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… the Light has come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought by God. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 19, 20, 21

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I have been focusing on the Gospel of John and the teachings that Jesus brings us in it.  I do so for a particular reason and it is this: we in the United States, especially among elites – those of privilege … including the media and entertainment class, lawyers and the judiciary, and university teachers and administrators, have lost contact with God, or have rejected God, religious narrative and Christ and this underlies all of our problems and our deteriorating public discourse and the reduced quality of those serving in public life.

Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture.  About the intersection between faith and the culture in which we live.  There is no moral guide without faith and religious narrative.

The loss of recognition of faith’s invaluable importance to a healthy culture is crippling, destabilizing.  In its absence all sorts of ideas and wants are pushed forward without a glimmer of depth or understanding.  The subsequent foolishness is and can be both costly and utterly destructive.  We seem to have adequately demonstrated this quite clearly in the last five to six decades.

We are unhealthy, divided, crude and increasingly ignorant and wasteful.

Things have got to change.  We must return to the source of our wisdom and humanity – to faith – knowledge of it and life lived in it.

Look at the above words.  Read them.  Pause to think about them.

Do you see evil in this culture?  Among the most vocal advocates?  Or do you see good? Light?  Is faith banished or welcome?  Is God dismissed or welcome? Is Light manifest?

Or does one hear actors and celebrities, elected officials even – talking hatefully and doing so without hesitation?  Is the media truthful or are they not?

Those who are not truthful are not of the Light.  They destroy and there is no reason to give them ear.

Shalom.

Common Mistake – I recently watched an interesting report on the BBC about suicide among homosexuals.  The claim was made that it is a serious problem and that its cause is the denial of equality.

The common mistake?  Not all matters and forms of human behavior depend on “equality.”

There is far more to a healthy life than “equality.”  It is not the essence of human existence.

Indeed “equality” is invoked by political advocates without any evidence that they have studied the concept.  They use “equality” in an undifferentiated way.   Big mistake.  A mistake of ignorance.

The result in this case is this: neither “equality” nor suicide are understood.

Our ignorance grows seemingly in direct proportion to the growth of educational institutions and budget increases in education.

The text has disappeared under the interpretation.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil

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In America today we do a very poor job attending to the problems we face.  The principle mistake: we fail to determine the source of the problem.

We are most frequently trapped by the parameters of the problem itself, as it appears on the surface to us.  We let the problem define us.  We have lost touch with our text.

Yes, all problems tell us of the human person, his and her propensities, limitations, recurrent mistakes and failures.  Yet, in losing text, we lose context. Context lost, we fumble around making all sorts of mistakes and enemies while sustaining the presence of the problem, even institutionalizing it so that it becomes a permanent (but utterly unnecessary) presence in our life and culture. (Think how accommodations to race institutionalize racism.)

I give you an example.  Thinking about “activism” today, one might ask why so much of this?  Why do women assemble dressed as “vaginas” and with “pink pussy hats” to air their grievances?  Why do disgruntled Blacks burn down their neighborhoods, or Leftist and anarchists dress in black, wear masts, assemble to destroy private property, set fires, throw rocks at others?

We rarely ask: where does this come from?

In reading about Catholic monk Thomas Merton’s admiration for writer Albert Camus, I saw something of the origin of the activism we witness today. Indeed, I see the grand fallacy of social activism as it appears today … and yes, I see text lost to poorly formed interpretation.

Merton (like many liberals) admired French intellectuals who thought that it was an intellectual’s duty to be politically engaged.  In Camus, Merton saw an intellectual who did so.  He was smitten.

Camus, like his Leftist colleagues, saw the tension between a belief in things transcendent and evil.  Being without faith, Camus mistakenly dismissed God altogether.  His faulty reasoning: a good God would not allow evil to exist.  He failed to understand this basic proposition: God is perfect Good and as such not evil, yet God made the human being as an imperfect image of the Divine and it is man, not God, who besmirchs good with less good or evil.  In the godless Camus, the text is lost: it is NOT God but man who authors evil.

So Camus’ activism and today’s activism is imperfect man acting without God (without text and context) and producing evil when good is desired.  This the grand mistake of social activism.  We do not, as mere humans, possess the capacity to produce perfection – a world that is without evil.

All godless activism leads to politics and power and these divide, foster hostility – particularly when ideology replaces a more learned view of human existence.

Yes, there is an enormous price paid for text lost.

So we have now, real division – social activists who hate others and this nation. ‘Tis a very sorry state – one that may well destroy us.

Think about the lost text.  Christ was not a social activist.  He did not revolt.  He sustained in the midst of evil.   He was the willing, innocent victim of political power.  He suffered and died to glorify God and the truth man and of the Judeo-Christian story.

Truth and perfection does not come from man, nor in mortal life.  The truth of the matter is that we live for what is transcendent.  Camus, French intellectuals, Merton and the activists have it exactly wrong.  Christ does not.

Shalom.

 

 

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country … To the land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great nation … And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Gen 12: 1, 2, 3

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I sit in the morning fog in God’s green land.  Behind the mist are the pastures and the hills and mountains that I am sure to see when the veil is lifted and the sky is opened. I listen to De Profundis and Palestrina’s Gloria from Missa Papae Marcelli.

The news of the world is troubling.  In this land we wake to stories of overdoses, and of the murder of two young Muslim teenage boys on the eve of their high school graduation, both honor students on their way to college, and of conflicts and hostilities in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  In our legislature the Party out of power acts like spoiled children, turns to obstruction while problems pile up and division disheartens.  Small groups act like angry pagans demanding this or that.  Racism surfaces among those once its victim.  The morning fog cannot hide the shame of this.

It had been four centuries without a prophet until Jesus emerged.  Four centuries.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters wondered why God was silent.  Then we received The Word, Immanuel – “God with us.”

We have been given the opportunity to become the children of God, to become the great nation that Abraham was called to bring forth.

Children of God and children of Abraham, but how do we act today?  We act as if there was no Abraham, no Jesus and there is no God.

Today we seek to create good through human acts but in place of good is conflict, discontent, selfishness, hatred.  The flesh and the will of man cannot triumph … it is God who perfects man, not man who prefects man.  Like Abraham we must be His vehicle, His instrument.

Like you I see the conflict, the needless hurt, the arrogance of man and woman, the reliance on self as if we are God.  We have credited ourselves with wisdom and power we do not have.

The good and wise man is humble, speaks softly – sees others as his family.

Are you the good and wise man?  Am I?

Shalom.

 

 

A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

Elisabeth Elliot

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This Elliot quote is a nugget … about as true a thing as you can find.

I have been asked often by clients, colleagues, friends and people who seek my counsel to explain another person’s consistent hurtful, dismissive, thoughtless, selfish, antagonistic, hostile or chaotic behavior.  I frequently respond by saying: if you have disordered people in your life, they bring you disorder.  Indeed with disordered people – any expectations to the contrary are misplaced.

Personally, I keep my distance from disordered people … and I mean personal distance (face to face) and distance in the multiple forms they appear to me in the mass media/mass communication society we have now.

I cite a case in point: Tucker Carlson in this television interview and commentary show last night had a guest who was the absolute picture of disorder.  From the very first question, this female guest ranted, spoke over him, would not and probably could not give a competent response to any of his inquiries.  She was loud, uncouth and incapable of civil discourse.  Yes, a belligerent, disordered soul.  I stopped watching.

If she were acting this way in a psychiatrist office awaiting a consult they’d probably have sedated her.

Disorder is frequently on public display in American culture today.

I see this in women now whereas I never saw this in the early decades of my life.  On the contrary, I recall women who were strong, dignified, insightful, balanced, wise and courageous.  They had class and commanded respect by their mere presence.   Somewhere since feminism this has changed and we are the worse for it.

In addition to the Carlson episode, I offer three recent public incidents of women displaying troubling indications of disorder.  The first is Hillary Clinton in her ongoing public, everevolving, ever-expanding blame-everyone-but-me explanations of her unsuccessful candidacy.  In her one sees the depths of disorder.  Yes, a troubled disordered soul.

The second, is Kathy Griffin’s pitiful, weepy public complaint that the Trump family is responsible for the (fittingly) public criticism of her utterly tasteless display of a decapitated bloody head of the President.  Yes, a lost and disordered soul in the era of ISIS decapitations.

Then, there is national security leaker Reality Winner whose immaturity and devotion to leftist ideology led her to violate the law by giving classified material to those who had no legal right to have it.  Yes, a confused, dangerously immature and self-righteous soul.

Four queens of disorder.  Not a good sign for them, or us, or for women … and a far cry from Elisabeth Elliot – a wise woman of extraordinary faith, service and accomplishment.

Perhaps we can pray that those who are lost and troubled can be found.

Shalom.

Not that one … (was) … evil.  But that millions had not the courage to be good.

John Fowles, in The Magus

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Seventy-three years ago today, America’s young men landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, knowing full well two things: (1) they risked their lives, (2) their country and the world needed them to defeat Germany and bring peace to Europe.

On this anniversary of the Normandy invasion a 25-year-old masculine-looking young woman, a twit, a Leftie – a Bernie Sanders supporter and Trumphater, has been arrested by the F.B.I. and is reported to have admitted to them that she took classified documents from the National Security Agency and sent them to a discredited Leftist organization whose mission it has been to interfere with America’s national security efforts.

Dandy.  In the 73 years since one of our greatest hours, we have produced gender-confused, ignorant, self-centered children whose Leftist ideology and personal fetishes seem to justify an arrogance that jeopardizes the lives of 300 million Americans, this country and Western Civilization.  In this we are way beyond pride – we are into real hate-filled pathology .. and this young woman is only one of many.

How did we get here?

Well it is probably hard to say definitively but one critical factor is that the Democrat Party has moved far to the Left and this has resulted in ideology supplanting pragmatism and patriotism.

The root of that Leftist ideology is, of course, Marxism which sees perpetual conflict between groups and fosters and sustains hostility which breaks down nation, national identity and community and furthers totalitarianism.  (It is any wonder that the Left has no regard for national borders?)  

The Democrat Party of 2017 is focused on one thing: power.  They seek it through the growth and control of an ever-expanding federal government, the implementation of laws, regulations, programs and policies that seek conception-to-grave domination of all aspects of human existence.

Make no mistake, Ms. Self-Righteous Leaker is a product of this ideology which is, by the way, the preoccupation of American education – pre-school through college.

Yes, the Democrat Left indoctrinates.  Education produces sycophants, followers. The media provides daily instruction.  The herd follows lemming-like.  Betrayal results.

If you doubt the seriousness of this – just look at the Congressional Democrats, and Leftist press and media, college professors and “special pleaders” who viciously attack the Presidency – and in so doing undermine the legitimacy of the Office.

Look at how they obstruct legislative business in the Congress (thank you, Charles Schumer, disciple of Harry Reid).  With them, do nothing matches know-nothing.  Their mantra? Better selfishness than service!

Look at the political use of government agencies and a judiciary of ideologues.

Look at how lies dominate Benghazi and other sad failures.  Look at their last presidential candidate and her inability to admit her own failure.  Look at prominent Democrats embracing “resistance” to President Trump and national government.

By the way, make no mistake opposition to President Trump is opposition to all who voted for him.  Know this with absolute certainty: the Democrats don’t just believe those who disagree with them are wrong, no – they think those who disagree with them are deplorables – irredeemable.

From D-Day to Leak Day.  Some fall from grace.

Shalom.

Comey Testimony – If there is one thing you need to know about government it is this: only in government and education can you rise so easily above your level of competence and eventually command a country’s attention.  This is just more proof that government is best when it is small and education is badly overrated.

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

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If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

Shalom.

Delight in smooth sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts … the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality … played a definite part in unleashing upon the world … horrors and miseries (World War II).

Winston S. Churchill, in The Gathering Storm

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Wars have their prelude, their component miscues and misadventures, their self-delusions and grand deceits.

One thinks of this now as many troubling signs emerge.

Russia is in Syria propping up a brutal regime, Iran pursues both nuclear weapons and expansion while supporting insurgents in foreign lands, North Korea strives for a nuclear arsenal and European countries seed authority to stateless Brussels bureaucrats while terrorists roam their homeland largely unabated.

In the United States, we enlarge the national debt, fatten the dependent population and the expand the expectations of citizens for more and more national benefits.

Some European nations are beginning to resume required national military service, yet attention turns to “global warming” as if nothing is more important. Fantasies absorb us.

In our once mature and sane representative democracy, college students require pampering and “protection” from free speech while some assault civility and those with whom they disagree.  On campus, hate is protected by cowardly administrators.

In the public square God is unwelcome while obesity looms and one wonders where the next “Greatest Generation” has gone.

As Churchill rightly notices, the antics of the Liberals pave a nasty road to a tragic destination.

Hard to dispute this today.  Indeed, we have lost touch with truth, and consequently, with reality.  But neither truth nor reality have lost touch with us.

At the foundation of moral thinking lie beliefs in statements the truth of which no further reason can be given.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

When immorality prevails, we have stopped believing … without belief, truth and reality are lost and the storm gathers.

Shalom.

Postscript – An “unfunny”* female “comic” thought it amusing to be photographed holding the “head” of President Donald Trump.  Darling …

It is, thank God, always the case that people “self-report” – tell you who they are. So with this woman we see the Left is quite comfortable with those who behead their enemies. Charming …

(* “unfunny” is a state of being whereby a person does not have a humorous impulse in their body … if you see these people coming, run quickly in the opposite direction … if you encountered them in a social setting, make yourself disappear as soon as possible)

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

“It all approaches neurosis.”

William F. Buckley

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William Buckley’s above comment, made in 1980, referred to the liberal Left which refused to accept, despite overwhelming evidence, that Alger Hiss (an elite and a “golden boy of the New Deal”) was a Communist spy.

The Hiss matter is a reminder of how Communist, “progressive” and socialist “true believers” cannot accept facts or reality that disturbs or proves flawed their worldview, their ideology and all their wishful, fanciful notions.

The fact of the matter – it is the rare person who, once committed to an ideology, ever changes their view.  Having invested much on lies and that which is untrue, they prefer to sustain their views regardless of what evidence to the contrary is offered, established, proven in court and with convictions, or independent corroboration.

People, you see, avoid truth if it becomes inconvenient to accept it.  Likewise, many are not interested in the task of growth and self-examination … so their errors and mistakes are defended and facts contrary to their view are rejected out of hand.  Media, Leftist politics, universities and the privileged class are full of these people.

Yes, this seems like neurosis … and we see lots of it today.  Of course, in its violent strand (which we see today) in mob actions and brutal, hateful comments, unsubstantiated and slanted stories, as well as constant character assassination – neurosis becomes psychosis, i.e., real disorder.  We have plenty of this today, too – just look at the daily attacks on the President.  (The Left disdains those who dare to even suggest that they might be wrong.)

Many on the Left, including their media members, have gone mad – yes, bonkers. Pass out the rubber pencils and the “meds” please.

We live in an age of public psychosis.  Think of the hysteria of the celebrity class … can’t tell them too clearly from “journalists” and “talking heads” these days.

Shalom.

The demons began to entreat him … “If you are going to cast us out send us into the herd of swine.”  … And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed … into the sea and perished …

Mt 8:31,32

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Encountering the Leftist news media today, along with elected Democrats and others, is a little like encountering those possessed of demons.  It really is both amazing, and repulsive.

I frequently am asked by friends and colleagues what they might do to deal with the very troubled people they encounter – in their family, the workplace, the public at-large, and in mass communication.  My “go to” response: keep your distance.  Then I explain that disordered people bring disorder.  Indeed, such people seem incapable of doing otherwise.

You see multiple examples of this everyday.  An example just yesterday: Anderson Cooper (an eminently forgettable cable “news guy”) in an interview felt compelled to roll his eyes in disbelief, contempt, boredom at the words and persona of the woman he was interviewing.  Evidence of disorder.

Cooper’s disorder was of this variety: “I am so much better than and above this person I am interviewing.”  Oh, really Anderson, you fooled me … and your eye-rolling proved quite the opposite.

Then there are the two air passengers who had a knock down, drag out fist fight on a loaded airplane.  Disorder.

Who flies now?  Not me.  Who listens to the Anderson Coopers of the world?  Not me.

Sooner or later these folks will drive themselves into the sea.  You need not join them now or then.

Shalom.

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