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… we are each and “each.”  As “each”es we are unique because each of us has, or is, a specific character that stays the same … It is most important to grasp that we are unique qualitatively.

James Hillman, in The Force of Character and the Lasting Life

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Equality goes to “eachness.”  But it does not extend qualitatively.  This, of course, is the great mistake of radical egalitarianism.  It follows that egalitarianism is the enemy of genius, the individual person, whole human development and spiritual existence.

Think about it.  Does not the present day use of “equality” divide and make of us less qualitatively distinct  – rather one undefined and uncultivated mass – each possessing a number, an ID and thereby known by Father Government and those of the governing class?

When one looks around Washington (think of it as a hothouse where plants are grown) – we see many each’es but quality is missing.  More shells than whole people.

In the hothouse – sameness is welcome, quality is not.

I am always suspicious of the newly appointed “special counsel” who has lived entirely in the bureaucracy, the Washington law firm, been dipped in the unholy waters of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and clerked for Federal Judge X or Y, and coasted along in the inbred club that is “The Federal Government” at its highest levels.

There is in them not the defining experience of achievement in the military nor on the poor end of the farm or the city street but rather the routine advance of “the privileged class.”

I grew up in the lean and mean streets of Boston – at the near bottom of the ladder.  My life required that I see far better than is needed at Princeton.  My daily calibrations required more precision of me – my lanes tighter, my hills steeper, my turns sharper.

Likewise, my circumstances required that being an “each” was not enough – you needed to know your qualitative self – your whole self – gifts and deficits – from that honesty, toughness, independence, cunning, and a feel for the real from the phoney.  You had to take in all within and without and play your hand without flinching.

Our nation suffers because we have permitted those with pedigree and no qualitative distinctions to land in positions of authority for which that are uniquely unqualified.

They do not possess the experience to lead.  Their roads do not teach.  The environment they occupy does not distinguish.  This is the lesson of the F.B.I. today and the Justice Department.  This is the dangerous divide we now know.

We live in serious times – the privileged pumpkin ain’t enough for our safety and security.

Shalom.

Time to Close the F.B.I. – It is time to close the F.B.I. – too much administrative deadwood, too much favoritism, too many politicos, etc.  It is too much a club.  Its problems are not the rank-and-file – but the people at the top, the nest and the cabal it regularly houses.

Better fold the best members of the F.B.I. (the field agents) into the 201 year old U.S. Marshal Service and create a lean and hungry investigative unit within them.

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Breaking News

The F.B.I. had specific January 5th warning of the prospective attack by Nikolas Cruz and did nothing with this information – contacted no one. 

Three points – one, incompetence costs lives; two, how could anyone think the F.B.I. can protect us from foreign terrorists if it cannot attend to Nikolas Cruz; and three, this makes the issues raised about F.B.I. (their poor leadership, political bias, Democratic favoritism, corruption) look more and more than simply justifiable but rather accurate.

This sure adds weight to the criticism aimed at the F.B.I. by President Trump and Republican Members of Congress.

Very Serious.  Overhaul due.  Shrink government.

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Reason cannot establish values, and its belief that it can is the stupidest and most pernicious illusion.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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A most interesting observation by Bloom.  It arises in this context: German intellectual Max Weber, formerly dedicated to the Enlightenment, abandoned the naive post-Enlightenment optimism that others had placed on reason and science.

Thinking life governed by reason a “failure” – akin to children playing with adult tools they found too hard to handle, Weber, for his part, parted ways with reason exclusively in favor of the study of religion so to understand those with values – and gods.

For Weber – religion, what is sacred became the cornerstone of human existence.

It is rare today that one hears any echo of the primacy of faith over reason.  Case in point: the post-Parkland homicides and virtually all public problems which adduce in almost all public parakeets (read: politicos, media, talking heads, celebrity types and citizens) this: “we need a program, a plan, a study, a grand humanly designed response of Father-Government, and laws and oversight, and rules and punishments and penalties … and all will be good!”

Horse hockey.  Mousetraps do not distinguish us, nor defeat evil.

Man but armed with reason is no match for Evil.

The match between Good and Evil is a sacred contest, a war of the soul, individual, humbling, purposeful, eternal, fought within more than without, private much more so than public, of the heart not the head, not tidy, not subject to flowcharts, clipboards, spreadsheets, a sea of blue suits and jurists, rehab, fines and what all.

Life is personal.  Each act of evil places us one by one on the scales.

Reason is light as a feather.  The soul carries weight.

Shalom.

Thirty-Plus Times.  Re: The Parkland Killings.  The local police responded to calls to the home of Nikolas Cruz in excess of 30 times in a very short period.  And here we have the “authorities” turning the young man out without any guidance or oversight!!!  Inexcusable!!!

Make NO MISTAKE this is Papa Government, the Nanny State, Big Brother.  This is misplaced faith.  Godlessness and its murderous results.

This is loud cry for smaller government, decentralized authority, limited central government, and end to the nonsense and fantasy of the New Deal, the Great Society and alike.

It speaks to the need for individual responsibility, the restoration of faith – humility … the end of Leftist division, racism, racial consciousness, the war men and gender politics, fixation on “rights” and the envy and hostility that tumbles forth.

Back to the Soul, People.  Back to prayer, modesty and an end to selfishness.  Faith, not reason.

 

A guy needs somebody to be near him.  A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.  Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s as he’s with you.  I tell ya, a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.

John Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men

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Like many people yesterday and last night I watched television coverage of the Parkland, Florida high school murders.  Frankly, the most significant and most revolting aspect of this tragedy is simply this: no one – not one person – knew Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old student who committed these murders!

Most troubling: no school official seemed to know anything about a young men who was within their jurisdiction.  No teacher appeared to tell us who he was.  No school counselor appeared to tell us who he was.  The school principal never appeared at all.  Those who previously disciplined the student did not appear.

The police chief spoke – he could offer no personal information on the lad.  Not where he lived. Who were his parents.  Whether he had full or half-siblings.  How long he lived in the community.  Who he had known.  What he might have done in school.  What grade level he had been in.  How long he was in the school or the Parkland educational system.  Whether he has received psychological or counseling services through the school or benefited from medical or mental health or social services referrals.

This kid was an absolute stranger to these people.

Listening to the coverage – it was as if this fellow just appeared out of thin air.

The state “dignitaries” likewise knew nothing about this young man.  The Florida Governor was a blank sheet as to Nikolas Cruz.  Ditto the Florida Attorney General, the Parkland School Superintendent.  No one knew Nikolas Cruz – No one.

As you sit today and ponder what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday – there is one thing you can know for sure – those who had charge and care of student Nikolas Cruz did not care for him, did not know him … and in effect put him on course to these murders.

A gun did not kill these murdered students.  Oh noabject, inexcusable indifference of adults did.  Shame on those who failed this young person.

Let’s face the truth, Friends – we have become a culture devoid of intimacy.  Simple caring and acts of friendship are fewer – far fewer – than they once were.  And yet we fool ourselves while dividing ourselves into small self-centered and angry groups separated by race, politics, gender, sexual “preferences”, ethnicity … at the same time we shun God and those who believe in God.    

Indifference and those who are indifferent killed these high school students the very same way they killed Nikolas Cruz.

Some Ash Wednesday in the year 2018!!!  If we ever needed God, we need God now!!!

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

Shalom.

The Aftermath.  One day after the Parkland tragedy and the hysteria commences: talk of mental illness without any indication that Mr. Cruz was ever diagnosed … and talk of banning guns … Yet, not any evidence of introspection.

It is always easiest to point blame away from ourselves.

Let’s be plain.  Parkland is a small town of 23,000 people.  Until the 2000-2010 it was a town of 8000 plus (according to Wikipedia).  The school was probably the largest government entity to have direct daily contact with its population.

Are we to assume that this small town threw a mentally impaired kid (without a family) out of school with no concern for what he might do or whom (including himself) he might hurt?  If so – forget mental illness and guns – these people need to focus on their conduct and responsibility. 

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday 2018

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and it must be polished or the luster of it will never appear.

Daniel Defoe

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The soul must be cultivated or the person is diminished and left sickened – his or her deeds false and injurious to self, others, community, culture and nation.

Neglect of the soul breeds discontent, abject ignorance and stupidity.

In American culture today, as in the West at-large, the harvest of discontent, ignorance and stupidity is abundant.  One need only look about – on Outnumbered and CNN for example. Or listen to the quarter-inch intellects on the Left to see the trouble we are in.

We have neglected the soul in favor of selfish special pleadings.  No more clearer is this than in the idiotic manner in which feminists have foolishly elevated the body over the soul and all else that is the human person.

We have built a Tower of Babel from the body parts of one gender as if all of reality relies on but one organ.  Lunacy – plain and simple.

We witness now protracted public discourse on inane subjects bolstered only by this: my genitalia matters more than anything else.

This would be humorous – give rise to a farcical one-act play, but for its destructiveness and absorption of time that could be better spent on larger issues and greater human and communal development.

Tend to the soul – silence for the fools.

Shalom.

… there is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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If you want to understand what has gone wrong in America you need understand that higher education (and now elementary and secondary education as well) proceeds without regard for the soul – nay, it repudiates the existence of the soul … and this proposition alone explains the hostility and idiocy of the American Left as it emerges in politics, media, entertainment, the press, the academy and even among religious institutions.

The question of course comes: can a society hold itself together without regard for the soul and all the harm that comes from its exclusion?

Look around, the evidence is quite clear – and the answer followers.  The answer is “No.”

You think I am wrong?  Look at families or shall I say the fragments of family.  The protection of child sacrifice.  The presence of sexual assault, child abuse, gang murders, mass shootings, avarice and greed, foul language, intergenerational public dependence, addictions, pornography, adulteries, public corruption as it emerges in our high offices – among the law-keepers and those charged with keeping us safe.

Look too at the greed of ex-Presidents and their spouses who must glorify themselves while filling their pockets with money and and their lives with fine possessions.  Contrast that with President Truman who carried his own luggage to the train station when he departed from the White House.

There is nary a moment in the news that does not say to us: we are soulless.

Universities are sadly and tragically disordered and corrupted.  Things must change.  Those who preach moral disorder must be ignored, challenged, discredited.  We have gone in the wrong direction for some time – and the destruction is widespread.

The restoration of belief and faith, and morality, and virtue, honesty and honor, and community, and fellowship, and family, and religious worship, and humility, and sacrifice, mutual and self-respect, civility and individuality responsibility is essential and immediate.

… there is no real human being who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Shalom.

Observation – When some men and women in the U.S. Congress sat on their fannies as others stood in shared respect of mothers and fathers whose teenage daughters were murdered by violent teen gang members –  we see the soulless … and we saw this in the recent State of the Union Address.  Shameful.

No one can govern who is soulless.  Pay no attention to the soulless except to rebuke them.

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it is possible to find them.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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These are the words of “the father of the Atomic Bomb,” – a brilliant man, delightful and well-liked and a physicist.

Last night I watched a riveting documentary entitled The Day after Trinity.  It was about the effort to collect a large team of physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and related scientists to conduct research and then make the Atomic Bomb which was subsequently used on our Japanese World War II enemies.

The documentary was the story in some ways about a Faustian Bargain, one made by innocents so easily captured by the hard and most interesting questions of science.

It is hard in watching this not to realize that man without morality, without a Spiritual base in life cannot fully appreciate what he has done until it is done.

Without a moral framework and a spiritual existence – we are easy prey.  This, by the way, explains how colleges and universities can capture our young with foolish, destructive ideas.  The truth of the matter is this: few people 18 or 19 years of age have lived sufficiently to have the judgement and courage to resist or refute failed and self-destructive fantasies promulgated and preached by their seniors in academia.

Indeed, they are too inexperienced to resist the easy conversion to ideas that make of them nothing more than herd animals.

The reduction of the young is a simple task of conversion for the idealists and ideologues who envision a utopia and enforce its development through the totalitarianism of “true believers.”  This is precisely where we are today in America with the Left and the Democrat Party.

Strange days, these days.  No one remembers Oppenheimer.

Shalom.

Reading is bound in silence … constant and attentive reading done devoutly purifies our inner self.

Peter of Celle, in The School of the Cloister

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The digital world has begun to diminish the world of the book.  This is a great loss.  The quiet of reading attends to the heart.

Have you noticed the demise of bookstores?  Amazon has a great deal to do with this.  Indeed their presence in the world of commerce has dehumanized commerce – taken us from people to people exchange to anonymous, impersonal event.  Our response?  We glorify the father of Amazon.  Yes, we applaud dehumanization.

Personally, I try to avoid buying anything from Amazon – preferring to engage with people in the marketplace.

I prefer what feeds the soul and makes us whole.  Reading is one such thing.  Ironically those who read live in a de facto monastery – set themselves off and aside in the quiet that is reading, the growth and contemplation that comes with it.

As Peter of Celle wrote in the 11th Century: “(Reading) continuously tells of the clash of virtue and vices … Reading is the food, light, lamp, refuge, solace of the soul, the spice of all spiritual flavors.  It feeds the hungry, gives light to the one sitting in darkness, offers bread to the one fleeing a shipwreck or war, comforts the contrite heart.”  (Emphasis added.)

Don’t you wish those in who speaks so publicly and so often in our secularized mass communication culture showed the slightest evidence that they have read something and thought deeply about it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the unread political class, the media types and the grossly over-values celebrity cabal just shut up.

Do you read regularly?  If not, why do you suppose others ought to listen to you?

Shalom.

If, today, genuine order has become incredible it is because people are not fully capable of experiencing themselves as persons with sufficient dignity and responsibility to contribute to an order in which all are fully and personally concerned.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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In monastic life time and space are ordered so monks may live in an orderly manner – a manner of calm and peace, without stress – where one’s heart beats quietly and one’s mind is not conflicted, ones soul is engaged and the Divine is present.

Modern secular life is far from this state of being.  Yet, this state of being is precisely being itself.

Monks live in quiet.  They reserve time each day for work, prayer, reading and meditation.

As Merton says “a monk renounces a life of agitation and confusion for one of order and clarity.”  It is the nature of their space and its ordered time and the regularity within space and time that gives rise to clarity and an ordered life.

The monks bend to what is human by design.  You are no different from the monk as a human being but that you do not order your space and time – and not doing so you are at the “mercy” of others, other’s pressures and demands.

Mind you, those who live as godless secularists are likely to be disordered and be well assured that disordered people bring disorder to all others and any institution over which they preside.

Take measures to order your time and space.  Be vigilant that you not listen to those who are disordered – who show no stability, insight, peace, humility and wisdom.

Order your time and your space.

Shalom.

Anti-State of the Union – A few meaningless actors and actresses and one or two lesser luminaries will hold their own state of the Union where they will harangue others with Leftist nonsense.

Funny thing about them – they are full of viewpoints about how we must live our lives but they seem to have little education beyond high school (at least one is a high school drop-out) and show no evidence that they have lived particularly well.

These folks only have sway if we listen to their foolishness.  Why give them any due?

Humility is the truth about ourselves, the whole truth – about our weakness, our failures, our history, our virtues, our gifts.

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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My life has taught me that humility is surely a natural goal as we age.  Humility leads to wisdom and there are no shortcuts.

Yes, you will grow in wisdom and stature from birth to death – if you simply and honestly learn from your life along the way – from your mistakes, misconceptions, errors, failures, losses, heart breaks, modest acts of good fortune and courage, from betrayals, deceptions and time’s fashionable untruths.  Indeed, life’s calamities are (when honestly received) the path to humility.

In living a long time, I have also learned this: people resist humility and doing so make a mess of life – their own and the lives of others.

Rather than grow, people resist recognizing their own human shortcomings.  People seem to prefer defense to honestly.  They deny their wrongdoing and miscues.  That, by the way, is often a signal of their own frailty.

Some see their education, or status, wealth, profession or possessions as designations that raise them above the common folk.  Ah … no humility in this diversion.

Elites almost by definition shun humility … no fun to be a commoner apparently.

Ironically, humility gives one freedom.

Life is easier when you see your capacity for miscues, for being wrong.  When you have that baseline understanding that people are imperfect – all of us, you included – and hence prone to mistake and endless folly, life actually becomes amusing, fun, far more relaxed, and quite entertaining.

To show the essential place of humility in life I offer just this one thing: Saint Bede cited the incarnation of the Son of God as an extraordinary act of humility.

Think about it: if God would offer Himself to us in such and action is it not sure indication that humility must be a central part of our human existence???  How could it be otherwise?

Think critically about your growth in humility.  Have you aged well in this regard?  You will know if life comes to you easily, without strain, with pathos and laughter, understanding, insight, mercy, compassion, and a divine humor and honesty.

Shalom.

Humility’s Absence.  Humility is scarce in secular mass communication culture.

Case in point: in a new book on the media by Howard Kurtz, Kurtz reports that young Jonathan Martin, a New York Times reporter, labeled Donald Trump and those that work for him as racists and facists.

Martin makes this claim as one with a simple B.A. in history from an obscure small college.  “Higher education” being what it is today, one might assume that Martin’s schooling is about the equivalent of a ninth grade education at a rigorous prep school of yore.

Today’s public discourse is flooded with under-educated people, lacking humility, throwing about all sorts of nasty assertions.  This, by the way, is a primary reason why I do not miss television and forsake newspapers but for The Wall Street Journal.  No sense taking on foolishness, now so common.  Humility absent, one’s access to truth is limited.  Listen and read very selectively.

Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers.  For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Emphasis added.)

Ps 37: 1-4

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The application of these words could not be more applicable to today and American secular culture and its politics.

Hollywood female celebrities dress like streetwalkers and adult-age female teachers sexually assault underage male students.  Men in media and entertainment prey on female colleagues and young children, while men in politics and the workplace prey on staff members and associates.

Immoral and destructive ideas are advanced as public policy.  Government is seen as savior and God is shunned, faith dismissed.

We have been given divine guidance.  Turning our back on evil and wrongdoing is our task.  Drawing closer to God in darkened times is our mission.  Rejecting what is bad, impure, immoral, wrong, destructive and those who promote such things is our obligation.

How do you live?  Do you seek what is good?  Do you delight in the Lord and do what is healthy and right?  Or do you conform to the worse things and the ideas of lost souls who advocate what is unhealthy and godless?

Remember, you are a sacred being made for what is good and life-giving.

Shalom.

Mental Toughness – Looking at Tom Brady and his Head Coach you see two people who are mentally tough, determined, disciplined … these are traits accessible to each of us.  But who among us seizes these?  I can tell you this: starting from real deficits, as I did, presented those choices to me early on.  Fortunately I had people around me – my mother, members of my family, and friends who lived by these traits.  Yes, when your back is against the wall – these three things get you through life.  Seize what you are given.  Live despite the obstacles.  Happy sailing.

 

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