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Today’s blog is dedicated to women and my Mother, Jackie Sylvester, and so many great women I have been blessed to know.

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The woman was made out of a rib out of the side of Adam … of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected and, near to his heart to be loved.

 Matthew Henry, in Exposition of Genesis

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My mother raised me by herself.  My father deserted the family when I was an infant.  My mother literally saved my life.  She placed me first and held me accountable – never failing to offer opportunity, correction, encouragement, support, love or her sacrifice for my benefit.

Through the grace of God I recognized this very early on in my life.  Accordingly, I never gave her reason to worry about me.  We were a team – we were one together.

My job was to not make her job any harder – and to protect her and support her and love her.

I love her to this day and think about her everyday.  She has been dead now 21 years – yet, I’ve not lived without her in each of my days all those years because anything good I have done, or thought, or do today is in some manner derived from her selfless dedication to me as a woman and a Mom.

Perhaps you can guess, I have enormous affection and respect for women.  No man proceeds to a good life without a woman’s guidance and instruction, love and assistance.

I loathe men who disadvantage women, hurt them and treat them poorly.  I adore the strength and manner of women, their wisdom, their courage, and their heart.

That said, I reject “identity politics” which shamelessly divides woman from man and in doing so rebels against God and nature.  In “identity politics,” like so much of what the godless Left promotes, we devalue truth and inflict needless damage on this life that we are given.

In “identity politics” we are made to be far, far less than we are, and who God has made us to be.

Shame, shame, shame – turn your back on those who divide us – they are wrong, miserably and hatefully wrong.  They bring evil to what is a great good.

Two bound together are stronger than one alone.  It is idiocy to divide what God has made as one.

Shalom.

 

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Humility is the virtue of men, their only defense; to walk humbly with God, never doubting, whatever befall, that His will is good, and His law is right.

Paul Elmer More, in Pages from an Oxford Diary

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It seems that without God and a consciousness of God in our culture and our life, humility becomes a rarity.  In such circumstances much of what we do, our transactions with others and our interactions become more difficult and less pleasant.

When humility is the common realm things go more smoothly.  In humility we become the friend of one another, even one another’s servant.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge reminds us that there is not much chance of finding the truth if humility is not present at the beginning of the quest.

Yes, humility is at the heart of learning and also its objective.  The more we know, the more we are humbled.  The more we experience life fully – in joy and sadness, in victory and defeat – the greater humility is gained.

Today humility seems less common than it once was.  In such a state, I find solitude is preferable to the crowd.  The quiet humbles with its voice, so divine.

We would be better off if humility were a common presence.  Humility quiets the appetites and desires, and staves off anxiety.  It produces the calm that welcomes others.  Humility brings access to joy and fellowship – even fellowship with utter strangers.

Think about this.  With humility sedatives are not needed.  Ease is restored to life when humility resides within and is shared among us.

Shalom.

Happy are those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in the company of scoffers.  Rather the law of God is their joy; God’s law they study …

… the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.

The Lord watches over the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.  (Emphasis added.)

Psalm 1

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Life is a matter of choosing good or choosing evil.  Those who choose what is good are wise – they live stable and contented lives.  Those who choose evil will be rootless and discontented.  Yes, the wicked will know death in life.

To choose “the way of sinners” is to choose what is immoral.  The wicked are those who distance themselves from God.  They distance themselves by words, thoughts and actions.

The Psalms were the prayers of Jesus.  They were His guide.  They can form you and teach you just as they formed and taught Christ.

We live in times where immorality and corruption are on display.  Indeed, we see these behaviors in high places and among the privileged.  In such a time, it is all the more important that we choose what is good and reject what is evil and those who purpose evil ideas, evil deeds, evil actions.  

If there is a blessing in a time of evil, it is that we are given the opportunity to bravely and faithfully choose good over evil … and to stand in opposition to evil.

When good prevails, prosperity and peace follow.

Your choice: live God’s law or suffer miserably and watch what was once good come to ruin.

Shalom.

 

 

Christianity (is) not … a matter of getting … ideas straight but rather of getting (one’s) life straight.

Robert Barron, in The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path

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Ultimately people want to live well, have peace, experience love, be free of troubles, worries, sickness and injustice, be able to laugh, enjoy friendship, and realize the value of their own good work.

Life is about “getting life straight.”  And that is a faith matter.

Yet, in the course of my lifetime, I have seen interest in faith (particularly Christianity) decline and, in the void that is created, I have seen people seek meaning in ideology and satisfaction the prosperity that has come to us mid-last century in a free market economy with peace at hand.

However as to ideology, I am most troubled.

Ideology is a body of ideas reflecting the “perceived” needs of an individual, group, class or culture.  Needs, mind you, of this mortal existence.

Unlike faith, it is earth-bound and reflects the desires of a class of individuals.  Its goal is not the realization of a full life but rather it is smaller than that – it seeks only the self-authored, contemporary desires of a group – often pursued with force so to impose a narrow and self-interested view of life on all others.  Apropos, politics, propaganda and public tantrums are three of their favorite coercive tools.

Ideologues, you see, care only that their views (which comfort them) be forced on others – never time-tested and never challenged.  Totally accepted as totalitarians demand.

Imagine living with someone who, exposed to an idea, assumes (because they like the idea and feel empowered by it) to make of that idea their world view and the “thing” that  governs their world as they experience it – as if this idea is the prism through which all experiences are, and must be, filtered.

I guarantee that living with such a person is close to living in North Korea or a re-education gulag.  This is where we are today as to ideology – in its public and private hues and noises.

Convince a potential ideologue a hammer is a “hat” and that person will spend the rest of life trying to fit that hammer to their head and expect you to do the same.  Yes, they will abandon all reason in favor of foolishness.  Me?  I’ll take faith – you can keep the hammer.

Shalom.

 

 

He, the eternal, dwells concealed in the heart of all beings.  Though himself devoid of all senses, he is the illuminator of all the senses, the source of their powers.

The Mahanirvana Tantra, 6th Century B.C.

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The Tantra records the mystical practices of Hindus and Buddhists.  The above, dating back 600 years before the birth of Christ, records the view that God dwells in each of us.

When you live your daily life do you think of God dwelling within you? 

Do you perceive that others might carry that belief?  Does the demeanor or actions of others so suggest this?

The idea of an indwelling God has been spoken of and written about throughout the Ages.  I give an illustration.  One finds this in the Svetasvatara Upanishad of 400 B.C., in Ovid’s Fasti written in 5 A.D., in Epictetus’s Discourses in 110 A.D., in Plotinus’s Ennead, Ephraim the Syrian’s view, in the works of Meister Eckart in the 13th Century, the words of St. John of the Cross in the 16th Century, in the works of St. Francis de Sales in the 17th Century and Baruch Spinoza in the same Century, in Emerson and Huxley, Buber and Gandhi, etc.

The indwellingness of God has been common wisdom for centuries, but how much evidence of this do you see among men and women today?

The notion of God within humbles the sane person … and we could use a large dose of humility today.  All life is made far more charitable and kind by humility of self as manifest in contact with others.  Humility is the proper disposition for those who realize that God dwells with me and thou.

Abandoning the indwelling God does not erase God’s presence in us.  Rather it just submits God to the indignity of our behavior.  In this, we are like a person with a house guest who speaks not a word to the visitor, nor does he feed him, or offer him a place to sleep or to wash his face.  Such a “host” says neither “Hello,” nor “Goodbye” – and never wishes him “God’s speed.”

Are you such a host of the Divine Creator?

Shalom.

The truth is, not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men …

Albert Schweitzer, in The Quest of the Historical Jesus

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Christ within us – within each of us who process Christ.  Ah, but do you see this in our acts – knowing full well that acts are more than words?

Indeed, one might ask of self and others who profess Christ: Do the words match the deeds?

To say one acts and yet, acts in a manner that does not fit the words of professed belief – does not sqaure with professing Christ.

Listen carefully for the voice of those whose words are borne out by acts.  Their words flow in earnest.  They are not mere mortals but ones who have suffered and in that have met Christ in His suffering and know that suffering grows faith.

Ironically, our longing for comforts and wealth in life buffer the sufferings and difficulties that are meant to serve our growth in faith, our closeness to God.

Too often people wrap themselves in comforts or wear the Church as a raincoat; but, in a raincoat can one ever know the rain.  In life, rain falls so flowers may grow.

Christ is to be felt within.  Let the rain fall – comforts are over-rated.  Words must match deeds.

Christ: spiritually arisen with each of us who profess the Messiah.

Shalom.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao-tzu

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The older I get, the more I settle into quiet and keep things as simple as possible.

I have no taste for crowds, fast roadways, complicated gadgets, air travel and such.  My diet is simple and ample.  Time with friends and family matter so very much.

The quiet seems right.  It leads to peace and prayer and conversation with God – a rendering of spontaneous gratitude for all I have been given, for the love I have received and the experiences large and small – the memories of people, places and events.

Now I see how grandchildren carry hope for tomorrow and bring that hope to me.  I see in them hope alive in their days, and their joys and pleasures, and a love so readily shared – so openly proclaimed by these little people.  Wonderful, so wonderful.  For me, they are proof of God’s existence and signposts for who we are meant to be, and how we are meant to live.

In the quiet and the solitude I am acutely aware of the confusion and pain that others create out of pride and their own disordered thinking.  Full of energy and themselves they make matters worse by insisting on changing things “for the better.”  They are not quiet people.  They seem to prefer the crowded clown car of the circus – yet, they always fight one another to be the driver.

In quiet I know both joy and sadness, I hear my breath and feel strongly the experiences that gave me depth and comfort, improved my vision, produced understanding – led me to faith and to God.

Now the voices of those I love are symphonies for me.  The memories of those I loved who have died are my favorite movies.  The memories of yesterdays my treasured photos.

Now I do not need much and in my days little tasks bring appreciation and satisfaction – sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, keeping the grounds clean … I notice the pleasure of such things – the cool afternoon breeze off the mountains and the changing landscape as the sun moves west and fades slowly into tomorrow.

Proper quiet gives the fullness of being.

Shalom.

The important lesson that the family taught was the existence of the only unbreakable bond … between human beings.

The decomposition of this is surely America’s most urgent social problem.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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Imagine what might happen if people began to examine public policy at the national and state level from this perspective: what does this policy do to promote intact families?

Asking that one question, I suspect, would raise real doubts about our public policies.  Indeed, I bet if that became a threshold question – the negative effects of policy on family would lead to abandonment of a very significant number of government activities that have produced harm rather than good.

It seems to be we do little to fortify the family.  Take divorce for example – most states entertain “no fault” divorce.  Want a divorce?  No problem.  Divide a child from his father?  No problem.

Think about the present subsidy going to single, unmarried women with children who continue to have more children with other men.  How does this help anyone?  The children?  The women?  The men who fathered these children?  A community?  A city?  A state?  A nation?  The family?

Ironically, divorce lawyers seem untainted by what they do … I’ve not met one that wonders what effect divorce has on this society.

Those who advanced the “sexual revolution” rarely seem to be asked what effect they have had on family, on children, women and men?  On intimacy?  On human dignity and maturity, responsibility, virtue, honor, loyalty, fidelity?

In sum, I guess I am somewhat astonished that we never seem to examine what we do in vital areas and the public course we set even though we see injury and disarray among American families – so fundamental to our health, peace and prosperity.

Shalom.

 

I have heard the slander of many, terror is on every side … But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.”

Ps 31: 13, 14

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Recently I had a chance encounter with a lovely young lady who was collecting signatures for a fellow to be placed on a local electoral ballot as an “Independent.”  In the course of conversation I noted that I had been active in politics for over 50 years.

She acted surprised, “Gee, you don’t look that old … I thought you were about 50.”  Then she asked, “How have you stayed so young?”

My answer was a simple one: “Honestly, I think the key was to take whatever adversity comes your way and work with it – never flee from what life brings.”

I added that I had never been able to avoid the challenges life had for me and that they were, from birth, a number of significant losses, deaths, betrayals and hardships.  Then, I made this point – “When you face adversity you learn things you could not learn otherwise, you grow stronger, wiser and those experiences put you in a position to help others who will in time come to you when they face difficulty.

My point to her is King David’s point above.

He is telling us to turn to God in times of trouble, to put our faith and trust in God and good things will happen.

In a way he is saying just what I said.  When adversity came I (unconsciously) put my trust in God who called me into life.  I did not run, or panic, or rely on my “genius” or someone to rescue me.

My willingness to face adversity was an act of obedience to God and showed my trust in Him.

He has never failed me once.  Here I am almost 73, looking like I could be 50 years old!

Adversity comes.  Trust in God.  That keeps you young and of strong mind and disposition … and it brings insight, humor and joy to you as you live life.

Shalom.

There is no less holiness at this time … than there was on the day the Red Sea parted …

Annie Dillard, in For the Time Being

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What if each day, everything you saw was sacred to you?  Yes, what if you saw it just as it actually is …  

Would your life not change radically and for the better?  Would you not see more, experience all, know that all is sacred and that you are surrounded by what is holy?

Would life not be all the more like heaven?  Would such a life not be far better and more beautiful and peaceful?  Would happiness and humility not be the ground of our existence – our natural state?  Would we not leave our worries and anxieties behind?  Leave our doubts?  Cease to be in conflict?  Have enemies?  Would we not all be friends and family – brothers and sisters?

How long we have lived falsely, without seeing.

Have we not lost the thing right in front of us?  Imagine what we have squandered and lost – all the endless gifts contained in each and every breath we breathe.

If we only saw … … … what is right before us … and all around us …

Time to see.

So see … what you have been given … and, in seeing, live; and, be for others, rejoice, know happiness, contentment and gratitude … know that heaven is here and not just “there.”

Shalom.

 

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