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I am free … anonymous … my flights and falls occurred while … wearing a magical cap of invisibility, my successes and sins sailed on in invisible corvettes …

Tadeusz Konwicki, in A Minor Apocalypse

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I have been in the public eye in a very favorable way.  Favorably written about, interviewed at length on television.  Profiled by famous others.  But my public life was all accidental – utterly without plan … and that is the best of it, the very best of it.  I’d have it no other way for who am I but one who will, in time, expire.

I do not understand the quest of those who must be “somebody” – who must be public, out-there.  I am most concerned with those who hunger to be seen … seen by faceless others that they do NOT know and who will never really know them.  There is an unnatural hunger in this.  In many ways, this is social media and celebrity per se – the ways of those compelled to make a public spectacle of themselves – and “the unknowns” who follows their desperately disordered example.

“See me! See me!”  Is this not a sick anthem?

Does this not explain the noxious political advocacy of mindless ideologues?  And those who self-righteously claim a “high ground” to shame others who just may not share their opinion, ignorance and shameless exhibitionism?

I suppose when intimacy is lost people get rather desperate to be noticed, affirmed, seen, acknowledged.  Such is the calamity in the highly visual, 24-7 mass communication secularized culture which has jumbled gender and poured far too much in a sexual cup that hath now runneth a good deal over.  Absent intimate experiences – people panic.

Me?  I prefer anonymity.  I find freedom in it.  And fullness, too.  And peace.

In anonymity, I can freely befriend those I choose to befriend and there is no element of “use” or selfish motive to my caring or presence.  Indeed, I live mutually with others.  I experience reciprocity – the essence of good relationships.

In contrast I offer this: I receive Facebook entries from two individuals who constantly send photos of themselves here and there, doing this or that.  One is a chap who is the  companion of an older fellow.  I met this chap once years ago.  I am among his “audience.”  The other is compelled to show endless photos of himself around the world with this person or group.  His photos are meant to exhort his “artistic” talent.  In this he is supported by a religious order.

In these things I see pathology – plain and simple.

Sadly I see lost souls.  Unbeknownst to them, they have become products of a sort.  Their social media: but commercials for themselves.  Is this not sad?

I’ll take anonymity anytime.  Everytime.

Shalom.

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Insofar as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individuals … A million zeros together do not, unfortunately, add up to one.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Undiscovered Self

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Carl Jung is talking about the process of “individuation” whereby one grows in maturity and wholeness by moving from an ego-driven being to a healthy whole self.  The point being that a whole person discovers his or her true self and whole identity – and moves from the narrow, shallow state of egotistical existence and behavior to that of a full person able to value self and recognize others (who have grown fully) as mutually sacred and equal persons.

Ego – selfish.  Self – selfless.  Ego – prideful and disordered.  Self – humble and whole.

The process of individuation without access to symbol systems (like religious narratives and ritual) does not easily access the wealth and wisdom of human history and humanity in that history.  Indeed, without familiarity with the wholeness recorded and presented in such as religious narrative – one is left to live in the ego – a state of immature development – and disorder follows.  Such is our situation today.  

We live in a mass communication culture with social media being a common form of personal discourse.  Think about it, millions of un-individuated individuals chattering away – a collision of ego-driven undeveloped people.  This is a prescription for chaos and confusion – discord and trouble.  As Jung says “A million zeros joined together do not  … add up to one.”

In our present mass communication, secularized culture, we are captured by de-individuated people … and chaos ensues.  Case in point – a large percentage of those in television and print news are simply not worthy of our attention.  Celebrity itself impedes full development.

As much as we show technical competence, we suffer from a lack of subjective growth and development as human persons.  That, it seems, is the most destructive issue we face – we are not as grown and insightful as we could be – and once were.

The rectifier?   Greater attention to religious narrative and ritual and greater attention to subjective inquiries and personal introspection.

Shalom.

Your life is what you try to live.  Nobody can live it for you or instead of you.

The fundamental error in the public is that there are definite answers, “solutions,” or views that needs only be uttered in order to spread the necessary light.  But the most beautiful truth – as history has shown a thousand times – is no use unless it has become the innermost experience and possession of the individual.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Letters and Collected Works, respectively.

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Life is a sacred gift to be lived and living we are “go inside” and accept life as it presents.  We shun nothing but rather work through all that appears asking always: what am I to learn by this – about life, myself and the Ultimate Reality/God- that is, our supernatural existence and life’s meaning?

So much for Dr. Jung’s first statement above.

As for the second statement, suffice it to say that there are no silver bullets.  No ideological golden ways.  It is the folly of the thinly lived and foolish to think that such gimmicks like ideology or fatal traps like personal pride that would have the self-acclaimed privileged project a “perfect” image which is meant to hide their imperfection and corruption while advancing fantasy and failure.

The cold hard reality is that life is a scared gift and no matter who you are and where you are born – you are called to live it as a sacred gift and a divine journey to wholeness and understanding.

Yes, each of us is on a sacred mission, a journey to completion and satisfaction.

Shalom.

 

We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given by God.

1 Cor 2:12

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The foundation of our health and human prosperity is in the Spirit.  Yet, the culture we live in promotes the mind as if our well-being resides in the head.

Nay, it resides in the heart and in the soul.

A full life relies on our spiritual development, not our intellectually development.  I say this as one who was a college degree, a law degree and two graduate degrees (one in international affairs – American foreign policy and economic policy, and the other in theology).

That said, I make this point: in my career and in my personal life – seeing with the eyes of a Believer made the greatest contribution to my personal and working life.

Plainly speaking – the experiences of my life were more revealing and more instructive because of my spiritual life and its development.  I found greater understanding and greater peace – and yes, wisdom – because I cultivated my spiritual development, became more faithful, placed an importance on worship and directed my reading to those things that would help me grow in the Spirit.  In doing so, novels revealed truth to me, psychology and cultural criticism, philosophy, comparative mythology, and history opened for me.  Likewise biographies of those who traveled hard roads and experienced God were a great help, as were the words of Carl Jung, M.D., and Thomas Merton and Joseph Campbell, and St. Augustine, Thomas Keating and others, and, of course, Scripture.

What is my point?  Our culture would have us confine our self to the head, but the brain is a secondary organ and does not lead us exclusively to the greatest and most significant understandings.  The heart and soul are the key to a good and satisfying life.

It is the Spirit upon which we ultimately rely and the Spirit enlivens the heart and soul.

Attend to the Spirit, for we are of God – and God is pure Spirit.

Shalom.

Democrats – Another Democrat public official (the Attorney General of New York) resigned because of his history of physical abuse of women.  He adds to the list of Democrat money-raisers and politicians who have been exposed as women abusers yet claimed to be champions of women.  It would be nice if this was a surprise – but it is not.

 

If we want to be anything other than what God has made us to be, we are wasting our time.  It will not work.    The greatest accomplishment in life is to be what we are, which is God’s idea of what he wanted us to be when he brought us into being; and no ideas of ours will ever change it.  Accepting that gift is accepting God’s will for us, and in its acceptance lies the path to growth and happiness.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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The above is a foundational truth.  It is what leads to a good and satisfying life.

If you have an “education” or a profession, a title, status, a job that yields a high income and you do not understand the above, you are likely to do more harm than good to yourself and others and be perpetually discontented, or problematic, or wrong, or unlikable or all four of these things and worse.

We have a whole lot of people in the public eye who have no clue what a good and happy existence is or how one might live a good and joyful life.

Look at the political world, the celebrity world, the news and media industry, the big names in technology and finance – mostly unpleasant, prideful and over-rated.

Be who we were made to be.  Do what you are made to do.  Be you – God’s humble son or daughter.  Peace, comfort and confidence follow.

Shalom.

 

How to hold to the moral and religious values in the face of all sorts of challenges …  What happens to people, emotionally and spiritually when they compromise certain important principles – start down the road to rationalization and self-justifications?  (Emphasis added.)

William Carlos Williams, M.D.

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These are a words of novelist and medical doctor commenting on his writing.  Like others (Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Cheever, etc.) Williams saw their work as novelist to be presenting the reader with questions as to their moral and spiritual development in the midst of life’s slippery slopes that fragment and damage the essence of full, healthy and honorable human development and existence.

Our culture today evokes the challenges Williams saw.  Compromises are abundant in an exclusionary secular culture that diminishes faith and prefers God be exiled.

Nothing good comes of diminished faith and life with God in exile.  And that is where we are at this time in America.

While you may be sensitive to the godless challenges posed by radical humanists – the question is posed: what do you do to sustain your healthy and full growth as a human being?  What do you do to maintain a mature emotional and spiritual state while others around you have abandoned their better instincts for selfish and injurious objectives and disposition?  How do you sink your self into quiet contemplation?  Come to the vital questions that authors like Williams and Percy and O’Connor present?

Lest you think you can rely on academics, the media, or the entertainment industry to offer this opportunity to you, I give you these words of analytical psychiatrist Robert Coles who notes: “I have seen plenty of arrogance and selfishness in … “humanistic” professions – snobbishness or self-importance and meanness or hardness of spirit in doctors … clergy … educators … the … arts…”  And he added that “Years … of education … have not prevented many … from becoming dogmatic, smug, and fiercely antagonistic to those who happen to disagree …”

Let’s face it.  You have the sacred call to grow to fullness and no one but you can see that this happens.  If your culture lacks the moral and spiritual content and character you desire – then it’s on you to attend to its failure, to correct the situation.  On you!

Shalom.

The monk is a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and the confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

A [person] entrusted with the care of souls ought to have certain wisdom of which does not consist of words only, but chiefly of experiencea certain wisdom of life … If such a thing can be taught at all, it must be of a personal experience of the human soul.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in Letters

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Some guy goes to a pricey college after prep school and then to an “esteemed” law school and then into law practice or politics and we are told in time that “he can part the seas” (or if he is a real egotist he tells you he can make the seas recede several feet).

Pure idiocy … but this is the nonsense that dominates razor thin thinking about public figures today.  We get the public figures we deserve.

Public figures are a reflection of who we are as a people.  It you see pretenders and fools in public life – you live among pretenders and fools.

Wisdom figures, to the contrary, have lived and learned from a life fully experienced.

Too many public figures have simply traveled easy street and matriculated at some well known college and assume in time “positions of authority.”

Easy streets and a modest degree from a known college are not in any sense apt to produce “a certain wisdom of life.”  Far from it.  Have we not had sufficient numbers of fools with that meagher portfolio – affluence, a private secondary school, nice summer vacations, a house at the beach, a fancy college, law school and “authority.”

In the bar fight that live is – you’d best have someone who has thrown some punches, been knocked down and got up again … and again and again.

Live experience, alone, provides life wisdom.  Combat is your teacher.

Shalom.

Like every other human being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity … If the human [soul] is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity … the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without … as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Memories, Dreams and Reflections

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Jung in describing the psyche is also conveying to us the nature of human health and wholeness whereby one lives not merely through the body but (and more critically) through the psyche as well.   Indeed, for Jung and other psychiatrists and learned people – a person is far from well (and prone to sickness and disorder) who lives within the body alone.

Looking about America in this age and time it is quite obvious that we are awash in disorder.  The social pathology is visible daily in news stories.  A state governor, despite being married, has a bizarre public sexual romp with his staff person, a man and woman beat their four year old child to death for spilling soup, a caretaker places a child in an oven to punish her … And the list goes on and on …

Are we not the only country that seeks tax revenue from drug use?  And look at the failure of custodial authorities (schools, social workers, police, teachers, principals) to attend to the obvious sickness and danger that Dylan Cruz plainly displayed and the pathetic social policies associated with that failure (the suppression of data on criminal conduct in Broward schools by the creation of “deversionary placements” so as NOT to have to face school violence done by “minority students” and the police officers unwilling to enter the building during the shooting for fear of running afoul of those who govern policy).

Let’s be honest – we live in a disordered culture, one in decline with manifestations of mental illness that simply go unacknowledged – denied, disguised, normalized or hidden.

In Jung’s words – we deny we are “a splinter of the infinite deity” and in that we starve the soul and ignore the psyche – the nexus between the world within and the world without (that which recognizes a mortal existence that is housed within eternal reality).

Yes, we are very poorly evolved and hence psychological problems, injuries and death abound.

We see these problems starkly in the ideas and actions of the political Left.  Indeed, having the lunatic Left present and active is like we are in foster care of Sarah and Cheryl Hart (the two lesbian mothers and “mates”) who drove their SUV off a California cliff into the Pacific Ocean 100 feet below with six helpless foster care (Black) children in the vehicle and to their collective death.

Any honest comment on American life, culture and society today must begin with an understanding that there is a great deal of mental illness that is unaddressed, dressed up as “normal,” excused, and tolerated despite the brutal costs that it imposes on others and the population at large.

We have drifted a long way from health and happiness and the decline is accelerating at a compounding rate.

That said, I offer you the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. –

In the shadow of death may we not look back to the past, but seek in utter darkness the dawn of God.

Shalom.

Slow Saturday.  Quiet.  Cold, gray spring day.  Moisture in the air.  Solo cello in the background.  The cows have long ago today passed this way.

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… the … neurotic individual does try to escape the full awareness of his life task.  (Emphasis added.)

Viktor E. Frankl, M.D., in Man’s Search for Meaning

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I am aware of no public conversation that attempts to explain the disordered conduct of neurotics or psychotics on the loose and regularly visible in our mass communication and digitized secular culture.

Frankly, I find this both astonishing and quite dangerous. Imagine the number of talking heads on television daily who blabber along on this or that thing while offering absolutely no insight as to the topic they address.  Imagine, all the more seriously, that these people are listened to by a passive, uncritical, uninformed, poorly developed audience of millions every single day.

Then factor in this wrinkle: despite their training (or maybe because of it and a lack of human life experience) clerics are tasked with trying to share faith with others in a culture they do not know nor understand.

Think about it – our clerics have no training in intellectual history, cultural criticism, psychology, analytical psychiatry, the classics and such – nor have they (for the most part) experienced life in the working class, as a military combatant, raising a family, as a divorcee, overcoming an addiction, as one who is unemployed or whose job has been shipped overseas, or one who has lived in public housing – below the poverty line.

We are lost sheep – but not just lost – we cannot hear our Shepherds and some of them have no voice.

I give you a simple example of our serious deficit.  The above quote is intended to convey that the neurotic (captured by past human experience) avoids growth by being trapped in the injuries and experiences of the past.

Frankl tell us that the neurotic lives in “vicious cycle formations and feedback mechanisms” – that the neurotic is “self-centered” and in this forfeits all growth and all that is in the future yet to be experienced.  Does this NOT explain why ideologies and ideologues are to be avoided, ignored, discounted.  Their way is that of group and institutional neuroses.  Think radical feminism, the demands by the Left of rote conformity, groups fixated on “racism,” Left-wing “causes” of one variety or another – “social justice” crusaders, environmentalists, Marxists, etc. – taken to the extremes these people are neurotic: self-centered, playing the same “feedback loops” over and over and over.

Yes, there is widespread madness present in our culture and no one is identifying it.  On the  contrary we see these “feedback loops” offered us in daily talks shows – PBS, NPR, MSNBC, CNN and even on some of the Fox news shows. 

Yes, even our Shepherds have no voice, no insight.  Many are among the ranks of the neurotics – joined by our judges, op-ed writers, “entertainers,” late night TV hosts, political figures, and news people.

It is the First Century of Christianity once again.  Discipleship anyone?

Shalom.

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