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… the Light has come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought by God. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 19, 20, 21

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I have been focusing on the Gospel of John and the teachings that Jesus brings us in it.  I do so for a particular reason and it is this: we in the United States, especially among elites – those of privilege … including the media and entertainment class, lawyers and the judiciary, and university teachers and administrators, have lost contact with God, or have rejected God, religious narrative and Christ and this underlies all of our problems and our deteriorating public discourse and the reduced quality of those serving in public life.

Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture.  About the intersection between faith and the culture in which we live.  There is no moral guide without faith and religious narrative.

The loss of recognition of faith’s invaluable importance to a healthy culture is crippling, destabilizing.  In its absence all sorts of ideas and wants are pushed forward without a glimmer of depth or understanding.  The subsequent foolishness is and can be both costly and utterly destructive.  We seem to have adequately demonstrated this quite clearly in the last five to six decades.

We are unhealthy, divided, crude and increasingly ignorant and wasteful.

Things have got to change.  We must return to the source of our wisdom and humanity – to faith – knowledge of it and life lived in it.

Look at the above words.  Read them.  Pause to think about them.

Do you see evil in this culture?  Among the most vocal advocates?  Or do you see good? Light?  Is faith banished or welcome?  Is God dismissed or welcome? Is Light manifest?

Or does one hear actors and celebrities, elected officials even – talking hatefully and doing so without hesitation?  Is the media truthful or are they not?

Those who are not truthful are not of the Light.  They destroy and there is no reason to give them ear.

Shalom.

Common Mistake – I recently watched an interesting report on the BBC about suicide among homosexuals.  The claim was made that it is a serious problem and that its cause is the denial of equality.

The common mistake?  Not all matters and forms of human behavior depend on “equality.”

There is far more to a healthy life than “equality.”  It is not the essence of human existence.

Indeed “equality” is invoked by political advocates without any evidence that they have studied the concept.  They use “equality” in an undifferentiated way.   Big mistake.  A mistake of ignorance.

The result in this case is this: neither “equality” nor suicide are understood.

Our ignorance grows seemingly in direct proportion to the growth of educational institutions and budget increases in education.

Tradition does not mean that the living are dead, it means that the dead are living.

G.K. Chesterton

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Ah, but the absence of tradition does mean that the living are dead.  Just look around.  If only modern liberalism could understand this.  But alas, this is but one of their most egregious mistakes and one of the most costly as well.

Be clear about this: when tradition is shunned, or destroyed – chaos ensues, division and hostility too.  Indeed, the modern liberal will do anything to expunge tradition from a culture.  How else might a minority seize control over the many?

Think about it.  Why is tradition a target?  And what takes its place?

Shalom.

The text has disappeared under the interpretation.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil

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In America today we do a very poor job attending to the problems we face.  The principle mistake: we fail to determine the source of the problem.

We are most frequently trapped by the parameters of the problem itself, as it appears on the surface to us.  We let the problem define us.  We have lost touch with our text.

Yes, all problems tell us of the human person, his and her propensities, limitations, recurrent mistakes and failures.  Yet, in losing text, we lose context. Context lost, we fumble around making all sorts of mistakes and enemies while sustaining the presence of the problem, even institutionalizing it so that it becomes a permanent (but utterly unnecessary) presence in our life and culture. (Think how accommodations to race institutionalize racism.)

I give you an example.  Thinking about “activism” today, one might ask why so much of this?  Why do women assemble dressed as “vaginas” and with “pink pussy hats” to air their grievances?  Why do disgruntled Blacks burn down their neighborhoods, or Leftist and anarchists dress in black, wear masts, assemble to destroy private property, set fires, throw rocks at others?

We rarely ask: where does this come from?

In reading about Catholic monk Thomas Merton’s admiration for writer Albert Camus, I saw something of the origin of the activism we witness today. Indeed, I see the grand fallacy of social activism as it appears today … and yes, I see text lost to poorly formed interpretation.

Merton (like many liberals) admired French intellectuals who thought that it was an intellectual’s duty to be politically engaged.  In Camus, Merton saw an intellectual who did so.  He was smitten.

Camus, like his Leftist colleagues, saw the tension between a belief in things transcendent and evil.  Being without faith, Camus mistakenly dismissed God altogether.  His faulty reasoning: a good God would not allow evil to exist.  He failed to understand this basic proposition: God is perfect Good and as such not evil, yet God made the human being as an imperfect image of the Divine and it is man, not God, who besmirchs good with less good or evil.  In the godless Camus, the text is lost: it is NOT God but man who authors evil.

So Camus’ activism and today’s activism is imperfect man acting without God (without text and context) and producing evil when good is desired.  This the grand mistake of social activism.  We do not, as mere humans, possess the capacity to produce perfection – a world that is without evil.

All godless activism leads to politics and power and these divide, foster hostility – particularly when ideology replaces a more learned view of human existence.

Yes, there is an enormous price paid for text lost.

So we have now, real division – social activists who hate others and this nation. ‘Tis a very sorry state – one that may well destroy us.

Think about the lost text.  Christ was not a social activist.  He did not revolt.  He sustained in the midst of evil.   He was the willing, innocent victim of political power.  He suffered and died to glorify God and the truth man and of the Judeo-Christian story.

Truth and perfection does not come from man, nor in mortal life.  The truth of the matter is that we live for what is transcendent.  Camus, French intellectuals, Merton and the activists have it exactly wrong.  Christ does not.

Shalom.

 

 

June 11, 2017

This is the day of Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad.

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There have ever been and will ever be men who … will seek to exempt … parts of their faith from (authority) … to keep their minds floating between liberty and obedience.

Alexander de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America (Volume II)

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In Texas a 19-year-old women with two adorable little girls –  ages one and two – and no husband drove to a house with a 16-year-old boy and remained there for 15 hours (doing who knows what) while leaving her children unattended in the auto.

Having been left in the overheated auto, the children died.

Today stories like this are commonplace.  Between this story and the pathetic behavior the former F.B.I. Director and a host of others (particularly in the Obama administration) and among Democrats in the U.S. Congress and the media – it ought to be obvious that we are a nation in moral crisis.

Likewise, it ought to be obvious that those who voted for Mr. Trump are making a moral statement about the dire condition of this nation and that they are ridiculed and condemned by public figures, Hollywood celebrities and a sundry airheads and ideologues in the media and the press.

Yet, what is our focus?  Foolishness.  Bathroom privileges, hunting for Russians in the electoral process, expansion of the debt ceiling on the way to eventual bankruptcy, the celebration of deviant behavior, etc.

In the face of this there is nary an intelligent thought given to the place of morality in public life and the history of our country.  And, de Tocqueville was correct: we trade our faith and its tenets for the opportunity to live as we wish. Hello, child sacrifice that we call “choice” and codify as “the law of the land.” Shameful.

One wonders were are the men and women in public life with the intellect, analytical skill, wisdom, courage and humanity to recount the truth that without faith, without a prominent and protected place for faith in culture – moral decline and eventual destruction is a certainty?

Our education system (especially the once “elite” colleges, law and graduate schools) produces ignorance and ideologues – those without wisdom, moral strength or worth.

Liberal Christopher Lasch was once asked about the decline in civility, personal industry and self-restraint in America and he explained it quite easily when he said it was the result of the decay of religion in our nation.  Yes, he saw the hazard in exiling God and faith from the center of culture, law and governing.

In a short time in America, our liberal elites and the unchurched mass have undone hundreds of years of wisdom through the pursuit of unbridled freedom to do as they wish … and children ages one and two and the unborn suffer unto death.

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.

Shalom.

We had best pray that those who are lost, might come to their senses and to faith, and for two little children who are now dead.

“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.

A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

Elisabeth Elliot

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This Elliot quote is a nugget … about as true a thing as you can find.

I have been asked often by clients, colleagues, friends and people who seek my counsel to explain another person’s consistent hurtful, dismissive, thoughtless, selfish, antagonistic, hostile or chaotic behavior.  I frequently respond by saying: if you have disordered people in your life, they bring you disorder.  Indeed with disordered people – any expectations to the contrary are misplaced.

Personally, I keep my distance from disordered people … and I mean personal distance (face to face) and distance in the multiple forms they appear to me in the mass media/mass communication society we have now.

I cite a case in point: Tucker Carlson in this television interview and commentary show last night had a guest who was the absolute picture of disorder.  From the very first question, this female guest ranted, spoke over him, would not and probably could not give a competent response to any of his inquiries.  She was loud, uncouth and incapable of civil discourse.  Yes, a belligerent, disordered soul.  I stopped watching.

If she were acting this way in a psychiatrist office awaiting a consult they’d probably have sedated her.

Disorder is frequently on public display in American culture today.

I see this in women now whereas I never saw this in the early decades of my life.  On the contrary, I recall women who were strong, dignified, insightful, balanced, wise and courageous.  They had class and commanded respect by their mere presence.   Somewhere since feminism this has changed and we are the worse for it.

In addition to the Carlson episode, I offer three recent public incidents of women displaying troubling indications of disorder.  The first is Hillary Clinton in her ongoing public, everevolving, ever-expanding blame-everyone-but-me explanations of her unsuccessful candidacy.  In her one sees the depths of disorder.  Yes, a troubled disordered soul.

The second, is Kathy Griffin’s pitiful, weepy public complaint that the Trump family is responsible for the (fittingly) public criticism of her utterly tasteless display of a decapitated bloody head of the President.  Yes, a lost and disordered soul in the era of ISIS decapitations.

Then, there is national security leaker Reality Winner whose immaturity and devotion to leftist ideology led her to violate the law by giving classified material to those who had no legal right to have it.  Yes, a confused, dangerously immature and self-righteous soul.

Four queens of disorder.  Not a good sign for them, or us, or for women … and a far cry from Elisabeth Elliot – a wise woman of extraordinary faith, service and accomplishment.

Perhaps we can pray that those who are lost and troubled can be found.

Shalom.

In living we are directly doing the will of God … our very existence is contact with His will … life is holy and a responsibility of God and man.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man is Not Alone

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If you can imagine that your existence is willed by God, that each moment of your existence fulfills God’s will – would you think differently … act differently … feel differently than you do?

If one’s very existence touches the will of God, would you make different choices in life than you now do?

Each day I awake and in due time look at the news of the world.  Typically, I see some article that tells of something like this: a man tried to drown his two twin children, or a school teacher threatened to flunk a student with whom she was sexually involved if that student “broke” off their “contact.”

Seeing these things, I am repelled – not just by the event but by the fact that these things are thought newsworthy.  

These reported stories make me ask: Why would I want to know this?  What effect does reading this have on me?  On others?  Do these stories not bring us down? Sow seeds of despair?  Turn our appetite for life sour?

I am sure that every day there are any number of horrible acts committed and that newspapers and the news media in-general have their pick of horrible stories to convey – but is there any glancing thought that feeding others these stories has a debilitating effect?

The mere reporting of such stores tells us that the lost souls offering these stories neither conceive of living as collaborating with God’s will, nor that life itself is holy, sacred, divine in its creation and ought to be respected as such.

The truth is if you look around you will see all sorts of actions which deny that life is holy, sacred and divine.  Having seen this so clearly, I have decided to ignore this crap.

My view is quite simple: why do I want to have my spirit be poisoned by the godless conduct of those gripped by evil and its manifestations?  I know such people and acts occur, but why must I be made a party to them each day? Consequently, I’ve come to “keep by distance” from these reports just as I reject a diet of rotten food.

Why bathe in other people’s dirty water, or each rancid food?

Shalom.

If this post strikes a positive cord for you, please send it to others.  The process of reclaiming the public square and public space calls for our participation … and that means you and me together.

… in every society where the distinction of ranks has once been completely established, there have been always two different … systems of morality current at the same time; … one may be called the strict … the other the liberal, or … the loose system.  The former admired and revered by the common people, the latter … by … people of fashion.  (Emphasis added.)

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations

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This is Smith writing in 1776.  His book had a huge impact.  Its date coincided with the founding of the United States.

What Smith said then is as useful now as it has been over the last 241 years. Smith knew people.  He knew power, and he knew politics.

What he said then is visible to us today.

We have groomed a collection of elites.  These are the privileged people – the super-rich and the very affluent.  We see them in national politics, among ex-Presidents, on the bench, in the media, in entertainment, among those newly wealthy in the computer and internet industry, within the highly-educated class and in the tenured positions at once prestigious colleges.

These are people who live well above the income level of the common person – their morals are not the morals of common people.  Regrettably their privileged lives convince them that they know better than the commoners and that this licenses them to enforce their morals (such as they are) on the rest of us … along with their public policies.

Ah, but their interests are not our interests.  They do not suffer when factory jobs disappear and when small towns no longer present a place to work and raise a family free of addictions, dependency and hopelessness.

This privileged class manifests less need for faith than the commoner.  Hence, their morals are unlike the commoner.  Surely not better, but rather uniquely destructive, divisive and unhealthy.

As Adams says so well, the morals of the privileged are ruinous …  and because they are wealthy, the elites can sustain years of disorder far longer than the commoner.

That said, when a nation loses its identity to illegal invaders, when abortion is a form of “birth control,” and the spread of terrorism takes the life of innocents, of children and unarmed men and women – the time for the loose morals and destructive policies and preferences of elites comes to an end.  THIS IS BRIXET AND THE HILLARY CLINTON AND DEMOCRATIC DEFEAT AT THE POLLS.  This is how one explains that the Democrats captured only 64 of the over 3000 counties in the U.S. in the last presidential election.

The heinous photo of a minor female “entertainer” holding the severed head of President Trump tells you three important things: one, the morals of the privileged are not the morals of the common person; two, the curve is bending back on the Liberals (the privileged class in both political parties) and their attitudes and disposition; and three, the relentless attacks on the President are the elites clutching at control, attempting to retain power at all costs … power over the common person.

Ah, but the times may well be changing.

Shalom.

We see the world … as we are …

Stephen R. Covey

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These seven words are worth remembering.  There is truth in them.  Our actions, inactions, thoughts and concerns tell others who we are.

Thinking about this I am struck by two things: (1) how often we meet or are exposed to difficult or disordered people in this culture, (2) how often we can conclude that those we encounter have defaulted to a status far below their full growth and development.

This brings me to Carl Jung, M.D., and this opinion: we do little or nothing to present people with an understanding of what a human being is, and how we are formed and develop.

Jung’s life work provides a useful template which we neglect at great expense.

His view was that each person had to develop as the individual person they were created to be (i.e., individuation).  To explain this process, Dr. Jung focused first on the psyche.  

Jung divided the mind into a conscious and unconscious sphere.  The latter is divided into two components: what is personal and what is collective.  The personal is composed of lifetime experiences – including things forgotten or repressed.  The unconscious is comprised of universal and timeless images and understandings that are “inherited” and formed in archetypal patterns the denial of which creates disorder, keeps one from full development and individuation.

Jung’s view is that when one attends to the conscious (the center of which is the ego) and neglects the unconscious imbalance follows, and reaction appears in dreams, dream images and fantasies intended to encourage the full experience of human life.   Those who repress or neglect the unconscious sphere rely on ego alone and their assertiveness and disposition can be punishing to themselves and others upon whom they impose their will.  Yes, rely on ego and consciousness alone and disorder arises.

The latter, those egotists who impose their will, are abundant in politics and mass media today – giving rise to the hostility, bias and rather zany and self-destructive ideas advocated by the Left and ideologues today.

The practical point to be made is this: when you encounter those who advance strange ideas and insist on your allegiance to them, and turn hostile when you pause or refute their views you are likely facing one who is imbalanced.  One who does not manifest a healthy humility, is frantic when there is no reason for such a state – is probably short of the development they can, if the wish, achieve.

When you look about, when you encounter people and groups who are insistent and aggressive, who demonize those who do not agree with them – you are wise to discount their views.  Their behavior itself discredits what they advocate or propose.

Shalom.

Amazing – It is amazing to listen to the “Priests of Climate Change” who see those who disagree with them as heretics … and use scathing words to show their discontent.  So much for tolerance, civility and a democracy that allows for difference of opinion.

 

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

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If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

Shalom.

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