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Happy Father’s Day

Fatherhood is at the core of the universe, at the center of being and its mystery.  Shame on those who ignore their children for the damage done and the opportunity lost.

Grandpa Bobby Bob

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So it is Father’s Day.  You know I looked for a quote that might sum up fatherhood.  Didn’t find one, and doubt that I could.  Fatherhood is larger than all the words known to us.

Fatherhood has a mystical quality to it.  One is father in ways that are more than merely intellectual.  No, fatherhood resides and operates in the realm of mystery.  Fatherhood introduces a man to supernatural reality.  When one attends to his children – God is visible, eternity exists and everlasting love takes its form.  Fatherhood stretches into time, from here to time immortal.

Fatherhood transforms.  I give you proof.

Acquiring the experience of another person is one of the hardest things one might do, love notwithstanding.  Yet, I have seen my son come to fully understand me when he himself became a father to two beautiful children (one a toddler, one an infant – a boy and a girl – a prince and a princess, if you don’t mind).

Try as I might have to convey to him how important he was to me – when he became a father he understood what I tried to impart as to his importance to me.  Now he “gets it.” Now, I get that unexpected call from him to ask: “Dad, are you okay?  Just called to see how you are.”  And I get, “Love you, Dad.” Yes, love unites us in ways that make son and father best friends forever, inseparable, indivisible.

I tell my friends, I have seen my son transformed by becoming a father, and a very good Dad at that: engaged, loving, calm, instructive, helpful, gentle, thoughtful, playful, guiding, a giant “best friend” to two Little People … a giant with a soft voice and an endless supply of hugs and kisses.

His Ph.D. notwithstanding, I tell him and his wife that what they do as parents is the most important thing they will ever do.  I see in his two Cupcakes – contentment, ease, comfort, confidence in their young explorations – wonders in their eyes and smiles on their faces, love and joy in their every breath.

My son’s fatherhood anoints me Grandpa Bobby Bob (as I am so named by Grandson Jack, not yet three).  Life has no greater honor for a man than to be Dad and then Grandpa.

Fatherhood transforms.  It is in the mystery of life – more than sociological designation or a name on a birth certificate, more than a formality … it is a blessing bestowed on us by design, an opportunity of a lifetime, a source of meaning now and forever.

Happy Father’s Day!

If we wish to see a strong and good society – let all men who have children be first and foremost: good and responsible fathers.  Life’s problems are fewer to those who have been well-fathered.  Men, do your sacred job – your children and this nation depend on it.

Shalom.

 

 

… 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.

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

… (Thomas) Merton described himself as journeying towards his destiny “in the belly of a paradox” … He sought the monastic life because he desired hiddenness and solitude, but his writings brought fame and demands.

Lawrence S. Cunningham, in Thomas Merton & the Monastic Vision

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When we flee the world in favor of aloneness or have aloneness thrust upon us, we most often find God and in finding God we find ourselves, others and the world. God, of course, is our solitude and in Him and with Him we then proceed … never to be without Him.

There is no hiding, though many do so in plain sight using status, title, appearance, celebrity, power, wealth or what-have-you to separate out from the mob.  As for the individual, there is no unitary escape, no disappearing act.

In seeking one’s particular solitude you will most surely find self and God – for solitude is the door to contemplation, to self-examination, reflection, infused wisdom, understanding, compassion, mercy, patience, love, forgiveness, intimacy, contentment … and in each of these the gateway to Truth, to what alone is True, to you and He who makes you as you have been made.

Once God is known aloneness is proved a lie, for then one is never alone and realizes that one was never alone.  Paradox ends, then – and all fits a divine rubic.

Our path – seek to withdraw as if to the desert, or sit under the lotus tree in quiet and soon enough God is present and hiddenness is impossible, unnecessary for then we are called to life as it is intended.

The Sacred Paradox is this: aloneness presents God and aloneness is no more.

Shalom.

Blog for May 23, 2017, will be posted in the midday.

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President Trump at the Western Wall.  This is a remarkable vision.  Why have we not seen this before now?  We can be grateful for the emergence of faith in public affairs – how else can you see an American President stopping in Saudi Arabia and then in Israel.

Faith has a place in all life, and activity without it is doomed to fail.  Has not our recent past and the woeful tone of opposition politics today shown us this. 

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When man subverted order he did … more than … diminish his own humanity … compromise his destiny … he … presents the unhappy spectacle of a being in revolt against Being …

Etienne Gilson, in The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy

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Gilson thought of God as Being itself.  As such, everything in the cosmos combines into one meaningful whole and all is contingent on God who is the reason for the existence of all things, all persons, all life.

Ask yourself if you act as if this is so?  It puts you to a significant test, a serious self-examination.  Are you bogged down in meaningless matters, governed so easily by emotions and worry?  Swept up in useless, insignificant daily sensations and alarms?

Likewise, look at the news, at politics, at those with easy access to mass communication – what do they have to say about that matters?  Are they conscious of their own contingency?

Contingency breeds humility – our scale reduced to proper size: a tiny part of a timeless whole – of Being itself, of God the Creator who is always and forever.

If you do not live in proper context and dimension you come to prefer self to God and condemn yourself to error and discord, restlessness and worry, loneliness and separation.

A life well lived fulfills your design as God has presented it … authors contentment and prepares you for harmony with all things.

Do you see in this what you need to do to know contentment?  Can you see how lost we are today?  Especially those you show their godless confusion and seek that we might follow them, tolerate their self-destruction so that it can then destroy us?

Embrace the best way of living and that is under God’s authority where peace prevails when the rain and wind comes to gale force and all seems darker yet.

Shalom.

Remarkable Reception for President Trump in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis are to be applauded for the warmth and dignity they display.  This could be a significant turning point.  So much for the notion that President Trump is the Devil incarnate.

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… the state threatened to become not only militarily and politically triumphant but psychologically so: the custodial Superego for millions … their Egos an instrument, pure and simple, of the state’s bureaucratic manipulation.

Robert Coles, M.D. in A Secular Mind

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Dr. Coles, an esteemed research psychiatrist, is commenting on Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz’s observations in his book entitled A Captive Mind in which he explores the consequences of (Communist) centralized state power over the individual person.

Doctor Coles ends his book about the secularized mind by focusing on the apparent need for the modern state to secure social and psychological control over its population.  And, Coles focuses on the prospects of neurochemistry and medical science in doing so.

As to the latter point, Coles draws on advances in neuroscience, biology and medicine – particularly on developments in pharmacology – reminding us that Sigmund Freud thought that in time the mind itself might be reduced to simple matter and ministered to (and perhaps altered substantially) by medications. That is to say, that the experience of being human would change rather significantly.

This, by the way, has been a theme expressed over time by a number of people from Orwell, to Huxley, to Stanislaw Witkiewicz and others, and displayed in Phillip Dick’s 1968 movie Blade Runner.

The notion of centralized control over the person leads me to think more critically of the divisions between those who despise Donald Trump and those who voted for him.

In thinking about this I see Trump as an unimportant focus.  It is not he himself that matters but rather the significance of the divide between those who voted for him and those who are clearly threatened by him, and seem to hate him.

It seems to me that the divide is what is important.

That said, I think one can make a reasonable observation that the difference is in part the distinction between those who favor centralized power and those who do not.  In effect, we are talking about those who favor government control over the social and psychological nature of the human person and those who oppose the same.

Illustratively, the Left favors imposing their “views” on others – i.e., forced “tolerance.” Some in the middle ground default to continued growth in government to the extent that sovereignty and national identity and nation itself is devolved to international organizations and competing cultures (i.e., globalists).

In opposition to this, of course, are those who favor less government and preservation of nation, individual freedom and continued American economic prosperity and ethos, and constitutional Federalism.

We have simply stated: globalists vs. nationalists.

So the question today is not Trump but what underpins the divide?  Why his adversaries violently oppose him?  Why the hatred and effort to drive him from office?

My view is that it has to do with a very fundamental question: Will we live in a country where control over the human person expands as the power of the central government and international organizations expands or will we not?

Shalom.

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

… the time was approaching … when the Ego … would be mere putty in the hands of something much larger than any human being … a strangely impersonal (and inhuman) construction of social and political reality, that would have enormous, compelling, even definitive sway over all within its grasp … the state’s (moral and political) power (would) become for the individual a commanding and pervasive presence … enforcing its institutional will on … all … (Emphasis added.)

Robert Coles, M.D., in Secular Mind

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In the above Dr. Coles, an esteemed research psychiatrist who held three endowed chairs at Harvard University, is commenting on George Orwell’s classic 1984 (written in 1948) in which Orwell foretold of man’s loss of self to the state and its impersonal and often brutal, a-spiritual, conforming power.

We are, of course, precisely where Coles said we would be in his 1999 book –A Secular Mind.

We are – notwithstanding, the useless, uneducated, destructive chatter of “talking heads,” newspaper editorial boards, Leftists intellectuals, “progressive” politicos, feminist and sexual “special pleaders,” the mindless celebrity class, and misplaced vaudevilleans of late night television – just a Coles predicted … at risk of losing our Self.

The problem we face is not merely political.  No, it is far more.  It is cultural.  As cultural, it is fundamental.  It poses this question: what is and shall be a fully developed human being?

In particular, the force of the state on the human being always invokes this question: what is it to be human?

Of course, the history of the Communists’ gulags and the adjacent death camps of totalitarian states tells us that centralized, ideological governments and politics never advance the fullness of the human person.  Their concern is control of the mass, not the sacred reality of being a human being.  Hence, all central states (our behemoth included) incline to homogenize and reduce the human to dependent or servant and in doing so they seek to reduce the role of faith, exile God and curtail religious freedom.

The impulse which elected Trump is the impulse to salvage human existence in the face of the growth of the central state.  The hatred this has stirred up on the Left and among the statists Republicans (i.e., globalists, and vested elites) and those who make their very nice living as media handmaids of the governing class is precisely a defense of the large state and its imposition on the human person and critical subversion of faith and spiritual existence.  Think, for example, of the Obama IRS which took active, lawless aim at religious tax exempt citizen organizations.

That is where we are …and I add I see no one in mass communication culture who has called this to the fore.  Rather, I see debates over this or that policy, the appointment of this or that person to do X or Y.

We have a more comprehensive problem … one requiring a broader scope of intellect and a greater knowledge of psychiatric welfare and spiritual development.

Alas, the politicos and media-types are least likely to possess anything like the knowledge, experience, insights or analytical tools to navigate us through very troubled and dangerous waters.

We have an interesting challenge in the present moment.  The discussion must be broader than politics.  It must be cultural and fundamental.

Shalom.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s civilize men and society.  My Mother saved my life.  I think of her everyday.  Maybe someday women will come to understand and cherish this: as birth-givers they are more important than men.  Seeking equality with men is a step down.  We have lesser gifts.  God bless Moms!

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There is a deep malaise in society … in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other … There is … a vacuum inside us …

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Today I read an article about how parents of young men and women offer obituaries of their sons and daughters that candidly acknowledge the opiate use which took their life in the hope that with an honest statement about a very tragic and very serious national problem we might awaken to this deadly addiction.

Where might we begin?

There are many strands to this epidemic.  Of course, we have been very lax in   proscribing the use of painkillers.

Indeed, three months ago when I was being discharged from the hospital after knee replacement surgery, the nurse overseeing my discharge informed me I was to get a prescription for a powerful and potentially addictive painkiller even though I had had no pain and required no pain medicine after the operation.  I refused the offer over the nurse’s suggestion that I take the prescription “just in case.”

Yes, we routinely throw drugs into the mix for just about anything that “ails” us.

But I turn to Thich Naht Hanh’s point.  We do not stand on spiritual ground; we have little understanding of spirituality and, in this, life seems to lack meaning. We float or stumble about without a secure base, the inner strength and the resolve.

Hanh’s concern is that the elders in culture do not convey, do not project – values that display and confirm spiritual existence.

He notes that even priests do not  “embody the living tradition” of their professed faith. When this is so, ritual loses meaning – and worship seems thin – more ceremony than deep, lasting experience.

The elders of our culture had best renew their faith and renew it at depth, so they might daily convey its presence in all that they do, how they conduct their affairs and how determinative spiritual existence is to all they think and do.

The malaise has taken a huge toll on us – from opiate addiction, to broken marriages, abortion, coarse public behavior, gender and sexual confusion, political hostility and division, crass self-promotion and selfishness, the crude quest for money and status … All this while we neglect the spirit and our spiritual needs and development.

We are far less than we once were and can be.  Hanh is right.  Starting with spiritual existence is fundamental to our welfare, and survival.  Elders must show the way. Parents must lead, faith be restored.

Shalom.

A rare spring cold accounts for a late day entry.  Darn thing slows me down.

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The will to win, the desire to succeed.  The urge to reach your full potential.  These are the keys to the door of personal excellence.  (Emphasis added.)

Confucius

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A friend asked me today what I thought about the changes to Obamacare contained in the bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  My response was simply this: I had not studied its particulars and I knew that the Senate would alter it considerably but I did say that so long as we do not instill some degree of individual responsibility in people we will diminish people and make them less able to handle life as its presents itself.

My point is very much the sentiment of Confucius.  We are made for growth and maturity, for gathering more range in life – for coming to know and employ our full potential.  When anyone, especially the government, tempts us to abandon our full development we are inclined to a grave error with unhappy result.

Many among us, particularly the Left, socialists and those pushing “identity” politics and its notions of victimhood and oppression, have furthered dependency and in so doing harmed in a very adverse way the gift of human existence and the promise that it presents that we all can grow and achieve far more than we can envision.  Those who work to create dependency show a lack of faith which itself always disempowers.

Seek excellence.  It is part of your birthright.  God bless.

Shalom.

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