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In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Democracy imposes a burden on its citizens.  The burden – to speak truth when what is false is said.  Ah, but this requires knowledge and courage.  While courage is perpetually in short supply, now knowledge is rarer yet.

Yes, the measure of our over-funded education system is failure, misinformation, ideology not free thought but special Leftist nonsense, softness, the destruction of language and belief, gutless “administrators,” the devaluing of education itself – and the long ago desertion of moral reasoning, virtue, honor or consistency.

Last year I asked my Ph.D. son what he wanted for schooling for his two young children.  He answered – “a place where they would not lose their interest in learning.”

That just about nails the problem.  A serious one at that.

You wonder why elected officials run about pedaling “socialism?”  Because they do not know what it is nor its inevitable thirst for total control and hence its inclination for the communist gulag, its hostility to human freedom, humans, religion and God.

At the present time, one is wisest who turns a deft ear to the “young, unlearned and inexperience socialists.”  And one is bravest who speaks truth in a room of silence.

Shalom.

 

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Snow time in the mountains.  Lots of extra work.  Nasty weather coming my way.  A late post as a result.  Life is an adventure.  The wood burning stove is lovely, warm, relaxing just like the classical music.  Pretty quiet here.

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The Stoics defined philosophy as ‘striving after wisdom’ and wisdom in turn as ‘the knowledge of things divine and human.

Introduction to Marcus Aurelius Meditations (Penguin Book, Ltd.)

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Another day.  Another sign of religious bigotry.  It seems that a prominent homosexual advocacy group is airing its anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom disposition once again.

The recent complaint is that Vice President Pence’s wife teaches at an Evangelical school which stands by its religious beliefs that sexual intimacy is to be saved for marriage and that Holy Matrimony is between a man and a woman.

The objection is that the School holds to its religious tenets and that they are not the secular views projected by, at least, some homosexuals – as opposed to homosexuals per se.

Religious bigotry.  It is getting to be quite public.

I offer a suggestion for you should you need an orientation to this issue of religious bigotry.  If you encounter those who attack the basic tenets of your religious beliefs and particularly if you are a Christian and if you are a Catholic or Evangelical – simply ask the person who advocates something that violates your beliefs if they can explain to you what is the relationship between pre-Christian Stoics and early Christians or Christianity at-large.

Why would you ask such a thing?  To determine if the person critical of your faith and its canons has sufficient knowledge to offer an opinion on your faith and its articles of belief.  Further, the point is to establish that you have NO need to listen to someone ignorant of your faith, its history, its precursors and the historical evolution of Christian thought and beliefs that have provided the foundations of Western Civilization and America – its federal representative democracy and its remarkable Constitution.

Make no mistake – religious bigotry can destroy what we have in America and the West.  It is best that you stand by your beliefs and dissuade others that attacking religious belief is very dangerous.  Know what you believe and stand up for these things.

Religious bigotry is a serious matter.  We have seen the results of religious bigotry in the death camps of Nazi Germany.  We best not yield to such bigotry.

Shalom.

Postscript – It is always best to respect one another and one another’s beliefs.  Likewise it is better to build relationships with others and make of us a kind and supportive community fortified by faith.  Attacks on another’s religious beliefs are destructive.  So too is diminishing others whose views and choices are not ones you might make.

 

Post for Today, January 15th, 2019 is Delayed … Snow removal and stacking fire wood – walking on ten inches of snow with a glorious sun and blue sky above.

Today’s Post Late Afternoon

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The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Your contentment comes from being who you are.  That is a process of discovery.  A matter of inquiry and honest self-examination … of knowing what a man is or what a woman is, of knowing that you are mortal and wondering what, if anything, comes after mortality …

Those who know who they are and were made to me – need not play-act a personality, nor long to be someone they are not.

Finding out who you truly are is a matter of living what comes your way for you discover yourself when all matter of things (good and bad) are looked at squarely and lived through with confidence and expectation that after all is said and done trials illuminate who we are.

Shalom.

Remember you are an actor in a drama of such sort as the Author chooses – if short, then a short one; if long, then in a long one.  If it be his pleasure that you should enact a poor man, or a cripple, or a ruler, see that you act it well.  For this is your businessto act well the given part, but to choose it belongs to Another.  (Emphasis added.)

Epictetus, in Enchiridion

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Can’t say more about this than – live the life you have been given … see hardship as that which teaches, makes you stronger – wiser.

Those who try to fashion their life and elect to avoid this or that or play a “pat hand” do damage to self and others.  Life is not static nor does it belong to only us.

Take heed.

” … act well the given part … “

Shalom.

 

 

 

In his inimitable, frank language, Epictetus explained that his curriculum was not about “revenues or income, or peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, slavery and freedom.”

James Bond Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior

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Navy fighter pilot James Stockdale is the only three star Admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy to have spent years of captivity in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war and become a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

He holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University where his focus was on the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus included.

Epictetus, as the above indicates, maintained a school in Rome the purpose of which was to produce students who could speak of philosophical ideas without “idle” babble. As he said “Let others practice lawsuits, others study problems, others syllogisms: here you practice how to die, how to be enchained, how to be racked, how to be exiled.”

Mind you he lived in a harsh time.  Indeed, he was a slave who gained his freedom.  He faced (as did many) a hard life with great risk.  His desire was to help others find a way to live well in the midst of real challenges.  Philosophy was his vehicle – as it was with Admiral Stockdale.

Epictetus thought that a person was responsible for his own “judgments, even in dreams, in drunkenness, and in melancholy madness.”  His view was that each person brings about his own good, his own evil, good or ill fortune, his happiness or unhappiness.  He held the view that to be a victim one must consent to victimhood and that in virtue is serenity.  Indeed, how we chose to live our daily life was key to our contentment, wisdom, survival and prosperity.

Why do I write of this today?  To raise the point that we are not captive to the language and conditions of secular culture.  As human beings we have a sacred autonomy that allows us to author a life that is positive and strong in the face of what seems hard, unjust, dismissive, hurtful, disrespectful, faithless and harsh.

We are made to know our freedom, dignity, happiness and autonomy and to encourage and respect others who possess precisely that same nature as we do.  Seems to me we could use a good deal of what Epictetus is “selling.”

Be well.

Shalom.

 

 

When we cannot be who we are our divine senses become mute, mute and sick from the insanity of judging what He has made Immaculate.  (Emphasis added.)

Meister Eckhart

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So says the Catholic monk of the late 13th and early 14th century.

We are so quick to judge and in the digital world with cell phones, and i-pads, and computers so very much swept up in the moment, the instant word, act, discourse that we (myself included) naturally acquire impressions and form opinions.

But where is God in this?

We act as if there is no all-knowing God but us.  We might be wise to be more refined, patient and less quick to jump here and there.

God’s reign is long.  Our time is quite short.  At best we know not-very-much and surely not God’s mind nor power to take a human misstep and call it to account or to summon from what we do a good lesson, or Good itself.

Retain your divine senses – most of all do not let the pace of day allow you to discard those senses.  Patience.  God.  You.  “Not so fast my friend.”

Shalom.

 

 

The Christ’s Breath

I am a hole in a flute

that the Christ’s breath moved through,

listen to this music.

Hafiz

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How do you conduct your affairs?  What does our public dialogue sound like?

What do you say with your actions?  Opinions?  Words?

I have been reading about Germany between the World Wars – in the Weimar Republic.  It was a contentious period.  A time of division.  And the rise of anti-Semitism and a decline in public morals.  In my readings, I do not see where people of faith spoke up in opposition or made a difference in any effort to do so (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, notwithstanding).

What is my point?   The breath of Christ is to move through us.

Shalom.

Postscript – I have often asked myself “Am I doing what God wishes of me?”  I suspect in some was this daily blog allows me to be the a hole in the flute … that (on a good day) my writing transits the breath of Christ.  At least, I dearly hope so.

 

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.

It is often tragic to see how blatantly [one] bungles his own life and the lives of others, yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how continually feeds it and keeps it going.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in Aion, Collected Works 9, Part II

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Life is a journey and by that one means life is a process of growth and greater understanding, of change and maturing, of gaining in insight and wisdom in the face of changed circumstances, experiences and most importantly troubles.

This is what Jung meant by individuation – the growing over your adult years in wisdom and self-understanding – stability and maturity, peace and contentment as well.  Living is a process of active development and comfort.  It is the process that Christ invited when He seeks that we ought to pick up our Cross and follow Him.

Yet, what Jung says is so true.  Look at those who are discontented – especially in their personal life.  It is quite common that they do not take account of their own life – in search of how they have come to their discontent.

As Jung says it is often “that the whole tragedy originates” in oneself.

To the troubled and discontented I say – look at your beginning.  What did you experience in your most early life, in your childhood, in your family and circumstances?

Undoubtedly, you learned and imprinted impressions from those experiences and employed what means you had to attend to them.  Those early strategies are often the only tools one uses to attend to life. 

Yes, to every hammer every object is a nail.  This is not a good (however common) strategy for all that we will face in life.  Most problems demand more than the “insight” we possessed in our youngest years.  Translation: we must be open to growth throughout our life and its contours – its peaks and valleys and learn and grow accordingly.

Alas to the perpetually discontented continual growth is honored its absence.

We are, of course, talking about not intellectual growth per se but emotional and social growth, savvy understanding, spiritual growth, maturity and wisdom.

Learn from all your life, its successes and disappointments or failures (the latter being the best teachers).

Failure to look critically, honestly and introspectively at your own story, your life in its full measure – is the engine of discontent and continual mistake.

With best wishes.

Shalom.

Thumbing One’s Nose at Others – A recent national poll shows that 93 percent of  Americans think that illegal immigration is a serious problem.  Eighty-eight percent of Democrats think so.  Yet the Democrat Party of the Left is thumbing their collective noses at 93 percent of the public.

What ever happened to “the will of the people?”  Right, the governing class just thinks they “know best.”  This is why Popularists are being elected in Western democracies, why Brexit is Brexit, France has their middle class yellow jackets protesting in the street of Paris and Trump was elected by “a basket of deplorables.”

No one likes to pay their taxes, be lawful and then be discarded by those elected by them.

Our culture has lost any clearly defined spiritual standards and aims, and our cultural values have become impoverished.

Christopher Dawson, in The Judgment of the Nations

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Dawson wrote this in a book published in 1942, when World War II was in full bloom. Three years earlier T. S. Eliot took the view that we faced the choice between a Christian culture or a pagan culture.

The question of culture and our well-being has been with us for eight or nine decades.  Yet, isn’t it odd that those occupying space in the public square speak with no particular appreciation for what Dawson and Eliot and many others (to wit: Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Danielou, Romano Guardini, Nicholas Berdyaev, Paul Tillich, et al) saw as the problem we faced in the West – namely, the disintegration of our culture.

I write about faith and culture and by necessity must address the words, thoughts, actions and inertia of those who command places in the public square.  Yes, I see a mix of theology, culture, history, religion, public policy, law, psychology, philosophy and literature as required to understand who we are today, what risk we run, what wrong turns we have made, and are making, what is lost, derided, discarded and abused by those who have our attention.

The ignorance of those in the public square is monstrous and embarrassing.  Political people alleging that a border wall is immoral while abortion is not as but one example.  Astonishing.  Simply, astonishing.  So many who speak with “certainty” minus doubt or evidence of serious inquiry.

What is my bottom line?

Throughout the centuries we have understood that faith grounds observation. 

No less a man than Albert Einstein offered this to validate the place of faith in intellectual inquiry and life – “God does not play dice” – i.e., mathematicians might say “Both God and the Pythagorean theorem … are believed to exist independent of the physical world; and both give it meaning.”

Faith is a necessary ingredient in human life, community, culture, peaceful existence, civility, full human development, human progress, knowledge, contentment, health, prosperity, intellectual growth and wisdom … and it is the absence of faith that generates the bulk of discord, abhorrent behavior, destruction, division, disorder, violence and hostility in our culture and that of the West today.

If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of things.

Mencius, 371-288 B.C.

The same can be said of citizens and those who claim to lead.

Shalom.

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