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The more the powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will, the more is the unconscious forced into the background.  When this happens, it becomes easily possible for the conscious structure to be detached from the unconscious images.

Richard Wilhelm, in The Secret of the Golden Flower

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To be whole and have psychic health, full development and contentment, our conscious life must be attached to our unconscious life.  Without an unconscious life, life and our experience of it is distorted, limited and chaotic.

Indeed, it seems that this is precisely where we are in our country today.

Look at the celebrity and political class and those in control of higher education (the “teaching” intellectuals) and you see not mature and insightful individuals but narrow people full of self-assertion, anger and extreme and destructive notions.

Yes, being stuck in conscious alone is a superficial state of being, a fragmented and  unhealthy state of being.

Carl Jung in a 1931 essay noted that the disconnection of consciousness from the unconscious makes for the modern man who Jung identifies as “unhistorical” – that is void of any of the broader lessons of human history.

Jung’s observation might explain the measure of ideas offered and advanced by the American Left today as well as the limited use that can be made of public discourse among those engaged in news reporting and commentary.

I find nothing so much as the separation of conscious and unconsciousness to explain what I see among public personalities, see in the conduct and discourse of the elites.  Sadly, this reminds me of the tragic decline in the German culture in the inter-War years.

Disordered development creates great risk for cultures – and a failed education system and rejection of faith makes for increasing the risk of serious error and destruction.  And make no mistake religious narratives all over the world instruct us in symbols and metaphors that open us to our unconscious.  Ban or undermine religion and we increase our collective and individual danger.

Our individual full psychological and spiritual development is critical, indispensable to our flourishing and survival … and a sign of how far we are from health is evidenced by our reaction to the horrible shooting of people in New Zealand last night.  Immediately our public commentators see it as a product of political opinion when it is rather an indication of psychological sickness – disorder all too common to its counterparts around the world.

Shalom.

 

Our culture has lost any clearly defined spiritual standards and aims, and our cultural values have become impoverished.

Christopher Dawson, in The Judgment of the Nations

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Dawson wrote this in a book published in 1942, when World War II was in full bloom. Three years earlier T. S. Eliot took the view that we faced the choice between a Christian culture or a pagan culture.

The question of culture and our well-being has been with us for eight or nine decades.  Yet, isn’t it odd that those occupying space in the public square speak with no particular appreciation for what Dawson and Eliot and many others (to wit: Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Danielou, Romano Guardini, Nicholas Berdyaev, Paul Tillich, et al) saw as the problem we faced in the West – namely, the disintegration of our culture.

I write about faith and culture and by necessity must address the words, thoughts, actions and inertia of those who command places in the public square.  Yes, I see a mix of theology, culture, history, religion, public policy, law, psychology, philosophy and literature as required to understand who we are today, what risk we run, what wrong turns we have made, and are making, what is lost, derided, discarded and abused by those who have our attention.

The ignorance of those in the public square is monstrous and embarrassing.  Political people alleging that a border wall is immoral while abortion is not as but one example.  Astonishing.  Simply, astonishing.  So many who speak with “certainty” minus doubt or evidence of serious inquiry.

What is my bottom line?

Throughout the centuries we have understood that faith grounds observation. 

No less a man than Albert Einstein offered this to validate the place of faith in intellectual inquiry and life – “God does not play dice” – i.e., mathematicians might say “Both God and the Pythagorean theorem … are believed to exist independent of the physical world; and both give it meaning.”

Faith is a necessary ingredient in human life, community, culture, peaceful existence, civility, full human development, human progress, knowledge, contentment, health, prosperity, intellectual growth and wisdom … and it is the absence of faith that generates the bulk of discord, abhorrent behavior, destruction, division, disorder, violence and hostility in our culture and that of the West today.

If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of things.

Mencius, 371-288 B.C.

The same can be said of citizens and those who claim to lead.

Shalom.

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be a god or angel to be pleasing to You, that I do not have to become a pure intelligence without feeling and without human imperfection before You will listen to me.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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We neither need be god nor angel, nor pure intellect or perfect.  God loves us and accepts us as we are: human and imperfect.

Yet, what public figures or those in leadership positions or those who insist that they must lead show any signs of what Merton is saying?  Who among those cited have the humility and understanding conveyed by Merton?  Answer: no one.

Given the acceptance of a loving God, we chatter endlessly – much as if to avoid any interior examination.  Ironically there is no leadership to be offered by those who lack the humility that comes from what Merton rightly says.

The endless chatter of the public class says one thing: they are neither whole nor intact.  Run from such people – pay them no heed.  Lacking humility – they lack wisdom and missing each they cannot offer anything much but division and folly … and they do so as we can plainly see.

Chatter is wasteful noise to avoid individual growth and the recognition that we are all, in essence, the same – with the same value to a loving God.  There are no hierarchies of privilege and heritage, and education and wealth that ought be honored.  Indeed, one who serves in leadership must stand with others and not above others.

It is the quiet one who leads.  It is the common one who possesses what Merton describes.  For it is the quiet one who walks with God and others.

Shalom.

The virtue of a man will be a state of character which makes a man good and makes him do his work well.

 Aristotle, in The Nicomachean Ethics

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Doing one’s work well.  Imagine if that was demanded of public officials.  If it were we could get a sense of the virtuous nature of those we pay to “govern” us.  Indeed, perhaps we might conclude from such a test that “we hire those with significant virtue deficits.”

Case in point: the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County, Florida.  The Supervisor is a woman who since her appointment in 2003 has consistently showed her ineptitude.

Illustratively, this former high school teacher and elementary school principal (yes, a life time “government worker”) – lost 58,000 ballots in 2004, left 1,000 votes uncounted in 2012, released elections results before the polls closed in 2016, destroyed 688 ballot boxes that were a subject of interest in litigation in 2016 and failed to report as required by law the total number of votes cast 30 minutes after the polls closed in 2018.

Doing one’s job well – this is not.  Aristotle would duly find virtue lacking.

So what does one do when a culture has an expansive government and a surplus of “government workers” who (thanks to the unionization of these workers) makes firing them virtually impossible … and active management of them utterly unlikely?

Well, another way of asking this question is this – what is one to do with government employees when work is not well done and virtue is absent?

Common sense would seem to suggest that down-sizing the public work force would be obvious in an age where automation and artificial intelligence can be readily employed to supplant those whose are inadequate, were supervision is lacking, and virtue absent.

Look at the calamity on display in Broward County and ask yourself: is this nonsense tolerable any longer???

P.S. – This nitwit in Florida makes $176,000 per year (as reported in the news).

Shalom.

Liberal California – Want to see the face of Democratic Socialism?  Look at the train wreck that is “liberal” California.

The Golden Gate state has piled up debt it cannot address, yields to “environmentalists” and leaves dead trees and uncleared brush to flame and fire with devastating loss of life and property, refuses to build dams to keep their agriculture prosperous, builds a billion dollar high speed train to nowhere, invites drug attics to populate San Francisco, establishes “sanctuary cities” and challenges those who prefer legal immigration.  Not much “good work” or “virtue” there.

Perhaps our future as a nation ought to aim at hard work well done, virtue and much – much smaller government that carries no unsupportable debt.

 

 

… it is no sin to live a silent life …

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

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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I live as a monk … on a ridge at the edge of a forest and beside a large slopping pasture that sits at the bottom of a mountain range now in full autumn color posed against the blue November sky bolstered by the chill of brisk fall wind.

I live a quiet distance from a mass communication culture where those thrust ceaselessly at us are merchants of division, animosity, confusion, superficiality, self-interest and considerable ignorance.

A monk is counter-cultural.  His separation defines his values.  To stand outside the culture that divorces itself from God, that knows not sanctity, that neglects the spirit within us is to separate from disorder, to see the culture critically and keep peace with the Divine.

My cottage is my cloister where I may select what I read, hear, or see – a place where I may keep company with my thoughts and prayers and the things of a God who gave us our existence.

Having been planted on “the wrong side of the tracks” as a child, I was made ready to stand apart, to sustain a critical objectivity that refused “transient fashions and manifest absurdities.”  Leaving them was never to have fancied them at all.  Yes, it was a grace that liberates and leads me here.

In a solitary existence one finds the conditions for a full life, and life’s meaning – that is:

  • interior exploration and its sacred products – freedom, understanding and depth of being
  • the peace and health of silence and solitude
  • distance from distraction and disorder
  • contact with the Divine and what is Divine.

So I say (with emphasis added) what Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B. says in Essential Monastic Wisdom –  “…  find some where a place of silence and creativity, where one can listen to the voice of God and think one’s thoughts and be one’s own self.

Shalom.

I often wonder what the world would be like today if some of our modern religions taught that self-knowledge … was the paramount goal of the spiritual path.

Randy Davida

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I might frame what Mr. Davila (the Publisher of The Mastery of Self: A Toltec Guide to Personal Freedom) said a little differently.

I might say that we would all be far better served if we realized that religious narratives address our human development and well-being – that they speak to our full growth – psychologically, socially, emotionally, inter-personally, intellectually and spiritually.

As to our spiritual growth think of psyche (Greek for soul); and I suggest you do too.

Our spiritual growth is growth of our psyche – the deepest form of self.  Religious narratives present a dimension of observation, insight and understanding that enriches us at the very core of our being – in the soul/psyche.

Frankly, far too many people in our culture (and particularly among those who wish to govern us) neglect their full growth and development and present evidence of this daily.

They are as to full human development – lost souls – confined to error, ego, ideology, desire for status, wealth and attention … and, regrettably prone to poor, and even destructive, ideas and policies.  In a word – we are poorly served and poorly led by those who (forsaking religion and religious narrative) have little wisdom and not much of use to offer us.

My “take-away” from Mr. Davila’s words is this – we neglect religion, do not see its narrative as useful and informative in a very fundamental way, and turn our back on the ageless wisdom of our faith and, hence, we face a multitude who seek to lead us without knowing who they are and who we are.

Living without the self-knowledge contained in religious narratives is destined to produce error, ignorance and egotists prone to foolishness and serious mistake.

Each of us would be wise to take only the pulse of those in public life as a way to monitor the state of chaos, calamity and confusion present today – while focusing on our individual acquisition of the wisdom and insight present in religious narrative.  Absent that – the unknowing are led by the unknowing.

Shalom.

Postscript – As some of you know I am trained – in law, government and politics, international relations and American foreign policy, and theology.  I have long been interested in the relationship between faith and secular culture.  After a great deal of reading, thought and experience, one has to conclude that neglecting our religious heritage is a very unwise thing to do – for religious narratives deal entirely in the human person and his or her peace and prosperity – personal, communal, familial, psychological , intellectual and spiritual.  Neglecting religion produces poor results.

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves, and then he said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it into a den of thieves.”

Mt 21: 12-13

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We often overlook the ways Jesus tells us about ourselves as human beings.  Here we see Jesus act in an angry manner.  In the very next passages from the Gospel of Mark he condemns the barren fig tree.  Both of these actions come after his celebrated entry into Jerusalem where the crowds welcomed him waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the road he traveled.

What can be said of these situations as they are juxtaposed?  They seem at odds.  But they do tell us something very instructive about our human existence.

It can be reasonably said that Jesus, having experienced the popular political response from those who reflected their orientation to the importance of earthly, imperial status and power, is moved to cleanse the Temple of those who subvert and discredit the reality and superiority of a spiritual “kingdom” which exceeds man and mortal being.  

Yes, Jesus is showing us that secular orientation to power cannot be our preference or default stetting.  Rather he shows us that the Father has created us for much more – that is: what is eternal and peace-giving (no matter the conflict, age, governing system, or suffering that might appear).

In these sequential events he shows us that man is (and always has been) made to react  forcefully when evil appears and alters the Truth of our existence.  He is, in these acts, showing us who we are.  He shows us the impulse that is an archetypal reality – a characteristic of the human being.  As a corollary one might say that those who avoid conflict at all costs are far from the fullness of their being and faith.  We are made as we are made.

It is so important to look at these episodes sequentially and in-depth – and ask: What is Jesus showing me about being human and being faithful?

Shalom.

More Ignorance in “High” Places – Yesterday, a U.S. Senator (Democrat and lawyer) released a press release “informing” us that some of the the signers of the Declaration of Independence were “immigrants.”  Good gracious.  When we declared our independence we were a colony of England – hence the Signers were English subjects.

A college education and legal training just aren’t what they used to be – nor is the U.S. Senate apparently.

Often our mistakes provided the greatest lessons, humbled us, and enabled us to grow and become better.  For leaders, the humility to admit and own mistakes and develop a plan to overcome them is essential …

Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, in Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win

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These two combat-experienced Navy Seal officers have something important to share with us and they do in their co-authored book Extreme Ownership.

As to the above: there is a direct relationship between humility and leadership and between both humility and leadership and the recognition that we are created as part of something far greater than us – something that exceeds our personal interests.

Yes, we are part of the human family and called into life by a loving God and into an existence that tells a far greater story than our own life might ever tell.  We are, at best, part of the story and, when at our most faithful best, likely a sign or message or source of encouragement for others (some of whom may merely observe us as from afar).

And the authors give us this: mistakes often provide the greatest lessons – but to learn from mistakes one must “own” those mistakes (hence, the book title “Extreme Ownership”).

Easier to say this than to see it done in the world at large.  Just look at the present F.B.I., the Justice Department, the intelligence services and those who are in positions of authority or the last Presidential administration – an awful lot of “covering” one’s tracks – dodging responsibility for things done, said or not said.  The “take away” lesson to be learned and adhered to: there is NO leadership without humility and the capacity to own what went wrong.  

Indeed, you know those in authority are not leaders when truth is not told and gross failures are never discussed or “owned.”  I think of Benghazi, for example – a shameful mess that cost good men their lives.

If humility is essential to leadership then God is too for the human person is born with neither humility nor patience but that life and a belief in God makes it so.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

Busy all day.  Just cranked out a little something.  Happy reading. (4-8-18, 9:02 p.m.)

The man who was made in God’s image is the image of the inner man, the incorporeal, incorruptible, immortal one.  (Emphasis added.)

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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I post not in the morning but in the evening today for two reasons – one, managerial and the other in order to think about what a man is?  As to the latter substantive question, I am inspired to think about man because of the loose, uniformed and destructive manner in which some on the Left attack and dismiss men who they charge with being the fault of all things judged faulty.

In last comment, I think of the women (largely Leftist/feminists) who give sweeping indictments with no evidence whatsoever that they have bothered to survey the writings over the centuries regarding men – good men, great men, the sacrifices of men, the selfless and heroic deeds of men, their uniqueness, their innate strength and talents – the nature of a divine endowment they share with their women partners.

The truth of the matter is this: it is difficult to find in contemporary letters much that collects the wisdom of the ages that has addressed the nature of man and the achievements of man.

No, I dare say that there is not a person alive who is critical of man who has read anything said of man by the great thinkers of their day and Age.

Does anyone really think that the present day feminists have taken time to review Origen, Pascal, Aristotle, de Chardin, Thomas Mann, John Henry Newman, Sophocles, John Donne, John Stuart Mill, William Faulkner, Thomas Browne … etc. before condemning men?

Ignorance is not a license to destroy but a state given to restraint to those with humility, intelligence and modest self-control.  Alas the anti-male feminists and Leftists fail to possess the elements that lead to restraint.

We live in an Age where social media and mass communication allows those who know nothing to sound off as it their stupidity must be borne by others who are expected to  move forthwith to fall in line goose-stepping all the way to the apocalypse.

Little do the critics realize that men and women are “that amphibious piece between a corporeal and spiritual Essence, the middle form of which links those two together, and makes good the Method of God and Nature.”

Shalom.

… there is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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If you want to understand what has gone wrong in America you need understand that higher education (and now elementary and secondary education as well) proceeds without regard for the soul – nay, it repudiates the existence of the soul … and this proposition alone explains the hostility and idiocy of the American Left as it emerges in politics, media, entertainment, the press, the academy and even among religious institutions.

The question of course comes: can a society hold itself together without regard for the soul and all the harm that comes from its exclusion?

Look around, the evidence is quite clear – and the answer followers.  The answer is “No.”

You think I am wrong?  Look at families or shall I say the fragments of family.  The protection of child sacrifice.  The presence of sexual assault, child abuse, gang murders, mass shootings, avarice and greed, foul language, intergenerational public dependence, addictions, pornography, adulteries, public corruption as it emerges in our high offices – among the law-keepers and those charged with keeping us safe.

Look too at the greed of ex-Presidents and their spouses who must glorify themselves while filling their pockets with money and and their lives with fine possessions.  Contrast that with President Truman who carried his own luggage to the train station when he departed from the White House.

There is nary a moment in the news that does not say to us: we are soulless.

Universities are sadly and tragically disordered and corrupted.  Things must change.  Those who preach moral disorder must be ignored, challenged, discredited.  We have gone in the wrong direction for some time – and the destruction is widespread.

The restoration of belief and faith, and morality, and virtue, honesty and honor, and community, and fellowship, and family, and religious worship, and humility, and sacrifice, mutual and self-respect, civility and individuality responsibility is essential and immediate.

… there is no real human being who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Shalom.

Observation – When some men and women in the U.S. Congress sat on their fannies as others stood in shared respect of mothers and fathers whose teenage daughters were murdered by violent teen gang members –  we see the soulless … and we saw this in the recent State of the Union Address.  Shameful.

No one can govern who is soulless.  Pay no attention to the soulless except to rebuke them.

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