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… false seeing … a love affair with words and ideas … But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with a judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And it usually is never fixed enough to deserve your protected self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall or Pause forever.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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When you pause to think about it – each day we are surrounded by other people’s words – a virtual down-pour of words, ideas, concepts, complaints.  The mere saying of them is accepted in the culture and common discourse as if these words convey something useful, truthful.

Need an example?  We speak of “multiple genders,” children in the third grade “deciding” that they are not male, but female – not female but male.  A man says his male sexual partner is his “wife.”

Yes, words are appropriated and their meaning distorted.  What was once “A” is now “Z.”

When life as it is is abandoned, false words and proclamation emerge and Truth vanishes.  We see here a love affair with words – a love affair with self, with fantasy, distortion – words used to personal and political advantage and the “hell with reality.”  In this, a journey away from truth in favor of fiction … and the added feature of fragmenting, dividing and destroying culture and shared community. 

Think too of ideology.  Despite historic evidence to the contrary ideologues tout the utility and “benefit” of socialism and the road to Communism – advocate for it without regard to its destuctiveness.  Here we have selfishness – the desire to tear down what others have built – anything to deny reality and life.

Things successful and unbroken are smashed with these words so those who cannot wade into life as it presents, or into history and common sense – arrogantly attempt to bend us to their disorientation and even their unhappiness and hatred.

You see this battle and its divide in our political parties – one houses those who hi-jack, usurp words and ideas for their own use and the other party that fights to salvage words, protect ideas and concepts that afford common understanding, support the essential and successful structures (marriage, for example) and institutions that have given us peace,  prospertity and freedom.

The battle over words as we have seen it thus far does one remarkably destructive thing – it has the capacity to alter the experience of human experience … the likes of  which substitute illness for health.

Where are you in this battle of words and established truth?

Shalom.

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In truth, if I consider what God has placed in me, what He works in me through His grace, I am worth a great deal, I am beyond price: “For you are bought with a great price … You are worth what God is worth.”

Adolphe Tanquerry, S.S., D.D. in The Spiritual Life

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With the above in mind, can anyone be without purpose?  Come to doubt their value?  Feel as through they do not matter?  I say, “No.”

If we possessed this one thought as expressed above (that God resides within each one of us), we cannot contemplate that we have no value, no purpose, no reason for being.

Yes, it is that simple.  When we lose the primary fact that we are created by God for a purpose and that we have value, we carry the value of God.  As such, we are never without value.

With this in mind our task is simply this: to do good as God would and does seek in and through us.  Yes, we have a purpose in being … it is our task to show that value in how we live and what we do and what we say.

Shalom.

Becoming Obvious – With yesterday’s disgraceful performance by the Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is becoming obvious the Democrats are pursuing a path to destroy any one like Attorney General William Barr because they cannot sustain their political existence if it is established that during the last Presidency Democrats acted to spy on and destroy an elected President and violated the law, falsified documents and lied to the Federal Court in the process.  In short, the Democrats are insuring their own demise by this conduct.  Ironically, their conduct confirms that they know they have engaged in lawless conduct in order to alter an electoral result and cover-up their past unlawful conduct.  Their current conduct ironically confirms their guilt.

This is a sad and very serious time for this nation and our Representative Federal Republic, its Constitution, the rule of law, our electoral system and our freedoms.

 

Another attack on a synagogue.  We are paying a horrible price for moving away from faith and religious worship.  It is not the weapon that kills but the cold heart of one who has lost faith.

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American society is now remarkably atomized … The Left has a lot to answer here.  There is a drift toward very fragmenting tendencies among left groups, toward this sort of identity politics.

Noam Chomsky

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When a man of stature who is a Leftist, as Noam Chomsky is, indicates that identity politics is a problem, we had best all think about what precisely identity politics has done.

It has, simply stated – divided people, made neighbors adversaries, made others the target of resentment and hate.  It has turned some to violence – that is people on the Left and the Right.  But even more than that it has diminished vital institutions.  For example, it has crippled the Legislative Branch of the federal government and some state governments – leaving us with inertia, hyper-partisanship and government by executive fiat (yes, “the pen and the phone” unilateral governance).  Such division destroys democracy.

Illustratively, no judicial confirmation process can be anything but a brutal effort at character assassination.  We saw this with the Judge Clarence Thomas hearing years ago and in the recent hearing to confirm the last appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Likewise news has ceased to be journalism and become mere partisanship – losing all sense of fairness and truth in its public presence.

What identity politics does is divide and division is very dangerous as a result.  With division comes hostility, even the provocation of violence as we have seen in the streets, on college campuses and in targeted public confrontations.

In identity politics we are estranged from one another, others are seen as enemies and all things become political – all issues or opinions are a source for disagreement and opposition.  In identity politics lines are drawn and others become the enemy – humility, and humor, and collegiality fade – friendships are lost and little to nothing is accomplished.

Make no mistake a culture of extreme political partisanship and ideology has badly marred religious and educational institutions where in the former age-old beliefs are abandoned and in the latter indoctrination has replaced learning.

In the midst of this – we are a weaker nation.

Take heed – some say we cannot get to genocide without first getting to identity politics.

Form all together one choir, so that, with the symphony of your feelings and having taken the tone from God, you may sing with one voice …

St. Ignatius of Antioch, in Letter to the Ephesians

Shalom.

 

Solo piano on a Sunday afternoon.  Fitting for one of many decades – when Dear Ones are lost to mortal time yet linger in the clouds, and the sky, and the sun and shadows, and the open fields and spring breeze, in the green of it all and in the silence broken only by singular notes of the soloist at play.  

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Books are a storehouses of human ideas.  The three great religions which come from the Middle East centre their practice on a sacred book and indeed are frequently known as Religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Diarmaid MacCullough, in Christianity the First Three Thousand Years

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Our faith is a faith of ideas – ideas that led to Western Civilization, its structures, its culture, its law, the nation state, our respect for individual liberty and for freedom and democracy, trade and the free market, prosperity, greatness in education, in the arts and science, and in human existence itself as it flourished.

MacCullough reminds us the the early centuries of Christianity were spent wrestling with difficult questions, with the understandings of Graeco-Roman philosophy and Judaism.  Further, he reminds us that social and political history is derived from ideas that appear in Judaism and Christianity and in our Greek and Roman forbearers.

The truth of the matter is that social and political history is dominated by theology.  But alas this is something that we scantly recall today.  Now we have those in authority who have no earthly idea of what the Oxford Professor MacCullogh knows so well as one of the world’s leading figures on the history of Christianity.

Now we have among us childish people who wish to tear down what centuries have produced – tear down without an inkling of knowledge of the past as it generously protects us today in our institutions, attitudes, structures, default settings, common language and long-accepted ideas.

Today the ideologues on the Left and the upstart dolts in the appropriately named “genreation x” desire a scorched earth and the destruction of common and critical institutions and relationships such as between man and woman, mother and child, husband and wife, adult and child, as to biological identity and what have you.

Ignorant destruction is NOT a pretty thing.  And its sweeps can occur in far shorter a time than it took to create what will be destroyed. 

Let’s be very plain – those who pursue radical ideas – who advance radical and immediate fundamental change disclose to us that they are not smart enough to manage even the simplest tasks or intellectual activity.  If you doubt this, I recall two simple statements of our most recent past President who boasted that he would “fundamentally change America” and welcomed himself on the public stage by saying “We are the people we have been waiting for.”  Only a man with no accomplishments in his life can lay claim to such nonsense … as in “I’ve done nothing to date – but will undo what many people before me have done at great price … ”

Yes, turn your back on Christianity, and on old white men, and history and free markets and our Constitution, on the liberties it protects, and on this Representative Federalist System of autonomous states and individual freedom and expect barbarism and tribal conflict amid the unjustified destruction and chaos that befalls the anger and ignorance we see and hear now.

Some are odds with who we are and what good its conveys.  Beware.

Shalom.

Most people, quite sadly and with disastrous consequences, do not know that the gift is already given.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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We are given the Divine Presence of God and within that and residing with us is faith, hope and love.  Yet, many ignore this gift and some of those who do not know this gift, this experience, are by their words and deeds telling us that they are disordered, that their ideas are ignorant of the gift and in that ignorance they advocate behaviors and policies and world views which are antithetical to faith, hope and love.

You see this in political candidates who advance abortion to the new-born child.  Not satisfied with taking the life of a child within the womb, they see killing a newborn as a “choice!”

Think, too, of those who wish that felons may vote while in prison or that all manner of souls have welcome access to this country without regard to their conduct, misbehavior – even when it is unlawful, sinister, or intended to destroy this nation or engage in criminal conduct.  Think, too, of the elected and aspiring politicians who seek to create a climate where all is “free” and no one is accountable.  Think of those who wish to dismantle free enterprise, the U.S. Constitution or the Electoral College because their side did NOT win a presidential election.  And think too of those among us who wish to accommodate all manner of sexual deviancy.

People are known by their words and deeds.  Many among us tell you that they do not know of the experience of the God within and that they are hostile to the idea of God and those who espouse this belief.  This is both a shame and very dangerous in a world where Christianity and Judaism are under increasing attack while the West stands by and does next to nothing to defend itself.  Serious business, Friends.

Shalom.

 

Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

Good Friday

… aware that everything was now finished, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

John 19:28

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Take a moment today to stop and let your mind feed your heart, as on this Holy Day it most surely will.  When the heart is in play the soul is touched … on this Holy Day even more so than on most others.

Make a few minutes for this silent retreat – from the head, to the heart, to the soul.

In silence now, I come to this question: What did Jesus do?  And to this recitation – He entered mortal life as the incarnation of Our Father and all that Our Father is and enkindled in us.  He healed those who suffered.  He befriended the friendless.  He called others to the Father.  He taught others including the religious scholars he encountered.  He made the sinful clean.  He suffered and was rejected.  He hung on the Cross and was taunted and ridiculed.  He redeemed us by His death … and was resurrected!

I ask this question and provide the above answer in the hopes that you might look around you and particularly look at those who appear prominently in our mass culture – those whose images, voices, opinions and criticisms we see and hear all to frequently.  Indeed I ask in this – what have they done to justify our attention?  And I mean people in politics, the intellectuals, elites, princes of the tech industry, those in media with unrestrained opinions about all things, and the endless “advocates” of self-serving (destructive) politically (in)correct views.

Who is worth your attention?  Jesus or the talking heads of present day American mass communication culture?

I’ll take Christ … and proclaim that no one who seeks our attention warrants our time or consideration who does not show he or she has lived a life representative of the selfless nature of the Son of God.

Shalom.

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

John 13:21

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Betrayal.  It is hard to imagine anything more disillusioning than violating a relationship.

Think about it, one has a trusted relationship and violates that trust.  You can see it in a man who fathers a child but deserts his child and the woman with whom he fathered the child.

Imagine Judas who was mentored by Jesus.  Think of what he did.  He sat at the table with Jesus and his disciples and took his morsel given at the table and walked away … from Light to Darkness – that is betrayal.  Judas choose alienation over sacred loyalty, over friendship, over duty and obligation, over faith, over honesty, over trust, evil over good, his own desires over God.

And then there is Peter.  Pledging his loyalty to Jesus, he denied knowing Our Lord three times before the cock would crow.  Yes, cowardice got the best of Peter.  Yes, for Peter fear dominated faith.  Yes, Peter, too, choose alienation.  Yes, for Peter trust was abandoned, friendship was dishonored – God denied.

Look about you today.  Are we a culture of trust?  Or is betrayal more common?

Are we a culture of heroes or betrayers?  One in which citizen is alienated from citizen?  A culture of unity or division?  Is division commonplace?  Is it the way of a political party?  Do women create division from men?  Do father’s desert their children?  Men and women divorce one another with ease?

Alienation.  Betrayal.  Distrust.  Hero or coward?  Loyal or not?  Divisive or unifying?  Neighbor or not?  Friend or enemy?  One alone or many together?  God-full or Godless?

Shalom.

The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the known and unknown together into a living whole.

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

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You recall that faith is a virtue.  Why is that?  Well it is not merely a matter of knowing but a matter the Spirit, of “spiritual courage” as C.S. Lewis says.

In faith we exceed the fade of a particular time or Age.  In faith we live beyond the limits of science and its (sometimes) temporary “certainty” – that is: its “truth” subject to change, its own evolution, its trek to greater understanding as science and discovery grow over time.

Faith is wedded to “belief” and belief is a derived (in Germanic origin) from a word connoting “beloved” – love.

In faith then is belief and love – far more than reason but not limited by mere rationality.

Faith, like your life itself, is about so much more.  Does one not have confidence in one’s spouse, one’s child, one’s brother, one’s sister, one’s father, one’s mother, one’s best friend?  Does not that faith capture something larger than reason?

If one has faith in one’s best friend or spouse or sibling could not one have faith in God … belief in the One who is Love itself?

Imagine the poverty and despair of those who cannot believe in love … or a whole culture where belief is missing.

Think of this, in a culture of unbelief is not the experience of human experience reduced?  Would not addiction, homicide, suicide, hostility, division, anxiety, abortion, infanticide, adultery, divorce, hatred, alcoholism, selfishness, self-destruction, cowardice, chaos, amorality, nihilism, conflict, despair, corruption, greed, indifference, ignorance, unhappiness, lawlessness, loneliness, lust, envy, lying, dishonesty, suffering, vanity, violence and evil grow?

Shalom.

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.

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