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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.

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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.  

 

… narcissistic orientation is one in which experiences as real only that which exists within oneself while the phenomena of the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are only experienced from a viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.  The opposite pole of narcissism is objectivity … the faculty to see other people and things as they are … to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and wants.

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

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Narcissism.  We know it as selfishness and it is quite abundant.  Human beings are quite selfish.  We find it in families, professional associations, the entertainment industry, the media and other lines of work that have a public face.  It runs rampant in politics, in professional associations like Bar Associations and among the coveted and esteemed associations like the judiciary and the tenured faculty.

Selfishness is the root cause of corruption.  In selfishness others are mere objects or obstacles to one’s exclusive satisfactions.  Many people are imprisoned in this narcissism and they make others miserable.  There is no love or friendship with the narcissistic lot.  To them others are objects to be used or destroyed.

What is one to do?  For a calm and pleasant life – be very selective with whom you mix and mingle.  Maintain an objective point of view.  Be realistic.  See the world and others as they are not as you wish them to be.

Yes, there are good people who genuinely care about living a humble and kind life and thus treat others with the upmost dignity and concern.  Those people ought to be your circle of friends.  The others are to be kept at arm’s length or avoided altogether.  Narcissists, you see, are quite destructive to self and others.

When you think about it, do you not see the value of quiet, solitude, a small group of good friends, the value of a monastic disposition, life in God’s great space and beauty, the place of Christ in the life of a Christian?

Be realistic.  See what is.  Avoid unreal expectations or self-deception.  Things are what they tell you they are.  Acknowledging reality is the cornerstone of a life of peace, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, relative ease and love.  We live in a fallen world among many who are centered on self and self only.  Consider yourself so advised.

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.

 

 

 

In our time we should emphasize what unites rather than what divides.

Pope John XXIII

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These are the words of Pope John XXIII on his death-bed.  I cite them today because they fit so well the circumstances we face now.

There is great division in this land.  It seems as if people desire that we be divided, fragmented, at odds with one another … divided and separated from God and faith, self and one another.  Today hostility is heightened and friendship diminished.

This brings me to my long-term concern with how one lives one’s faith in a secular culture – now that one is apt to be estranged from spiritual existence in a culture that manifests so much discontent, anger and self-destruction.

My own course has been an attempt to understand both God and culture.  To look at our history as a nation and Western Civilization, to see the challenges we face, review our failures and our successes, look closely at our psychological health and development and our nature as spiritual beings.

It follows that my reading encompasses history, philosophy, psychology, theology, mythology, literature and the like.  But my inquiry has also experienced and thought about monastics and their ability to live faith and grow spiritually and as healthy humans notwithstanding the shape of the world over many centuries.

What I have come to understand is this: (1) if you wish to live your faith and do so deeply, you need to know how a culture can deter you from faith and your spiritual development, and (2) in seeking to live your faith in a secularized culture, you would be wise to learn from the monastic experience for it has over many years allowed men and women to grow spiritually and in contentment through their separation from the culture at-large, their silence, solitude, study and simple life style.

I might add that if you wish to assist others in finding faith in secular culture it becomes necessary to identify those things in culture which make a healthy spiritual existence quite difficult and those things which incline to foreclose one’s spiritual development and ultimate peace and contentment that daily living of one’s faith allows.

In short, what I am saying is this – to live faith in secular culture – you do well to take an informed assessment of the culture, become familiar with the nature of monastic existence and make use of its framework so you might exist within a secular culture while living fully in your faith.  Yes, in this you will be living at an arm’s length or more from the present culture as it is endlessly extended to you in a mass communication and the highly visualized and extensively noisy storm of images and words.

In practical terms it is wise to adopt a monastic disposition in an intrusive secularized culture. 

Shalom.

Postscript – In the 1950’s we held the Communists in check when they invaded Korea, would we do less in facing them in our own country?

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.

 

 

 

 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Aristotle

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Throwing money at institutional “education” has set us back in that last five or six decades.  Yes, education of the mind and not the heart presents us with not whole people but slivers of indoctrination – in our case … with small-mined ideologues, life un-examined.

The heart.  The heart.  The heart.  We are more than a brain – which is but a secondary organ.  People survive brain injuries, no one survives without a heart.

Wonder why you see the sights and hear the sounds you hear in contemporary media and culture?  We have poured dubious ideas into college students but little to reveal what Aristotle knew 300 years before Christ.

Great damage is done by those who have not done the work of understanding who they are and what the purpose of a lived life is.  When we neglect the mystery and truths about mortal life, when we ignore what has been complied on this subject in the last 2500 years and in many cultures all along that time line – we are far less “educated” than we reckon.

Such is the cause of the nonsense we see daily … of the foolishness and hostility of those who vie to lead this nation, influence others, advocate all manner of mischief.

Best you see where we are and how we have missed the mark very substantially.  And better yet – best we are to listen critically and discount all those whose sing-song rhetoric does not witness in the speaker wisdom of a life fully lived and the humility and calm that such experience generates.

Shalom.

 

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