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… 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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Reading is bound in silence … constant and attentive reading done devoutly purifies our inner self.

Peter of Celle, in The School of the Cloister

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The digital world has begun to diminish the world of the book.  This is a great loss.  The quiet of reading attends to the heart.

Have you noticed the demise of bookstores?  Amazon has a great deal to do with this.  Indeed their presence in the world of commerce has dehumanized commerce – taken us from people to people exchange to anonymous, impersonal event.  Our response?  We glorify the father of Amazon.  Yes, we applaud dehumanization.

Personally, I try to avoid buying anything from Amazon – preferring to engage with people in the marketplace.

I prefer what feeds the soul and makes us whole.  Reading is one such thing.  Ironically those who read live in a de facto monastery – set themselves off and aside in the quiet that is reading, the growth and contemplation that comes with it.

As Peter of Celle wrote in the 11th Century: “(Reading) continuously tells of the clash of virtue and vices … Reading is the food, light, lamp, refuge, solace of the soul, the spice of all spiritual flavors.  It feeds the hungry, gives light to the one sitting in darkness, offers bread to the one fleeing a shipwreck or war, comforts the contrite heart.”  (Emphasis added.)

Don’t you wish those in who speaks so publicly and so often in our secularized mass communication culture showed the slightest evidence that they have read something and thought deeply about it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the unread political class, the media types and the grossly over-values celebrity cabal just shut up.

Do you read regularly?  If not, why do you suppose others ought to listen to you?

Shalom.

The most paradoxical and at the same time unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies in a totally new creation … Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has been generally left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and 20th centuries … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Well that pretty much explains the roiling discontent many feel in their souls each day and explains the concern one has for their children and grandchildren – their country, Western Civilization and the exile of God from culture.  That is to say – we no longer carry at our core the above understanding.

The abandonment or loss of this perspective also explains the errant notions that flood our culture: same-sex marriage, Marxism, feminism, racism (expressed even by those who were once its victims), fanciful ideas of multiple genders, liberal intolerance and the like.

Think about it.  Is there any reason for a Believer to adopt any of the popular mantras and divisive dispositions so present in contemporary culture?  No.  There is not.

If one believes that Christ in His resurrection conquered death, there is no need for doubt, discontent or division.  And, yes – Merton is quite right that liberal Christianity have abandoned the unconquerable truth that Christ was Resurrected and as Christians this Resurrection rescues us from all apprehension – furnishes us with certainty, frees us to live fully and in the Spirit.

So in a sense, the unease we see, the hostility and antagonism and their attendant expressions and assertions literally have no place among those who Believe as Christians.

As Merton goes on to say – “Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without … spirituality consistency.”  I add only “a moral system” at best; for I have seen in my lifetime the weak idea of “ethics” displace morality as surely as man has replaced God in secular culture.

Ironically, in the age of ethics we get endless rules and regulations of all things and the extraordinary result that those who author the rules and regulations seem never to be held to them.  Out with morality – and corruption flourishes while individual responsibility, freedom, and accountability of the rule-makers seems to disappear.

Without the recognition of the Resurrection we are (as we now show) but a culture inclined to chaos and decline, the loss of freedom and community, and the sickness of godless existence.  Our present trajectory, of course, cannot hold.  We are at a critical moment.

Where are you in your thinking and living?  Best turn to God and the Truth of the Matter.

Shalom.

A lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

Attributed to Mark Twain

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Like others, I was not too keen on President Trump’s daily tweeting.   Many who take an exception to these tweets focus on Donald Trump the person and voice concern that tweeting is “not presidential,” that his tweets make him look “narcissistic.”

Yet, rather than focus on Mr. Trump think about his election itself and what it tells you about the state of our culture and our politics.

Donald Trump beat a wide range of Republican contenders to win the nomination and beat a well-known an established political figure in the general election.

As to his Republican challengers: he beat the Bush family candidate, Senators, a former CEO, a noted and accomplished surgeon, the Governors of Ohio and Wisconsin and others.  In doing so he ran a Populist campaign that spoke to the middle class and attracted disaffected middle class Democrats.  He attracted Catholics and Evangelicals.

As to the general election he beat the candidate of the Left, the media, the academy, the feminists, the unions, the inside-Washington crowd, the homosexual cabal, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, the abortionists, anarchists, atheists, major newspapers, race-conscious advocates, the tech industry billionaires, Washington lobbyists and the entrenched Democrats in the massive federal bureaucracy, and the professional pols in both the Republican and Democrat Parties.

Think about it.  His election tells you something about America today.  It surely says – discontent is brewing.  Indeed, the divisions generated by the “identity politics” of the Left have succeeded and widening the divide between people in this country.  That division creates two groups: the elites/insiders and the rest of us.

This is where tweets come in.

Donald Trump’s tweets are a remarkably able and inexpensive way to offset the daily “news” and “commentary” owned by the array of Leftist and others mentioned above.

His tweets are strategic and very effective – they are the truth putting on its shoes before the lie can take flight.

Like it or not, it is a brilliant stroke employed by an outsider and underdog and the “basket of deplorables” dig it big time.

Indeed, it makes one ask – are we seeing the Left being exposed to light, and becoming unglued in the process?  If we are, one might see a swing back to the middle and normalcy – and the demise of the Democrat Left and all their noisy radical cohorts.

Be careful not to fixate on one aspect of a very interesting picture.  There is always more to unusual events than merely one factor.

Shalom.

Postscript – If you wonder how faith relates to the above – remember faith plays out in the context of culture as it is composed at any point in time and as it evolves and devolves over time.  That is surely reflected in the history of Christianity.  It is no less so today and seeing things like the use of tweets as a means of communication are part of our present composition.

 

[Apologies for having to weave comments about the state of politics into blog posts, but I offer this: we live in a mass culture where politics is a dominant part of the conversation and one thing we are all exposed to … and I add that ideology is a prominent denominator which displaces religious belief and dramatically instills a fundamental orientation to the individual, groups and public discourse.  Where faith once set the table, now ideology does – hence the errors of ideology are a necessary part of correcting what is wrong.]

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… intelligence is fine, but if it doesn’t come along with incisiveness, judgment, emotional maturity it doesn’t do much good.  (Emphasis added.) 

Gregg Popovich

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This from the San Antonio Spurs legendary basketball coach Gregg Popovich.

He makes a point that puts our “educated class” in the crosshairs.  We grossly overstate the value of higher education.  Just look at the standard product of liberal education or the professors and administrators who populate “higher” education.  Loons.  We produce loons too often.

Forget “the nutty professor” – these people are misguided and undeveloped … and as an added “bonus” egotistical and destructive.  They lack insight, incisiveness, good judgment, social and emotional maturity, life experience, humility and wisdom.  Yet, we applaud the likes of former President Obama (he of a Harvard – yikes – education) who was awarded a Nobel Prize for doing nothing and offered up the same level of achievement while in office for eight years.

He and others are Woody Allen’s Zelig – people without any substance whatsoever who morph into whatever role they are given without any capacity for success, or appetite for hard work.  Today’s “educated” elite know little while assuming they know everything.  They talk a “good game” but do little that is useful and less that is not “politically-“correct.”

Interestingly, the aveage middle class voter rejects their “game” and them – and doing so is precisely what we need.  Intellect with nothing else is useless and often destructive.  We have government boondoggle and waste galore to prove the point, if elite arrogance does not make the case.

We are called to full human development – spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, physical, psychological and mature development.  Alas if only our educational system aspired to this.

Shalom.

My apology for the miscues in the text today.  I wrote this early this morning in a crowded and noisy breakfast joint while a bit under the weather … Yes, I am on the road and when I could access it mid-morn, I was on a friend’s computer and had no easy access to my earlier text.

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… psychologists … realize that there are really two processing systems at work in the mind at all times: controlled processes and automatic processes.

Jonathan Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis

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Psychologist, professor and author Haidt is commenting on the functioning of the brain. His point is a simple and important one, the human person is not controlled by reason, rather much of what we do is automatic – while only some of what we do is the result of “controlled response.”  That is: we are not in any way close to complete control of our actions, rather that portion of our conduct which is authored by our capacity to reason is limited and depends on our intellect, insight and life experience.

What might this mean for us in contemporary mass communication culture? Well for one thing it might lead us to consider free speech more carefully – particularly public media and “protest” speech.  What do I mean?

We rather easily assume that media speech and protest speech is worth our attention. But what if speakers do not show any particular capacity for reason? What if they possess no education?  Are ruled by rote ideology?  What do you know of their human experience?  What insights have they formed based on their experience?  How exactly are these speakers in any manner astute and informed?  Perhaps they are quite limited in many respects?  The question becomes: why listen to mobs and “talking TV heads?”  Would you go to a pastry maker for neurosurgery?

When you consider free speech you would be well advised to recognize that free speech does not require listening. Much of what is said by mob and media is utterly worthless and listening to mob and media speech is often a waste of time.  You would be far better served by reading, listening to only those who have demonstrated insight and extensive life experience and education.

By the way, the days of listening to the B.A. from Harvard are long past; education being what it is today – they know very little.  Big ditto as to celebrities and the talking heads with a degree in “communication.”  Nothing there, folks.

Discrete listening is the order of the day.  Be selective.

Shalom.

Postscript – Human history is long past the foolishness of Marxism.  Sadly, the Left/Liberals/Progressives have not kept pace.  They still live in Europe of the 1840’s. Wake up Bernie Sanders!

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  (Emphasis added.)

Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years

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Do you remember the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary?  (Lk 10:38-42)

In that story Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and others while her sister Mary is seated at Jesus feet listening to him.  Martha asks Jesus if he does not care that Mary has left her to do all the preparations alone.

Jesus answered Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is precisely the wisdom Albert Einstein expresses. We all have the capacity to experience the mystical.

A life lived within mortal limits is a life not lived.  It is a life without fullness.  It is “the mystical” that makes a life, that alone completes a life.

Feodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov this: “Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystical sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world.”

We have many like Martha.  And few like Mary.  Which are you?

Those like Mary possess calm, certainty.  They see and they are not lured into all that is earthly.  They are not worrisome.  Addicted.  They are not egotists.  They are not trapped in the nonsense that prevails among the masses.  They are not captured in the present day and all its false gods and endless foolishness.

Our culture is full of Martha in many forms.  Ignore them.  They have chosen the lesser things.

Are you Mary or are you Martha?

Shalom.

Russia and Us.  It is interesting that for all the hubbub about Russia over the years, we have not been smart in dealing with them.  We have been, because we have “leaders” who do not live life on a mystical plateau, unable to see the undeniable truth about Russians which is this: Dostoevsky reveals their core, their heart – their orientation to life (even as they try to supplant him with Marxist nonsense).

The truth of who they actually are is their soft underbelly and, not being well and fully formed, our “leadership” cannot see it.

When the blind confront the blind – it is always an “eye for an eye.”  Endless folly. “Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right.”

It is not that I’m so smart.  But I stay with the questions much longer.

Albert Einstein

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Staying with questions.  Yes.

Who among us has this staying-power?  There are such people and we see them today.  I think of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as examples.

Each of these men answer questions with an economy of words, plainly and when they do they make sense, they teach and demonstrate their intellect and evidence that they have stayed with “questions much longer.”

That said is it not the question to ask ourselves can we distinguish between those who have stayed with questions and those who have not?

In Washington, Hollywood, the media, academia and politics we have a surplus of people who are “breezy” thinkers … the superficial who run with the unexamined view.

But can you as one stuck in a mass communication culture distinguish the thoughtful speaker from the superficial one?

Democracy does poorly when we cannot separate the insightful from those who think not and speak too often.

Ideologues, by the way, are indeed adverse to staying with questions.  Their preference is the unexamined point of view over the hard task of honest inquiry.

Shalom.

Spent today with family and friends.  Perfect.  Posting late in the day.

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… Dick’s physics was so hard for ordinary people to grasp … he did not use equations … people … were baffled by him.  Their minds were analytical, his was pictoral.

Freeman Dyson (speaking of Richard Feynman)

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In mass secular culture, we are “dumbed down.”  Think about it.  We see the same images, we hear the same dribble from TV’s talking heads.  Idealogues confirm one thing: they have reduced their existence to mass-think, unexamined utterances.  Ditto the most inane ideological product of ideologues: political “correctness.”  That, in and of itself, is madness and repressive.

Education has, in this country, become close to useless for its superficiality and conformity.  Dull, unthinking people study “communications” and anchor a news network … not a salvageable thought in their brain.

Let’s give just one contemporary example.  The chattering media types look at President Trump’s carefully targeted and expertly executed cruise mission strike on a Syrian air base and ask (with indignation): How can he do this after previously saying that we should not be involved in Syria?  These lads and lassies see statement “A” and compare it with action “B” without asking themselves: What changed?

Think about it.  Statement “A” in a moment of time.  Action “B” at a subsequent point in time.  Would not a thoughtful and wise (and “educated”) person whose job it is to follow the news of the globe be able to see that perhaps conditions arose to warrant Action “B?”

Why for instance could they not see any of the following:

  • President Obama’s shameless inertia said to our adversaries “we are weak” and “unengaged” – take what you want
  • silence is a tacit approval of the use of poison gas on innocent civilians and is an extremely dangerous disposition in an area and era where terrorists offshore and in our midst show a delight in killing others by any means possible
  • North Korea in developing their missile capability boasts that they are prepared to use these nuclear weapons on us and anyone in their area of interest.

My point is this: We are not thinking wisely, critically and we are not at all aided by this dullness.

Shalom.

 

… the mind that withdraws from gossip, useless news, potboiler novels, and surfing the Internet will have much more time and energy for God, and for praying, readingthinking, and listening to and caring for other people. (Emphasis added.)

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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Fr. Feiss has a very relevant and useful point for today.  I add but one caveat to what he says.  What he prescribes does not allow only listening to and caring for others – but rather listening to the quiet voice of self within you and caring for yourself so you might be of maximum wisdom, help and guidance to others.

Let’s face it from high court to kindergarten, and at all junctures between heaven and hell, the disordered, selfish, wrong and malevolent liberals and Leftists have corrupted this culture, abandoned truth and made a mess of simple public discussion.

The first step toward sanity is to disengage from the “house organs” of Leftist nonsense – popular sources that echo their foolishness.  Yes, there is a monastic wisdom that is wisely invoked today.

In the ageless separation that Fr. Feiss describes one can read and think, engage timeless wisdom and embrace Truth once again.  Doing so will bring confidence and vital knowledge to you – with that, liberals and the Left can be put to the test and shame they deserve – clueless clowns that they are.

The fact of the matter is this: it does not benefit to engage disordered and hateful children in debate or conversation.  To do so is the epitome of “wasting one’s time.”  As they say, there is no reason to try to teach a pig to sing, it is useless and annoys the pig.

Fortunately the liberals and the Left are louder than they are large in number. Our failure has been that we have not attacked them head-on.  We have debated as if they pose arguments and points of view that justify conversation.  Wrong. They do not.

Think about it: abortion is child sacrifice, countries require defensible borders, there are only two genders, marriage is between a man and a woman, habitual deficit spending ends in economic disaster, free market economics produces a higher standard of living and greater individual wealth and socialism and Communism do not, religion and faith matter, and there is a God and He is neither dead nor irrelevant.

Shalom.

If you find this post useful, share it with others.

Observation – Time to put the Judiciary in its due Constitutional place – which is limited not superior to the Executive.  If we let the matter stand – we will have government by and of ill-informed, biased Federal Judiciary and chaos, and the Nation’s collapse will result.

By the way, President Trump should pull his pending nominee for the Supreme Court in favor of Federal Judge Pryor. Why? The pending guy is not independent – he likes to be “liked” and we already have at least two such individuals on the Court.  Judges have to have more maturity and courage than needing to be “liked.”

Tomorrow – Polis and ekklesia: learning from the Greeks.   

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