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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.

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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.

… narcissistic orientation is one in which experiences as real only that which exists within oneself while the phenomena of the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are only experienced from a viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.  The opposite pole of narcissism is objectivity … the faculty to see other people and things as they are … to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and wants.

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

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Narcissism.  We know it as selfishness and it is quite abundant.  Human beings are quite selfish.  We find it in families, professional associations, the entertainment industry, the media and other lines of work that have a public face.  It runs rampant in politics, in professional associations like Bar Associations and among the coveted and esteemed associations like the judiciary and the tenured faculty.

Selfishness is the root cause of corruption.  In selfishness others are mere objects or obstacles to one’s exclusive satisfactions.  Many people are imprisoned in this narcissism and they make others miserable.  There is no love or friendship with the narcissistic lot.  To them others are objects to be used or destroyed.

What is one to do?  For a calm and pleasant life – be very selective with whom you mix and mingle.  Maintain an objective point of view.  Be realistic.  See the world and others as they are not as you wish them to be.

Yes, there are good people who genuinely care about living a humble and kind life and thus treat others with the upmost dignity and concern.  Those people ought to be your circle of friends.  The others are to be kept at arm’s length or avoided altogether.  Narcissists, you see, are quite destructive to self and others.

When you think about it, do you not see the value of quiet, solitude, a small group of good friends, the value of a monastic disposition, life in God’s great space and beauty, the place of Christ in the life of a Christian?

Be realistic.  See what is.  Avoid unreal expectations or self-deception.  Things are what they tell you they are.  Acknowledging reality is the cornerstone of a life of peace, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, relative ease and love.  We live in a fallen world among many who are centered on self and self only.  Consider yourself so advised.

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.

 

 

 

Coming Out of a Snow Storm … Renewing the Blog

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I don’t think of conversion as being once and for all and that’s that.  I think once the process has begun and continues that you are continually turning inward toward God and away from your own egocentricity and that you have to see this selfish side of yourself in order to turn away from it.  I measure God by everything I am not.  I begin with that.  (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor

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Call.  Conversion.  Covenant.

This is the essence of a relationship with God.

Our longing for God is God’s call to us.  Implicit in this call is our response.

When you yearn for God you are posting for your answer a “response.”  That is, your yearning for God implies a need for you to stay “Yes, God – I desire you, that you be in my life each and every day.”  Yes, your yearning presents a radical trust and subsequent affirmation that you wish to bring God into your life and that you trust God completely – so completely that no other thing surpasses God in your life.

A call hastens a conversion.  In this your life is changed fundamentally and forever.

In this conversation you enter a covenant.  A covenant is NOT a contract (an agreement that can be broken, altered, amended, reinterpreted).

No, a covenant is a faith relationship in which each party assumes the responsibility to be faithful to it and the other party to it.  Yes, God offers unending love and relationship with you, and you offer the same to God.  God chooses you and you choose God – all doubt, all confusion ends – in time temptation has no appeal – good seeks its presence in your life and life has new, sacred and eternal meaning.  In this you have a purpose and certainty in the face of what is yet to come and to know.

In parting, think about thiswhy everywhere does the political Left, the socialist, the Communist, the totalitarian always attack religion and God?

The answer is simple.  In a covenant with God your loyalty is to The Divine, not the state and those who wish to control every aspect of your life.  There is after all a reason why freedom of religion precedes freedom of speech in our Constitution.  The reason?  Our Founders valued God more than state … Do you?  That is the very question we face as a nation today in the United States – all referendums are referendums on God and your relationship with God, the protection of your right to free access to your faith, to God.

Make no mistake, the policies pursued by the Left in the United States are intended to destroy your relationship with God.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

… every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done … for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire …

Deut 12:31

Abortion should be listed as a weapon of mass destruction against the voiceless.

E.A. Bucchaineri

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Well New York Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that approves abortion up to and including the day a woman is to give or is giving birth to a child.

Try to deny that this is not returning to child sacrifice.  Try to tell me this is merely a “choice.” Try to convince me that this ought to be lawful?  Is humane?  Justified?

Think about this: in the ancient pre-Christian world child sacrifice was not uncommon.  Think about this, too: we now have Leftists in the Congress who attack Christianity, desire to exclude God or any reference to God from the public square or any public gathering.  Think about this as well: in a culture where contraceptive means are reality available women have come to use abortion as contraception.

Finally, what could be going through the mind of a Governor who would think that abortion performed on a child about to be born is acceptable, moral, a good idea or defensible?

Democratic members of the New York state legislature stood and applauded upon hearing that the Governor signed this bill into law.  So much for the Democrat Party – the pro-infanticide political party.

A child is not something to be owed to one, but is a gift.  The “supreme gift of marriage,” is a human person … the child possesses genuine rights … “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of conception.”  (Emphasis added.)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2378

Shalom.

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.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.  In your compassion blot out my offense.  Oh wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51

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This from Morning Prayer – Psalm 51 is most useful reading.  It speaks honestly of our imperfection, our capacity for sin.  More importantly it speaks to us truthfully.

It acknowledges that we fail and that sinful conduct is an offense committed against God.  This, of course, is a humbling truth.  To admit our own shortcomings, however, is essential to identifying with precision who we are and who God is.

We are merely human; while God is Perfection – and we are imperfection.

The Psalm reminds us that God desires our growth and humility and the strength to admit our failures and our sinful conduct.  In this disposition, we come to know God and in our humility acquire wisdom and the avenue to communion with others who are made just as imperfect as we are (without exception).

Progress in a well-lived life has much to do with knowing our limitations and faults and admitting them.  Such admissions anchor us in the reality of being human and the reality of a Loving God who prizes our honesty and humility.  You see, in admitting our humble humanity we order ourselves to a relationship with Our Creator.  In this, life becomes easier and good arises naturally from our modest acts and thoughts.

So I end with this, also from Psalm 51:

Oh rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue will ring out your goodness. Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.

God desires our goodness emerge from within us.  Civil society depends on this as does our human flourishing.

Shalom.

Postscript – Yesterday, a newly elected female member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Muslim and Leftist from Detroit, Michigan, choose to celebrate her being seated in the Congress by dropping a crude phrase (to wit: “Mother-F”) in reference to a member of the opposing Party.  What a classless presence in celebration of “democracy!”

This is what we have that is offered as leadership material by the Democrat Left – a coarse and vulgar person with a surplus of hatred, hostility and ignorance.  Thus saith the Democrat Left.  How sweet!!!  Does she actually eat with this mouth and kiss her children with same???

Psalm 51, Friends, Psalm 51.

Beautiful Sunny Day in the Mountains.  All is quiet.

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Father in heaven, creator of all … Teach us the value of human love, show us the value of family life, and help us live in peace with all men that we may share in your life for ever.

A Portion of a Prayer from Morning Prayer for the days following Christmas.

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Do you wish one easy way to improve on the culture we now have?  Think about the above.  “Teach us the value of human love.”  “Show us the value of family life.”  “Living in peace with all men.”

It begins with love, does it not?  But what do you know of love?  More importantly – what does your culture seem to know about love?

Oh, in this culture we are swamped with sex and sexuality – but that is NOT love.

Think about the advocates focused on sexuality.  You find them in multiple voices but all focus on sexuality and sexual pleasure – and frankly focused on their self-centered desires.  How else can you define the killing of an unborn child as a “choice?”  How else can we waste time talking about “multiple genders” – something of utter nonsense?  Or how can same-sex “marriage” be the equal of Holy Matrimony?  In all these things we have been reduced to those who live far from love as it is meant to be known among human beings.

What of the “value of family?”  How can we have no-fault-divorce?  So many adulteries?  Mothers walking away from children?  Teen mothers?  Fatherless families?  Men who flee their responsibilities as fathers?

And as to peace with all men – how can we be goaded into divisions based on gender (male and female), based on race, religion, ethnicity?  How can we let peace be taken from us by divisions that are exploited for selfish political reasons all of which sow seeds of conflict and say to us: “I divide so I might rule over you?”

God rules, man does not … and those men and women who assert their leadership over us with ideas that shame God and what is good and holy ought to be dismissed promptly for their ignorance.

Amid all this – “A child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests … ” so says the Prophet Isaiah.

Love.  Where is it?  Where is it in culture?  In you?  Why do you let others hijack love from you?  Be played the fool no longer – for a child is born unto us.

Shalom.

It is never easy to discern what motivates people to vote, but exit-poll evidence and other survey data suggested that a significant reason for the vote to leave the EU (European Union) was a long running resentment at what people saw as a lack of accountability from government and large institutions.  There was a powerful sense that the very fabric of democratic politics had been torn as powerful people and institutions … simply did whatever they wanted without deference to the will of the people, pursuing economic imperatives seen as favoring the advantaged.

Gerard Baker, in The Wall Street Journal, December 8-9, 2018

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” … powerful people and institutions … did whatever they wanted without deference to the will of the people … “

While Mr. Baker is referring to Brexit and the English people and their politicians and bureaucrats … and (by inference) the wealthy and corporate elites and those in the public media and higher education, what he says explains the riots in France and the election of a populace in Italy and in the United States.  To make this simple – the political class and the well-healed have created a divide between the populace (and their ethos) and their own particular desires, interests and often loony or unsavory ideas, fetishes and fancies.

In France, England, Italy and the United States – there is a great divide between the common man and woman and the governing class and the wealthy class.  The divide is best seen in the question of sovereignty – namely: Who rules in a representative democratic republic?  Those in public office or government bureau, or the citizens of that nation?

Make no mistake – the identity that accrues from being a citizen of the United States, England, France or Italy is not easily dismissed or dissolved by those who think they know better by virtue of their: status, power, title, education, wealth or social circle.

Indeed, to be blunt – here in the United States we have seen the likes of the Clintons as representatives of governing class and we know they are, to be kind, utterly unlikable and substantially disordered.  Of course, they are not alone among the elites in that regard.

My point?  The voting public is no longer apt to play follow “the leader” when the costs of doing so are the loss of their livelihood, identity, freedom, family, religious ethos, culture, their priceless morality or safety and security.

For this tension to be resolved favorably, the elites must be disabused of the idea that they know best.  They do not.

Shalom.

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