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Happy Father’s Day

Fatherhood is at the core of the universe, at the center of being and its mystery.  Shame on those who ignore their children for the damage done and the opportunity lost.

Grandpa Bobby Bob

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So it is Father’s Day.  You know I looked for a quote that might sum up fatherhood.  Didn’t find one, and doubt that I could.  Fatherhood is larger than all the words known to us.

Fatherhood has a mystical quality to it.  One is father in ways that are more than merely intellectual.  No, fatherhood resides and operates in the realm of mystery.  Fatherhood introduces a man to supernatural reality.  When one attends to his children – God is visible, eternity exists and everlasting love takes its form.  Fatherhood stretches into time, from here to time immortal.

Fatherhood transforms.  I give you proof.

Acquiring the experience of another person is one of the hardest things one might do, love notwithstanding.  Yet, I have seen my son come to fully understand me when he himself became a father to two beautiful children (one a toddler, one an infant – a boy and a girl – a prince and a princess, if you don’t mind).

Try as I might have to convey to him how important he was to me – when he became a father he understood what I tried to impart as to his importance to me.  Now he “gets it.” Now, I get that unexpected call from him to ask: “Dad, are you okay?  Just called to see how you are.”  And I get, “Love you, Dad.” Yes, love unites us in ways that make son and father best friends forever, inseparable, indivisible.

I tell my friends, I have seen my son transformed by becoming a father, and a very good Dad at that: engaged, loving, calm, instructive, helpful, gentle, thoughtful, playful, guiding, a giant “best friend” to two Little People … a giant with a soft voice and an endless supply of hugs and kisses.

His Ph.D. notwithstanding, I tell him and his wife that what they do as parents is the most important thing they will ever do.  I see in his two Cupcakes – contentment, ease, comfort, confidence in their young explorations – wonders in their eyes and smiles on their faces, love and joy in their every breath.

My son’s fatherhood anoints me Grandpa Bobby Bob (as I am so named by Grandson Jack, not yet three).  Life has no greater honor for a man than to be Dad and then Grandpa.

Fatherhood transforms.  It is in the mystery of life – more than sociological designation or a name on a birth certificate, more than a formality … it is a blessing bestowed on us by design, an opportunity of a lifetime, a source of meaning now and forever.

Happy Father’s Day!

If we wish to see a strong and good society – let all men who have children be first and foremost: good and responsible fathers.  Life’s problems are fewer to those who have been well-fathered.  Men, do your sacred job – your children and this nation depend on it.

Shalom.

 

 

“How full the days are, full of slow and quiet … Only here do I feel that my life is authentically human.

Thomas Merton

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Merton’s words in a journal entry of November 1964 when he moved into his hermitage – a place to dwell alone surrounded by nature.

In my solitude on the ridge I know what he means.  Never have I felt closer to reality, to God, to the ground of being … or more at peace.

I am away from disorder, chaos … and the flood of bad behavior, routine deceptions and the idiotic chatter – its self-destruction.

I think of ISIS.  North Korea.  The American Left.  The media, the press.  Iran. Russia’s global antics and Europe’s passivity and foolishness.

When good falls victim to evil has not the ground under you shifted?  Is it not wise to seek Eden once again?

In Eden there are no pagans, no herds of selfish people making unwise and suicidal demands.

Merton and the Ridge.

Shalom.

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

… at the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives – this little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us.

Thomas Merton, in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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So what if Merton is correct?  That God dwells within each of us?  Would it not be likely that The Creator might leave a mark on you in your creation?  A fingerprint so to speak?

If that is so, would you act differently each day?  Would you not be fortified when facing difficulties?  Could you ever truthfully feel alone?

Does it not follow that what Merton describes might well explain the heroic conduct we see now and again?  If it is true, can we not shake our heads in disbelief at all the mischief and thievery, lying, cheating, violence and betrayal that we see?

Would Merton’s observation not reshape our idea that X or Y is “an honest” man or woman?  Would an honest person not seem to travel with greater humility and greater tranquility for their reference to God?

If Merton is correct would a government and its political class seek to drive God and faith from culture and the public square?

Think for a moment or longer, if this is so – what effect does this have on you? How would this proposition change you?

Seeking God is the noble purpose – your noble purpose.  That which provides meaning to you – a meaning that exceeds the limits of mortal life and trumps all earthly objectives.

Shalom.

Piggy Bank No More – Europe’s NATO member nations owe years of back payments to NATO, payments obligated by membership in the mutual defense association.  President Trump has called NATO members out on their large outstanding balances. Rightly so!

One smug NATO minister kept talking derisively while the President was speaking. I’ll bet you he was from one of the countries behind on payments.

Isn’t it funny how others just think the U.S. will carry them – that they need not do their lawful share.  Let those days be over – suckers no more!  

Friends don’t let friends pay for all the dinners out year after year.  Such nations are doubtful allies.  The times they are changing.  At long last!

A rare spring cold accounts for a late day entry.  Darn thing slows me down.

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The will to win, the desire to succeed.  The urge to reach your full potential.  These are the keys to the door of personal excellence.  (Emphasis added.)

Confucius

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A friend asked me today what I thought about the changes to Obamacare contained in the bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  My response was simply this: I had not studied its particulars and I knew that the Senate would alter it considerably but I did say that so long as we do not instill some degree of individual responsibility in people we will diminish people and make them less able to handle life as its presents itself.

My point is very much the sentiment of Confucius.  We are made for growth and maturity, for gathering more range in life – for coming to know and employ our full potential.  When anyone, especially the government, tempts us to abandon our full development we are inclined to a grave error with unhappy result.

Many among us, particularly the Left, socialists and those pushing “identity” politics and its notions of victimhood and oppression, have furthered dependency and in so doing harmed in a very adverse way the gift of human existence and the promise that it presents that we all can grow and achieve far more than we can envision.  Those who work to create dependency show a lack of faith which itself always disempowers.

Seek excellence.  It is part of your birthright.  God bless.

Shalom.

May Saturday 7:40 a.m.  The pale, faint gray-blue sky provides a autumn presence and a cool wind.  Yo Yo Ma keeps me company.  The pastures and the forest are green from rain and the cows and newborn calves slowly eat their way down the slope.  

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… the tradition of Christian spirituality and mystical wisdom needs to be presented today …

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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When I look around the world, when I observe or interact with others in America today – I see, hear and experience flatness.  That is to say, I see people and hear discourse that is blunt, without depth or texture, message or coherence, insight or worth.  Yes, the human voice is reduced to superficial chirping and chatter, childish whining and predictable ideologically-formed complaint and carping.

This: the voice of those who have not integrated life – come to know and experience reality seen and unseen.  For them any thought of human experience itself as transcendent and immanent is lost or at least forgotten.  I conclude in this that Keating is right: we need to attend to our spiritual growth and its implicit depth and access to wisdom – and particularly that which is mystical in nature – that which exceeds scientific materialism or a lust for power, celebrity, status or identity tied to gender, sexuality, politics, grievance, class, race, economic measure or government “benefit” which always defines us down, reduces our dignity and sacred value.

We are not, at present, close to being a nation of integrated, whole, wise, meaningful and purposeful human beings.  Rather we are flat and unflattering in this flatness.

To be flat is to be without curve, of one plane, shallow and without depth, unvarying, uninteresting, dull, vapid, stale, deflated, monotonous.  And I add mundane.

We are (and have been for some time) inclined in the wrong direction – living on the surface and tilted toward mere material and self-centered existence and far, far from spiritual experience and the depth, insight and contentment it alone provides.

In affluence we have lost our value, access to ourself and divine experience.  Our health and survival requires that this must change.  Our present circumstances starve the soul and lead to extinction.  Any wonder that homicides, suicides, addictions, broken families, and a range of pagan pursuits prevail as they do today?

Shalom.

I listen to soothing Gregorian chants and sun emerges to fall on a well-moistened landscape after a steady spring rain – a reminder that God is the One Constant and we as mortals can never undo what He has done.

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… God is the Cause and Principle of all things.

Aristotle, in Metaphysics

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We tend to get trapped in today.  The calamities of today narrowed our vision and would have us forget God is eternal … His will is done … and life goes on.

There is plenty of evidence to support this.  I tell you one.

Novodevichy, is one of the most important religious sites in Russia.  There, on the outskirts of Moscow, a nunnery existed for many years.  In the period when Communist Russia was most hostile to religion it fell into disrepair until a Mother Serafina (a former scientist and grand-daughter of a Tsarist general turned Orthodox priest who was secretly consecrated an archbishop during the Stalinist purges and was subsequently killed by the state) took her religious vows as an aging widow breathed new life into the monastery at Novodevichy.

In five short years, Mother Serafina breathed new life and prosperity into this old monastery.  Women collected at this place, faith was restored and a discarded property flourished with farm, craft shops, restored worship center and quiet holy places for respite and prayer.  What was dying came to life.

Too often we think that the crisis of today, derails the God of everyday.  ‘Tis not true.  Stay in faith and of good cheer.  Our God outlasts all things – is before all things, is present to all things, lives forever beyond all things.

Shalom.

 

Christianity is not a matter of opinion, but an external fact, entering into, carried out in, indivisible from, the history of the world.

John Henry Newman, in Difficulties of the Anglicans

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From the first Eucharist to now there has not been one hour in the history of the world that someone, somewhere has not been receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

I have recently been watching the recorded conversations between William Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge, each Christian – each Catholic.  The conversations date back to the 1970’s and 1980’s.  They are fascinating.  They probe, in part, the dismissal of belief and of Christianity by many.  They lament its loss and deplore the consequences that result.

I, too, have been alarmed and actually surprised how many in the United States and in Europe can dismiss Christianity and pin their hopes on collectivism, socialism – two impulses, and schemes, that nowhere have shown success, or produced excellence of any sort.  Gulags, yes – they have done well to imprison their charge, produce totalitarian regimes and execute millions when it proved “necessary” in order for one man or small group to retain power.  But success, harmony and wellbeing it has not furthered.

I think we do not know and appreciate the gifts of Christianity.  Likewise, I think that when we dismiss Christianity, we cancel what is unique and humanizing in the history of the world, what orders reality to the Truth about humans, and human existence and excellence.

I give but one example and it comes from Plato.  Plato, whose thoughts are infused into Christianity, opined that one was not to look to the immediate and the everyday but rather to focus on the universal and the ultimate.  He shifted human focus to a larger spectrum.  In this, Plato shifted our view of reality to the soul where excellence and virtue resided.  He saw this as the way to the Supreme Soul that is God – the ultimate in excellence and virtue.

Plato also envision that God’s nature was oneness and goodness.  In this, human life was linked to morality and to divinity, to God.

Each of these propositions are housed in Christianity.  Yet, can you imagine how easily we come to dismiss Christianity (actually oppose it) without anyone posing competent inquiry to those who blithely deny Christianity and the existence of God?  This seems to me a scandal and a reflection of widespread ignorance and the abject failure of our educational system.  Indeed, better to have no schools given what they produce.

We are, it seems to me, reckless and ignorant at the present moment.

Today, one longs for an intelligent and fervent defense of Christ, Christianity, our heritage, and the existence of God … but in its place we talk of access to “potties” and fixate on trivia and sexual fetishes, government subsidizes and this or that bacchanal.

Having seen all my life the lunacy of institutions and those who are apt to command them, even I am amazed at what I now see as the disordered nonsense of most public conversation and politics.  Where, oh where, is there a hint of Plato or Newman???

Shalom.

Dear Friend’s Correction – My Dear (and very bright and truly lovely) Friend Carol commented that I may not (in the text) be correct in saying the Eucharist has been shared hourly somewhere since its inception.  She may be right.  (I am always willing to defer to smart people who are earnest and very nice – I’d be a fool to rely on my our limitations.)  FYI – in my comment in the text, I rely on a point made by Malcolm Muggeridge in his conversation with Bill Buckley on Firing Line – a comment that went unimpeached.  By regard for Carol and my assessment of my own limitations allow me to place Carol above Buckley and Muggeridge.  Tally ho!

The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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We live so that we might grow in wisdom and understanding become fully human and in this come to know God and in that know both meaning and purpose.

Alas many opt for not growing.  They reside exclusively in their ego and stand on the smallest plot of life and land.  Without growth they are godless and utterly destructive of self and others.  They are a common bunch and the worse among them attack and diminish the mere thought of faith – particularly Christianity and, of course, the West and its Civilization.

We have many godless and dumb in our midst.  In their unchecked ignorance they attack what is time-tested and good.  Without morals, they know not good from evil.  We give them far too much attention.  When Believers are fewer in number, their voices soften when they should be the loudest and the strongest … for the ignorant threaten survival having long ago crippled civility.

We would be wise to anchor ourselves to Truth.

Recall if you will the end of Dante’s Paradiso when Bernard beckoned Dante look upward and Dante reports that he had already fixed his eyes on the lofty Light “in which Itself is true.”  Further, he notes that his vision was greater than speech … this Light “Different it is from all that are known … beyond the unknown as well.”

We are in decline.  We think we know more than we do.  Truth is: we have dumbed-down.  Most of what you hear is nonsense.  Many that you meet are disordered – to be avoided and when that is not possible we must correct, challenge, confront.

Few realize the coin we see has two sides: one our destruction, the other our rebirth. The mad crowd of the badly mistaken delivers the former, while the faithful few know rebirth … yet, who speaks loudest, whose voices multiply and go unchecked?

A faithful one speaks.  Silence is collaboration.

Shalom.

Observation – President Trump would be wise to worship regularly.  We need to see faith in play.  The divide we know how requires that his leadership be tethered to his faith, our faith – that indispensable place of faith in life, culture and governance.  Let the godless Left be clearly visible – make them carry their destructive and godless ways and see if the public at-large wishes to be housed in their small and unseaworthy boat.

Please share this post with others if you are so inclined.

(In) Adam’s fall … Man fell … into the multiplicity, complication and distraction of an active worldly existence … man’s mind is enslaved … with all that is exterior, transient, illusory, and trivial.  He is utterly exiled from God and from his own self. (Emphasis added.)

He … seek(s) God and happiness outside himself … his quest … becomes … a flight that takes him further and further away from reality. (Emphasis added.)

William Shannon, in Thomas Merton’s Dark Path

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William Shannon”s book explores contemplation and its role in Thomas Merton’s life.  In the above passage Shannon makes the point that Adam’s fall from grace was a departure from a contemplative disposition into the complications of worldly existence and the circumstances and condition which enslave us and our consciousness.  Yes, he contends that worldly existence, unlike Eden, take us away from God and our true self.

I cite this excerpt for the impact of his last statement: that we are in our exile taken further and further away from reality.

There is plenty of evidence today to support Shannon’s words.  Take for instance the daily reports of multiple parties being murdered somewhat randomly.  Or the random murders and assaults on police officers.  Or the opiate addictions that are widespread and growing – and the deaths they yield.  Or the unnecessary conflict generated between women and men and the division of “identity politics.” Or the stubborn and childish obstructionism of the sore-loser, shrinking Democrat Party. Or the focus on the tiny number of “transgendered” psychologically confused.  Or the pathetic behavior of faux federal District Court judges who write windy political opinions ripe for reversal on appeal.  Or the fascist Left which seeks to destroy free speech.  Or Planned Parenthood which expects large infusions of federal tax dollars to continue baby killing.  … further and further from reality is just about right.

The problem, of course, is that we have fallen, departed from our true self, sought happiness in all things exterior and futile.

Make no mistake even Church elders have joined the ranks of the fallen and misguided – in search of heaven on earth.  One rather hoped that their faith was stronger and, just perhaps, they were wiser.  But Pharisees are Pharisees, after all.

Today I live a quasi-monastic life.  I live in the quiet of the forest and the mountain.  In this I have no part of the herd of confused and under-developed crowd – each, unfortunately, seeking happiness in all things exterior, fleeting and now.

When others abandon their true self disorder takes reign and displeasure is their product, harm too – even murder, but surely division, chaos and foolishness.

Our loss is a spiritual loss – nothing else can explain the collapse of a culture such as we are seeing.  

Back to Eden, Friends.  There is no other option, nor path to be had if health, contentment and meaning is your desire.

Shalom.

Postscript – The vacuity of Barack O. and the corruption and apparent psychological disorder of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton ought to be sufficient to suggest we are collectively due for a rebirth and restoration.  Indeed, nothing comes to mind so quickly as this: we are in the First Century of Christianity once again.  Yes, calamity brings opportunity in our drama as the cycles reappear.  And to the point – even though the Left does not see nor understand this: Caesar in concentration (i.e., totalitarianism) is no cure nor way to freedom, prosperity or happiness. Nirvana is not earthly.

 

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