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… those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Mt 23:20

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Make no mistake there are distinct, substantive differences between our two major parties.

Do not be deceived the last electoral result highlighted the very real difference between the common citizen and the elites: those with power, money, status – the intellectual and celebrity class, globalists, the media, the perpetual Washington insiders whose class status is far different from Mom and Dad in small town U.S.A. , and between the ideologues, “special pleaders,” and mere citizen taxpayers.

Frankly, the privileged class lost and the most politically-focused of them (the Left and the Washington wags who are used to being “important”) are offended and not taking their bite of humble pie very well.  Yes, their obstruction and rhetoric is destructive – having gone beyond civil debate.  Actually, their behavior mimics the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature who fled their state and hid from their official duties so as to thwart the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Like all actions people take, the angry objection to the voters choice of President tells us about those who are upset.  One thing it says is this: politics and power is a high priority for them – probably too important for their and our wellbeing as a nation.  Make no mistake a subset is NOT greater than the whole.  No one is more important than the nation.

It is always hard to speak to your Brother and Sister when they must be reproached – but speak we must – speak calmly, in a soft voice, as a friend, with authority and care. Reconciliation is the goal and it must always be.

Losses are difficult for many.  Those of us who have lived modestly and, in my case, on the “wrong side of the tracks” amid the very serious conflicts one can encounter – we are used to life’s ups and downs.  We learned long ago that no one wins all the time and that it is the losses which actually teach us the best lessons, impart the greatest truth and wisdom.

The one thing that we need now is a calm conversation with those who are most displaced by their perceived loss.  For civility to return, maturity must be cultivated and in this instance it means those hurt must listen to the voices of those who care for their welfare and that of this nation.  Yelling, fighting, anger will only inflame and put much at risk … including each of us.

Remember the opposite of love is not hate – but rather: indifference.  We cannot afford to draw battle lines, engage in nasty and dishonest behavior, retribution, character assassination, or violence.   Honest, calm conversation is the need.  An end to extreme language that excites ideologues and flames the fire … it must cease today, now.

I hope we are all to the task.  It is the humble who are exalted.  They are strongest who life has humbled.  Make no mistake – in the end the humble remain standing while the prideful fall. 

Shalom.

Postscript – I am always amazed that the “talking heads” on T.V. and many elected officials talk and talk without ever citing an authority – the words of someone whose insight and wisdom they share.  You have to conclude that they are talking through their hats, haven’t cracked a book since the 3rd grade.

You wonder: why would I listen to these people?  They really do not warrant my time.  They do not.  Happy landings.

 … words have power.  Words can light fire in the hearts of men.

Patrick Rothfuss, in The Name of the Wind

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Yes, words can inflame and we have been very loose with our words, caustic, harsh, antagonistic, divisive, hateful.  Our words can and do provoke others.

Republicans were hunted down yesterday by someone fueled by ideology. Words, harsh words – played a role in this act.

We had best take an honest account of our self.  We have demonized others, labeled them, made them targets, counted them “deplorable.”

This has been building for four or more decades.  This has got to stop.

One can only pray that we are kind enough and strong enough to put a stop to the hatred and demonizing that is so prevalent.  God help us all.

Shalom.

[Note: I had prepared a longer analytical post on violence and culture, but given the present inflammatory climate I have opted to offer what I hope is a helpful and more unifying post in the hopes that we might look critically at our self, our culture, and what we and others say.]

Dedicated to my Grandchildren, my Nation and to you.

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Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness.  But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the Lord will come to an end.

Is 1:27-28

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It is Lent.  We are closing in on Easter and the Resurrection.  Is it not a good opportunity to take this time between now and Easter to reflect on the above and ask: What do I see around me?  What do I hear daily?  In the news?  On television?  What is the state of our culture? Our nation?  Our leaders?  Our public conversation?

Have we forsaken God?  Have we listened as if there is no God?  Have we deserted our faith?  Been led astray?  Become pagans and thought and acted as such?

What is the tone of public discourse?  Do those among us divide for the lust of power? Have some among us elevated ideology and politics above all else?

Who among us speaks with faith?  Shows the courage to offer an honest picture of who we have become and how that is so unflattering, so godless?  So destructive of person and nation?  

We live in urgent times.  In talking about the Jews and Jerusalem and Judah, the Prophet Isaiah is speaking to us, today at this hour, in this time.  You best take heed.

Nothing good, absolutely nothing good, comes to those who forsake God.

If you do not live first in faith, then who but yourself can you blame for the troubles we have and the decline we court?

Shalom.

Discouraging – It is truly discouraging to see so many House and Senate Democrats carrying Mr. Putin’s water in their efforts to delegitimize President Trump and anyone who dares to challenge the settled and corrupt ethos of political Washington.

It leaves one to conclude: (a) they are the unwitting handmaids of Mr. Putin, (b) they are showing their Leftist allegiance, (c) they love the sweet Washington honeypot that gives them privileges the voting public does not enjoy and keeps them from real work, (d) all of the above.  Whose team are these guys and gals on?  Putin’s?  Their own?  Both?

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  (Emphasis added)

1 Sam 3:10

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News reports today indicate that there is one arrest related to some of the recent threats aimed at the Jewish community.

The individual arrested is identified as a former internet journalist who in the past (according to the reports) made up sources and (apparently) lost his job as a result.

According to his electronic posts, the suspect was enamored with Hillary Clinton and seems to have been motivated in his threats by the dissolution of a romantic relationship with a White woman whom he referred to (in his electronic posts) as having radical ideas and herpes.

Hard to tell if these details are true and complete on their face.  Yet, the story itself as presented gives one pause.

In reading this news account, I am reminded how this culture we live in has generated psychotic dispositions and disordered people over my lifetime.

I remember healthy communities and whole families. I lived in a time before the Nanny State and the explosion of the dependent class – yes, before the liberal creation of a permanently disenfranchised class.

I remember communities where people went to church.  Where people saluted the flag, and prayed in public.  Where marriage involved a man and a woman.  Where access to a medical procedure (i.e., abortion) was not a fundamentally protected constitutional right and where people loved babies and did not fight and campaign for the right to kill them and when obesity was not commonplace.

I remember a time when you relied on your own efforts to succeed.  When you treated others with courtesy and respect and didn’t feel compelled to put your own interests ahead of others. When politics did not dominate life and when legions of whiners did not find fault with just about anything and everything. When people did not actually believe that they could change anything and everything.  And when entertainers were not magnified to a god-like celebrity status.  When the liberals and the judiciary had not become the enemy of the country and the people in it.

It is stories like this of the man arrested in this case (and so many others that tumble out daily) that tell me – our secular, mass culture and its godless Leftist political disposition has fractured and divided this nation, produced a bumper crop of disordered people and a wide range of psychotic behavior.

“Samuel! Samuel!”  Are you listening?

We might want to reverse course – and do so intentionally and very quickly.

Shalom.

True sorrow is as rare as true love.

Stephen King, in Carrie

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King is on to something.  Surely there is a relationship between sorrow or remorse and one’s capacity to love others.

Forget the proof of King’s words or mine as they apply to individual relationships, look rather at aggregates, at groups, the mass and their behavior … and at public figures.

It takes strength and maturity to show remorse, true sorrow and to love others more than self. Those who love self more than others, by the way, love only the fragments of themselves that they wish to imagine are an accurate image of who they are.  They are, of course, always far from the truth about who they are.  Their journey is but lie after lie each creating chaos and disorder, steeping hurt on others.

Look at the vocal advocacy groups – especially the obnoxious and childish, perpetual protesters.  Do they convey a humble and remorseful, sorrowful heart? How about the loud mouth celebrity or politician?  The ideologue?  The special pleaders who would have their base desires become our ways of thinking and being.  Any authentic love and sorrow in their voice?

We are a culture in need of remorse and true love.  Forget public policy and politics, who shows love and sorrow?  Who?

See, O Lord, for I am in distress; my spirit is greatly troubled; my heart is overturned within me, for I have been very rebellious.  In the street the sword slays; in the house it is like death.

Lam 1:20

Shalom.

Meeting on the road to Basra/You half blind in a blood soaked coat/me I’m a fallen angel/fallen from the burning tree of doubt

Capercaillie, God’s Alibi 

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It is hard not to see the Fall today.  Our story.  Own it.

I.

Falling today.  Like yesterday.

Like all the yesterdays.

…  fallen from the burning tree of doubt

II.

 … witness to the moon and stars above

Made free.  Free will.  Free to will.  Ah, the implicit, unseen test.

Divine Law.  Nature and its laws.

One positive command.

 One prohibition.

One tree … in the Garden’s perfect peace.

III.

a state of claustrophobia

THE temptation.  Doubt in the mind.

“Weren’t no passion … “

In the mind.

“No, death,” the Tempter said, ” … you shall be as gods knowing good and evil.”

IV.

the longest note like a silence, never broken

Pride is the worm on the hook.  Lost fishermen bite very time.

  Rebellion.

Formal, reasoned, intentional acts.

Disobedience – our grievous fault.

Will misused.  Compliance rejected.  Surrender scorned.

Sacred wisdom ignored.  Holy dominion denied.

 Old worm, same bite.

V.

fear in the eyes, did the crucifix lie/did the words of the church run dry

It did not lie.  The words have not dried.

The Road to Fidelity is not hidden.  On it the stooped shoulders of the humbled become upright …

… and there The Narrow Gate.

VI.

I’m a witness to the crumbling walls … But I’m not your alibi

Free will misunderstood.  It is not impeccable.

 Sin prospers in it when we are gods.

Yes, Thomas – its perfection in God’s design.

There are no alibis.

Shalom.

Note – Today’s blog is inspired by Adolphe Tanquerey’s writing on The Fall and Scottish band Capercaille’s extraordinary song God’s Alibi.

… we are all already in a state so disastrous that there are no large remedies for it.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue

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This quote is lifted from Chapter One, “A Disquieting Suggestion,” in Alasdair MacIntyre’s widely acclaimed 1981 book on moral philosophy, its current state, and ours.

Reading it once again sheds light on the darkness of today.  Yes, on our present pitiful state of being – on our intellectual, social, political, emotional, and interpersonal deficits and the absence of wise leadership.

In Chapter One, MacIntyre imagines a world in which the natural sciences suffer a catastrophe when natural disasters are blamed on scientists and riots destroy laboratories, scientists are hung, books are burned, instruments destroyed while a Know-Nothing political movement seizes power and abolishes all science education while imprisoning all who vary from its prohibitions.

With but few remnants of scientific truths remaining, people are unable to resuscitate what once was, what once was known and common.

In this condition, people’s discourse on matters scientific invoked scientific reference here and there, but none of what they said made any sense.

What was lost, could not be recovered.

In After Virtue, MacIntyre explores what might happen if we lost our moral bearings, our reference to what we learned over the centuries, lost the place of moral reasoning and its easy integration into decisions and human existence.

As he says … a disastrous state ensues.

Now some 35 years after he wrote After Virtue, it is hard not to ask: have we come to what MacIntyre imagined in our moral ife?  Have we not lost our capacity for moral reasoning? Forfeited our intellectual legacy that stretches back 2,000 years or more?

Think about it.  Killing the unborn is a constitutionally protected right.  Selling the body parts of aborted children is acceptable.  Pornography is widespread.  Sadly, while homicides among African-Americans are largely confined to Black-on-Black violence, we listen to those who focus on the dubious proposition that White police officers are the principle cause of homicides in their communities.  Drug addictions and mass murders are too common.

Likewise, we are all bundled up in odd propositions surrounding sexual conduct and are attentive to demands pursued thereto.

Then, there is the legalization of drugs, the redefinition of marriage, unlawful expansion of federal executive initiative, an inert federal legislature, corrupt bureaucracies, unprotected national borders, the unraveling of long-standing allied relationships … The lost goes on.

We seem lost, much as MacIntyre describes.  How did we get there?

Well, I am old enough to remember when we discarded moral philosophy in law school in favor of ethics.  We did something quite the same in teacher education.  Out with moral reasoning, in with the rule book.  Applying rules is a far cry from moral life lived.

Additionally, we waltzed away from God, convinced that we were sufficient unto ourselves.

And finally, we touted but one guiding index – equality as if equality alone, detached from morality, was a Holy Grail.

Nice try – we now look and act like the crew of Monty Python, but have no remote understanding that we impose this grotesque image on one another, and in a hostile and dangerous world waiting for easy prey.

Shalom.

Note – Alastair MacIntyre is a Scot.  He has taught at a number of great universities in the U.S. and in Europe.  He arrived at Notre Dame as an atheist and Marxist.  In due time, he became a Catholic and migrated from Marxism.  Would that we might follow his path.

Wisdom cries aloud in the streets, in the open squares she raises her voice; down the crowded ways she calls out, at city gates she utters her words: “How long, you simple ones, will you love inanity, how long will you turn away at my reproof?  Lo, I will pour out to you my spirit, I will acquaint you with my words.”

Prov 1:20-23

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Yes, Wisdom in person gives warning?  But do we listen?  Listening, do we act?

Often it is the voices of the lesser, the lowly that speak what is wise over the craven mutterings of the godless, the self-appointed, those at the top.

When confusion comes to its full fruit, Wisdom speaks.  Our task: to pause, listen, think. Are we hearing what we are to know?  What we lost?  What we suffer in its absence?

Have we divided one from the other?  Become haughty?  Come to think of ourselves as better than our neighbor, smarter and more privileged than our brother?  Above our sister?

In our land there is confusion, chaos – all engineered by the smug at the expense of humility and the humble.

Ah, but now Wisdom cries aloud in the streets, shouts in the open squares, is at the city gates.

What next?

Shalom.

Tomorrow: We will explore the Wisdom of The Unprotected Class in today’s America.

 ” … you have to respect the culture’s power to suck you in.  If you want to write about it, you can’t be up to your neck in it. You can’t hang out with celebrities being shot by paparazzi.  You have to be more careful.”

David Foster Wallace

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Detachment.  Not an easy trick for a social being.  But the culture, any culture – and particularly mass culture – can “suck you in” or make you merely an object of its destruction.  Detachment, then, employs the strength of solitude. Thank God, we are made for solitude and social existence.  Perhaps this is the vital temperature gauge.  Sometimes social and sometimes solitary.  One or the other in seasons of confusion and destruction, or those all-to-brief interludes of peace and tranquility.  Yes, the seasons of destruction seem longer now and closer to us.

Destruction.  Remember the demonic Charles Manson who sent impressionable others to murder?  Remember his words, “Of course I’m crazy.  I’m completely insane.  But before, it meant something.  Now everyone is crazy.”

Well, not “everyone,” but far too many.  There are simply too many personal encounters and too much visual evidence.  Crazy in high places, not low.  Mass culture is like that.  Its images matter.  Without care, you become what is most unbecoming.

Novelist Don Dellio has the keen eye of an observer.  He notes, “You become a consumer of antisocial acts in a way that … you buy a hot dog …”  Mass culture.  It can deconstruct and destroy without a wrinkle of self-doubt or remorse.

Mass culture.  In Czeslaw Milosz’s The Captive Mind he discusses how Polish army officers who were exiled to the Soviet Union under the German-Russian Non-Aggression Pact were murdered by the Soviets because, as members of the Polish intelligentsia, they “obstructed the way of the revolution that was to be imposed on Poland” and then Milosz explains: “Communism recognizes that rule over men’s minds is the key to rule over an entire country, the word is the cornerstone of this system.”  Yes, too close today for comfort.  But for Word, we are despaired.

Word.  Ah, this is where Christ comes in.  The indispensable, eternal, supreme, Divine counterpoint:

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1)

Destruction and Mass Culture.  Detachment.  Solitude and Christ.

Christ – more now than ever.  Christ.  Christ.  Christ.

Shalom.

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