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It is for God to grant His grace.  Your task is to accept that grace and guard it.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in Catechetical Orations

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A friend of mine wrote to me this week and asked that I might be available to talk to her.  Her mate had passed away after a long illness.  The passing was about three months ago.  She knew I have experienced a number of such losses of loved one in my lifetime.

In responding that I, of course, would be available for her call.  I thought immediately of grace and its gift to us – a gift that we often overlook and that is so, so powerful in facing life’s losses and its extraordinary hardships.

Knowing the grace that has been bestowed on you (in my experience) is best identified my thinking about the parts of your life to which you have been drawn over time.  Or the recurring events in your life.

Are you one you cares for the injured?  Or the less fortunate?  The lost or abandoned?

Are you one who defends the innocent?  Stands up to the aggressor?  Whose foundation is kindness?  Or courage?  Whose skills are in seeing behind the veil?  Understanding human behavior and explaining it to others?

Are you one who sees the missing parts of others and how conduct and language tells you of another’s fears, limitations, or the constraints that have been imposed on them?

These, to me, tell of the grace that you have been given.

In times of hardships the grace is your strength.  Grace blossoms in difficult times.

I give an illustration.  If you suffer the death of another so deeply that you feel utterly lost and deeply saddened, does it not say that you loved deeply and gave all of your heart and soul to another?  I believe the answer is, “yes.”  That is a grace – to love so deeply.

Think about it.  Loving deeply is a capacity you have been given.  It is natural to you.  It is what you do.  It is you.

That grace exceeds all that has been lost, and anything you might be able to muster-up under your own power.  That grace is given by God and brings you closer to God – in this you are made more whole and come to know that all that befalls a human in this mortal existence only speaks of what is eternal and Eternity itself.

There is nothing that can exceed God’s grace.  There is triumph in all that appears as defeat – when one believes.

Shalom.

State of the Union and the Democrats.  It is revealing to watch the Democrats at the State of the Union.  They are not happy unless they are unhappy.  Members of the Black Caucus sat on their hands when President Trump noted that Black unemployment is the lowest it has been since the records were firsts established.  One thinks that the Black Members of Congress are more comfortable when their constituents are less well-off.  One supposes then the Black Members of Congress will have little to do but continue to complain and ferment racial divide.

The Democrats are in-large no different.  They specialize in exploiting division so they too showed no indication that they intend to cooperate in a bipartisan way with anything the President proposed.

They seem to have worked themselves into a Leftist cul-de-sac of racial, gender, ethnic and ideological division that has frozen them in their division and bias.

Nations are weakened in this manner – and our adversaries know it.  We had best snap out of this and doing so means rejecting the Leftist Party of Discontent and Division.

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It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it is possible to find them.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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These are the words of “the father of the Atomic Bomb,” – a brilliant man, delightful and well-liked and a physicist.

Last night I watched a riveting documentary entitled The Day after Trinity.  It was about the effort to collect a large team of physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and related scientists to conduct research and then make the Atomic Bomb which was subsequently used on our Japanese World War II enemies.

The documentary was the story in some ways about a Faustian Bargain, one made by innocents so easily captured by the hard and most interesting questions of science.

It is hard in watching this not to realize that man without morality, without a Spiritual base in life cannot fully appreciate what he has done until it is done.

Without a moral framework and a spiritual existence – we are easy prey.  This, by the way, explains how colleges and universities can capture our young with foolish, destructive ideas.  The truth of the matter is this: few people 18 or 19 years of age have lived sufficiently to have the judgement and courage to resist or refute failed and self-destructive fantasies promulgated and preached by their seniors in academia.

Indeed, they are too inexperienced to resist the easy conversion to ideas that make of them nothing more than herd animals.

The reduction of the young is a simple task of conversion for the idealists and ideologues who envision a utopia and enforce its development through the totalitarianism of “true believers.”  This is precisely where we are today in America with the Left and the Democrat Party.

Strange days, these days.  No one remembers Oppenheimer.

Shalom.

The liberally educated person is one who is able to resist the easy and prefered answers, not because they are obstinate but because he knows others are worthy of consideration.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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Who killed liberalism?  The Liberals … with the assistance of “education” turned into indoctrination of fruitcake social applications of Marxism.

Enter the nonsense of community-organization, feminism, “homophobia,” race baiters, multiple genders, sexism, white “privilege,” disarmament, socialism, redistribution, environmentalism, central government as omnipotent, etc.  All possessed as if these notions are, individually and collectively, the Holy Grail and justify attack on all ideas that stand in opposition to their point of view.

The question is now can this intolerant crowd once again become Liberals or whether contemporary “liberalism” will, as it now appears, to be converted to fascism and the destruction of our constitutional representative democracy – its tenets, ethos, habit, practice, civility, genius and institutions.  The choice: preservation of freedom vs. its lost.

Ironically, the present circumstances require that one might avoid colleges and universities that dumb us down.  Ditto “social media,” media commentators, traditional sources of news, academics and the Party of the Left.

Much of what you now see as assaults aimed at President Trump by the media, press, modern “liberals,” academics, Democrats, Hollywood, the entertainment world and identity groups is a clash between ill-liberalism and the existing, historic mores of our Nation.  Indeed, such a clash begins with God’s exile.  All form of evil prosper when God is denied.

We live in challenging times.  The question is this: Who are we and who will be?  Go with tradition, what has worked for a long time.  Don’t leave God.  Ride with the Wind.

Shalom.

People gain a sense of meaning when their lives cohere across levels … of existence.

Jonathan Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis

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Here psychologist Jonathan Haidt is referring to these levels: psychological, physical and sociocultural.  I use this quote to make one point: namely, the human person is complex.  We are not just “reason,” nor are we governed by reason as Haidt so expertly shows in his work.

Indeed, if you need to understand the complexity of the human person just become familiar with Haidt’s discourse on the complexity of the brain (Chapter I in The Happiness Hypothesis) which details how various parts of the brain have evolved over time, how parts of the brain to some extent compete with one another – and how in some people portions of the brain can overrun others making a life go rather dramatically “off track.”

So why do I call attention to this?

I mention this because public discourse does not conform to what Haidt and others know about the functioning of the human person.  To be more particular, political discourse is far, far from reflective of reality and seemingly utterly ignorant of just how people function, how errant conduct proceeds in the human person – how conduct is often the product of varied or injured aspects of one’s brain vs. a normative condition of healthy neuro-functioning.

Stated plainly, the ideologues of the Left (people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama and so many others) proceed with Karl Marx and his 19th century notions as if they are the pinnacle of insight and intelligence –(a) despite evidence that communist societies and their economics are proven disasters, and (b) as if we know nothing in the last 150 years of neuroscience and the derivative functioning of the human brain from its wellness to its imperfections and range of capacities. 

Stated plainly – the lesser “intellects” (using this term very loosely) promote “sexual freedom” and propound gender nonsense without any regard to neuroscience, psychology or sociocultural and interpersonal consequences.  Ditto, the advocates of drug use, the normalization of homosexuality, the public policy creations of intergenerational public dependency, fatherless families, the soft bigotry of “affirmative action,” the stupidity and fiction of an omnipotent and wise central government, socialism and the devaluing and dismissal of individual responsibility, sacred narratives, tradition and religion and consciousness of God.

Reading Haidt it is hard not to conclude – we are influenced by intellectual dullards and those with parrot-like recitations of outdated Leftists foolishness.  Ugh!  So far from good sense, knowledge, humility, Truth and wisdom of the Ages.  Fools causing calamity.

Shalom.

 

… what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in the outward reflections of our own acts.  We must find our real selves not in the froth stirred up by the impact of our being upon others around us, but in our own souls which is the principle of all our acts.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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I often hear people say that we are a sick society.  And so it seems.  One is hard pressed not to see the sickness of celebrities in our mass communication culture.  If one needed evidence we have plenty in the last months: Spacey, Weinstein, Franken, Lauer, Rose, Weiner, et al.

As far as I can tell, I see little comment about the effects of celebrity on the human person.  Little evidence that images can be very powerful and very destructive.  Few say much about how others use social media to gain attention, or how we are a visual culture and image, as a result, is significant.  Have you not noticed in political protests how people “dress for the occasion” – with black clothing and masks, or with pink “pussy” hats as the Leftist feminists have done?

Merton’s quote helps us understand the sickness of celebrity in mass culture, and the disorder it conveys to the public at-large.

As Merton says: our identity resides “in the invisible depths of our own being … not in the outward reflections of our acts.”  To be celebrated is not being.  To be celebrated is not to exist.  Our identity is in our soul and that speaks to spirituality, self-examination, faith and the wisdom of religious narrative.  Absent the latter we lose contact with our self and reality.  Therein rests the sickness of secularized mass communication culture.

We are made for time in solitude, for knowing our own divinely endowed dignity.  We are sickened and reduced when joined at the hip to mass communication culture and the images and celebrity it projects.

Your health and comfort is turning a blind eye to mass communication culture, its celebrity and image.

Shalom.

Truth – Funny thing about truth.  A friend asks your opinion and you tell them what you understand is true – and even decent people shy away from it, get defensive, hostile.  They prefer what is their comfortable view to what might be true.  People are weak – choosing to live the lies and compromises of a comfortable existence.  Yes, corruption and weakness take many forms – a common experience, one that isolates the true and honest from those with lesser strength.  So be it.  And we fail to get an honest and strong culture.  Keep your distance, lest you be compromised and reduced.  Let the dead bury the dead.

Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.

C. S. Lewis, in The Four Lives

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We are made to seek contentment, to love and be loved.  In this one fact alone is evidence of God and the essence of our sacred being, itself.   Yet, today there are piles of evidence that we are neither content, nor seemingly loving or sufficiently loved.

“Evidence?” you ask.  Yes.

Look around.  See how few intact families there are.  See the divorces.  The adulteries.  The overt expressions of selfishness and hatred.  How we have elevated sexuality and exploited the human body.  Look at the predators and those who remained silent while knowing of their assaults, their habitual abuse.  Look, too, at pornography. The sexual abuse of children.  Abortion.  Parents killing their children. The addictions.  The “normalizing” of abhorrent conduct – the fiction of “same-sex marriages,” the lunacy of multiple genders.  And the grotesque violence.  All a product of the desperately unloved.

Now contrast these things with the God who is Love.

We live in a time when God is forsaken and destruction is advanced as a substitute.  We make Sodom look tame.

Many like to point to a President as the cause of our serious problems.  Others expect “politics” or government to be the source of our health, contentment – salvation.

No, these cannot satisfy.

Our happiness resides with us, with who we are – and with the recognition that God is necessary and the source of all that is good in us, good in human existence and in this mortal world.

It is Christmas time.  The source of your happiness is born this month.  Wake up!

Shalom.

The eye of the nihilist is unfaithful to his memories: it allows them to drop or to lose their leaves … And what he does not do for himself, he does not do for the whole past of mankind.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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The last several days I have been off my stride in posting a daily blog.  How can this be?

I was visiting Notre Dame – a place of faith where friends meet and memories are preserved; and in the preservation, the person and the past are, like Christ, alive and eternal.

This trip held time for friends and conversations of substance – human contact, embrace, careful listening, honest discourse, laughter, fellowship, remembrance and renewal.

Notre Dame is a place where daily life and faith meet – and faith absorbs its visitors.

There strangers greet each other as familiar neighbors – smiles and warm exchanges are the coin of the realm.

Standing in the very back of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus for the last Mass on Sunday past, I looked out on a church with every seat taken and many happily standing for worship – made all the more absorbed in faith by the beauty of the majestic structure, the stained glass made by French Nuns a century ago, the choir voices, the exquisite ritual of the ageless Mass – the privilege of Communion.  Many as One.

Standing there – seeing so many people focused on the reality of their faith – on Christ their Redeemer, Mary their Mother, God their Father, I was deeply moved by the truth and beauty, and hope and certainty that my eyes took in.

In faith there are no nihilists and memories are never forgotten nor misplaced.

It is faith alone that keeps us One.

This, Dear Friends, is for you.  Take heed, lost no more.  Live in faith – certainty and contentment follow – no storm or doubt may claim us then.

Shalom.

 

All efforts based on parliamentary control and free-market economic mechanisms proved useless in quelling the growing polarization in opinion and stance.  Different propositions were put forward, ranging from anarchism to autocratic rule, and for many young people each seemed preferable to the rotten democracy they lived under.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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These words describe the deteriorating political climate in Poland in the 1930’s and to some extent the political climate in Europe at the same time.

They so remind me of the extraordinary state of affairs and discontent in the U.S. today.  Partisanship reigns.  One Party houses the extreme Left.  Liberalism embraces nihilism and its echoes ring in the public square, mass media and the courts of law.  Anarchists, while small in number, dressed in black slash and burn.  Foundations fund the voices of Black racism.  We live in uneasy times.

Circumstances have changed.  The once stable America is less a source of certainty than it has been and the world becomes more dangerous.

We tilt Left and morals have been mothballed.  Trusted government institutions have lost their glow.  Public corruption tarnishes democracy.  Religious belief itself is in thin supply.  Education is below the waterline.  It is a troubled time.

History tells us that in such times the best young men mature more quickly … and across the land the wise turn back to faith.  Yes, extreme moments snap us into what is fundamental, personal, sure, uplifting, good and eternal – humanizing, strong, kind, heroic – the only option in dark days.

Beneath the flawless manners of a worldly gentleman he hid his compassion for all that is living.  Some people perhaps could sense it, but it was certainly known, in ways mysterious to us, to the small birds that would perch on his head and hands when he stopped in a park alley.

Czeslaw Milosz, in Goodness

Lord, bring us to our senses – to morality, honesty, kindness, compassion – Make us One.

Shalom.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 5:8

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John Dunne in The Circle Dance of Time tells of a student who asks a rabbi why it is that men no longer see the face of God.

The rabbi replies that men no longer “stoop so low” – meaning that they no longer subordinate themselves to a superior reality … that our preference for our own autonomy keeps us from knowing God and ironical finding and knowing ourself.

It follows that not knowing self nor God staves off contentment, peace and loving self or another.

If you do not know yourself nor God can you know another or have peace?  Indeed the question arises – Without knowing self or God, can you love at all?  Can you find peace?  Tranquility in mortal existence?

One can justifiably ask: does our autonomy – the priority we place on our rights under the law of man in a culture that disdains faith, relationship with God … does this state of being, this consciousness leave us discontented, quarrelsome, far less than we are made to be … does this emphasis on autonomy insure our unhappiness? 

The loss of God in a mass communication culture where legal rights are extolled accentuates our unhappiness – particularly when all manner of uninformed, sparsely educated voices, ignorant and hostile and divisive ones dominate public discourse?

If we are offered the “pursuit of happiness” in our nation, are we not wiser still to subordinate ourselves to the superior reality of God?  Is it not obvious that our access to happiness requires that we bend to a superior reality.

One nation under God – – – yes or no?

If you wish to understand the chaos, division and hostility that abounds daily in this land – think about what is written here today.

From mass media to politics and mindless homicides – we show our distance from health and happiness.  This need not be.

Shalom.

 

 

Knowledge can only be gotten in one way, the way of experience.  There is no other way to know.

Vivekananda, in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

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A culture does itself harm when it glorifies formal education at the expense of experience, for it is experience that teaches, imparts wisdom, provides confidence, humanizes, teaches you about your adversary, brings you into contact with God.

We are a culture that glorifies education and mistakenly elevates certain once venerable colleges as being magically able to make mere graduates “wisdom figures.”  Ridiculous.  Silly.

Those with wisdom have lived and experienced.  It is in experience that we learn – the greater the challenge the more wisdom we acquire.

Look with care at those on the public stage.  Most of those who appear know little – have no particular expertise, have lived unexamined lives, are far from wisdom and maintain personal lives of chaos and confusion.  They have nothing but foolishness and self-promotion to offer.  They lack insight, are at best trite … not worth your attention.

In contrast, you are far better served by maintaining your spiritual life, coming to know your ancient text and its story.  A Christian’s relationship with God is rich in wisdom and truth – something, incidentally, that those in the public space seem to lack, or willfully neglect.

Your religious narrative and the faith to live what is presented to you are all that is needed to prosper and grow in wisdom and courage.

Shalom.

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