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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.    

 

 

There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization.

Hostile secular nihilism has won the day in our nation’s government, and the culture has turned powerfully against traditional Christians.

American Christians are going to have to come to terms with the brute fact that we live in a culture … in which our beliefs make increasingly little sense (to others).

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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Dreher’s short, readable book will tell you better than others I have read (and I have read many) what we live today in a culture that is changing/eroding at a rapid and disconcerting clip.  Yes, a book to be read not once but several times – and referred to often.

For parents and grandparents who desire that their children and grandchildren be safe, stable and sane amid the hellish chaos of our disintegrating culture – this is a “must read.”

As the quotes above suggest, we are moving away from religious narrative and the underpinnings of America as it was created by our Founders.  This puts us adrift, at sea without a point of reference … without a necessary backdrop that affords a context in which to endure hardship, evil, death, betrayal, loss, disappointment, etc. – of a mortal life.

Frankly, it is simply impossible to live without an overriding wisdom narrative – and, yet we are abandoning our narrative in the face of pressure and hostility from the godless ones (hostile secular nihilists) up and down the social and political ladder.  Such is the way of pridefulness and ignorance.

The loss of a wisdom narrative leaves each to drift without guidance.  The loss places an impossible burden on the individual to create meaning out of their meager experience.

How foolish to think you can write your own narrative while you live it day by day.  Such behavior ignores the treasured records of human existence passed on for centuries.

The costs of this abandonment for the individual and the culture pile up: suicides, homicides, drug addiction, depression, insanity, aborted children, obesity, alcoholism, broken families, lost love, dependency, racial conflict, disorientation, lethargy, despair, confusion, the absence of hope – confidence and faith, of courage and optimism – intimacy, warmth, peace, laughter – human existence, itself.

As Dreher points out Christians are at a crossroad – Christ or no Christ.

So what is it?  Soul or self?  Death and despair without God, or life with God.

Shalom.

 

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds folly.

Prov 15:14

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Few see the inherent damage done by mass communication in a secularized culture.

What do I mean?  In a mass communication culture all sorts of fools speak. Each day rains down half-baked advocacy, unchallenged assertion, special pleadings designed to alter the status quo in favor of the advocate who long ago (armed with a college-educated bias favoring his or her “pet” political views) decided they are a genius and you are not – so you must do as they say.

We have mistakenly assumed that “education” is to be more trusted than experience, common sense, wisdom and purposeful tradition accumulated and honored over the centuries.

Alas we live in an age of arrogance, pride, ignorance and hyper-political nonsense.

People claim expertise they do not possess.  Bill Nye “the science guy” comes to mind. The global warming crowd labels skeptics “deniers” because (of course) they are “smarter” and know best.  Regrettably, there are only rare instances where someone calls out the self-acclaimed genius (who also fancies himself or herself “a savior”).

Never has a generation been so sure that they have license to topple venerable institutions and their moral foundation.  Rarely are rebukes plainly offered to this haughty crowd.  That said, I offer one delicious instance for your encouragement and enjoyment.

Supreme Court Antonin Scalia took exception to the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges (the “gay marriage” case) with these words:

“If … I ever joined an opinion for the Court which began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons … to define and express their identity.’ I would hide my head in a bag.” (Emphasis added.)

Don’t you just miss this kind of condor!  And doesn’t it show what we endure with those who think, as Justice Kennedy does, that they are so erudite and wise that they can sow such silliness into the public consciousness.

If there is any redeeming value in Justice Kennedy’s view it is this: it shows the waste that is a Stanford and Harvard education and provides clear caution when it comes to listening to elites and Leftists in the public square.

Best to be discerning and to build on the ageless wisdom of religious narrative while it is still accessible to you.

Yes, as has been said the educated elites could have saved themselves substantial pile of cash had they opted for a library card and a couple of bucks and change in late fees in place of their prestigious college.  Indeed, they could have saved us from their nonsense as well.

Shalom.

As it is with a play so it is with life – what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.

Seneca

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Under Seneca’s guidance, if White House Director of Communication Anthony Scaramucci were a play, it have closed in one day.  Ditto the U.S. Senate and its ineptness and seeming indifference to the absolute disaster that is Obamacare. Ya, some care!

What we see in the Washington political crowd is Nero in multiple forms.  One wonders how the competent military people can stand this.  We fiddle while Iran and North Korea speed toward nuclear intercontinental weapons, China seeks its expansion and Russia (being contemporary Russia) looks for any unlocked door in the hotel.

Scaramucci is hardly a person our times can tolerate.  Childish does not cover his behavior.  What becometh a small man with a foul mouth?  Memo to others: the toughness guy in the room is never compelled to tell you he is the toughest guy in the room.

Tweets?  Need I say more than this: one hopes thoughts are earnest enough to warrant careful reflection – not spontaneous utterances.  Funny, most successful people do not “tweet.”  Doesn’t that say something worth contemplation.  And, the Senate being a Chamber of elite America – their actions say one thing: there have little in common with the rest of us … and they show it in spades.  They are indifferent to the problems we face. Heck, they have their comforts, so they fiddle.

And then there is Senator John McCain.  He makes a dignified speech on the need for Senators to cooperate and then, as a party of one, scuttles his colleagues efforts to move a health care bill (in some form) to a Conference Committee of House and Senate members who will do what they can to curb some of the disasters Obama created with his health care folly, and try to improve on some of the most troublesome realities Obama caused – like rising health insurance premiums and rising health care and drug costs.

Dear John: the perfect is the enemy of the good.  By seeking perfection you have denied an opportunity for some chance at “the good.”

Generals expected – we have too many filling the role of Nero in this wreck of an off-Broadway farce.

Shalom.

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  (Emphasis added.)

Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years

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Do you remember the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary?  (Lk 10:38-42)

In that story Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and others while her sister Mary is seated at Jesus feet listening to him.  Martha asks Jesus if he does not care that Mary has left her to do all the preparations alone.

Jesus answered Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is precisely the wisdom Albert Einstein expresses. We all have the capacity to experience the mystical.

A life lived within mortal limits is a life not lived.  It is a life without fullness.  It is “the mystical” that makes a life, that alone completes a life.

Feodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov this: “Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystical sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world.”

We have many like Martha.  And few like Mary.  Which are you?

Those like Mary possess calm, certainty.  They see and they are not lured into all that is earthly.  They are not worrisome.  Addicted.  They are not egotists.  They are not trapped in the nonsense that prevails among the masses.  They are not captured in the present day and all its false gods and endless foolishness.

Our culture is full of Martha in many forms.  Ignore them.  They have chosen the lesser things.

Are you Mary or are you Martha?

Shalom.

Russia and Us.  It is interesting that for all the hubbub about Russia over the years, we have not been smart in dealing with them.  We have been, because we have “leaders” who do not live life on a mystical plateau, unable to see the undeniable truth about Russians which is this: Dostoevsky reveals their core, their heart – their orientation to life (even as they try to supplant him with Marxist nonsense).

The truth of who they actually are is their soft underbelly and, not being well and fully formed, our “leadership” cannot see it.

When the blind confront the blind – it is always an “eye for an eye.”  Endless folly. “Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right.”

What did I see … a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted … able to fan its smoldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence …

Thomas Mann, in A Death in Venice

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We used to have the bizarre and insane confined to tabloids you passed at the checkout line at the grocery.  Now their content is the daily news.

A female TV cable personality with an eating disorder who teaches dance to young girls binges on food while being driven to a prison for her incarceration.  A former Vice-President is pleased to learn his troubled, married adult son is involved with his deceased brother’s wife.  The creator of a large social media site says his creation will be the new religion.  A university study and its advocates conclude that people are the greatest threat to humankind and recommend it best to stop having children.

A presidential candidate who received millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs after approving the sale of 20 percent of American uranium reserves to them is not the subject of a criminal investigation but rather her successful opponent is. The head of the FBI lawlessly leaks information to a law professor for distribution to a major newspaper so his close friend can become special counsel to investigate the candidate who did not gain from the uranium sell-out.

We live in a tabloid world.

We live, as Thomas Mann so eloquently says, in a state of inner disintegration and biological decay.  Obesity abounds – especially among women … a sad and serious sign of disorder and decay – a “sallow ugliness.”  Sex seems to enter all cracks and crevices of public and commercial life: television – music – film – advertising … concupiscence becomes “a pallid impotence.”  Transgender fictions become rightly labeled “child abuse” by the female president of the national organization of pediatricians.  States and cities defy federal law.  Borders are erased. “Entitlements” pave the way to bankruptcy – backbreaking debt piled on the backs of our grandchildren and their children ad infinitum …

Is there any safe escape from this death spiral?  It is hard to say.  But one thing is certain: faithless, godless, sick men alone will not prevail against what we have wrought.  Nor will the silence of those who see this unnecessary, self-indulgent destruction reverse the deep dive into hell that we now witness.

Returning to faith is the only hope, the only defense, the only chance – a quick, earnest return to God and a loud, unrelenting, public stance against the sickness, corruption, destruction and evil present in all its forms must now emerge.

Shalom.    

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

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It would be hard to find a more ludicrous notion uttered by anyone than that contained in the above majority opinion authored Supreme Court Justice Kennedy.

Think about it.  Kennedy’s view is that each individual person (regardless of age) has the constitutionally protected liberty to define completely their own existence.  I can define myself as “Queen of the May,” as heir to the throne of Great Britain, as “Master of the Universe,” Peter Pan, Tinkerbell … whatever, and pursue activities that would flow from my self-defined reality.

In Justice Kennedy’s view, I can define the mystery of life to rest on stoning to death anyone who advocates that my liberty interest include the absolute right to define my own existence.  How would that be prohibited?

What you see here is complete foolishness.  Yes, idiocy, and destructive idiocy at that.

Justice Kennedy in his childish liberal sympathies shows us what a private personal predilection looks like.  He did the same thing in his majority opinion about same-sex “marriage.”  So much for a Harvard legal education.

In the Justice’s mind, anything goes.  If you can think it; you can do it – without restraint.

One wonders how he might house the notion (articulated by Leftist intellectuals lately) that the greatest threat to mankind is the human being and the birth of children.

What would the Justice do if it were argued successfully that since human beings are the greatest threat to humankind – a percentage of humans (men and women, young and old, infants and children, adolescents and young adults) should be sacrificed each year.  (I note by the way that Aztecs, it is said, sacrificed at least 20,000 people each year as part of their ritual beliefs).

If such an inspiration is a protected liberty interest might Justice Kennedy volunteer to submit to the regime of sacrifice should it be commenced? Somehow I doubt we will see voluntary action from him or others who hold his view.

Shalom.

Note – This is the post for Monday, July 24, 2017.  I encourage to read Sunday’s post (below) which was published late Sunday afternoon.

The shadow of the Enlightenment’s failure to replace God with reason has engulfed the West and plunged us into a new Dark Age.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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It is abundantly clear to many who have studied America and the West from varied areas of expertise: historical, psychological, political, philosophical, theological, sociological, literary, psychiatric and such that we have attempted to anchor ourselves to the importance of self over God and that this is an unmitigated catastrophe.

Stated another way, we have foolishly trusted that reason alone (the individual – singularly and in the aggregate) can form a coherent, thoughtful, just, compassionate, kind and moral community.

Looking around each day, it seems impossible to believe that such a misguided and arrogant orientation has done anything but make us far worse off, weaker, more chaotic – yes, dramatically sicker, more fragmented, untruthful, corrupt, addicted, suicidal, crippled, angry, ugly, disoriented and violently anti-social.

Yet astonishingly few in the public eye recognize this – discuss it –largely because they are part of the whole sick mess and frequently doing quite well … that they are captives of this mess sitting at the top of its rubbish heap.

Look at the accurate snapshot of Washington today: the closed circle that is the Washington elite who cannot yield to the popular election of a President who is NOT one of them and who would DARE to pursue a course of action that disturbs the benefits of their cozy corrupt culture.

What you see today in Washington is the clear identity of the privileged political class that seeks not to do the will of the voter but rather preserve its own “status” in a very lucrative and easy gig.  Hey, it beats working!

Some of us who have lived broadly in our six or seven decades can tell you that the population at-large is quite different, far less civil or sane than it once was. Indeed, it is far sicker.

A lawyer I know recently recounted how a member of the Bar lost his license to practice because he drugged his underage client in order to sexually assault her.

From work, to family, to community, politics, primary and university education, etc. – in all quarters (particularly in major cities – Washington included) we regularly see evidence of the Dark Ages … yet do not stand against it.

Hell of a situation to behold.  Pitchfork, anyone?

Shalom.

The Russian Fixation – Interesting to watch the Democrat Left “Russian Fixation.”  They go way back in colluding with the Russians – Stalin, no less.

Remember Yalta and how FDR sold out Poland and Eastern Europe at Yalta – gave the Communists control over post-war Eastern Europe.  Shameful.

During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupiers, the U.S. did nothing to help the brave Polish people, and the Red Army sat still East of Warsaw until the Nazis could put down the uprising.  Talk about collusion!

Let’s not forget the New Deal was full of Lefties.

A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not be trusted by anybody.

Thomas Paine

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Writing about faith and culture as I do requires attention to the problems in culture and the ideas proposed and manifest in the culture which do serious damage to society, security, sanity, spiritual and moral life and the human being.  Hence, with the conditions we face today – one must take account of (among other things) politics and ideas expressed and policies pursued therein.

Recently Leftists have expressed the desire for a guaranteed national income for all Americans.  They argue that this is necessary because artificial intelligence, machines and robots will put many Americans out of the work force.

The public advocates of this proposition seem centered in technology enterprises which will produce these displacements.  What you see here is not compassion but rather a desire to avoid any financial responsibility for the effects their enterprises produce.

These Leftists prefer, as they so often do, that others (i.e., taxpayers – personal and corporate) be handed the bill for the consequences that their actions produce. In plain talk – they want to maximize their own financial gains at the expense of those who do not share their billions upon billions.  Are you listening Mr. Zuckerberg?

That Dear Friends is the modern American Left.

And that Dear Friends brings us to Thomas Paine’s wisdom.  Who, in their right mind, can trust the American Left, “progressives,” socialists, modern left-wing liberalism?

Think about it, on the one hand the Left seeks national income for all Americans at the same time it wants open borders while flooding the nation with immigrants many of whom do not seem to seek assimilation nor manifest allegiance to our nation.

Were we to follow the Left we’d soon be sending annual income checks to half the people in the world whether they live here or not.  That’s the Left. Yes, we are back to Thomas Paine.

Shalom.

Postscript – Apropos to the above Thomas Paine quote, Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to resign.  Why?  His appointment was made pursuant to his good friend James Comey leaking FBI memos to a Columbia Law School law professor for distribution to The New York Times in order (as Mr. Comey testified) to secure the appointment of a special counsel.  Would it not be the better course for a man whose appointment commenced with an unlawful act to vacate his appointment as a matter of honor?

The law is too important to rest itself on unlawful behavior.  It needs to be revered, not besmirched.  I suspect Paine would agree.  A nation that does not seek the highest moral conduct weakens its foundation.

When you try to extinguish a tantrum by ignoring it, the first response … is called extinction burst.  People do whatever it is you are trying to ignore louder, longer and more enthusiastically.  This might make you believe that ignoring them isn’t working, but what it actually means is that it is. (Emphasis added.)

Albert J. Bernstein, in Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry

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Whether it is Code Pink, the juvenile dweebs in college throwing childish fits, or some racial group pitching a public tantrum, it is always best to ignore them  – unless, of course, they break the law in which case they should be treated accordingly.

Society gains nothing but rather loses a great deal when it honors uncivil, intemperate, deconstructing, insulting, anti-social and childish behavior. Tantrums fall squarely in this category and we have plenty of tantrum-throwers around today.

Heck, the Democrats in the Congress fall into that category: sit-ins on the House of Representatives chamber floor are an example.  The juvenile departure from their legislative duties and their foot-dragging as to the public business – including processing of the President’s Executive Branch appointments is another. Childish, very childish. Behavior that demeans them and fails America.

This week Jaime Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, called out those in the federal government (particularly those in charge since the “Great Recession” of 2008) whose “stupidity” and gridlock deadened economic growth and impeded the natural strength of corporate America to bring prosperity to the nation’s citizens.

Yes, childish behavior has an economic cost.  Listen up, Liz Warren.

Since we cannot rely on the press and media to be fair, intelligent and honest critics of the central government any longer, it behooves us to heed the words of Albert Bernstein: ignore the tantrum throwers … walk away from them – even when they are a political party or call you nasty names like “bigot,” or “fascist.” And by all means do not reward such people in the “hopes” that they will change.  They will not.  As a footnote: one would do well to ignore media reports of these childish fits – hear the report and simply tune-out.

Indulging and rewarding bad behavior only teaches that “holding one’s breath” prompts the “nannies” among us to cave in thereby guaranteeing more bad conduct and more ludicrous “demands.”  One would think by the way that “educated adults” might know this … then, again – maybe they are not adults …

You can’t run a country ceding treats to the impudent.  We do ourselves a great disservice by rewarding bad behavior … and childish conduct robs us all.

The world is a dangerous place.  Others aim to get their way at our expense.  No time left for childish conduct.  Such conduct shows our weakness; giving in to it shows our disarray.

Shalom.

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