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Dedicated to My Son, His Wife and My Two Grandchildren … and All the Parents Raising Children

To be a good parent … we do not need to be people who have arrived; God simply calls us to be on the way, seeking, finding, and rejoicing in what we find. (Emphasis added.)

Catherine Stonehouse, in Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith.

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My son and I recently had a very interesting conversation about providing for the spiritual lives of his two small children, ages almost three and almost one.

Yes, children have – as all human beings do – innate spiritual needs and desires.

Throughout the ages people are confronted with all sorts of probative “why” and “how” and “what” and “who” questions.  Why do bad things happen?  How can we be good? What is love? How do you forgive someone? Who made the world? Why go to church?

Yes, we are all bound by these questions.  And, no – politics does not provide the answer.  And, yes – by thinking all things are political as many do in this imploding secular culture we establish one thing for sure: life and cultures demand that individuals pay particular attention to our interior, the spiritual plateau in all human beings or court chaos and destruction, disintegration.  Absent attention to the spiritual: cultures, societies, communities, families, nations, individual people are undone – destroyed – trapped in selfishness, error, hostility, destruction, conflict, injury and despair.

Frankly, we are inclined precisely in that destructive dimension in contemporary America and the West at this very moment.  

We are, of course, not human beings seeking a spiritual experience, but rather – spiritual beings seeking a human experience.

Look around you.  Do you see how costly denying God and spiritual reality can be?

Parents attend to your spiritual existence and invite your children to join you.   Individually you will each be better – together you will be a family – a sacred, life-saving vessel in a world of choppy waters and occasional gales.

I wish you smooth seas – no matter the conditions you meet.

Shalom.

Moral Indignation.  Been alive for seven-plus decades.  Ain’t met a single perfect person, nor an angel.  My conclusion: we are not perfect.  Yet, now some (armed with moral indignation) are set on tearing down statues of people they find unsavory.  With this approach the Democrat Party may find itself banished after their lengthy history of favoring the Klan and racial segregation.

In the language of Boston politics – what goes around, comes around.    

 

 

A Chipper Morning to Ya’ !

… and hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 5: 28-29

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Eternal life or judgment?  That is what is at stake.  Yes, at stake for you.

In the Doge in Venice is a painting by Henri met de Bles.  It is a painting depicting hell.  It is entitled Hell and it is riveting.  It captures the horror of death for those who have not chosen good deeds, denied life and are, consequently, consigned to judgment at death.

We live in a cosmopolitan culture.  We think of ourselves as “too cool” for such propositions as heaven and hell.  Our foolish and deceptive regard for self leads us astray.  Little do we recognize the evil deeds we embrace, things we do because we have lost track of heaven and hell – lived distantly from the Divine, from our soul and Creation.  Education hath become mis-education, gadgets deadly distractions, affluence and status grand intoxicants.

A case in point: today we litigate matters of religious freedom.  There are those among us who seek to silence religion, to privatize it and constrict its expression only to worship.

I give an example.  The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in which the state of Colorado seeks to compel a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The baker objects because he holds religious beliefs that are at odds with same-sex marriage.  The issue is important and simple to state: Does the state’s action violate the baker’s rights to free speech and free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

This case invokes Jn 5: 28-29.  Masterpiece Cakeshop is a clash of good deeds vs. bad deeds.  The stakes: heaven or hell.  Nothing is more fundamental to the life of a faithful Believer.  Indeed, breath itself is inconsequential to those who believe when the cost of citizenship is the consignment to hell.  Yes, this case is about life, or death.

In American and Western Culture today we encounter godless groups who invade the body politic and the courts in efforts to make bad deeds good – and in doing so implicate Believers in their misdeeds and coerce Believers to abandon and renounce their faith.

In all of this equality disguises evil …

Shalom.

 

God created man in His own image … male and female He created them.

 Gen. 1:27

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As you know this blog seeks to explore the place of faith in contemporary secular culture. In doing so, I look out the window of my small cottage onto the world and I often comment on the antics and misdeeds of modern culture and the people who populate it.

Yes, this makes for harsh language, for the actions of the modern secular person and their organizations are far, far from the image of God.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortions are legal and constitutionally protected, nearly 60 million unborn children have been killed.  Hardly seems like the majority of the Court in Roe v. Wade could have acted as if they were made in God’s image.  Ditto – abortion advocates – especially feminists for whom the life of a child gives way to their own desires. Made in God’s image?  If judged by their actions, No.

So how does one explain this departure from the essence of God’s creation of man and woman?

The answer is in the tree.  The tree?  Yes, the tree.

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)

Yes, many among us have elected what can be fairly judged as evil and made a place for their views in this land.  Yes, judges, and those who would be mothers, and politicians and multiple self-serving advocates would seem to have furthered evil, institutionalized it..  That is America today.  That is the product of godless secularism, the Democrat Left, of the Marxists parading at “progressives.”

This is the view from my cottage window, and why I write as I do … and why I so often close the shutters of my window – so I might live free of evil, and its carnage, and absurdity and its lies, its anger and hostility, and its advocates in robes and in plain clothes.

Finally, make no mistake – to be made in God’s image requires we choose good – not evil. To do otherwise is to take the gift of our life and deny God.

Further, such evil as we pursue, multiplies evil.  Today, we see it in the destruction of marriage, the attacks on this Nation and its borders, the distorted appetites of fallen people marshalled into protected legal status – as if these appetites are want of a God who seeks that we choose what is good and pure.

Our task?  Return to God, or live with the shutters closed.

Shalom.

“O ye who in a little bark, desirous to listen, have followed behind my craft; for haply, losing me, ye would remain astray.”  (Emphasis added.)

Dante, in Paradiso

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Isn’t this the point of immanence, and the predicament of many who profess to be Christians in our land today?

Too many seek to listen and follow but never believe sufficiently and live to set their small boat a sea in the waters far from land’s view.  Not all of these are laity, by the way.

There is no cheap grace.  No faith in “hedged bets.”  No comfort of Christ in a pagan culture that kills its young, distorts Holy Matrimony and mocks gender divinely created.

The expressions of religious sentiment over time tell us: many often seek in an earthly life the symbol of God as access to a guarantee of a “comfy” afterlife.  But no, the curve bends quite differently.  In the experience of God we are offered life lived in the grace of God.  In our earthly time, we must set a sea and trust in who and what God made in us and in all. Such is the gift of grace.

We live, in too many instances, in the smallest of scale, clinging to shore – afraid to believe fully and live as such.  In this, grace is forfeited in favor of our own dubious “genius,” power, and “wisdom.”

To dress this up in present day appearance, the shore dwellers drive the cars in the Catholic Church parking lots that have the bumper stickers that show their preference for the “pols” who favor abortion.  No grace, there.  Symbols but no sea.

If you believe: set a sea – your life and our nation today depends on it.

Our land cries for Believers, Evangelists, Disciples.  God calls to you!!!

Shalom.

Footnote – Catholics would do well to learn from our Evangelical brothers and sisters and our devout elder Jewish brothers and sisters.  That we may be one.

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  (Emphasis added)

1 Sam 3:10

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News reports today indicate that there is one arrest related to some of the recent threats aimed at the Jewish community.

The individual arrested is identified as a former internet journalist who in the past (according to the reports) made up sources and (apparently) lost his job as a result.

According to his electronic posts, the suspect was enamored with Hillary Clinton and seems to have been motivated in his threats by the dissolution of a romantic relationship with a White woman whom he referred to (in his electronic posts) as having radical ideas and herpes.

Hard to tell if these details are true and complete on their face.  Yet, the story itself as presented gives one pause.

In reading this news account, I am reminded how this culture we live in has generated psychotic dispositions and disordered people over my lifetime.

I remember healthy communities and whole families. I lived in a time before the Nanny State and the explosion of the dependent class – yes, before the liberal creation of a permanently disenfranchised class.

I remember communities where people went to church.  Where people saluted the flag, and prayed in public.  Where marriage involved a man and a woman.  Where access to a medical procedure (i.e., abortion) was not a fundamentally protected constitutional right and where people loved babies and did not fight and campaign for the right to kill them and when obesity was not commonplace.

I remember a time when you relied on your own efforts to succeed.  When you treated others with courtesy and respect and didn’t feel compelled to put your own interests ahead of others. When politics did not dominate life and when legions of whiners did not find fault with just about anything and everything. When people did not actually believe that they could change anything and everything.  And when entertainers were not magnified to a god-like celebrity status.  When the liberals and the judiciary had not become the enemy of the country and the people in it.

It is stories like this of the man arrested in this case (and so many others that tumble out daily) that tell me – our secular, mass culture and its godless Leftist political disposition has fractured and divided this nation, produced a bumper crop of disordered people and a wide range of psychotic behavior.

“Samuel! Samuel!”  Are you listening?

We might want to reverse course – and do so intentionally and very quickly.

Shalom.

When woke in the woods and in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father reaches out to touch his young son in the opening line of a story about a father’s love and duty to shepherd his son in post-apocalyptic America.

Constraints.  Shepherds have constraints.  Fathers, too.

With constraints comes identity and meaning.  In constraint is form and purpose. And other and self – true self in the constraint of another.

Rather puts the rest to selfishness and legal and political claims and the insistence on “equality” so often in demands that distort the value of self and other, and kill both.

The 19th century French sociologist Emile Durkheim led us to this truth: the fewer constraints one has the greater the risk of suicide.  What is true of man and truer yet of society.  When anything goes, everything goes!

Without bonds and obligations, relationships that are honored – death cometh.

I am often struck my how clueless public figures are and especially those who comment on the daily news.  None seems to see what is clearly in front of them.  One might ask but a simple question – if a book about the love of a father for a son in post-apocalyptic America can be a best seller and a motion picture, what does that say about us, about today?

When we do NOT wonder what that says, what dies that say???

Durkheim observed that those who had least demanding religious obligations committed suicide more than others with a religion that expected more of them. Likewise those in families were less likely to commit suicide than those alone. Those married least likely than those not married.  Those with children least likely than those without children.

Perhaps, someone might inform Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and his colleagues and then school the Left, the Democrats, feminists, abortionists, the media, Hollywood, Ivy Tower types and the other “deconstructionists” who seem hell-bent to destroy time tested institutions, mores and identities that save us from self-destruction.  

In the deep glens … all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy

This from the last sentence in The Road.

Shalom.

Take away from love the fullness of self-surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it. (Emphasis added.)

St. John Paul II

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Think about the inspired genius of these words.

Can you love if you do not trust?  In love think: “the fullness of self-surrender.” How can you love another without that “self-surrender.”

Many pledge their love but never link that proclamation with trust.

One can feel love of another, but the question to be asked by that one is this: do I trust the one to whom I profess my love?  And this, is my commitment complete? And this, too: do I give myself to the one I love in complete surrender?

Without trust, love fails.

A love that is trusting has no quarrel.  It holds no grudge.  It forgives easily.  It survives all things.  It knows contentment, peace, stability, certainty, eternity.

Love and Trust.  Think about it.

Shalom.

The separation of church and state, however interpreted, did not signify the separation of church from society.

To look upon religion as the ultimate source of morality, and hence of a good society and sound policy … pays religion – and God – the great tribute of being essential to the welfare of mankind … to man as well, who is deemed capable of subordinating his lower nature to his higher …

Gertrude Himmelfarb, in The Roads to Modernity

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The efforts of the press, televised news media and others to discredit President-elect Donald Trump before he assumes Office shows us that something as basic as culture and identity is at stake.

What do I mean?

The Left has had its way in this culture for almost six decades.  Their ideology has been planted in schools and colleges, in the judiciary, entertainment, in the media and in the newspapers, in Washington, the federal bureaucracy, some large cities and a few states. Likewise, killing children in the womb has received the protection of the Constitution and same sex “marriage” has been endorsed by the Supreme Court.

In the last six decades, Black families have been destabilized by federal and state laws and policies, federal and large state budget discipline has been lost, and the government has gained more and more control of the individual, private business and the economy and religion is held “suspect.”

It is fair to say that our culture has been changed, as has been our identity – individual and collective.

The recent national election has been a repudiation of the Left and what it has done and become.

Those on the Left (the newspapers, college professors, teachers unions, Washington insiders, televised soft news stations and people, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the Democrat Party, etc.), accustomed to “getting their way,” are “throwing a fit.”

Today we engage a fundamental question: who are we and does our culture reflect favorably who we are?

Herein, the quotes from Ms. Himmelfarb.  We are defined not by the state or politics.  We are in the most basic, most truthful and profoundest manner defined by faith, its ethos, its morality.  Our identity and well-being rest there and when we live by this our culture reflects the good that we are and life gets easier as folly and conflict subside.

Properly considered, we are seeing at the present the opposition of the Left to the restoration of national health and prosperity.  Pretty fundamental stuff.  Big stakes.

Shalom.

Suggestion – You might want to be careful about where you get your news.  I used to read five newspapers a day.  I now read one, the Wall Street Journal.  I don’t watch much on TV. The best I can suggest – pay attention to your religion and grow your faith – the best guide to living well.

A Post Today for Parents and Children

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Our consciousness does not create itself.  It wells up from unknown depths … it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep …

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Psychology of Eastern Meditation

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Jung would say that we are not born tabula rasa – with a clean state.  No, his views is that each person’s brain has a history of human experience and within each person is a psyche that will seek expression, fulfillment, realization of personhood.

Jung would say that each of us is born with “a high complexity” and “existing determinants” that persist throughout each life.  Yes, in many ways we play out our particular being within this divine design.

The fact that we share this excursion seems, it appears to me, to promise our completeness provided we accept life, its lessons and – listen to the cues we observe within – evolve as we are uniquely called to life within this divine design which is itself made to insure uniqueness and commonality.

It follows, in my mind, that relationships with others, intimacy, marriage, love, family, fellowship, friendship, community and nation flow from this magnificent divine design.

What a gift is this life and its living.

Shalom.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference …

Elie Wiesel

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It is rather amazing to me that in a society that spends lavishly on education, we can have public discourse that seems so often devoid of familiarity with history or culture.  The absence of each leaves us talking of things without knowing very much, having any insight.  The result: we are trapped in ignorance, bound for error.

I cite a simple case in point today and I will follow tomorrow with another one or two.

Joseph Campbell in his excellent book The Hero of a Thousand Faces tells of the “head hunting tribes” of New Guinea who sought to excise the image of the father as an archetypal figure who intrudes in the blissful paradise that is the relationship between the mother and the infant.

In this culture whatever is killed in life, by the protector men in the culture, becomes a symbol of the intruding father and the killing restores an equilibrium, a state of paradise. In this context, they project aggression on their neighbors and violent conflict becomes a natural result in the course of securing contact with what is recognized as a perfect setting – the mother and the infant.

Well, so what?

If you review cultures, you will find that these sorts of ideas are not uncommon, that the human being projects all sorts of notions that, attempting to secure a sacred experience, produce behavior that might seem wrong, immoral, savage. The further point is this: such paradigms and their resultant conduct are common to the psychological nature of the human person.  Well, still – so what?

Has anyone in public commentary sought to understand precisely what poor inner city violence (say, in Chicago) that has young Black men killing one another and innocent bystanders says psychologically?  Culturally?  Does anyone seek to decipher what this might actually say?

Is it an expression of the loss of the institutions of fatherhood and family in the urban Black experience?  Does it arise as a statement of the grief, or protest, or disorder that Black men know within from the loss of something so vital as fatherhood and family?

Could anyone not image the pain endured when such a vital identity as fatherhood is denied?  And family lost?  As Christians who value above all the Father and the Son, and revere the Spirit and the Virgin Mother, is what we see not speaking to us at greater and more urgent depth?

I just never hear much of a conversation that sheds light on what is a tragic, serious and desperately sad problem that we must come to understand and address.

At present we seem so uncaring in our abject indifference.  We talk, and the killing continues.

Shalom.

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