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God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

Shalom.

 

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… Epictetus was telling his students … that there can be no such thing as being the “victim” of another.  You can only be a victim of yourself.  It’s all about how you discipline your mind.  (Emphasis added.)

James B. Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in the Laboratory of Human Behavior 

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You can tell the strength of a nation by the number of “victims” in its population.  Yes, those who willingly and loudly proclaim they are “victims” are showing their weakness and in the aggregate showing the nation to be weak.

There is nothing flattering about being a victim.  And much less so when “victim-hood” is claimed as a life long “status” to gain the sympathy of others, lay claim to financial support and particular “privilege” as a persistent “advantage” as to life’s routine tasks.  Yet, worst of all – those who adopt the permanent status of “victim” implicitly excuse themselves from living as full and as responsible a life as they are able to live.

Oddly, and with intention and cunning, the Left loves to count people as victims and in doing so advance their own agenda – which is to gain power and control over others.  Frankly, the Left is shameless in this regard – their faux interest in others is always an interest in themselves.

“Cynical,” you say.  Yes.  They are a cynical and insincere bunch.  They gain at others expense.

Want to live free and with dignity?  Heed what Epictetus has said.

You need not make yourself a victim … for being a victim diminishes you and sows the seeds of perpetual unhappiness, discontent and under-achievement – in short: a life far below your talent and ability.

Think about it.

We can no longer counsel or tolerate the production of “victims” so some may claim power and control over those they diminish and consign to dependence and unhappiness.

We do not have a Declaration of Dependence – but a Declaration of Independence.

Shalom.

 

 

An Election Day Blog …

 or How Politicians Keep Sharing Their Insanity

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God alone, who is eternal and incomprehensible, is the whole solace and comfort of the soul.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas a Kempis, in Imitation of Christ

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Ohio Governor John Kasich offered this opinion today: government’s job is to touch the souls of people.

Little does he know that this is precisely the sort of sentiment or opinion which is fundamentally disorienting and antagonistic to our democracy.

Let me explain.  Neither the human being nor the government is God.  We set ourselves up for disaster by thinking we can do what God alone does. When we think this way we  pursue policies which are doomed to fail and undermine confidence in public institutions.

In the olden days a view like Kasich expresses would be dismissed as hubris (excessive pride) and dispatched as childish.  But now public figures across a broad spectrum are quite full of themselves and chatter this nonsense to one another.

Alas, the Left posits this stuff relentlessly.

Doubt me?  I offer this: Marxism and it promise of perfection, equality and rule by the masses … contrasted, of course, with the gulags and feeble economies of the Soviet Union or North Korea, the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao’s China, and the reformist slaughters in Cambodia, etc.

So much for the state touching the souls of its people … so much for man replacing God.

Thomas a Kempis was right in the 15th century when he wrote the above.  He is right today just as he was then.

Our failure to understand such a simple truth tells you very succinctly how it is that we have the problems we have today – all of which are rooted in man thinking he or she is God.

Poor Mr. Kasich, a former Catholic who offers this: he drifted away from religion as he “didn’t find God in Church.”  Given his thoughts as to government and souls – he must have found God in the mirror … an utterly common experience for those Left of center and beyond.  Indeed, Stalin and Lenin seemed to have had a similar mirror in which to gaze.

When you hear people think government is God – you know two things: (1) this guy thinks he is God, (2) only a loon thinks he is God.

Shalom.

 

It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.

A.A. Milne, in Winnie-the-Pooh

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After seven decades on the planet, I have come to prize modesty and see the value of humility.

Most recently I have been reading a history of the last century.  In reading about the Treaty of Versailles which concluded the First World War, anyone with any intellect, a beating heart and (yes) a soul is apt to think of the ruin that followed the Treaty that we might all do better with an anatomy to which a small tail is shamelessly attached.

I say this because human beings today (at least in the Western World) attach far, far too much value to themselves.  Indeed, you see an example of this in the antics of diplomats, self-proclaimed scholars of statecraft, national leaders and heads of countries who were parties to and/or beneficiaries of the Treaty.

What do I mean?  Nations grabbed new territories where they could, – assumed rule over those who spoke not their language but the language of their country of origin or small ethic group.  Worse of all – self-determination (which was the “phrase of the day”) promoted ethnic groups, within new boundaries and those trapped under rulers and parliaments who thought little (or worse) of them, to take to violence to claim their “slice of the pie.”

In short, chaos and brutality followed the interim “peace”and laid (along with the huge problem of reparations) the ground for a second (even more bloody, destructive and demonic) World War.

One wonders if all the geniuses of the day might have been less robust in preparing the world for more slaughter and destruction had they had “a small tail” to which they were modestly but honestly “attracted?”

Aye, yes – we think way too much of ourselves and surely of all the Ivy-educated elites, celebrities, people in media, faces on television, intellectuals, the educated class and the founding techno-monkeys who sit atop piles of cash as the benefactors of asocial dispositions in themselves and many others.

Small tails, people – small tails!  Poverty of the Spirit in plain view. Tails needed.

Shalom.

 

Posting late on a lazy summer day.  For the first time since I retired some years ago, I have come to enjoy life as if I am “on vacation” – no need to charge out of bed like a man responding to an emergency.  I even slept late.  This must be what living feels like.

It is my earnest belief that everything we see before us today is more or less polluted, diluted and devalued.

Karl Barth, in Community, Church and State

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Theologian Karl Barth makes his point at the height of America’s success – having been victorious in World War II.  The year was 1946.

One wonders what he might say today when looking at Washington, the Justice Department, the F.B.I., the press and media, the apparent double-standard that once was the justice system where the law was equally applied to all, etc.

It is hard not to conclude we have been corrupted and where impartiality is required favoritism is applied.  Yes, this is alarming.  Nations disintegrate when such things occur.  Divisions of this sort are quite deadly.

In thinking about Barth’s words today, I am reminded of Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples and saying to them “Unless I was you, you will have no part with me.”  (Jn 13:8)

His point is simple and it holds today – like Him, we are to serve others rather than ourselves and our pride.

I am always on-guard when I hear here in Washington that X is an impeccable person, that he is the most honest and trust-worthy man to be found anywhere.  Gang, this is Washington and the culture does not often produce such a species of man – this is a “go along, get along” town – where people advance their own interests while serving the needs of those who can most likely help them climb up the ladder.  Not a lot of feet-washers here.

Strange as he is, President Trump is perhaps the only candidate for the Presidency in my life time that has identified what a great number of citizens around the land have figured out: Washington isn’t heaven … its not even Iowa.

What Barth saw, many now see as well.  Need I say we desperately need more of Christ and far less of self … Would that not be a proper perscription for what ails us?

Very much time to pray for this Nation.

Shalom.

Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you … O my friend, why do you, who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul … (Emphasis added.)

Socrates, in The Apology

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It is safe to say the above is worth thinking about given the present state of our political and public life. I suspect those most vocal and most stirred up today would not have a clue that Plato wrote The Apology or that it reported on the trial of Socrates.  Forget any greater recollection of Socrates and his point of view.

Yes, in substance and knowledge we are lacking – yet, so much more in manners, insight, discretion and morality.

Today, listening to public discourse (advocacy and reporting, in particular) is presently best done only now and again to get a “flavor” of the state and content (such as it is) of the conversation, lest you find yourself: (a) aggravated and quite discouraged, and (b) utterly misinformed and subsequently anxious for your welfare and that of your children, grandchildren, family members, friends and nation.

That said, the point of presenting the above words is to highlight that Socrates reminds us of the primacy of wisdom and truth and our soul … and of God, and a personal relationship with God.

Imagine for a moment what benefit we would claim, if those in the public square were well-educated in the classics and in the pillars of Western Civilization, possessed manners, valued wisdom, truth and the soul – and, above all, God … and had a personal relationship with God.

In such a magnificent state, so many utterly obnoxious public figures would vanish and, assuming a public that was properly educated and mannered, our present need for all sorts of government crutches would likely be greatly diminished in favor of the blessings of individual responsibility anchored in personal confidence among our neighbors.

We appear to be a long way from Athens and the negative consequences are many.

Think about that.

Shalom.

 

 

We make ourselves real by telling the truth.  Man can hardly forget that he needs to know the truth, for the instinct to know is too strong in us to be destroyed.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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The Left has come to a very significant hurdle, a road block.  What is it?  The public at large does not trust or respect it.  Their day is about to be up.

After five decades they have pushed their ideology too far.  They are now seen as untruthful – governed by an ideology that breeds hostility, creates conflict and division.  They show their arrogance.  They think for too much of themselves.  Their support is dwindling.

In most ironic way, a fellow like Donald Trump exposes their untruthfulness, their sense of entitlement.  He provokes their wrath and deceit.

Yes, this time will be remembered as “the period of fake news exposed.”  Hollywood has been seen for what it is – the land of the bacchanal and excess.  The media, the press and academia has shown their narrow-mindedness, and extreme partisanship – the truth “be damned.”

People at the top of Washington power centers in the FBI, the IRS, the Department of Justice, the judiciary, the Congress and the intelligence agencies show their distance from the public they serve and their willingness to play “loose and fast” with the law and truth.

You see Tom Merton is absolutely correct – “the instinct to know the truth is too strong in us to be destroyed.”  Why is that?  Because God is Truth, Christ is the living exemplar of Truth; and, those who deny the truth of the matter are destined to failure – and their failure and rejection is near.  Good bye, “fakers.”

Make no mistake those in the Republican Party who have made peace with their Leftist colleagues who savaged truth will also come to a reckoning – the voters response.

Life is funny.  The unusual happens.  Reckoning comes in ways one hardly can predict.  To me it always seems that God reigns and God has a real sense of humor salted with irony.  Trump is exhibit “A.”  The godless Left “resistance” mimics a collective nervous breakdown.  Life has its moments and teaches Truth can never be extinguished.

A Dear Friend of mine (a guy I grew up with in Boston) asked me (with a laugh in his voice) early on in the last presidential campaign cycle: “What do you think of this guy Trump?”  Knowing he and I grew up among some very strange, strong and plainly spoken people, I replied: “I never knew he went to high school with us!”  He laughed.  We both were saying this: This guy is more like the people we know than any of the privileged “Blue Suits” we see far too often.  He saw this guy’s appeal and alerted me to something that was afoot with this unusual character in the public square.

Good bye, Blue Suits, eggheads and all.  Hello, Truth.  The times they are a-changing.

Shalom.

 

 

“God resisteth the proud.”

Ja 6: 6

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The costs of pride are substantial.  The prideful are not careful.  They become lax and costly mistakes follow.  The prideful in leadership pave the way for a nation’s demise.

When those in leadership positions are prideful you can expect giant mistakes that are costly to all who are subject to their actions.  Yes, pride leads to lawlessness.

We see the obvious destructive consequences of prideful, partisan Leftist bureaucrats in the fiasco that has been the government handling of the Hillary Clinton national security breach, and we see it in the lawless “weaponizing” for the law enforcement and national security apparatus of the federal government against candidate and now President Donald Trump.  Yes, pride can excuse those who put us to risk, destroy the innocent, the rule of law, liberty and a nation.

How can pride be so costly?

Pride robs God of the glory due Him.  Pride makes of God – an exile, an enemy.  It creates a vast distance between God and the human being.  In that distance grace disappears.

The prideful are isolates from God, others and self.  They destroy community.

As leaders, the prideful make us strangers or enemies to one another.  Nothing destroys a person or a nation like pride.  It is toxic; it is corrosive.  It divides.  It kills the soul and the person.  It stokes the fire of envy and hatred.

And pride’s remedy?  The humble recognition that God is the author of all that is good – and we are merely recipients (not the source) of all the good that we might do, or that we might experience.

For a guide to daily humility and a protection from the evil that is pride, I offer this from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:7) –

” … whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Individually, and in the aggregate, we MUST humbly return to God, or we shall perish by our own hand.

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.

 

I urge you … that there be no divisions among you but that you be united in the same mind and same purpose … Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? … The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Cor: 10, 20, 25

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What St. Paul said so many centuries ago speaks to us today.

We seem to have the habit of nudging God from the picture.  Claiming belief, we fashion results as the author of what is good.

Humans are prone to produce division – often in the name of what is “good” or (worse yet) of our professed faith.

Wither ideology and all sorts of odd ideas like “social justice” – a cover for individual responsiblity and evidence of our pride and sinfulness.

Too many of our ideas, and the manufacture of ideology, dodge God and His instructions.  Divided from God we divide ourselves from one another.  Discord, estrangement and hostility flourish.

We make what is direct obscure.

We change the names of magnificent things like pregnancy – infanticide becomes “choice,” Holy Matrimony is befitted with fiction to excuse disordered behavior, gender is redefined and multiplied.  Absurdity abounds.

Corinth was “full of devotees of various pagan cults and marked by a measure of moral depravity.”  We are Corinth.  It best NOT be so.

Less government would be an improvement.  Less reliance on government – less political division and more individual responsibility … more space for faith and for God, and for humility and gratitude.

Shalom.

The Iran “Deal” – If Mr. Kerry wanted to see the Iran Deal made a permanent (while idiotic) achievement he’d best have encouraged Mr. Obama to make it a Treaty and get Senate approval for it.  But that would have required work.  However that didn’t seem to be Mr. Kerry or Mr. Obama’s inclination.

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