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… it is difficult for churches, government, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing.  Everything divides into oppositions … vested interests pulling against one another.  Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation.

… you can lead people only as far as you yourself have gone …

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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Richard Rohr writes of two monks of the 11th and 12th century – Hugh of St. Victor monastery in Paris, France, and Richard of the same monastery.  He tells us that these monks wrote that humans have been given three different ways of seeing.  One way arises from the eyes that produce thoughts.  The second way of seeing leads to reason, and to reflection and meditation.  The third way of seeing leads to true understanding and contemplation.

It is the third way of seeing that is the rarest and most evolved.  Whereas the first way of seeing is common, it produces little depth of experience, is more concrete and binds one to the immediate without nuance.  The second way of seeing allows one to relish his or her power to conceive of the material disposition of the world.  Ah, but the third way of seeing allows one to do more – it allows one to “taste” existence, to be in awe before the underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connects one with everything!

The third way of seeing is seeing as a mystic sees – seeing as God has designed us to see.  This seeing exceeds the senses, does not rest on knowledge and intellect alone – but rather sees in a manner that expands his or her consciousness – and in this is transformed, made whole, lives in and above at the same time, is mortal and immortal, contented, whole and wise in ways that neither the senses nor intellect can offer.

In commenting on this Rohr says “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sight-edness and religious crises in the Western world.”  Hence the above quote that leads into today’s blog.

The view that Rohr shares, Dear Friends, highlights how and why “identity politics” is so destructive, so wrong-headed, so primitive, tribal, hostile, aggressive, hateful and unappetizing.  Those with greater depth of human experience cannot abide that which pits one against another in a death struggle.  We are, after all, not made to be enemies to one another but rather brothers and sisters to one another.

This historic moment requires us to see as the mystic sees.

Shalom.

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Missed posting yesterday.  Stood with a friend in a long anticipated hearing on a complicated and contested legal matter.  Matter “concluded” at long last.

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The theological virtues are above the nature of man, whereas intellectual and moral virtues belong to the nature of man … Therefore the theological virtues should be distinguished … The intellectual and moral virtues perfect the human intellect and appetite in proportion to human nature, but the theological virtues do so supernaturally.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Theologiae

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If this be so, how can you neglect faith?  If your perfection requires your spiritual development, who would be foolish enough to listen to the endless number of people like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, A.O.C., et al when they speak about anything whatsoever.

Yes, in the present time, there are not many people in politics, news, the celebrity class, academia, the “professions” or what have you who warrant our time or attention.

Let’s face it, we are NOT discreet listeners.  Indeed, we should be.

I often hear others say (in response to some injustice) “how can X or Y let this (the injustice) happen?”  It is, in all honesty, a childish reaction to the world around them and injustice in particular.  It is a question asked by one who does not know what Aquinas and others have talked about for ages … the primacy of faith and perceptions derived from faith are central to all inquiries and understanding of the world we inhabit and those people and events in it.

Mathematicians know this, scientists too.  Those few among us who still muster belief itself and match belief with their intellect and life experience know this as well.  They, as a consequence, do not need to ask of injustices done to innocents and others.

Indeed, the proof of the fundamental role of faith in one’s existence is this: even atheists ask the fundamental question like: “Why this injustice?”

Their question confirms the place of, and need for, faith.  Their question is a faith question.  Their question reflects the insight of Aquinas and many others we ignore and in this make fools of ourselves and anyone of the many who daily listen to the nonsensical “public figures” who do not possess the modest intellect or common sense sufficient to wonder much at all about what they see and what they say.

Alas, following Aquinas and other giants of intellectual, moral and spiritual maturity allows us to be who we are designed to be.

Smarten up, people.  What is eternal is above all that is not.  We consume what is not eternal and this is the central fault you see.

I know except that things perishing and transitory should be spurned and things certain and eternal should be sought.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Augustine, in Soliquia

Just can’t make this any plainer to you, Friends.

Shalom.

Postscript – The contested hearing yesterday was frankly pathetic.  The judge and lawyers were childish in their narrow range of thought and lack of depth of examination or understanding as to the events before them.  It was much like watching people playing “judge” and “lawyer.”  It would have been silly if not so pathetic.  We are sadly ill-bred and in this lies decline and injury to all.  First faith – insight and wisdom follows.

They came to a place named Gethsemane … And he took … Peter, James and John … He said to them … “keep watch.”

Mark 14: 32, 33, 34

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“Keep watch.”

These are the words of Jesus when, knowing His trial was near, he entered Gethsemane to pray, to seek time with Our Father.  Yes, in His distress, Jesus sought time with God.  Ought we do any different?

We face gravely troubling times today.  Like our Jewish brothers and sisters in their flight from captivity in Egypt there is much discontent, grumbling among our neighbors, those in public life.  Anger, immorality, division and corruption abound – indeed in high places this is so.

Think for a moment what Jesus asked of Peter, James and John.  He asked that they might “keep watch.”  Is that not our job too?  Are we not to watch for evildoers, those who wish to deny God and destroy His intentions for us to humbly live well caring less for self than for others?  Are we not to trust in Him, carry His mission?

Ah, but do we?  Look about.  Could corruption flourish if we really “keep watch?”  Could immortality be “protected” if we were to really “keep watch?”  Would babies be killed if this were so?  Would there be justice for some, but excuse for others – if we were to “keep watch?”  Would evil be excused?  Responsibilities abandoned?  Anger be prevalent?  Division created?

You know the answers to these questions.  Keep watch.  Do nothing less than what Jesus asked.  Ah, yes – in this mission you must stand in opposition to that which is evil and not of God.  Who among you does this?

Shalom.

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

Shalom.

 

 

 

God revealed a sublime truth to the world when He sang, “I am made whole by your life.  Each soul, each soul completes me.”  (Emphasis added.)

Hafiz

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So says the Persian poet from the 14th century.

What if your live makes God whole?  Would that make you more aware of your value?  Would that recognition influence how you lived, what choices you made?

Imagine this: many live as if they matter most but what if their Creator mattered most?

If such thought were carried by all – there would be no need to look for love and friendship, nor would there be the selfishness we see, or the violence and self-inflicted wounds, broken promises, betrayals and deceptions.

One simple idea can change life for the best – not just the better.

Shalom.

Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

Back from an unexpected day without a post.  It was a leisurely drive back from family and friends – a long road in beautiful country and heavenly quiet.

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The version of eros that Jane Austen’s novels study … is hardly animalistic.  It is ethicalthat is, it is concerned with the education of the will to the end of good character, and indeed is precisely about coming to know someone’s character.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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Who among us acts as if love is intended to deliver us to good character

To the best of my knowledge I give you my answer – not very many.  And I add we are a sick culture – more animal than human.  Grunts in heat – far short of character … the kind of people you’d be best to avoid.

McCloskey’s book is excellent and particularly good in discussing love and its relationship with our character.

Only through McCloskey can I see clearly the distinction between my wife who died childless of cancer at 29 (one month short of our 4th anniversary) and a subsequent wife who left a child, a husband and a marriage after 22 years for no particular reason but her desire to do so.

In McCloskey’s work I see so clearly one spouse aligned love and character and one did not.  I add, indeed, that unbeknownst to me in dedicating my life to the care of my seriously ill and dying wife – I had enkindled in me the relationship between love and character.

I add thankfully that by the grace of God I lived and loved in a manner that both life and love was joined to the quest for good character – who I am, who I have been made at birth to be.

Recognizing this allows me to see so clearly the blessings of that first love and the triumph that my life has been – all because of the grace of God.  Likewise, I see the ugly character of so many in our culture who make no such linkage between love and character.

It is hideous how the affluent and so-called “elites” and public figures, celebrities and the self-proclaimed wisdom figures and endless talking heads show absolutely nothing to distinguish them nor merit any of our attention.  Yea, their personal lives often a mess –  a series of failed marriages – seemingly without a touch of honor.

The fault lines are now between the urban and suburban elites and those who are not them.  Oddly, the fault lines might just be between those who show that love is connected with character and those that do not.

Shalom.

 

Drest in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he is most assured – his glassy essence.  Like an angry ape – plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make angels weep.

William Shakespeare, in Measure for Measure

[Drest – Old English for “dressed.”]

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The federal government transferred an 89-year-old inmate in a wheelchair to a maximum security prison which holds some of the most violent inmates presently incarcerated in the federal prison system.  The man was sent into the general population and promptly killed – beaten to death, his eyes gouged out and an attempt made to cut out his tongue.

The man had been an FBI informant while engaged in criminal activity in Boston.  His connection with the FBI resulted in a number of alleged Mafia figures being indited, tried and convicted.  The FBI allowed the man to continue his criminal activity while they benefited from his information.  The prison to which he was sent housed men who were involved with the Mafia.  The old man had been sentenced to prison for years – but not given the death penalty.

Some say the murdered man intended to share what he knew about the FBI and the workings of its unit that dealt with informants.

Makes you wonder what motivated the federal authorities to send him to a particularly dangerous place and put him in the general inmate population – that is – rather than place him in a segregated unit.

Dressed in the authority of his glassy essence, engaging in fantastic tricks in God’s presence – he of brief authority makes angels weep.  So comes the executioner.

What happens to man is less significant than what happens within a man.

Thomas Mann, in In Quest of the Bluebird

God help us all.

Shalom.

It is within your power to withdraw yourself wherever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.  (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius

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What gives rise to tranquility?  Your tranquility?

If you pause to think about your health and happiness is this not the fundamental question?  I think it is.

Our eyes are the avenue to the brain.  What do you see each moment, each day?  Do you live in an “ordered” realm?  Are your surroundings in chaos, disarray?  If so, how can your eyes not convey this disorder to your brain?  And what of noise?  What do you hear?  Does not noise itself affect tranquility?

Desire tranquility?  Ask yourself what effect the invasion of unwanted ads on the internet have on you?  When you think about it they are intruders – others pushing themselves into your life – ads: from the eyes to the brain.  Do you wish unwelcome intruders into your home whenever they desire to enter?

We live in a culture where intrusion and invasion are common.  Yes, tranquility is denied routinely.  What is one to do?

Wall off these intrusions.  Control your surroundings – have your place of home ordered.  Each thing has a place.  You need not that much.  The less you have the easier it is to know tranquility.  Give no space to the TV talking heads.  You do not know their life – whether it is utter chaos – which it probably is.  Why listen to sick, confused people?  They bring no tranquility – only chaos.  And celebrities?  Ugh!!!

And, problems.  Do you welcome those who bring problems into your life?  To do so does not bring tranquility.

And what about your interior journey?  Have you quietly and diligently examined your life experience and come to know the pluses and minuses of those so important to your development from birth to adulthood?  And what of the losses, betrayals, great disappointments?  Have you faced them honestly and learned what was intended to be learned?  And how about you?  Do you know what triggers your most salient thoughts, reactions, attitudes, convictions?

Finally, can you be silent and alone?  And most importantly, do you have a home in religious narrative?  Do you keep the company of history’s great contemplatives?

When you think about it – tranquility soothes the Spirit and we are all first and foremost spiritual beings.  Tend to that thought and act on it – and you will come to greater tranquility – no more anxiety, no more naked vulnerability to intrusions and the idiocy of the noise and disorder surrounding you.

Shalom.

Postscript – When we see another, do we see a man or a woman or do we see color, age, ethnicity, status, physical attributes?  Can tranquility come from such seeing?

I was traveling yesterday and unable to offer a post.  I am back in the saddle today, however.

Holiness toward God and justice toward men usually go together.

Philo, in Abraham (37 A.D.)

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Believe it or not, I am actually amused by the assumption widely held by people who have a college degree and particularly held by people in the “news” business, in education, technology, in politics, in law and the judiciary, the “entertainment” business and the upper management tiers of the Washington bureaucratic apparatus – that they are smart people – the really smartest people, and we should all listen to them, do as they say and just follow along without questions – yes, fall in line, shut up and let them “do their thing.”

Well, here is a piece of news worth their consideration: Philo was smarter than you and he lived in 37 A.D. without Al Gore’s amazing internet, Google,  Facebook, Microsoft, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, “activists,” “liberals,” so-called socialists, Harvard and its faculty – such as it is with a faux Indian Princess “teaching” at their law school, etc.

How can that be?  Well, if the elites who seek always to enjoy a superior status and to be obeyed are so smart – where the hell is justice?

I see routinely lawyers, whose job it is to serve justice and protect the lawful interest of their clients, but have no discomfort with unethical behavior – nor with their abdication of the pursuit of a just result under the law.  On the contrary, like elites do – they are utterly comfortable with injustice so long as they maintain their status.

Does this sort of view not explain the conduct of the former Attorney General of the United States telling others to kick those who disagree with them, or Dame Hillary’s view that those who disagree with you can be dismissed and treated harshly, uncivilly because do not deserve to be treated cordially having so disagreed?

Assuming arguenado that I am right – why would what I say be so?  How is it that justice is not sought – but rather absent?

Philo had it right: when we have no regard for God, there is no regard for justice and civility is lost.

In a godless world neither morality nor justice hold.  This is precisley where we are and it is, as it always is, that culture rots from the top down.  We can thank our elites for this.

Those mentioned above who like to run the show are destroying the show.

Shalom.

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