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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  (Emphasis added.)

Mother Teresa

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They placed Nikolas Cruz’s younger brother in a facility for a mental health evaluation.  He is 18 years old, Nikolas is 19.

You know the thumbnail story of their lives – given up for adoption, a history of personal difficulties, thoughts of fetal alcohol syndrome, poverty, adoption, living on the edge – a home life that required the police to respond to their house multiple times a year, a failed school life, being ostracized, rejected by peers, self-mutilation, despair, confusion, learning problems, thrown out of school, abandoned – left to their own destruction.

They say Parkland is a family town where people care for each other.  Hard to see that in Nikolas and his brother, in the way the school system took a very deprived kid and threw him our of school with no oversight or care.  Hard to see the good people of small town U.S.A. in a good light when we know these kids lived a variant of being unwanted all their lives.

Parkland was not too long ago a smaller town without the Yuppie homes with big rooms.  I gather from news reports that remnants of its earlier status might be known by the few trailers that still house some families.  One imagines a sharp contrast between what might have been a short time ago and what is now.

Nikolas and his brother are lost kids, kids who likely needed care – maternal, paternal, familial, adult care … who needed real institutional support and particularized education and preparation for adult life.  Like all of us as children: they needed stability – the loving consistent care of an able adult, encouragement, predictability at home and in their small childhood world – truth is they needed love and care more than the lessons of rejection, alienation, confusion, defeat, loneliness and despair which seems to have come their way over and over again.

The story of the Parkland tragedy is at its core a story about lost children – and specifically lost boys in a culture and time that them.  It is a story that indicts not those who are unwanted but rather those around them who took no care to shepherd these lost sheep.  Shame in this Lenten Season!!!

I know these kids, I might have been one but for a mother who cared and sacrificed, two uncles and a loving grandmother, a great aunt and uncle, kind neighbors and childhood friends who accepted me and are today (now 68 years) still my brothers and sisters.

I am quite honestly sick and tired of those I see in public life, in positions of authority – with some exceptions.  They’d be best to leave us alone – go off and experience the realities of a hard and precarious life that humbles you by having you ask of yourself as I did as a child: what will happen to me if my mother dies?

If we demonstrate anything daily, it is this – all the talking heads and celebrities, and politicians, entertainers, media folks and those in authority everywhere – those who lay claim to our attention … might want to stop (as we all might) and ask: Do I see the Lost Sheep?  And what do I do when I see them?

Shalom.

 

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A guy needs somebody to be near him.  A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.  Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s as he’s with you.  I tell ya, a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.

John Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men

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Like many people yesterday and last night I watched television coverage of the Parkland, Florida high school murders.  Frankly, the most significant and most revolting aspect of this tragedy is simply this: no one – not one person – knew Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old student who committed these murders!

Most troubling: no school official seemed to know anything about a young men who was within their jurisdiction.  No teacher appeared to tell us who he was.  No school counselor appeared to tell us who he was.  The school principal never appeared at all.  Those who previously disciplined the student did not appear.

The police chief spoke – he could offer no personal information on the lad.  Not where he lived. Who were his parents.  Whether he had full or half-siblings.  How long he lived in the community.  Who he had known.  What he might have done in school.  What grade level he had been in.  How long he was in the school or the Parkland educational system.  Whether he has received psychological or counseling services through the school or benefited from medical or mental health or social services referrals.

This kid was an absolute stranger to these people.

Listening to the coverage – it was as if this fellow just appeared out of thin air.

The state “dignitaries” likewise knew nothing about this young man.  The Florida Governor was a blank sheet as to Nikolas Cruz.  Ditto the Florida Attorney General, the Parkland School Superintendent.  No one knew Nikolas Cruz – No one.

As you sit today and ponder what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday – there is one thing you can know for sure – those who had charge and care of student Nikolas Cruz did not care for him, did not know him … and in effect put him on course to these murders.

A gun did not kill these murdered students.  Oh noabject, inexcusable indifference of adults did.  Shame on those who failed this young person.

Let’s face the truth, Friends – we have become a culture devoid of intimacy.  Simple caring and acts of friendship are fewer – far fewer – than they once were.  And yet we fool ourselves while dividing ourselves into small self-centered and angry groups separated by race, politics, gender, sexual “preferences”, ethnicity … at the same time we shun God and those who believe in God.    

Indifference and those who are indifferent killed these high school students the very same way they killed Nikolas Cruz.

Some Ash Wednesday in the year 2018!!!  If we ever needed God, we need God now!!!

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

Shalom.

The Aftermath.  One day after the Parkland tragedy and the hysteria commences: talk of mental illness without any indication that Mr. Cruz was ever diagnosed … and talk of banning guns … Yet, not any evidence of introspection.

It is always easiest to point blame away from ourselves.

Let’s be plain.  Parkland is a small town of 23,000 people.  Until the 2000-2010 it was a town of 8000 plus (according to Wikipedia).  The school was probably the largest government entity to have direct daily contact with its population.

Are we to assume that this small town threw a mentally impaired kid (without a family) out of school with no concern for what he might do or whom (including himself) he might hurt?  If so – forget mental illness and guns – these people need to focus on their conduct and responsibility. 

 

 

 

 

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it is possible to find them.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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These are the words of “the father of the Atomic Bomb,” – a brilliant man, delightful and well-liked and a physicist.

Last night I watched a riveting documentary entitled The Day after Trinity.  It was about the effort to collect a large team of physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and related scientists to conduct research and then make the Atomic Bomb which was subsequently used on our Japanese World War II enemies.

The documentary was the story in some ways about a Faustian Bargain, one made by innocents so easily captured by the hard and most interesting questions of science.

It is hard in watching this not to realize that man without morality, without a Spiritual base in life cannot fully appreciate what he has done until it is done.

Without a moral framework and a spiritual existence – we are easy prey.  This, by the way, explains how colleges and universities can capture our young with foolish, destructive ideas.  The truth of the matter is this: few people 18 or 19 years of age have lived sufficiently to have the judgement and courage to resist or refute failed and self-destructive fantasies promulgated and preached by their seniors in academia.

Indeed, they are too inexperienced to resist the easy conversion to ideas that make of them nothing more than herd animals.

The reduction of the young is a simple task of conversion for the idealists and ideologues who envision a utopia and enforce its development through the totalitarianism of “true believers.”  This is precisely where we are today in America with the Left and the Democrat Party.

Strange days, these days.  No one remembers Oppenheimer.

Shalom.

Nothing appeals to intellectuals more than to think they represent ‘the people.’  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul Johnson

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Therein lies the identification of our present historic moment in time – and the foundational explanation of Donald Trump’s election as President.

In short, the elites reside “aloft” – above the common folk, the workers, the hourly wage and the part-timer, the displaced miner and factory worker, the retail clerk, the Walmart shopper, the truck driver, the firefighter and the police officer, the Sunday churchgoers, the folks who do the fighting and dying like their Daddy and Uncles did.

You see in the last five decades we have flourished economically but the “big money” went to the elites, the celebrities, the media types, tenured university professors at privileged colleges, and the political class and lobbyists, to the mavens of social networks and internet commerce, to expensive cities, ritzy suburbs and exclusive enclaves in Malibu, Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Naples, Chevy Chase, Potomac and Bethesda and such … but not to the common folks who do all the “heavy lifting” and die before they age.

Recently I heard a Yale Professor and Nobel Prize winner in economics tell an interviewer (without any hesitation) that President Trump had some nerve going to Davos for a gathering of the international elites to discuss world economics.  His justification for his comment was this: Mr. Trump is a “popularist,” a nationalist, one who favors national borders – the things at this self-selective collection of the super wealthy, world political figures, bankers, financiers, globalists, liberals and social activists simply reject and despise.

Well now, don’t they know better than those of us who live closer to the ground and deal (unlike them) with the battle of survival every single day – day after day, morning to night.

Imagine the ignorance these elites possess, the self-deception and pridefulness multiplied in this small hot-house of arrogant “we know better than you do” yahoos.  Whence we hear those not in attendance are a “basket of deplorables” – not good enough for elites but sufficient for cannon-fodder, wage slavery and permanent dependence.  Atrocious!

This is central to our troubles today.  The lesser among us are invisible and thus expendable.  You can’t miss what you can’t see.  They don’t see us.  We are chattel at best to these sequestered elites.

Today we have a divide that threatens our demise.

This is our historical moment.  Those who would lead must know who comprises the ones that might follow.

The Christian who might lead knows those who struggle the most, has come from them, lives with them, has acquired their suffering and fears and their strength and courage as well.  Elites who live “aloft” can offer nothing but error and division … and if unchecked the death of what we once have known and been.

Think about it.  Who among us shows you that they know who you are?

Shalom.

Postscript – We grant too much authority to people who have gone to college – especially to the once “elite” colleges.  There is no magic to getting a college degree.

It is life experience that teaches and distinguishes a person.  What have they done?  What trials have they faced?  How did they respond?  What did they learn?  How vast and varied is their experience?  Have they maintained healthy relationships over time?  What insights can they share?  Are they wise?  Patient?  Stable?  Invariable?  Do they inspire confidence?

 

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss.”

Lk 22:48

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We don’t often think of betrayal and investigate it very thoroughly.  Yet, it is a rather common human experience.

The Wall Street Journal offered an article (“Four Days of Rain in the City of Naples,” November 11-12, 2017) about the re-publication of a book entitled Malacqua written by Nicola Pugliese and published to great acclaim in 1977.  The article gets to the issue of betrayal – to its scope and what it says about the human person and respect for one’s clearly stated preferences – and being.

The book told the story of “Naples beset by a biblical deluge” and some mystical events that accompanied the destruction brought on by the rain.

The book was a remarkable success, yet shortly after it was published its author refused to allow further publication and retreated to the countryside and lived a reclusive life until his death.  After his death, it was republished.  Pugliese’s wishes were dismissed – he was betrayed.

It seems that Pugliese’s act of withdrawing the book from publication was a statement of his deeply held “revulsion” of society.  In his escape to anonymity, the author was saying “I’ve had enough.  I’m out of here.  Please leave me alone.”  In his silence, he bothered no one.

My point?  Even after death one can be betrayed.  We are a strange species.

How we fail to honor others – even in their simplest yet profound expressions of who they are.  Life sure is interesting.

Shalom.

 

Jung felt that the pursuit of wholeness was essential for redressing the split between the conscious and the unconscious.  Although the differentiation … is a natural part of psychiatric development, a total break between the two realms can cause psychic problems.

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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Dr. Smith, a Jungian psychologist whose focus is human development and the history of religion, goes on to quote Carl Jung, M.D., who said the “more powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will” the less well and whole we are. In this state, psychic problems follow.

Why do I bring this up?

Well it is quite simple.  I hear from people quite often that they see and encounter people whose actions seem disordered, selfish, troubled, and without concern for others, irrational.  Indeed, Jung is talking about this very issue – about people who are “unconscious” – cut off from their whole being.

Dr. Jung is talking about human wholeness – the unification of the whole human person – the person’s full human development (intellectual, social, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, etc.) as the object of our creation and existence; and I am concerned that culture can either advance or impede this development.  Further (having studied the relationship between faith and exclusionary secular culture) I see that we produce an abundance of unhealthy, even disintegrated individuals, and that unnecessary chaos, conflict, suffering, division and isolation abound.  May I reference Harvey Weinstein and the legions of married female teachers engaged in sexual conduct with their underage students as “a for instance.”

Consistent with Jung, when man becomes the exclusive focus of man the individual self becomes all important and man’s reason is cultivated at the cost of the unconscious aspects of his being.  Said another way, when man is focused exclusively on man his psyche (soul) is forgotten and problems manifest.

Yes, in our secularized culture we have become one-dimensional, trapped in self and materiality but devoid of a metaphysical intelligence (and spiritual maturity) and hence fall short of the capacity for a full range of experience and human development.  Frankly, we are not well.  We are fragmented at best – lack the capacity for introspection, self-examination, intimacy, and the ability to receive others.  To the contrary, we objectify others and cannot fully comprehend the bizarre actions (even tragedies) that surround us.

Case in point: we are mystified by the actions of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock.  His autopsy shows no brain damage to explain his rampage and the authorities can find no particular motive, personal social footprint or provocation for his actions.

Unable to see as other than diminished secularists, they ignore the Unibomber in explaining Mr. Paddock.  They do not recall the Unibomber’s rage arouse from his parents who demanded he forsake other people and things, from childhood on, in favor of constant study.  His parents made him a slave of his intellect.

Yes, in a single fit of rage as a teenager he screamed this to them: “You never let me have a friend!”

It is hard to imagine a more chilling indictment of one’s parents nor a more dreadful, socially starved existence.  He, like Paddock, was a greatly diminished person, one far from wholeness – asocial, isolated, alone.

The neglect of our God-given fullness is the cause of the serious disorder among the godless from top to bottom of the social strata.  We are devoted to self and self alone – and far less well for it.

If we continue in this way, our suffering and murderous chaos, abhorrent interpersonal behavior, group violence, corruption and cover-up, and our isolation one from another will continue us on a destructive, evil path.

When God is neglected, the soul cannot be well.  We prove this daily.

Shalom.

… your dissatisfaction with the Church seems to come from an incomplete understanding of sin … you seem actually to demand … that the Church put the kingdom of heaven on earth right here now, that the Holy Spirit be translated at once into all flesh … you are leaving out the radical human pride that causes death …

Flannery O’Connor, in a December 9, 1958 Letter

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One distinguishing fact about the Left and others who seek omnipotence in government is this: they put unjustified confidence in the human being and man-made institutions and efforts.  Yes, they are disoriented.

They, like the letter writer O’Connor is responding to, somehow think that an ideology (however distorted or errantly applied) will give us heaven on earth.

Have these people been watching the movie I’ve seen for seven decades?  Have they not watched Seinfeld or met Woody Allen?  It seems clear that they have not grasped the essence of the Judeo-Christian narrative or the sweep of recorded human history.

Just today, I awoke to the “can’t make it up” mea-culpa of an rotund, aging leftwing Hollywood mogul (who loves his mother, perhaps a little too much) and has been (for years) asking would-be starlets to watch him take a shower.

He, of the “pro-feminist” persuasion, puts in plain view this: we inflate the expectation of the human person and in this intoxication quickly conjure up insane propositions as if all that occurs in moviemaking paves the way to earthly nirvana.

No, it does not.  We are not to be exalted, but to be humbled.  We do more damage than we think, create greater division, exhibit more insanity, destroy more good things than we ever imagine.  Hence my son’s favored expression: don’t just do something, stand there.

Yes, there you have it – a refutation of the Liberal in six easy words: don’t just do something, stand there.

If sanity is to root in present American culture – humans will cool their heels, and their expectations will subside in inverse proportion to their growth in humility, kindness, friendship, faith and self-effacing humor.

Today’s bumper-crop of disordered behavior and sickness ought to teach that much of what those with demonstrated maladies advocate is precisely adverse to our welfare and prosperity.  If you see them wearing a raincoat, leave your umbrella home.

Shalom.

 

 

“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.  There was a widow in the city, and she kept coming to him, saying. ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’  For a while he was unwilling … afterwards he said to himself  … because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise … she will wear me out.”

Lk 18: 2, 3, 4, 5

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Here Jesus tells the story of “the unrighteous judge” to show us that God attends to justice with his elect in a more urgent manner, not because He wishes to dismiss the cares and needs of others for His own comfort.  Yes, the earthy judge cares not, while God Our Father cares deeply for his children.

My experience as a trial and appellate lawyer is not contrary to what Jesus describes here for caring for others is not a trait so easily found in anyone – including judges.  The reason?  People are apt to think more about their own comfort than that of others.  There are exceptions, of course, but cherish those men and women when you encounter them for they have the compassion that is godly.

Jesus closes this parable with a question, namely: “… when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

The question still stands.  Faith is a condition precedent to justice.

The harangue “no justice, no peace” is idiotic.  It expresses no truth.  It mimics the attitude of the judge who gives attention to things not because they merit his attention and relief but because he wishes comfort for himself.

The wiser and more learned refrain is this: no faith, no justice.

Think about it.  Life in a faithful society is life in a just society … Imagine seamless justice because people care for one another out of a bedrock of faith.

Shalom.

 

 

God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. (Emphasis added.)

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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Such an interesting thought, clearly stated.  The stakes in a Christian life are not to be simply nice, or to conform to the rubric of the practices of religion – but rather to live as the children of God.  In that alone is redemption.

It is not enough to be nice, nor is it to live nicely behind closed doors while the world around you collapses.  A sequestered life is not sufficient for a Christian.

Look around you, we live in a culture that more and more resembles Sodom and Gomorrah.  New York City has a public hotel that encourages residents to engage in all sorts of sexual activity in plain view to their neighbors in surrounding apartments. Their mayor shelters nude women who solicit cash donations from tourists in Time Square. His justification?  The women are undocumented aliens and New York is a sanctuary city.

Chicago is a killing field.  The City of Angels (Los Angeles) is for the most part a shambles with widespread poverty and homelessness.  And we bar mention of God in public places.  How sick is this!

What is your responsibility?  What side of the divide are you on?

Shalom.

God, bring us to our senses.  Give us the courage to speak out.

 

… those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Mt 23:20

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Make no mistake there are distinct, substantive differences between our two major parties.

Do not be deceived the last electoral result highlighted the very real difference between the common citizen and the elites: those with power, money, status – the intellectual and celebrity class, globalists, the media, the perpetual Washington insiders whose class status is far different from Mom and Dad in small town U.S.A. , and between the ideologues, “special pleaders,” and mere citizen taxpayers.

Frankly, the privileged class lost and the most politically-focused of them (the Left and the Washington wags who are used to being “important”) are offended and not taking their bite of humble pie very well.  Yes, their obstruction and rhetoric is destructive – having gone beyond civil debate.  Actually, their behavior mimics the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature who fled their state and hid from their official duties so as to thwart the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Like all actions people take, the angry objection to the voters choice of President tells us about those who are upset.  One thing it says is this: politics and power is a high priority for them – probably too important for their and our wellbeing as a nation.  Make no mistake a subset is NOT greater than the whole.  No one is more important than the nation.

It is always hard to speak to your Brother and Sister when they must be reproached – but speak we must – speak calmly, in a soft voice, as a friend, with authority and care. Reconciliation is the goal and it must always be.

Losses are difficult for many.  Those of us who have lived modestly and, in my case, on the “wrong side of the tracks” amid the very serious conflicts one can encounter – we are used to life’s ups and downs.  We learned long ago that no one wins all the time and that it is the losses which actually teach us the best lessons, impart the greatest truth and wisdom.

The one thing that we need now is a calm conversation with those who are most displaced by their perceived loss.  For civility to return, maturity must be cultivated and in this instance it means those hurt must listen to the voices of those who care for their welfare and that of this nation.  Yelling, fighting, anger will only inflame and put much at risk … including each of us.

Remember the opposite of love is not hate – but rather: indifference.  We cannot afford to draw battle lines, engage in nasty and dishonest behavior, retribution, character assassination, or violence.   Honest, calm conversation is the need.  An end to extreme language that excites ideologues and flames the fire … it must cease today, now.

I hope we are all to the task.  It is the humble who are exalted.  They are strongest who life has humbled.  Make no mistake – in the end the humble remain standing while the prideful fall. 

Shalom.

Postscript – I am always amazed that the “talking heads” on T.V. and many elected officials talk and talk without ever citing an authority – the words of someone whose insight and wisdom they share.  You have to conclude that they are talking through their hats, haven’t cracked a book since the 3rd grade.

You wonder: why would I listen to these people?  They really do not warrant my time.  They do not.  Happy landings.

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