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the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taster receptors.  Secular Western moralities are like cuisines that try to activate just one or two of these receptors – either concerns about harm and suffering, or concerns about fairness and injustice.  But people have so many powerful moral intuitions, such as those related to liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity.  (Emphasis added.)

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., in The Righteous Mind

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Well if you want to understand the basic rift between the Left and others (moderates, Conservatives, and “neutralists”)?  Haidt gives you that understanding.

The Left is secularized – removed from faith, anchored in material existence, the narrows of intellect and ideology devoid of psychological or spiritual depth and the understanding and experience that each provides.

In matters public and political they are so narrowly focused, they neglect or dismiss our natural desire for liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity (as Haidt notes).

You see, esteemed Social Psychologist Haidt is telling us that as a matter of innate design the human person thirsts for morality that attends to more than fairness and equality.  Mind you, this thirst is an involuntary desire.  Hence, we are “hardwired” for a morality that extends beyond the shallows of the Left.

The distinction that Haidt describes explains why the Left is intolerant and must force their views on others much as totalitarians do.

Ironically, on an even playing field (i.e., one not corrupted to protect their views) the Left is destined to fail because the public’s natural moral appetite is larger than what they offer.  Humans are more complex than the Left reckons.  No, we are not all like them or their ideology.

Think about the many positions the Left advances or defends and you realize that their positions are at odds with the innate moral desires of the human person at-large.

Once that thinking is done, you can see how the Left forestalls the full development of the human person.  Indeed, they create unnecessary conflict (and division) by attempting to impose exceedingly narrow views on others that are, as a consequence, antagonistic to our broader moral needs.

Haidt, applied to our present situation, leads to greater understanding of the unhealthy antagonism that the Left generates.

You would be wise to get to know Haidt and his excellent scholarly work.

Shalom.

 

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If the word is lost, if the spent word is spent / If the unheard, unspoken / Word is unspoken, unheard; / Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard, / The Word without a word, the Word within / The world and for the world; / And the light shone in darkness and / Against the Word the instilled world still whirled / About the center of the silent world.

T. S. Eliot, in Ash – Wednesday

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Between World War I and World War II, the American Eliot joined the Anglican Church.  In his poem Ash – Wednesday, he works out his commitment to Christ and Christianity.

His words might serve is well in the time we now share – a time of disintegration, and violence emerging from within, with hostility on display and a legislative body “of the people” which does not legislate … does not work, and leaves the task of governing to executive fiat, the force of bureaucracy and oft-enfeeble courts of law.

We have become too comfortable, too fat, too expectant, too brittle with false thoughts of self to the exclusion or our whole being, or the others standing near.  Free speech fades as the voices of intolerance grow louder.

We have lost a generation to education – not of what has worth but rather degrees in “studies,” ideological droplets tailored to bias and division : “studies of gender,” “women studies,” “white privilege studies,” “Black studies,” “Latino studies,”  “Immigrant studies” … We no longer teach how to reason, think, explore, build relationships, maintain an open mind, defend the rights of all, turn to God and prayer …  Having won the war, this is our postwar debris, our landscape –  homeless heroin users in San Francisco, burnt headless animals left to intimidate a public servant, shameless vulgarity, value shaming in many forms delivered by moral vagrants, legions upon legions trapped in government dependence and no expectations … talk of injuring others – – – innocents no more … blood nears …

Do you hear the Word?  That which is and was before all time – Word waiting to be heard?

Time is ripe for a return to the Word – for word in action, word making us solemn and assured – unafraid … Shepherds seeking their sheep danger notwithstanding.

We seek our sheep in twilight, as night closes and violence and division grow … 

Poor sheep, what will the Shepherds do?

Shalom.

 

Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another.  It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing and fostering effective selfexpression and communication.  Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners as well as a matter of good health.  (Emphasis added.)

P. M. Forni, in Choosing Civility

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One reason I have come to the open space of the country is this: the disordered nature of people is, at the least, disquieting and often so distasteful that one risks being sucked into useless conflict with the immature and uninformed.

Unpleasant conversations with fools has never been a favorite pastime with me.

Yet, today the public discourse is so poor that I have turned away from anything but a glancing pass over the “news of the day.”

We have hit a new low with female Senators swearing in public, and entertainment celebrities crudely voicing in tantum-like manner their profanity laden dislike of party A or policy B – as if anyone really cares what they have to say.

Not-so-astonishingly, the cable and network “news” people, like lemmings, fall right into line – mimicking the ill-bred and poorly educated actions and views of the foul-mouthed celebrity.  Of course, the crass conduct of Leftist advocates makes matters all the worse as to civil discourse.

As to the latter point, the destructive objectives of the Leftist advocates is patently clear when they “game” the system by offering this or that feigned outrage simply to get their own way.  No civil discourse there.  It is all the aim for power.  And that means always – an idiotic and destructive policy turn in which faith in democracy and civil discussion are both lost.  Indeed we are at that juncture now.  

I am often surprised that those who push an ideological agenda have not met with forceful response.  Knowing human nature, I suspect that relative passivity may not sustain.

These are unpleasant times.  Civility is lost, and democracy and community are on the wane.  We listen to those we ought to ignore.

Shalom.

Trust – Trust is a funny thing.  There are not a whole lot of people in your life that you can trust for the entire length of your life.  More people jump ship than stay the course.  That’s just people.  Most seek an advantage or cannot sustain the exactness required for a trusted friendship.

A long term trust-relationship requires complete honesty and that means honest self-reflection and continual growth.  There are more people who cannot meet the terms of a trusted relationship than can meet those terms.  Cherish the trusted relationships you have … do not expect to have a great number of them.  Indeed, does this not underscore the place of a faith narrative, God as we have come to know the idea of God?  When all else fails – you and God can do wonderful things together.  Imagine me painting or writing – is that not God and me in a state of trust?

 

 

Without a life of the spirit our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory.  The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible reality – not as we imagine it, but as it really is.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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I am sure if you look about you see as many do that people have become difficult, coarse and quite narcissistic – self-centered.  Likewise you see, like others, hostility and incoherence – just look at the news and the unimaginable crimes – a woman kills her infant child and hides the body, a mass shooting of innocents by a troubled young man.

There are, alarmingly, many signs of disorder – individuals whose behavior and utterances indicate they are “lost,” disoriented, without sensible purpose or direction.  Just look at addictions and the vast spread of drug use – broken families, illegitimate births, killing unborn children in the womb, violent crime.

These things do not arise all by themselves.  They are a manifestation of a life without any spiritual context, that is a life of illusion, life without substance – or meaning … and aimless, a life that is destructive of self and others.

In such circumstances reality, sanity, health, stability, relationships, contentment, and nation are lost to us.

You look and see the problems growing and see in others behavior that gives you caution, concern and seeks that you keep your distance and be on guard?  All of this is attributed to but one thing: No God.

All of course is made worse by the ignorance of those in media who are as lost as anyone, and by politicians on the Left who manifest some of the same traits and many ideas that are void of wisdom – but do us harm, and further chaos.  The Left discounts God and the essential nature of spiritual life and all that it propounds — –  their work and words are simply the product of their self-deception and their narcissism.

God identifies the order of things.  Deny this and life and nations disintegrate rather rapidly.  Better return to the beginning.

Shalom.

A Week of Spring Rains Leads to A Late Post

Pride is a profound depravity; it is the worship of self; man becomes his own god through excessive self-love.

Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

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Pride – a depravity.  Yes.

Those who are prideful come to think of themselves “lord and sovereign master”of all things.  They see themselves as simply smarter than others and more entitled, born to be revered, lauded and “in charge.”

In many instances they both show and disclose the arrogance that is the product of American higher education from once distinguished colleges that have become merely ideological nursery schools.

The prideful’s attitude and actions deny the existence of God.  Rules, they show us, simply do not apply to them.  Every defeat they encounter is blamed on others.  Humility eludes them.  They act as if they are “the first beginning” and “the last cause.”

Godless.  Yes, we have among us many prideful, godless men and women who fancy themselves better than everyone else.  These men and women need public adoration – seek an audience.  They take delight in undeserved applause.

Craven, empty people – these prideful ones.  Full of vanity, the attention paid to them blinds them to the matter of Truth … and honor, honesty, virtue, self-sacrifice, courage, faith, fellowship, intimacy, love, caring and kindness.

Look around – you see so easily those of vainglory.  No leaders they.  In them there is no trust.

Shalom.

 

It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans … Purge the evil person from your midst.

1 Cor 5: 1, 13

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We live in a mass communication culture.  We see much – on television, in the movies, on the computer, in print.

The charge of St. Paul applied today creates a broad responsibility for us.

Think about how we are informed about public affairs and the content of our present conversation – about sexual mores and practices, about adultery, about abortion.

Think too about the words that are used.  Think about what is justified and the absence of shame.

Think about the female grade school teacher who discusses with her class her impending “marriage” to another women and the nature of their interpersonal contact.  Think about the crude and unfunny language of the woman at the White House Correspondents Dinner and about the political advocacy witnessed today, and the comments made in the media by people whose lives we know nothing.

Is not St. Paul addressing these things?

Are you a careful and discreet listener?  Or do you mindlessly take all this in?  You had better be the former than the latter.

You are responsible for what is said, done and condoned in society.

If you tolerate anything you will get things that you will come to regret.  Indeed, we have been an uncritical audience too long.  And that is how we have come to see the rubbish we have seen, hear the language we hear, dismantled the family, lost our children to bad habits, drugs, violence, immortality and idleness.  That is why we have the woeful, shallow, crass public and media figures we see.

Think about the celebrities.

We tolerate far too much that is presented to us.  Discretion is needed.  Only you can reject that which St. Paul notices.  If you welcome immorality, you will get endless immorality.

Shalom.

You live in a deranged age – more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.  (Emphasis added.)

Walker Percy, in Lost in the Cosmos: the Last Self-help Book

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You’d be hard-pressed to quarrel with Percy’s words from his 1983 novel.  Matters have only gotten worse from then to now.

Third-grade girls “choose” their gender.  Borderless borders.  “Safe spaces” for “snowflakes.”  James Comey’s incoherent discourse; or, an ongoing criminal “investigation” of the President by “prosecutors” (his partisan opponents) who have failed to establish (as law requires) any evidentiary indication that a “crime” may have been committed.  (Imagine yourself being investigated for murder of your neighbor who is still alive and living next door to you!  That’s where we are.)

Deranged?  Yup.  Words like “choice” and “investigation” have no resemblance to what they meant a mere 25 years ago.  More to the point, gender and the law “ain’t what they used to be” largely because people “ain’t what they used to be.”  Forget honesty in general – or at the F.B.I. headquarters or the upper echelons of the Justice Department.

Make no mistake we have the so-called “elites” to blame for what we see.  And know this – they have created as wide a divide between the common folks (the “deplorables”) and the privileged class who think and act as if they possess an exclusive right to make this once great nation unrecognizable while establishing comprehensive control over the lives and views of the American population.

Today’s daily parade of Percy’s “deranged” made me think of a classic book in religious writing (Adolphe Tanqueray’s The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology) and in particular what Tanqueray said about the human being.

In identifying the privileges conferred on Adam and, by implication, each of  us, Fr. Tanqueray said:

“By nature man is the servant of God, His property. – In His infinite goodness God willed to incorporate us into His family.  He made man His heir-apparent when He reserved for him a place in His kingdom.  For this bounty man will never be able to thank God adequately.

In order that this adoption might not remain a mere formality, He gave him a share in His divine life.  This communication of God’s life to man is, indeed, a created quality but none the less real.  It enables man here on earth to enjoy the light of faith (a light far greater than that of reason), and in heaven, to possess God by the Beatific Vision and with a love corresponding to the clearness of that vision.”

I think our experience tells us that there is an direct relationship between godlessness and deranged conduct and ideas.  Given the behavior of the privileged class – it seems like we’d best put our trust in God and discharge those at the “top of the ladder” who appear to show they are not competent, stable human beings worthy of our esteem.

Shalom.  

Religious experience is inevitably human experience.  It has to do with the human consciousness both individual and collective.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If religious experience is human experience, then it follows that human experience is religious experience. 

That said, experiencing human life is the experience of religious (or spiritual) reality.  What we are saying is this: one cannot separate the experience of the Divine from that of the mundane – from human existence.  Indeed, God is neither absent nor dead – but rather present and alive in us – whether we acknowledge it or not.

Assume for a moment that this is absolutely true.  With that, one might ask what caused us to discount God and Divine experience?  And, what is the price we might pay for living only in the mundane world?

The first question is answered by Charles Taylor in his book A Secular Age where he lays out in considerable detail how the Enlightenment and the Reformation pushed us toward an exclusive humanism that counted reason and the mundane world as the preeminent focus of human life and in so doing radically altered (narrowed) the scope of human experience.

As to the “price” we have paid – I would say that it made each life less full and made living far more difficult.  My view is that we have vested much hope and expectation in the “genius” of the imperfect (and often nefarious, selfish or disordered) human person and his and her institutions, governance, ideas, ideologies, laws, rules, regulations, fades and fancies.

In short, man in his power and conduct is not God – not even close.

Abandoning the relationship with the Divine, one is left to rely on one’s own very limited ways and many weaknesses.  The consequences are visible today.  Need I remind anyone of adultery, abortion, divorces, child neglect and abuse, homicides, suicides, sexual molestation, drug addictions, obesity, mental illness, unhappiness, envy, hostility, randon mass shootings, political corruption, widespread government inter-generational dependence, racism, gender confusion, teen pregnency, unwed mothers, broken families, fatherless families, female teachers having sex with their underage students … etc.

If human experience is religious experience, you would have to conclude that in today’s secular culture we show evidence that we are neither living as human beings nor as religious people.

Where are you in this matter?

Shalom.

If there be any man who is not enlightened by the sublime magnificence of created things, he is blind.  If there be any man who is not aroused by the clamor of nature, he is deft.  If there be any one who, seeing all these works of God, does not praise him, he is dumb; if there be any one who, from so many signs, cannot perceive the First Principle, that man is foolish.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Bonaventure, in Intinerarium Mentis in Deum

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I am sure I live among disordered people – for each day I get up I am presented with evidence that we are surrounded by people who have absolutely no idea of nature, its immutable presence and the confides of its boundaries.

What do I mean?  I give and example: men are men and women are women –and while they share common characteristics they are not the same and are not interchangeable.  Each has their blessings, gifts, innate and unique talents and insights, and ways of seeing and being … and this is a beautiful thing.

When a culture loses an understanding and appreciation of nature, it loses its sanity and on the way to insanity it generates hostility and manufactures abject foolishness.

Need an illustration of the insanity?  Airlines are re-thinking the policy of allowing “comfort” animals on commercial passenger flights – because passengers are now bringing animals like small ponies as their “comfort” animals.  (Yes, this is true.)

In public policy matters, the “small pony” is exhibited by any number of iterations arising from feminism and homosexual advocacy.  Men and women are not meant to be “at war” and there is no such psychological designation as “homophobia.”  Notwithstanding that there is no such diagnostic category as “homophobia,” it has entered the public lexicon as if it is “a truth,” an actual psychological disorder.

This is a problem.  You see when nature is denied, truth is denied.  Consequentially, what flows is that which is unnatural and false.  Reality becomes unexamined fantasy.

If we have any particular group to “thank” for this is it people in the intellectual community who latch on to fantasy and ignore truth.  Their ideas now presented as mainstream suggest to me that rather than affording them the cap and gown of university achievement – consigning them to wear red bulbous nosed and large rubber feet seems more fitting.

The tragedy of denying nature is the tragedy of becoming less educated, less wise, less insightful, less truthful, less human, less stable and less sane.

We are, it seems, as St. Bonaventure says – blind, deaf, dumb and foolish.  Not a good development and one reason why I listen to few people and spend my time in nature, with cows, mountains, sky, and beauty.

Shalom.

Never Understood – The Democrats have filed a lawsuit claiming that the Russians, Wikileaks and members of the Trump campaign conspired to defeat the Democrat candidate in the last Presidential Election.

I have never understood their claim that Russians favored the Republican candidate over the Leftist Party’s candidate.  Let’s face it – the Democrat Party is the political party of the Left.  For heaven sakes, it had a Socialist seeking their Party’s nomination and their last President had a C.I.A. Director who voted for a Communist for President at one time.

How is it that the Party of the Left would be the Party that the Russians wished to get defeated?  What sense does that make?

 

“Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, and  you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  (Emphasis added.)

Ex 19: 5, 6

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Thus God spoke to Moses.  His words return to us.  Putting them to test today cannot but give you pause.

Have we obeyed God?  Have we kept His covenant?  Do we look like a nation of priests and a holy nation?  It would be hard to say “yes” to these questions.

Today we welcome a harlot as a center of attention in a story involving her accepting a large financial payment for not talking about a sexual encounter a dozen years ago with a prominent man.  Abortions are more welcome than unborn children.  Judges reign who have been adulterers and married three times.  A former President accepted a cash “gift” for pardoning a fugitive billionaire.  An F.B.I. director and his colleagues lie and unlawfully leak information in pursuit of destroying a political figure they do not like.  A candidate for high office has her multiple misdeeds ignored.  A select prosecutor hires a staff with adulterers and others who have convicted people while withholding information that would have proved their innocence.  The prosecutor himself put four men in jail for a long time who were subsequently freed because of their innocence.

These are not the acts of holy men and women, nor are they in conformity with God’s covenant.  Shame.

But how long will you let those in authority who act in your name cast you aside, impose on you their sinful deeds?  Do you not aspire to something better?

Shalom.

Oh Goody.  A national coffee shop chain is requiring all its employees to spend a day in race sensitivity training and former Attorney General Eric Holder (a lawyer with no special training in psychology, cultural criticism, history, religion, theology, sociology, etc.) will be the instructor.

Now I’m no expert on racism, but I’d bet it is reasonable to define a racist as one who thinks constantly about race and racial division.  That said, the public Mr. Holder seems fixated on race and racial division.  Is this the best one can do?  How about working on seeing all people as (surprise) just people?  God’s children?

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