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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.

 

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[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.   

Thinking About America and a New Presidency

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We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.

Stephen King, in Duma Key

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Democrat Congressman John Lewis from Georgia and a leader in the early days of the cause of Civil Rights for Black Americans identifies President-elect Donald Trump as an “illegitimate” President but gives no reason for this claim.

Things such as this make you wonder if Stephen King isn’t right in what he says in the above quote.

Congressman Lewis has been in the U.S. Congress for a long time.  He has been a Democrat for a long time.  The Democrats have held power in the Federal Government for a long time and hold virtually exclusive power in major American cities – yet, the problems in the inner city remain.

One wishes Congressman Lewis would not speak so loosely.  We do ill is to divide, to do well is to unite.

Partisan politics (which sadly is the only politics the Democrats practice and pursue) makes us weaker as a nation, divide unnecessarily and forestall the welfare of many, many people.

We all make regrettable comments.  The public ones like this can be very destructive. When unity and cooperation are needed, division is very costly, a tragic wound.

Americans need to work together.  We live in troubled times and others wish us ill, desire our destruction.  We need not help them in their cause.  

In times such as these, partisan politics destroys.

Unity NOT division.

Shalom.

Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.”

1 Sam 20:42

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These are the words of Jonathan to his friend David.  Jonathan’s words tell us that their shared relationship with God cements their friendship from generation to generation.

In the present hyper-secular world and its mass communication, this is a significant reminder for us.

These words lead me to ask: Who are your friends?  With whom do you keep company?  To whom do you listen?  Do you let any fool in mass communication culture into your head? Your heart?

Are you a discrete listener?

If you are disquieted, confused, upset or troubled, ask yourself who enters your life? Whose words do you listen to?  Might they be the source of your discontent?

In mass media culture, all sorts of disordered people have a public voice.  Nitwits can be very disorienting … and we let them gain easy access to us.

Case in point.  I see in the news today that Jimmy Fallon (another in the growing list of late night faux Johnny Carsons) slammed President-elect Donald Trump at one of the many idiotic, self-congratulatory, celebrity “awards” dog and pony shows.

Jimmy Fallon.  Really?

Why listen to a guy’s political views who was a “communication” major from the College of Saint Rose?  I mean, come on – Saint Rose?  Communication? Wouldn’t he have learned to talk by the time college appeared on his horizon?

Ge’ez Louise, the guy combs his hair with a stick of butter. What could he possibly have to offer?

We are made for healthy association with one another and, of course, with God. Yet, if we indiscriminately welcome disorder and foolishness into our head and heart, we are hardly feeding on what is good and true, valuable, insightful, wise, sincere, lasting, useful.  (I guess Mr. Fallon missed this at Saint Rose while “studying” com-mun-i-ca-tion.)

In mass culture we listen all too much to those who have nothing to say and are unworthy of our attention.

Be discrete.  Don’t be a lemming.  Don’t degrade yourself.

Take in those things that advance you, that grow the Spirit within you.  Less than that and you dine on garbage.

Shalom.

Footnote – If you wonder why Donald Trump tweets it is simple: the culture is insane, godless, and politically-correct crap, full of what is false – very totalitarian, and utterly amoral.  As Saint John Paul II said it is not politics but culture that matters. The truth of the matter is this: politics arises from culture. Donald Trump is attacking the errant, corrupt, authoritarian Leftist, godless culture that has been developed in a straight line with every Democrat from FDR to Obama.  Few see this and its necessity and genius.  

“Man instinctively regards himself as a wanderer and wayfarer, and it is second nature for him to go on a pilgrimage in search of a privileged and holy place, a center and source of indefectible life … his heart seeks to return to a mystical source, a place of ‘origin,’ the ‘home’ where the ancestors came from, the mountain where the ancient fathers were in direct communication, the place of the creation of the world, paradise itself, with its sacred tree of life.”

Thomas Merton, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Merton made a significant breakthrough when he could see life as a journey, a pilgrimage to God – and see this as a part of every human being’s makeup, precisely how we are made, and made to long for that which is omnipotent, beyond us, everlasting, supernatural … for God.

This was where Merton came to know God in the acts of the ancient Irish monks whose desire for God had them float off to sea, “abandoning themselves to wind and current, in hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them.”

This is the attitude of the Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem and the journey of their older siblings, the Jewish people, who seek the remnant of the Temple and Jerusalem – their promised place.

This alone makes the acts of outgoing President Obama, and his very junior associates: hideous, ignorant and offensive.  They show in their acts either a disregard for what is sacred to Jew and Christian, or an utter disdain for it.

It would seem that Mr. Obama and his underlings do not now a place of theophany is common to believers.

Perhaps, they tell us that they do not and cannot believe or care not for those who might.  In such a thought is this:indication of the lesser human being – one without wisdom and grace, understanding and compassion … depth, emotional maturity and insight.

” … pilgrimage is a symbolic acting out of an inner journey … the interpolation of … meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage … History would show the fatality and doom that would attend on the external pilgrimage with no interior spiritual integration, a divisive and disintegrated wandering.”  

Thomas Merton

We have suffered ignorance of eight years.  Now we see in our President’s disregard for Jew and Christian alike in his out-going support of a U.N. Resolution aimed at de-legitimizing a sacred reality shared by Jew and those of Christ.

… lacking interior spiritual integration – fatality and doom are now gambled for us by the insensitive and uninformed.  This: too great a price for us to pay.

Alas, we have to restore order lest the heaven rain down blood and gentle women weep for all that is lost.

Shalom.

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