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Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

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The goal of Western religions … is to bring about a relationship between human beings and God, who are not the same.  The typical attitude of the Levant, of the Near East from which our religions come, is the submission of human judgment to that power conceived to be God.  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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Having written of good and evil, we might turn to the discord exhibited by a large portion of the population in England, France, Italy, the United States and to a lesser effect in Germany.

What we see in each is a deep distrust of, and serious dissatisfaction with, elites who have governed over the last few decades.

What, one might ask, does this have to do with the above quote?

Western people are a Levant people.  It is foundational to us, our culture and its governing laws and institutions that we are owing ultimately to God alone – not the state or those who govern it.  Simply stated this belief is our identity and the bridge to one another.

When the state becomes too big and too involved in the intimate lives of its people, when it banishes God from the public square, approves of abortion, sees the nuclear family diminished, education become leftist indoctrination, dubious concepts as to marriage and sexuality promoted and forced on others, the freedoms in national Constitutions eroded, borders abandoned, the value national identity discounted, “climate change” adherence demanded of all, and economies decline if favor of globalism – we see the visceral reaction of common citizens – so deep is their belief that God alone is God and government, elites and boisterous advocates are not.

What we see today in France and England and the United States is common people in revolt.  Their anger is with the loss of their identity and all that flows from that identity which is based on a relationship with God not the state.

Secularism, damaging as it can be, has its limits … likewise elites have shown their limits.

What we see in the West is a fundamental shift with the thrust back to a restoration of our basic identity and the order of things.

No doubt the Left and the elites find this a hard pill to swallow.  Such is history.  Much is in play today.

Shalom.

 

… 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.

 

 

Another late post – ‘Tis the season for visits with family and friends.  My time alone only now as the darkness of Sunday night encases me.

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To be beautiful means to be yourself.  You don’t need to be accepted by others.  You need to accept yourself.

Thich Naht Hanh

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Buddhist Monk Thich Naht Hanh is returning to his native Vietnam from his place of service in France for medical reasons.  Prayers of him are welcome.

His work has been beneficial to many.  I offer but one of his observations.

What he says I wish to say to my son, my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my granddaughter, my friends and those I encounter who are far from accepting who they are.

For my family and friends I seek only that they may know their sacred being and live life in humility making contributions which align with their gifts and their heart.

For those who do not trust their divine being, I say – you cannot make perfect what The Perfect One has made in order to teach us Heavenly Perfection and help us see the small slivers of divinity that we carry in this mortal life.

There is no need for us to carry the thought that we are “not good enough” – for being good enough is our best … it is, after-all, as good as we are capable of being by design.

We are but imperfect images of the Perfect One and to be just that is to be as we are made to me.  We are not good at out-doing our generous Creator – and all attempts to the contrary end in injury to self and others, to torment for us and others – even those we love.

To be yourself is to be as God hath made you.  In that act of acceptance is obedience, and peace and joy – sufficient to reduce all disappointments to extraordinary understanding and that good product is added to the goodness we possess gratis – as sacred gift.

In acceptance of self comes humility and certainty in the face of what is not known.

Shalom.

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be a god or angel to be pleasing to You, that I do not have to become a pure intelligence without feeling and without human imperfection before You will listen to me.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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We neither need be god nor angel, nor pure intellect or perfect.  God loves us and accepts us as we are: human and imperfect.

Yet, what public figures or those in leadership positions or those who insist that they must lead show any signs of what Merton is saying?  Who among those cited have the humility and understanding conveyed by Merton?  Answer: no one.

Given the acceptance of a loving God, we chatter endlessly – much as if to avoid any interior examination.  Ironically there is no leadership to be offered by those who lack the humility that comes from what Merton rightly says.

The endless chatter of the public class says one thing: they are neither whole nor intact.  Run from such people – pay them no heed.  Lacking humility – they lack wisdom and missing each they cannot offer anything much but division and folly … and they do so as we can plainly see.

Chatter is wasteful noise to avoid individual growth and the recognition that we are all, in essence, the same – with the same value to a loving God.  There are no hierarchies of privilege and heritage, and education and wealth that ought be honored.  Indeed, one who serves in leadership must stand with others and not above others.

It is the quiet one who leads.  It is the common one who possesses what Merton describes.  For it is the quiet one who walks with God and others.

Shalom.

Back from an unexpected day without a post.  It was a leisurely drive back from family and friends – a long road in beautiful country and heavenly quiet.

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The version of eros that Jane Austen’s novels study … is hardly animalistic.  It is ethicalthat is, it is concerned with the education of the will to the end of good character, and indeed is precisely about coming to know someone’s character.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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Who among us acts as if love is intended to deliver us to good character

To the best of my knowledge I give you my answer – not very many.  And I add we are a sick culture – more animal than human.  Grunts in heat – far short of character … the kind of people you’d be best to avoid.

McCloskey’s book is excellent and particularly good in discussing love and its relationship with our character.

Only through McCloskey can I see clearly the distinction between my wife who died childless of cancer at 29 (one month short of our 4th anniversary) and a subsequent wife who left a child, a husband and a marriage after 22 years for no particular reason but her desire to do so.

In McCloskey’s work I see so clearly one spouse aligned love and character and one did not.  I add, indeed, that unbeknownst to me in dedicating my life to the care of my seriously ill and dying wife – I had enkindled in me the relationship between love and character.

I add thankfully that by the grace of God I lived and loved in a manner that both life and love was joined to the quest for good character – who I am, who I have been made at birth to be.

Recognizing this allows me to see so clearly the blessings of that first love and the triumph that my life has been – all because of the grace of God.  Likewise, I see the ugly character of so many in our culture who make no such linkage between love and character.

It is hideous how the affluent and so-called “elites” and public figures, celebrities and the self-proclaimed wisdom figures and endless talking heads show absolutely nothing to distinguish them nor merit any of our attention.  Yea, their personal lives often a mess –  a series of failed marriages – seemingly without a touch of honor.

The fault lines are now between the urban and suburban elites and those who are not them.  Oddly, the fault lines might just be between those who show that love is connected with character and those that do not.

Shalom.

 

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

Our birth is an invitation to our gifts, a call to immersion in the Absolute, with the possibility of our ultimate transformation through contact with the Divine.  (Emphasis added.)

Wayne Teasdale, in A Monk in the World

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Think for a moment.  Our birth a sacred offering, a call to God and our God-given gifts.  Our birth as the opportunity to be subsumed by God.

Our birth is the ultimate and only way to our full development from physical being to a whole human –  spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and morally  … and to a complete life, one of context and contentment, of peace, understanding and tranquility.

What do we do with this gift?  Abort it before a child’s birth?  Could there be no greater proclamation of our fallen state than to kill an unborn child and fight for the opportunity to do so?  Could there be any greater rejection of God and the sacred gift of life that aborting an unborn child?

Think about what this says of contemporary American life.  Can this be who we wish to be?  Does this not denigrate women and their extraordinary sacred call to carry life within them?

Knowing women to be so special and so critical to men, and children, and family, and morality, and faith, and decency, and this country – I cannot imagine this is what any women would wish to be known by.

God help us all.

Shalom.

Thumping.  The behavior of the Democrats in the last few days suggest that think they may get a trumping – that is, do far short of what they touted they would.  The Blue Wave might be an ocean spray.  Politics.  Strange business.  Lots of propaganda paraded out as truth.  Ummmm … No wonder people are skeptical.

 

Please pray for those in the Florida Panhandle and others in the area that they might avoid personal injury and significant loss as a consequence of Hurricane Michael.

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… the active life is essential to every Christian …

The active life is the participation of the Christian in the Church’s mission on earth, whether it means bringing to (others) the message of the Gospels, or administering the sacraments, or performing works of mercy, or cooperating in the world-wide efforts for the spiritual renewal of society and the establishment of that peace and order without which the human race cannot achieve its destiny.  (Emphasis added.)

  Thomas Merton, in Life and Holiness

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Every baptised Christian is called out of darkness – called to live as and for Christ.  In this comes “the most mysterious aspect” of Christian life: living in grace – living in “light of God in us … transforming us” … making us the children of God so we are His instruments of peace and good in our culture and in this life on earth.

This is the nature of the active life of each Christian.  Nothing ought precede this orientation to our life – for this is the most fundamental identity a Christian possesses – and it is for us the source of our happiness, strength, wisdom, purpose, meaning and value.

Think about it.  What are you doing to further the spiritual renewal of our society?

What are you doing in response to the increasing violence of radical mobs and the irresponsible Senators, Congresswomen and wealthy benefactors who encourage hostile behavior or those who excuse it in newspapers, magazines, network and cable “news” programs?

Spiritual renewal of society … and you.  Think about it.

Shalom.

The moment you have a self at all, there is the possibility of putting yourself first – wanting to be the centre – wanting to be God …

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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Lewis writes here about corruption – an individual’s corruption – a vital element in human history, an issue each human must face in his or her life, a critical factor in understanding corruption in culture … in those around you – particularly among those holding or seeking power and the legions of advocates for this or that which promotes or demands simply their selfish desires without regard to anyone else.  In politics and culture today, we have many such errant narcissistic individuals and groups all more or less nihilists.

Make no mistake – the foundation of corruption is the individual desire to be his or her own God.  Yes, such thinking is insane and produces discord, division and conflict.

Yes, thinking one is one’s own God is frankly – living a colossal LIE.   You doubt this?  Think abortion as mere “choice,” or Holy Matrimony as same-sex “marriage,” or slavery as acceptable, or division by race, or multiple “genders.”  These are manifestations of men and women acting as God.

As Lewis so correctly says this “hopeless event” of human as God: it is men and women “invent(ing) some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God.”

We like to think of ourselves as smart, intelligent, an educated society.  Yet, the thinking and conduct such as described here (and so clearly visible among political-social-sexual “activists,” pundants, college professors and their ill-schooled products of nonsense, ideologies and hubris – as well as entertainers, celebrities, the media and some who would be “clerics,” and lawyers with grossly little intellectual depth or range or insight, among others) – simply puts the lie to our brilliance, and the opinions of a whole range of people whose godlessness defines their ignorance, establishes their uselessness.

Yep, God versus godlessness.  Sanity versus insanity.  Truth versus gibberish.

Shalom.

 

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