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

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

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

Back after a day of travel …

So long as men and women believed themselves to be responsible beings, called to choose, and accountable to God for their choices, life might be tragic, but it is not trivial.

Sydney Cave, in The Christian Way

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Ah, yes … and when Christianity is attacked, shunned and meant to be made unimportant how will we avoid the creation of tragic and chaotic circumstances and horrendous deeds – like infanticide, opiate use and producing early death, or random murders, preying on the innocent, the stripping of all that is in human sexuality and destroying the family?  And who among you understands the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

Who in the public eye connects faith and responsibility.  Surely not the Socialist whose view of God is much like that of a Communist – namely, that God neither matters nor exists (translation – God is an unwelcome competitor to those who desire all power reside in them so they might be gods and goddesses.)

When a culture departs from individual responsibility in favor of the scapegoating of a select group (“old White men,” capitalists, people of faith … etc.) it ushers in an age of terror and precipitous decline … as we see now in Venezuela … and the Democrat Left’s embrace of infanticide and the abolition of Constitutional freedoms long ago clearly defined.

Shalom.

 

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

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

 

Deconstructionism … is the last, predictable, stage in the suppression of reason and the denial of the possibility of truth …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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No borders.  Families without fathers.  Random mass murders.  Opiate deaths. Aborting a child in the womb as a “choice.”  Thirteen genders.  White men as “the problem.”   “Equality” as the Holy Grail.  Being a “victim” and capitalizing on it.  Leftist government making permanent dependents of more and more.  Uncontrolled national debt.  Targeting police officers for execution.  Millions of illegal immigrants living here while others wait years for legal entry.

Election supervisors who can’t count or adhere to the law, lose thousands of ballots and conveniently find more that are favorable to their political preferences.  A socialist member of Congress who thinks that the three “chambers” of government are the President, the Senate and the House.   A lily white woman who fabricated an American Indian lineage to “get ahead.” Proponents of “sanctuary” cities who shelter the lawless and pass the cost of the taxpayer.  The godlessness.  Advocates of “free” everything.  Women at war with men.  The permanent division by race.  Same sex “marriage.”  The presumption of guilt attaching to a man – the presumption of innocence extinguished.  Legislating from the Bench – judicial activism.  Waste and redundancy in government. Entrenched partisans in a bloated bureaucrary. The exile of faith from the public square.  The destruction of education.  The loss of a free and independent press and news media.  Letting non-citizens and convicted felons vote so the Left can gain power.  Disdain for our heritage, the Constitution, liberty, and the “old White men” who gave us our freedom – and for all the men between then and now who fought and died for us.  Disregard for our Flag and our history.

The denial of American exceptionalism.

It is Thanksgiving and we live now in a culture where the Democrats, Leftists, Marxists, and anarchists wish to dissolve this Great Nation.  We are at a critical stage – death or survival.  

When you break bread tomorrow – think about this. 

Shalom.

An Election Day Blog …

 or How Politicians Keep Sharing Their Insanity

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God alone, who is eternal and incomprehensible, is the whole solace and comfort of the soul.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas a Kempis, in Imitation of Christ

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Ohio Governor John Kasich offered this opinion today: government’s job is to touch the souls of people.

Little does he know that this is precisely the sort of sentiment or opinion which is fundamentally disorienting and antagonistic to our democracy.

Let me explain.  Neither the human being nor the government is God.  We set ourselves up for disaster by thinking we can do what God alone does. When we think this way we  pursue policies which are doomed to fail and undermine confidence in public institutions.

In the olden days a view like Kasich expresses would be dismissed as hubris (excessive pride) and dispatched as childish.  But now public figures across a broad spectrum are quite full of themselves and chatter this nonsense to one another.

Alas, the Left posits this stuff relentlessly.

Doubt me?  I offer this: Marxism and it promise of perfection, equality and rule by the masses … contrasted, of course, with the gulags and feeble economies of the Soviet Union or North Korea, the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao’s China, and the reformist slaughters in Cambodia, etc.

So much for the state touching the souls of its people … so much for man replacing God.

Thomas a Kempis was right in the 15th century when he wrote the above.  He is right today just as he was then.

Our failure to understand such a simple truth tells you very succinctly how it is that we have the problems we have today – all of which are rooted in man thinking he or she is God.

Poor Mr. Kasich, a former Catholic who offers this: he drifted away from religion as he “didn’t find God in Church.”  Given his thoughts as to government and souls – he must have found God in the mirror … an utterly common experience for those Left of center and beyond.  Indeed, Stalin and Lenin seemed to have had a similar mirror in which to gaze.

When you hear people think government is God – you know two things: (1) this guy thinks he is God, (2) only a loon thinks he is God.

Shalom.

 

Hateful to me even at the gates of Hades is he that hideth one thing in his heart and uttereth another.

Achilles, in Homer’s Iliad

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Who would have thought Homer could have seen the long lines of political partisans, Washington “consultants,” crooked lawyers, “activists,” Lefties, lobbyists, talking media heads, shrinkingand celebrities at the gates of Hell ten centuries before Christ’s birth?

Truly amazing, that fella Homer!

Time to reflect on the state of America and the character of our citizens.

Long about the 1950’s we did live rather well.  Then the 1960’s.  Things went south and the fall continues.

You’d be wise to ask: How did we behave in the 50’s and what might we wish to recover that made us a better people, a happier, more cordial, faithful and pleasant lot?

Shalom.

It is within your power to withdraw yourself wherever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.  (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius

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What gives rise to tranquility?  Your tranquility?

If you pause to think about your health and happiness is this not the fundamental question?  I think it is.

Our eyes are the avenue to the brain.  What do you see each moment, each day?  Do you live in an “ordered” realm?  Are your surroundings in chaos, disarray?  If so, how can your eyes not convey this disorder to your brain?  And what of noise?  What do you hear?  Does not noise itself affect tranquility?

Desire tranquility?  Ask yourself what effect the invasion of unwanted ads on the internet have on you?  When you think about it they are intruders – others pushing themselves into your life – ads: from the eyes to the brain.  Do you wish unwelcome intruders into your home whenever they desire to enter?

We live in a culture where intrusion and invasion are common.  Yes, tranquility is denied routinely.  What is one to do?

Wall off these intrusions.  Control your surroundings – have your place of home ordered.  Each thing has a place.  You need not that much.  The less you have the easier it is to know tranquility.  Give no space to the TV talking heads.  You do not know their life – whether it is utter chaos – which it probably is.  Why listen to sick, confused people?  They bring no tranquility – only chaos.  And celebrities?  Ugh!!!

And, problems.  Do you welcome those who bring problems into your life?  To do so does not bring tranquility.

And what about your interior journey?  Have you quietly and diligently examined your life experience and come to know the pluses and minuses of those so important to your development from birth to adulthood?  And what of the losses, betrayals, great disappointments?  Have you faced them honestly and learned what was intended to be learned?  And how about you?  Do you know what triggers your most salient thoughts, reactions, attitudes, convictions?

Finally, can you be silent and alone?  And most importantly, do you have a home in religious narrative?  Do you keep the company of history’s great contemplatives?

When you think about it – tranquility soothes the Spirit and we are all first and foremost spiritual beings.  Tend to that thought and act on it – and you will come to greater tranquility – no more anxiety, no more naked vulnerability to intrusions and the idiocy of the noise and disorder surrounding you.

Shalom.

Postscript – When we see another, do we see a man or a woman or do we see color, age, ethnicity, status, physical attributes?  Can tranquility come from such seeing?

The man who has been made in God’s image is the inner man, the incorporeal man, incorruptible, immortal one.

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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Want to understand disorder and those who are disordered?  Just listen to Origen’s words above which date back to the Second Century after Christ.

His point is this: we are made in God’s image and that means we are in essence and fundamentally the man within us, the interior man.  In this, where God resides in us, we are as God: incorporeal – more than bodily man, here we are incorruptible – that is good at the core of our being.  We are in this life God – immortal – cannot die except that we pass from mortal life to eternal life.

So the disorder ones are those who know not their interior being – have never examined themselves thoughtfully, who – in contrast – live an exterior life – one of appearance, one that seeks status and advantage and fame and wealth, and cannot deny their most corrupt passions and desires – however sick and self-destructive they might be.

For them: more drugs, more sex, more rock and rock – more “free” stuff – more dependence, less autonomy, less dignity, less responsibility – childhood forever – all demands met – no God – no morality – ideology governs – and the ideologues say “kill the infidels who dare to have faith.”

Friends, we live among disordered people and they make life very dangerous and quite its contrary.   Their living denies life – they are the dead who must bury the dead.

This is precisely the circumstances we live in today.  Without God insanity becomes sanity, and bad becomes good, chaos becomes peace – Yes, lies prosper and pass as truth.

Shalom.

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