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That millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make  people sane.

Erich Fromm, in The Sane Society

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It is a little ironic for me to utilize the words of a Left-leaning secular humanist like Fromm but – assuming his words have merit, accuracy and hence a quality of timelessness such that they can be invoked in any era – it seems to me they offer an opportunity for today.

The opportunity?  The opportunity to ask of ourselves in the West and in the United States if some of our prominent ideas and their political advocacy conveys what is ill or what is well.

I think of abortion.  I think of children born to women who are not married.  I think of the collectivist nature of liberal orthodoxy, “borderless” borders, the application of equality that seems to shun individual responsibility and the recognition that people are of vastly different capabilities and drives, a disdain for police officers, a dismissal of religion, the reverence afforded the celebrity – the people in visual media, in the press … and such.  The list could go on.

On many fronts, it is reasonable to ask – Are these common acclamations contributing to sanity or insanity?  Do we look like a healthy or ill society?  Have we put the propositions of the Left to this test?  Fromm himself would ask this.  One wonders why we do not.

Yet for example, that a bundle of people think that there are endless numbers of “genders” neither makes it so, nor makes it sane.

My point is Fromm’s point – a collection of people saying or doing the same thing makes what is said or done neither true nor healthy, per se.  Time to put advocacy and ideology to the test.  Good for us?  Healthy?  Destructive?  Foolish?  Sane?

One wrong idea can make a whole people sick.  Destroy harmony and community, a nation, even.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him and healed them.

Lk 6:19

Yes, it is virtue that is the measure.  Life seeks the advancement of virtue and the health and fulfillment of the whole person.

Shalom.

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I urge you … that there be no divisions among you but that you be united in the same mind and same purpose … Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? … The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Cor: 10, 20, 25

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What St. Paul said so many centuries ago speaks to us today.

We seem to have the habit of nudging God from the picture.  Claiming belief, we fashion results as the author of what is good.

Humans are prone to produce division – often in the name of what is “good” or (worse yet) of our professed faith.

Wither ideology and all sorts of odd ideas like “social justice” – a cover for individual responsiblity and evidence of our pride and sinfulness.

Too many of our ideas, and the manufacture of ideology, dodge God and His instructions.  Divided from God we divide ourselves from one another.  Discord, estrangement and hostility flourish.

We make what is direct obscure.

We change the names of magnificent things like pregnancy – infanticide becomes “choice,” Holy Matrimony is befitted with fiction to excuse disordered behavior, gender is redefined and multiplied.  Absurdity abounds.

Corinth was “full of devotees of various pagan cults and marked by a measure of moral depravity.”  We are Corinth.  It best NOT be so.

Less government would be an improvement.  Less reliance on government – less political division and more individual responsibility … more space for faith and for God, and for humility and gratitude.

Shalom.

The Iran “Deal” – If Mr. Kerry wanted to see the Iran Deal made a permanent (while idiotic) achievement he’d best have encouraged Mr. Obama to make it a Treaty and get Senate approval for it.  But that would have required work.  However that didn’t seem to be Mr. Kerry or Mr. Obama’s inclination.

How to hold to the moral and religious values in the face of all sorts of challenges …  What happens to people, emotionally and spiritually when they compromise certain important principles – start down the road to rationalization and self-justifications?  (Emphasis added.)

William Carlos Williams, M.D.

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These are a words of novelist and medical doctor commenting on his writing.  Like others (Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Cheever, etc.) Williams saw their work as novelist to be presenting the reader with questions as to their moral and spiritual development in the midst of life’s slippery slopes that fragment and damage the essence of full, healthy and honorable human development and existence.

Our culture today evokes the challenges Williams saw.  Compromises are abundant in an exclusionary secular culture that diminishes faith and prefers God be exiled.

Nothing good comes of diminished faith and life with God in exile.  And that is where we are at this time in America.

While you may be sensitive to the godless challenges posed by radical humanists – the question is posed: what do you do to sustain your healthy and full growth as a human being?  What do you do to maintain a mature emotional and spiritual state while others around you have abandoned their better instincts for selfish and injurious objectives and disposition?  How do you sink your self into quiet contemplation?  Come to the vital questions that authors like Williams and Percy and O’Connor present?

Lest you think you can rely on academics, the media, or the entertainment industry to offer this opportunity to you, I give you these words of analytical psychiatrist Robert Coles who notes: “I have seen plenty of arrogance and selfishness in … “humanistic” professions – snobbishness or self-importance and meanness or hardness of spirit in doctors … clergy … educators … the … arts…”  And he added that “Years … of education … have not prevented many … from becoming dogmatic, smug, and fiercely antagonistic to those who happen to disagree …”

Let’s face it.  You have the sacred call to grow to fullness and no one but you can see that this happens.  If your culture lacks the moral and spiritual content and character you desire – then it’s on you to attend to its failure, to correct the situation.  On you!

Shalom.

“Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, and  you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  (Emphasis added.)

Ex 19: 5, 6

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Thus God spoke to Moses.  His words return to us.  Putting them to test today cannot but give you pause.

Have we obeyed God?  Have we kept His covenant?  Do we look like a nation of priests and a holy nation?  It would be hard to say “yes” to these questions.

Today we welcome a harlot as a center of attention in a story involving her accepting a large financial payment for not talking about a sexual encounter a dozen years ago with a prominent man.  Abortions are more welcome than unborn children.  Judges reign who have been adulterers and married three times.  A former President accepted a cash “gift” for pardoning a fugitive billionaire.  An F.B.I. director and his colleagues lie and unlawfully leak information in pursuit of destroying a political figure they do not like.  A candidate for high office has her multiple misdeeds ignored.  A select prosecutor hires a staff with adulterers and others who have convicted people while withholding information that would have proved their innocence.  The prosecutor himself put four men in jail for a long time who were subsequently freed because of their innocence.

These are not the acts of holy men and women, nor are they in conformity with God’s covenant.  Shame.

But how long will you let those in authority who act in your name cast you aside, impose on you their sinful deeds?  Do you not aspire to something better?

Shalom.

Oh Goody.  A national coffee shop chain is requiring all its employees to spend a day in race sensitivity training and former Attorney General Eric Holder (a lawyer with no special training in psychology, cultural criticism, history, religion, theology, sociology, etc.) will be the instructor.

Now I’m no expert on racism, but I’d bet it is reasonable to define a racist as one who thinks constantly about race and racial division.  That said, the public Mr. Holder seems fixated on race and racial division.  Is this the best one can do?  How about working on seeing all people as (surprise) just people?  God’s children?

The monk is a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and the confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

Our cultural elites, the modern liberals, have contempt for democracy because it produces results and elects politicians they disapprove of.

Robert H. Bork, in Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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American liberals in their various iterations have diminished what we once possessed: a civil society whose public and private institutions reflected our common cultural inheritance – that of European Christendom.

The evidence of this runs the gambit from law and the judiciary, to family, morality, sexual mores, politics and political practices, university and secondary education, vehicles of mass communication, entertainment, the press and even some of our religious institutions.

The degeneracy that this brings is clear in so many ways – one being the image this weekend of former F.B.I. Director James Comey hawking his recent book.

Poor Mr. Comey.  He is want of personal understanding of himself.  Consistently his public utterances tell us: “something is wrong with this fellow.”

His actions only seem to confirm his disordered state and bolster the idea that he is the just result of modern liberalism’s own inbreeding.  Yes, the ideas of elites which bear little resemblance to that of the common man and woman are visible in many on the Left who assume public leadership and voice.

Here in Mr. Comey is a lawyer who while under oath in testimony given the Congress tells of appropriating government documents and leaking them to a Columbia law professor to share with The New York Times in order to get a “Special Counsel” appointed to investigate/delegitimize an elected President.

What lawyer would disclose his illegality and questionable objectives without any apparent recognition that he is describing his own lawlessness?

Likewise how could the head of the F.B.I. mismanage the Hillary Clinton national security mess so completely as to make it utterly clear to the public that “the fix” was in and the F.B.I. administrative cabal of Leftist political partisans surrounding Mr. Comey were far from pedigree conspirators or reasonably decent and honorable barristers?

In his actions and interviews, Mr. Comey offers himself as the poster child for the incoherence, corruption and incompetence that is the modern liberalism of the cultural and political elites wearing the “Democrat” label.

Toto, we are a long way from European Christendom, America as it once was, and from decency and wisdom.

Our restoration will evolve only insofar as we individually return to faith, have the courage to speak up, and to reject the poisonous fruit of modern liberalism.  Indeed, it has done sufficient damage as is.

Shalom.

 

 

… while Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees confronted them … they laid hands on Peter and John and put them in custody …

Acts 4: 1,3

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As is presented in this reading, those who speak of Jesus the Christ are often at odds with people in power, with “the authorities” – temporal authorities.  Such is the challenge of believing in Christ and acting on your belief.

What Peter and John faced is no less likely today in a more secularized culture where those who put all their trust in secular powers for they lack faith and impose their personal prejudices and wild ideas on others by force of power.  This of course is the Left today here and in Western Europe.

In the present day, the tension is between those who believe and those who do not.  This tension is manifest in many ways – on questions of gender, marriage, adoption, abortion, free speech, mention of God in the public square.

Indeed, the present attacks on the sacred wisdom reflected in our Constitution is sufficient cause for alarm.

We seem intent on destroying the genius of our Founders as reflected in the Constitution.  Those who do this handiwork are doing what ISIS and other adversaries would welcome – destroying freedom we have in a document that combines liberty and faith.

Far better you be as Peter and John than be silent or compliant and let our heritage and freedom pass from us.

Those who would destroy have no faith, their deeds divide.

We need more people in public life who live their faith and know and protect our sacred heritage.

Shalom.

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one …

C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

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Battles between good and evil are won on the margins.  This is a lesson few Americans seem to understand.  Good compromising with its opposite is no victory … it is a lost …

Compromised moral structures result in the disappearance of morals and the institution of corrupt practices – and corrupt lifestyles. In this the abnormal becomes normative.

Look around, the Liberals and the Left have brought us six decades of gradual roads moving us to the destruction of the family, marriage, childhood, virtue, truth, decency, community, intimacy, imagination, honor, sacrifice, morality and meaning.  It their places: the bacchanal – anything goes, self and pursuit of pleasure is king!

But make no mistake – the battle is won or loss on the margins.  Accept same-sex marriage and holy matrimony is lost.  Accept abortion on demand and motherhood is lost – and euthanasia is right behind – hastened by homicide, suicide and drug addictions.

To fight and win on the margin one must address the son who is using drugs or living a dangerous lifestyle.  Yes, when evil is in play – one speaks up and stands for what is good, and right – what is healthy and moral and elevates the human person, preserves their soul.  Remain quiet and compliant and you can kiss your culture goodbye while saying “Hello” to Hell.

This is where we are today.

Shalom.

Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by future projects or concerns.  When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply …

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Today with all its fury, demands, confusion, transgressions, noise, deceit, foolishness and injuries has a way of capturing us.  But we need not be locked into its mischief and destruction.  Indeed it is quite unhealthy for us to be captured by all the chaos and malfeasance, the untruths and disorder.

‘Tis much wiser and far healthier to be mindful.  To focus on our interior.  Seeking quiet and listening to it gives rest, understanding – transcendence, yes, liberation.

In the fury of today, do you hear your breathing?  Most would answer, “No.”  To them I say: “You are NOT mindful.  You have been captured by chaos.  You are forfeiting your life – cheating yourself out of the life you have been given.  Making yourself sick.  Settling for far less than you have been given.”

Cistercian monk Thomas Merton had an affinity for the existential writer Albert Camus.  He saw in Camus “a man who … loves the world yet stands apart from it with a critical objectivity which refuses to become involved in its transient fashions and its more manifest absurdities.”  (Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World in Action).

So many are captured by the chaos.  The digital world, much like the organs of mass “communication” (or shall we say “miscommunication“) that sow chaos and confusion – reduce us drastically from whole to but fragments.

Better to hear your breath.  Be mindful.  Stand apart.  Maintain critical objectivity – you can dismiss most of what is going on around you … there are so few healthy voices after all.

Shalom.

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.  (Emphasis added.)

Cor 5:20

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St. Paul’s words fit us to a tee today.  This is precisely the core of the problem we face in America and particularly in Washington, D.C. and national politics.

We have forsaken Christ in favor of self and power and greed.  In place of Christ: we have collusion, Commies, incompetence and corruption.  Forget the swamp – we have a cesspool.

Think about it: lobbyists, lawyers, politicos and their hacks and handlers, lots of money, career politicians, dishonesty, duplicity, a partisan press and clueless media, fools running the Justice Department, FBI, intelligence agencies, in the State Department – and past Presidents asleep at the switch, and investigations that are at best “selective.”

So where are the Christians?  Their voices?  Who is to set the standard of decency?  Honesty?  Service?

Yes, there are some Members of the Congress who stand tall.  I think of Mr. Nunes of California, Mr. Goudy of South Carolina – and there are others – more in the House of Representatives than in the Senate.  But is there not a place and time for Christians to speak up publically?

Remember, America is a country which (unique in history) built a free nation on the relationship between faith and liberty.  Religion and its presence … hence, religious freedom is vital to our individual liberty and national prosperity and character.

Believers must speak when the conditions require.

Frankly we are failing our ancestors who built this Great Nation and we are failing the God who made us and entrusted us with this land and this Nation’s mission.  Shame on us.

What will you do?

Shalom.

 

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