like your life itself, is about so much more.  Does one not have confidence in one’s spouse, one’s child, one’s brother, one’s sister, one’s father, one’s mother, one’s best friend?  Does not that faith capture something larger than reason?

If one has faith in one’s best friend or spouse or sibling could not one have faith in God … belief in the One who is Love itself?

Imagine the poverty and despair of those who cannot believe in love … or a whole culture where belief is missing.

Think of this, in a culture of unbelief is not the experience of human experience reduced?  Would not addiction, homicide, suicide, hostility, division, anxiety, abortion, infanticide, adultery, divorce, hatred, alcoholism, selfishness, self-destruction, cowardice, chaos, amorality, nihilism, conflict, despair, corruption, greed, indifference, ignorance, unhappiness, lawlessness, loneliness, lust, envy, lying, dishonesty, suffering, vanity, violence and evil grow?

Shalom.

The more the powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will, the more is the unconscious forced into the background.  When this happens, it becomes easily possible for the conscious structure to be detached from the unconscious images.

Richard Wilhelm, in The Secret of the Golden Flower

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To be whole and have psychic health, full development and contentment, our conscious life must be attached to our unconscious life.  Without an unconscious life, life and our experience of it is distorted, limited and chaotic.

Indeed, it seems that this is precisely where we are in our country today.

Look at the celebrity and political class and those in control of higher education (the “teaching” intellectuals) and you see not mature and insightful individuals but narrow people full of self-assertion, anger and extreme and destructive notions.

Yes, being stuck in conscious alone is a superficial state of being, a fragmented and  unhealthy state of being.

Carl Jung in a 1931 essay noted that the disconnection of consciousness from the unconscious makes for the modern man who Jung identifies as “unhistorical” – that is void of any of the broader lessons of human history.

Jung’s observation might explain the measure of ideas offered and advanced by the American Left today as well as the limited use that can be made of public discourse among those engaged in news reporting and commentary.

I find nothing so much as the separation of conscious and unconsciousness to explain what I see among public personalities, see in the conduct and discourse of the elites.  Sadly, this reminds me of the tragic decline in the German culture in the inter-War years.

Disordered development creates great risk for cultures – and a failed education system and rejection of faith makes for increasing the risk of serious error and destruction.  And make no mistake religious narratives all over the world instruct us in symbols and metaphors that open us to our unconscious.  Ban or undermine religion and we increase our collective and individual danger.

Our individual full psychological and spiritual development is critical, indispensable to our flourishing and survival … and a sign of how far we are from health is evidenced by our reaction to the horrible shooting of people in New Zealand last night.  Immediately our public commentators see it as a product of political opinion when it is rather an indication of psychological sickness – disorder all too common to its counterparts around the world.

Shalom.

 

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

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

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

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

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

This is a divide that creates very real problems.

 

“And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14

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When Jesus appeared among the Jewish people it had been centuries since a Prophet had appeared to them.  Yes, the Son of the Father appeared not just to reassure the Jewish people of God’s covenant with them but to offer a new covenant and a new life.

Why do I mention this today?  I mention it because of the recent public focus on the anti-Jewish rhetoric of a leftist Muslim female member of the U.S. House of Representatives which went without correction or reprimand.  And you might say – “Well so what?”

Well here is the “so what” – apparently the Members of the U.S. Congress do not comprehend the glory of God in the presence of His begotten Son.

I respond additionally that we, as Christians, are deeply connected to our Jewish brothers and sisters and any anti-Jewish attack is an attack on Christians as well.

We are, you remember, a Judeo-Christian culture.  Our Nation’s Founders were religious men and women who valued faith and the individual protection of religious freedom.

It is quite disturbing that our Representatives lacked the will to specifically address their colleague’s hateful and destructive anti-Jewish discourse.

It makes me realize that those who represent us do not take faith, religious freedom, our Judeo-Christian heritage and the shameful recent history of the Holocaust seriously.  I add that such callousness is a danger to Jews, to Christians, to our great Country, and to Western Civilization.

What a disgrace at the onset of Lent!

Christians should be deeply concerned and recognize that it is their responsibility to be a vocal public presence as to the seeds of hatred and bigotry that Members of our government planted this week in our sacred history and its soil.

Yes, we have witnessed a Lenten Disgrace offered up by a godless U.S. Congress.

Shalom.

Postscript – If you are so inclined please share with others be they Christian or Jew.  Stand together we must.  

 

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