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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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Every writer I knows has trouble writing.

Joseph Heller

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Gee, that is a problem.  I never have a problem writing.  Maybe I am not a writer.

To me writing is like breathing.  Like seeing.  Like watching the human parade of the morally and spiritually disshoveled with a blithering idiot section (reserved for those with a public presence), each marching out-of-step with one another – and in this I include the upper middle class haughty bourgeiose – the pretenders of affluence, the self-proclaimed “special people” and those of faux status and little humor – the “intellectuals,” the people near the top of the pyramid, the celebrites and the life-long elected – “ahummm” – “public servants” who seem to gain more belly fat with each successive electoral victory – balloning in time to the size of a small banana “republic” or a well-fed water buffalo.

I was born poor.  To this day I have not become a man who looks like he swallowed a small Volkswagon or Toledo, Ohio.

I can still see my feet clearly with no interruption at the waist line.  Poverty, dyslexia betrayal and untimely loss kept me humble – a near failsafe against a culture of being “special.”

As to writing – life has always seemed to me to be hand to hand combat and an hilarious Marx Brothers adventure.  A combination of terror and hysterical laughter.  This – more than an adequate mix for a verbal man such as myself.

Long ago someone said to me – “You write like you speak.”  Ah, that is the answer to the puzzle.

I am who I have always been.  The same eyes looking at variations of the same insanity with rare moments of crystal clear brilliance on our worse and on our best days.

Light and severe dark produce the same product:  I write from this – the combat, the terror, the instinct to fight back, the absurd idiocy and the humanity of it all – delivered outside to reside within until its moment arrives.

The crowd and its antics, like God, write of me – I just transcribe.  Somewhere in my head and heart the notes have been stored, the images kept fresh.

If I am a writer it is all because of what God gave me.  Blame Him.  I write from the gifts of pain and suffering, from cunning and courage – and from the endless laugther at the folly of it … from the surrounding of beauty, heartbreak, sacrifice, heroism, pathos, common injustice, freinds, people who loved me and the uncommon victory that emerges now and again.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

… false seeing … a love affair with words and ideas … But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with a judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And it usually is never fixed enough to deserve your protected self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall or Pause forever.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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When you pause to think about it – each day we are surrounded by other people’s words – a virtual down-pour of words, ideas, concepts, complaints.  The mere saying of them is accepted in the culture and common discourse as if these words convey something useful, truthful.

Need an example?  We speak of “multiple genders,” children in the third grade “deciding” that they are not male, but female – not female but male.  A man says his male sexual partner is his “wife.”

Yes, words are appropriated and their meaning distorted.  What was once “A” is now “Z.”

When life as it is is abandoned, false words and proclamation emerge and Truth vanishes.  We see here a love affair with words – a love affair with self, with fantasy, distortion – words used to personal and political advantage and the “hell with reality.”  In this, a journey away from truth in favor of fiction … and the added feature of fragmenting, dividing and destroying culture and shared community. 

Think too of ideology.  Despite historic evidence to the contrary ideologues tout the utility and “benefit” of socialism and the road to Communism – advocate for it without regard to its destuctiveness.  Here we have selfishness – the desire to tear down what others have built – anything to deny reality and life.

Things successful and unbroken are smashed with these words so those who cannot wade into life as it presents, or into history and common sense – arrogantly attempt to bend us to their disorientation and even their unhappiness and hatred.

You see this battle and its divide in our political parties – one houses those who hi-jack, usurp words and ideas for their own use and the other party that fights to salvage words, protect ideas and concepts that afford common understanding, support the essential and successful structures (marriage, for example) and institutions that have given us peace,  prospertity and freedom.

The battle over words as we have seen it thus far does one remarkably destructive thing – it has the capacity to alter the experience of human experience … the likes of  which substitute illness for health.

Where are you in this battle of words and established truth?

Shalom.

Ekklesia (Greek word meaning church)  … signified the assembly of citizens of the polis (a city or small state in ancient Greece), who meet to make decisions.

Dairmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thosuand Years

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The history of Western Civilization aligns faith or church with governing – ekklesia with polis.  But we live in a time (a treacherous time) in which that nexus is lost … and that loss makes for a far more errant society and culture – a government more prone to chaos than tranquility, distain and division than gratitude and unity.

This is where we are now in the West and in America. 

If you want a source of our problems in government, in law and in public affairs – look no further than the disconnection between church and state and the hostility and sickness that arises when this nexus is ignored, or worse yet – attacked, disparaged and forbidden.

Really, there is not much more to say except – when you listen to public discourse ask yourself one simple question: Does this man or woman speaking convey any sense that he or she knows anything at all about who we are and who we have been for centuries, or for the tenets which have provided our foundation, survival, peace and prosperity?

If you answer in the negative – stop listening – for that speaker deserves none of your time or attention.

Shalom.

“The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ … or he will cease to be anything at all.”

Karl Rahner

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Have you ever asked yourself how Jesus might have experienced life, and faith, and His relationship with The Father?

Our life is more a question of fully experiencing the human and hence divine experience of being a human being than anything else.

Yes, our completion and fullness relies on the full experience of human experience for in that our gift is made for completion – for a joining of mortal and immortal reality.

We are made to know fully – from Aplha to Omega.  In this we enter the Mystery.  There is: Truth, identity and relationship with God and all others, all things.  Therein is contentment, peace, traquility and the absence of fear and doubt, and uncertainty, anger and hostility.  Therein is love – the all surpassing love that is of God, that is God.

But alas, we do not see and opt to divide one from another.  The lesser among us divide so as to control, claim authority, impose narrow views that they alone conjure up or acquire from some favortite figure whose wandering defied God.  Marx comes to mind.

In lesser “gods” is foolishness, conflict, ignorance and illness.

The land is littered with those who foolishly chose ideology over God and doing so they close the mind and heart, and alter all opportunity for wisdom, faith, tranquility, peace, truth, compassion, humility, understanding, the experience of human experience – and the transcendence that is available to all.

Yes, we are an odd lot – given fullness, we seek division and hostility.

It is far better to know how to know than be told what to know.  It is far better to know how to see than be told what to see.  This is the difference between the curse of ideologues and Christ, between the rote “believer,” and one who believes because he sees and knows from the experience God in the experience of human experience.

When we settle into division – the proclaimation of “me,” “me vs. them,”  “us vs. the others” we are the antithesis of fullness in being, we are less than we are made to be, blinded not sighted.  You see we are of the Whole, nothing less.

Shalom.

 

 

Greek religion was a set of stories belonging to the entire community, rather than a set of well-bounded statements about ultimate moral and philosophical values … Within the common Greek culture, then, was an urge to understand and create systematic structure of sacred knowledge which ordered everyday life.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

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If you want to understand why we are in the mess we are in, why the state of affairs in our nation are troublesome (indeed self-destructive) you need only know that those who would command our attention have no idea of our inheritance – the place Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews played in the development of Christianity and, in turn, Western Civilization.

You see we license all manner of poorly educated public personalities to speak to us without them knowing much at all about who we actually are.

Yes, we listen to people with no claim on our attention but that we listen because they are presented to us on television, in the media, among the intellectual or celebrity or political class, and the “special pleaders” who push one or another foolish idea or idiotic claims.

In short, we have an extreme deficit when it comes to the wise and broadly read, experienced and insightful whose knowledge runs to our origins and the process of human development dating back two thousand years before Christ.

Think I am wrong?  Ask youself who among our public figures might be able to explain the connection between Greece, Rome, the Hebrews and the development of Christianity and the laws, institutions of governance in the West or identify the distinctions and similarities between Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christians when it comes to the Divine and our relationship with God or gods.

When is such a fundamental conversation ever been expected of those who seek to lead or “share” with us their opinions and desires for radical change?

Get serious.  Those on the public stage subtract from the sum of human knowledge when they speak.  This, of course, is taking its toll on us and our long term existence.

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.

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.

Most people, quite sadly and with disastrous consequences, do not know that the gift is already given.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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We are given the Divine Presence of God and within that and residing with us is faith, hope and love.  Yet, many ignore this gift and some of those who do not know this gift, this experience, are by their words and deeds telling us that they are disordered, that their ideas are ignorant of the gift and in that ignorance they advocate behaviors and policies and world views which are antithetical to faith, hope and love.

You see this in political candidates who advance abortion to the new-born child.  Not satisfied with taking the life of a child within the womb, they see killing a newborn as a “choice!”

Think, too, of those who wish that felons may vote while in prison or that all manner of souls have welcome access to this country without regard to their conduct, misbehavior – even when it is unlawful, sinister, or intended to destroy this nation or engage in criminal conduct.  Think, too, of the elected and aspiring politicians who seek to create a climate where all is “free” and no one is accountable.  Think of those who wish to dismantle free enterprise, the U.S. Constitution or the Electoral College because their side did NOT win a presidential election.  And think too of those among us who wish to accommodate all manner of sexual deviancy.

People are known by their words and deeds.  Many among us tell you that they do not know of the experience of the God within and that they are hostile to the idea of God and those who espouse this belief.  This is both a shame and very dangerous in a world where Christianity and Judaism are under increasing attack while the West stands by and does next to nothing to defend itself.  Serious business, Friends.

Shalom.

 

Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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