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That millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make  people sane.

Erich Fromm, in The Sane Society

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It is a little ironic for me to utilize the words of a Left-leaning secular humanist like Fromm but – assuming his words have merit, accuracy and hence a quality of timelessness such that they can be invoked in any era – it seems to me they offer an opportunity for today.

The opportunity?  The opportunity to ask of ourselves in the West and in the United States if some of our prominent ideas and their political advocacy conveys what is ill or what is well.

I think of abortion.  I think of children born to women who are not married.  I think of the collectivist nature of liberal orthodoxy, “borderless” borders, the application of equality that seems to shun individual responsibility and the recognition that people are of vastly different capabilities and drives, a disdain for police officers, a dismissal of religion, the reverence afforded the celebrity – the people in visual media, in the press … and such.  The list could go on.

On many fronts, it is reasonable to ask – Are these common acclamations contributing to sanity or insanity?  Do we look like a healthy or ill society?  Have we put the propositions of the Left to this test?  Fromm himself would ask this.  One wonders why we do not.

Yet for example, that a bundle of people think that there are endless numbers of “genders” neither makes it so, nor makes it sane.

My point is Fromm’s point – a collection of people saying or doing the same thing makes what is said or done neither true nor healthy, per se.  Time to put advocacy and ideology to the test.  Good for us?  Healthy?  Destructive?  Foolish?  Sane?

One wrong idea can make a whole people sick.  Destroy harmony and community, a nation, even.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him and healed them.

Lk 6:19

Yes, it is virtue that is the measure.  Life seeks the advancement of virtue and the health and fulfillment of the whole person.

Shalom.

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… for God did not send His son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe in Him has been judged already …

Jn 3: 17, 18

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These are the words of Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus.

Let’s look at these words.  What do we learn?  One, the Father sent His son into world so that the world might be saved.  Presumably, this tells us that learning from Jesus, doing as He says saves us and the world from discord, destruction, heartache and chaos.

Yet, we also learned that Jesus does not appear to judge the world, only to save it.

So, we need not fear if we “measure up” – we need not have anxiety as to our value and need have no illusions that we must be perfect, rather we need be only human.

But, the key point is that all we must do is: believe in Him.

Yes, a Christ-centric life is all that we need to know eternal life.  Not deeds – but belief is the critical thing.

Today, tomorrow – each day is an opportunity to belief … and in that belief one knows certainty and calm.  In belief the tension disappears and life is easier day by day.

Hence the question.  Do you believe?

Shalom.

… it came to pass … that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world would be taxed …

Lk 2:1

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This census, of course, required each person in the Roman Empire to assemble in their ancestral village or town … and this was a prelude to Jesus birth in Bethlehem as Joseph and Mary journeyed from their home in Galilee in accord with Caesar’s directive.

How many note the significance of Jesus being born at a time when the entire Roman population was assembled as a whole?  My point being that the birth of Jesus has characteristics to it that proclaim something quite special in this birth.  Illustratively, the birth of Jesus heralded the assembly of all.

Yet, there is more.  Jesus birth in a manger among farm animals makes the statement that the child’s presence exceeds mortal reality – but rather speaks to all creatures and creation.  Yes, Christ is for and of the whole of this world and the next.

Indeed, shepherds and kings come to his place of birth.  Is this not a proclamation that in Christ the humble and exalted are but one in the same?

Yes, the circumstances of this birth speak to us of its universal and eternal importance – but do we think of this in our own time?  Is this a point of reference for us?  Does this magnificent birth inspire us?  Motivate us?  Lead us in our daily existence?  I dare say: “it does not.”

Does not the star that led others to Bethlehem speak to the cosmic significance of this holy birth?  Does it not say that each birth is God’s intention?  Yet, who are we now?  Do we see these things?  Are we comforted and governed by them?

Shalom.

 

O taste and see the Lord is good …

Ps 34:8

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Tasting and seeing.  Are these not acts of experience … of ingesting, of taking into oneself?

Yes.  Of course, they are.

Is this not exactly the essence of the Incarnation?  Is this not the essence of Christ in human form?  Is this not the message Jesus brings to his peers, his neighbors, the strangers he encountered, the people of authority, the wealthy and the poor of his day, the well and the ill?

Is this not the message he brings to us?

We are to experience God.  Ingest God.  In this experience we close the gap between the Creator and the created.  This is God’s intention in offering Himself in Christ.

Believe me, once you come to understand that it is the experience of God that is offered to you – you will not be burdened by the weight of this world, its trials and trivial activities, its gossip, its corruptions, its temptations, its hostilities, its divisions, its anxieties and its evil.

The experience of God will change the way you live, bring you above the quarrels of those who do not have that experience.

In the experience of God is contentment – no matter the storms that swirl about you.  In the experience of God the words of God are fulfilled in you.

Yes, we are made to taste and see God.  In this we understand St. Athanasius who said, “God became man so that man might become God.”  Yes, we will see that we dwell in God, that we are One with God – divided and lost no more.  Does Jesus not show us exactly this!!!

Taste and see.

Shalom.

Oh, Goody!  U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, (Democrat, N.Y.) is introducing legislation today to decriminalize marijuana under federal law.  It is reported that in the legislation there will be special federal funding to assist women, racial minorities and homosexuals in entering the marijuana business.  (Apparently, hetrosexual White males do quite well in this business as is.)

Chuck Schumer.  What a guy!  Wears his eyeglasses on the tip of his nose (the old Ben Franklin look).  My pause with Dear Charles rest on this: bifocals, Chuckie!!!  We are way past the 18th Century, Charles – come and join us.  By the way, be careful with the kite and the metal key in thunderstorms … don’t want you getting hurt.

Nicodemus, who had first come to him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight … Now in the place where He crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had been laid … they laid Jesus there.

Jn 19: 39, 41, 42

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One hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes.  An unused, new tomb in a garden.  And Nicodemus, a Pharisee, had come at night to speak to Jesus (Jn 3:1-18) knowing that his colleagues condemned Jesus.  Yet, Nicodemus appears to anoint Jesus’ dead body with valuable spices and gives to him a tomb.

From skeptic to Believer.  That was Nicodemus.

He came to see that Jesus was the Messiah who the Jewish people awaited.  

Mind you, it was standard practice that the bodies of those who were crucified would be taken to a trash site and thrown among the rubbish and waste.  Nicodemus (and Joseph of Arimathea) would not let that come to pass.

It is said that the myrrh and aloes were likely intended for Nicodemus burial.  Indeed, one hundred pounds of these spices were very valuable and quantity sufficient to bury a king.

In his belief and love and devotion of Jesus, Nicodemus gave of himself and in doing so proclaimed Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

Would that you be Nicodemus.

Remember, Nicodemus was a Jew and under Jewish law touching the body of a deceased person made the one unclean.  Yet, here is Nicodemus in his actions proclaiming the new law of Christ.

In Nicodemus we see one who dared not come to Jesus in daylight – but radically changed his life because of the Light of Christ.  Amazing.

Would that you be Nicodemus.

Shalom.

Lots of talk, but no action.  Washington and the national news media spends all sorts of time piddling away at this or that allegation designed to delegitimize President Trump – but spends no time on Hillary Clinton, her lawyers, political consultants, her staff and cohorts of one sort or another when it is obvious that multiple laws were broken and national security was badly compromised.  Washington and the media simply ignore this – and ignore the conduct of those associated with the Clinton Family Foundation and those in the Obama government whose conduct also seems to raise questions of illegality.

You know when the law is NOT applied equally to all – people will (rightfully) treat the law and those who govern as null and void.  We are headed in that direction – each a law unto himself or herself.  Liberals seem intent on destruction.    

Like every other human being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity … If the human [soul] is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity … the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without … as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Memories, Dreams and Reflections

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Jung in describing the psyche is also conveying to us the nature of human health and wholeness whereby one lives not merely through the body but (and more critically) through the psyche as well.   Indeed, for Jung and other psychiatrists and learned people – a person is far from well (and prone to sickness and disorder) who lives within the body alone.

Looking about America in this age and time it is quite obvious that we are awash in disorder.  The social pathology is visible daily in news stories.  A state governor, despite being married, has a bizarre public sexual romp with his staff person, a man and woman beat their four year old child to death for spilling soup, a caretaker places a child in an oven to punish her … And the list goes on and on …

Are we not the only country that seeks tax revenue from drug use?  And look at the failure of custodial authorities (schools, social workers, police, teachers, principals) to attend to the obvious sickness and danger that Dylan Cruz plainly displayed and the pathetic social policies associated with that failure (the suppression of data on criminal conduct in Broward schools by the creation of “deversionary placements” so as NOT to have to face school violence done by “minority students” and the police officers unwilling to enter the building during the shooting for fear of running afoul of those who govern policy).

Let’s be honest – we live in a disordered culture, one in decline with manifestations of mental illness that simply go unacknowledged – denied, disguised, normalized or hidden.

In Jung’s words – we deny we are “a splinter of the infinite deity” and in that we starve the soul and ignore the psyche – the nexus between the world within and the world without (that which recognizes a mortal existence that is housed within eternal reality).

Yes, we are very poorly evolved and hence psychological problems, injuries and death abound.

We see these problems starkly in the ideas and actions of the political Left.  Indeed, having the lunatic Left present and active is like we are in foster care of Sarah and Cheryl Hart (the two lesbian mothers and “mates”) who drove their SUV off a California cliff into the Pacific Ocean 100 feet below with six helpless foster care (Black) children in the vehicle and to their collective death.

Any honest comment on American life, culture and society today must begin with an understanding that there is a great deal of mental illness that is unaddressed, dressed up as “normal,” excused, and tolerated despite the brutal costs that it imposes on others and the population at large.

We have drifted a long way from health and happiness and the decline is accelerating at a compounding rate.

That said, I offer you the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. –

In the shadow of death may we not look back to the past, but seek in utter darkness the dawn of God.

Shalom.

… while Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees confronted them … they laid hands on Peter and John and put them in custody …

Acts 4: 1,3

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As is presented in this reading, those who speak of Jesus the Christ are often at odds with people in power, with “the authorities” – temporal authorities.  Such is the challenge of believing in Christ and acting on your belief.

What Peter and John faced is no less likely today in a more secularized culture where those who put all their trust in secular powers for they lack faith and impose their personal prejudices and wild ideas on others by force of power.  This of course is the Left today here and in Western Europe.

In the present day, the tension is between those who believe and those who do not.  This tension is manifest in many ways – on questions of gender, marriage, adoption, abortion, free speech, mention of God in the public square.

Indeed, the present attacks on the sacred wisdom reflected in our Constitution is sufficient cause for alarm.

We seem intent on destroying the genius of our Founders as reflected in the Constitution.  Those who do this handiwork are doing what ISIS and other adversaries would welcome – destroying freedom we have in a document that combines liberty and faith.

Far better you be as Peter and John than be silent or compliant and let our heritage and freedom pass from us.

Those who would destroy have no faith, their deeds divide.

We need more people in public life who live their faith and know and protect our sacred heritage.

Shalom.

… Christianity modeled a nobler way of life than what was on offer elsewhere in the rather brutal society of the day.  In Christianity, women were respected as they weren’t in classical culture and played a critical role in bringing men to the faith and attracting converts.  In the age of the plagues, the readiness of Christians to care for all the sick, not just their own, was a factor, as was the impressive witness to faith of countless martyrs …

George Weigel, in “The Easter Effect,” (The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018

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In these words Mr. Weigel is recounting how it was that Roman Emperor Constantine ended all state sanctions against Christians who heretofore were considered a danger to the ruling powers, outlaws of sorts.

In these words Weigel shows that the way Christians lived propelled their growth in Rome and across the lands to the East.  These early Christians showed others a nobler way to live, a way to live that provided meaning, access to purpose and promise, and joy as well.  This Christianity gave those who believed hope and a context in which one might live with optimism.  This Christianity offered a moral code and a way to an ordered life.

Christianity offers no less today.  But alas Christians are suspect in our land today and more to the point Christianity’s moral understandings are being dislodged from our culture.

In place of Christian moral values, we have not value-relative but valueidiosyncratic.  Each individual gets to be his own author of moral conduct.  The chaos that ensues is inexhaustible.

A little, insignificant waif (U.S. Army enlisted clerk) Bradley Manning gets to disclose troves of top secret material at will and is pardoned by a clueless President for whom both Christianity and the heritage of the West seem utterly alien.  Additionally, Edward Snowden, a contract security specialist, does the same thing and flees to Russia where he remains today with no efforts to secure his return to face the consequences of his criminal, treasonous conduct.

In contrast to the elevated place of women in early Christianity today we have the residuals of Sex in the City women – droves of women of all shapes and sizes that place their identity in sexuality and their clutch for power (that is, political in particular or mere public identity that has as to celebrity and mass communication an impact that comes not from any achievement but from having a familiar, fabricated image).

This, of course, is far enough afield from women in Constantine’s time – that it now befalls to men to model Christian values to others in a time and culture that holds men responsible for all the evils of the world (while still expecting them to lay down their lives in defense of others).

So here is “the bottom line” for us today – good and decent men and women who seek to parent children who will be immune from the ugliness of today’s culture must do and be as the early Christians  – must live by the code of conduct and morals of their early ancestors.  Failing that, further chaos and decline is predictable.  Such an ordeal hardly seems what parents and elders like me would wish for any man, woman or child.

Are you not so called?  Or do you wish to be the ones who watched as Christianity faded from view?

Shalom.

If today’s blog connects positively with you, send it to another who might benefit by reading it.

 

Easter Morning, 2018

Christ has Risen!!!

It takes very little to grow good people.  Very little.  And bad people can’t be governed at all.  Or if they could I never heard of it.

Cormac McCarthy, in No Country for Old Men

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The road to “good” is the road to God.

In the book and in the movie made of McCarthy’s book, the central question is this: where is God and the good that is God in this fractured, violent world?

Only one figure in the book and movie asks this question.  That person is the rural Texas sheriff.

The book and the movie is a saga in which one man seeks “the good” and God among the killings and violence that unfolds in the arid circumstances and environment of West Texas open spaces.  Yes, violence in God’s natural creation.  God dishonored in God’s Creation.  Rebellion.

Look around.  Is this not the question for us in the present time?

Brings to mind Jesus and the man who seeks eternal life.  You remember the story in the Gospel of Mark (10:17-10:18).  The man comes to Jesus and falls on his knees and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And, Jesus responds, “No one is good except God alone.” 

Those who seek good defer to God.  Those who cultivate what is bad rebel – reject God in favor of themselves.

We live among rebels, more so in the rank rebellion and hostility in politics today – the division and disorder is the mark of the rebellious – those who seek for self, not God – seek not good but its opposite.

In Christ risen is proof of God and our offer of what is good … but how do we respond?

Seek God above all things, and good follows.

Shalom.

Easter Saturday, March 31, 2018

The single most common complaint I hear from psychotherapy patients about their therapists ( … [including] secular-minded psychologists and social workers …) has been that they did not or would not listen to the spiritual aspects of their lives.

M. Scott Peck, M.D. in Further Along the Road Less Traveled

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Peck is identifying here what is missing in psychiatry and what I see as a reality in American secular culture at large: we dismiss spiritual existence – its place in the life of human beings – in the health, happiness, stability and prosperity of human beings and the citizen within the dominant and demanding secularized state.

Peck proceeds after the above to tell of his work with a schizophrenic patient who had been hospitalized for a number of years.  The patient suffered from bouts of depression, delusions, social isolation, apathy and severe suspiciousness.  She was unable to maintain employment or social relationships.  She manifest a profound ambivalence, flat affect and extreme social mal-adeptness.

Her failure to improve under psychiatric care labeled her “a lost cause.”  Yet, in the course of her confinement she began to engage religion, at first in a very tentative way – but over time she became a person whose faith gained depth.

A regular attendant at Mass, her theology was normal and her understandings of her faith was (according to Dr. Peck) “quite sophisticated.”  Ironically, she prayed regularly for Peck and while he reports that there was no significant change in her schizophrenia or social skills – she (as Peck observed) made “immense growth in her soul.”

The analogy, of course, between this patient and our present day culture is clear.  Shunning faith and spiritual existence, we show no improvement – indeed, we continue to deteriorate.  Is this not a “wake-up” call on this Holy Saturday?

Remember Mark 5:1-20, the story of Jesus and the Man Possessed.

Shalom.

 

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