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Why does anyone tell a story?  It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically.  (Emphasis added.)

Madeleine L’Engle

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So says author Madeleine L’Engle (Wrinkle in Time and so many other wonderful works).

Yes, life has meaning.  Yes, life has meaning for each of us – from the oldest to the youngest, from the richest to the poorest, the healthy to the ill.  Each of us live a life of meaning … and we are not called into life willy-nilly – without purpose or sanctity.  We are holy beings – everyone.

Finding meaning is the issue.  Finding meaning and experiencing the intimate and amazing reality that we (each one) has a reason for being and for living a full life – beginning to end.

Where to find meaning?  One place in story.  In the written and oral stories of the human being throughout history – in our mortal and eternal existence.

Story.  The best and most revealing story we possess as Christians and Jews is our religious narrative.  It, more than any other story within our reach, is laden with meaning for each of us.  Each recorded episode of God and his people, of Christ and his disciples records the meaning of life for each of us.

Yet, there are those among us whose actions seem to say: “I know not my meaning – I have no value, no meaning, no purpose – I am lost – irretrievably lost.”

This is a national cultural crisis.  It is immediate – it is now.  And it need NOT be so.

Sadly, we see the above words of hopelessness in the addicted, the criminal, the thief, the serial adulterer, the sexual predator (man or woman), the pornographer, the pimp, the prostitute, the liar, the cheat, the cruel ones, abusers … in those who take their own life.

We can even hear these words of hopelessness among those good men and women who have lived more objectively than subjectively – those who cultivated the mind at the expense of the heart.  These are good people who have missed the story and its life-sustaining nature.

Sadly about 45,000 people a year now take their own life here in the United States.  Yes, there are about twice as many suicides in the U.S. as there are homicides – and the number of suicides is growing rapidly.  Such is the price of godlessness in our exclusionary secular culture.  

We have lost our way.  Those with power and authority have forsaken faith – turned their backs to God and abandoned religion and our religious narrative at a very, very great price.  You see our unhappiness and self-destruction is the product of life without meaning – which is to stay: life without God, without attending to our religious story.

If there ever was a time when we had to reverse course it is now.  Come back to a life-giving story.  Come back to your faith narrative.  Demand it be welcomed in the public square.  Play an active role in our cultural recovery and restoration by adopting your religious story as a guide, and active ingredient in your daily life, thoughts and actions.

Our country needs you.  Others need you, too – especially our children.

Shalom.

If this post speaks to you, act on it – share it with others but do take your faith seriously.  Learn you story in its content and insight.  As usual, I appeciate your comments.  Thank you for reading Spirlaw.

 

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Any renewal not deeply rooted in the best spiritual tradition is ephemeral …

Carl Jung, M.D., in Collected Works

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Jung knew the importance of seeing the spiritual content of life and life’s events.  We are not so readily inclined.  He derived meaning and understanding from this.  Our inability to do so, leaves us confused and, in the worse cases, destructive of self and others.

It seems to me this is where we are today.  Likewise we have few (if any) commentators who are capable of seeing and discussing the spiritual and psychological elements of our present moment and its fractious nature.

This circumstance makes me think of Mary and Joseph and their newborn child’s flight into Egypt.

You may recall that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and urged him to flee lest Herod kill the child.  This itself has meaningful value as a simple story.

What we see in this is the fear felt by the ruling authority vested in a rigid status quo – the fear that “change” other than what they offer or demand, however aluminating otherwise, may be costly to their status quo.

Thinking of today – this may well explain the daily hostility we see aimed at President Trump by media, comfortable elites and his political adversaries.  His presence disturbs their psychological comfort, their status, the world as they have come to know it.

It is always wise to ask deeper questions when one sees reactions at that are overt, persistent and hostile.  Such reactions signal that a fundamental cord has been struck, i.e. something important is afoot.

Likewise when ones sees those sworn to serve lawfully acting in a lawless manner – one confirms again – this is a significant moment.  I think, in particular, of the challenges to the U.S. Constitution – another grave sign that fundamental stakes are at play.  And I think of legal guardians acting unlawfully.

More to the point, when the Constitution is easily attacked its opponents tell us they do not realize that this document is as much a spiritual document as it is a political document.

Indeed, seeing only with political eyes produces destructive consequences for the Constitution is by all measure a document that reflects the soul and identity of a free people and their nation.  Damaging it, damages our individual and collective self – our identity and relationship to one another as one people united and free.

So often we miss the spiritual and psychological aspects of life in one’s historical moment.  Such a mistake is always costly and wrought with conflict that could be avoided if we just recalled our larger context – namely, the narratives of our heritage and what they tell us.

Shalom.

 

… it came to pass … that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world would be taxed …

Lk 2:1

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This census, of course, required each person in the Roman Empire to assemble in their ancestral village or town … and this was a prelude to Jesus birth in Bethlehem as Joseph and Mary journeyed from their home in Galilee in accord with Caesar’s directive.

How many note the significance of Jesus being born at a time when the entire Roman population was assembled as a whole?  My point being that the birth of Jesus has characteristics to it that proclaim something quite special in this birth.  Illustratively, the birth of Jesus heralded the assembly of all.

Yet, there is more.  Jesus birth in a manger among farm animals makes the statement that the child’s presence exceeds mortal reality – but rather speaks to all creatures and creation.  Yes, Christ is for and of the whole of this world and the next.

Indeed, shepherds and kings come to his place of birth.  Is this not a proclamation that in Christ the humble and exalted are but one in the same?

Yes, the circumstances of this birth speak to us of its universal and eternal importance – but do we think of this in our own time?  Is this a point of reference for us?  Does this magnificent birth inspire us?  Motivate us?  Lead us in our daily existence?  I dare say: “it does not.”

Does not the star that led others to Bethlehem speak to the cosmic significance of this holy birth?  Does it not say that each birth is God’s intention?  Yet, who are we now?  Do we see these things?  Are we comforted and governed by them?

Shalom.

 

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.

Thucydides

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Our culture does not look kindly on men.  We are more the suspects than the welcomed.

Secular culture does not honor the nature of things nor the historical record.  Aside from rejecting religious narrative and God, groups of “special pleaders” adopt a variant of Marxist analysis and divide us by gender, skin color and political views.

In the present age, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is reflected in disparaging men.

Thucydides speaks a Truth.  The bravest among us face the difficulties that come to their families, their clan, their children, their spouse, their friends, their community, their country, their Church, their neighbors, the old, the weak, the poor, the young.

History tells us the task of facing danger and risking death has been the job of men.  To disparage men is to lose sight of who they are.  Yet, we disparage them without thinking – “Who will fight for us, protect us, do the dying that life demands so others might live?”

We are at this point a foolish culture.  I see those who garner public attention – but I do not see the men I know – those who stand ready when trouble approaches.

Life is combat.  And men do combat.

Shalom.

 

I looked for you in everyone and they called me on that too

I lived alone but I was only coming back to you …

and springtime starts but then it stops in the name of something new

and all my senses rise against this coming back to you …

Leonard Cohen, in Coming Back to You

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Each of us has someone – and probably more than one someone – that we have lost to mortal time.  For many, the years of loss have piled up while the memories persist and set in us deeper roots.

It need not be springtime to feel those losses – but in springtime when all is new and delicate and beautiful, those losses seem to move about like the warming breezes – turning our attention to the touches we knew, the embraces we shared, the laughter we had and all those days together.

Spring is “the coming back” time.  I give you this –

So take your walk, and sit a bit when the breezes beckon you

 for in the Spring when warm sets in, I’m coming back to you.

Shalom.

 

Easter Morning, 2018

Christ has Risen!!!

It takes very little to grow good people.  Very little.  And bad people can’t be governed at all.  Or if they could I never heard of it.

Cormac McCarthy, in No Country for Old Men

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The road to “good” is the road to God.

In the book and in the movie made of McCarthy’s book, the central question is this: where is God and the good that is God in this fractured, violent world?

Only one figure in the book and movie asks this question.  That person is the rural Texas sheriff.

The book and the movie is a saga in which one man seeks “the good” and God among the killings and violence that unfolds in the arid circumstances and environment of West Texas open spaces.  Yes, violence in God’s natural creation.  God dishonored in God’s Creation.  Rebellion.

Look around.  Is this not the question for us in the present time?

Brings to mind Jesus and the man who seeks eternal life.  You remember the story in the Gospel of Mark (10:17-10:18).  The man comes to Jesus and falls on his knees and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And, Jesus responds, “No one is good except God alone.” 

Those who seek good defer to God.  Those who cultivate what is bad rebel – reject God in favor of themselves.

We live among rebels, more so in the rank rebellion and hostility in politics today – the division and disorder is the mark of the rebellious – those who seek for self, not God – seek not good but its opposite.

In Christ risen is proof of God and our offer of what is good … but how do we respond?

Seek God above all things, and good follows.

Shalom.

Spring Snow Storm – Mid-Day Post

… our aspiration (is) to separate ourselves from the evil and chaos, to anchor ourselves in the good.

Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age

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We are made to seek what is good – we seek a life of deep experience, a depth that captures the meanings of life itself.

We seek to know the satisfactions of loving and being loved and of work, the joys of nature, music, art, leisure, friendship, community, literature, family, children and grandchildren.

Our religious tradition has been, in its ceremony – its art – its music – history – saints and martyrs – its cathedrals and art – the source of good, depth and meaning.

Yet, Taylor reminds us in secular existence we are ordered to time in a manner that impedes the deep experience of life as presented today.  The point he makes is that in secularized culture we are not ordered to anything beyond secular time and its structures. In this, immanence is lost.

In Taylor’s words, we have been “taken … from a world in which higher times made everyday sense, to one in which the monopoly of secular time over public space is unchallenged.”  We have, if you will, been denominated in a far different way than once we were – and our human experience altered in a fundamental way.

Without immanence, of course, our experience of God is diminished and we, indeed, are reduced, changed – no longer able to connect with the Cardinals and Kings past and ancient stories that richly inform and guide.  In this, we have lost access to meaning and full experience.

So what is the point to be made?  It is a simple one: if you do not have an understanding and critique of the culture you occupy and its foundational demands it becomes very difficult to live fully and realize the good you seek.

Shalom.

The two worlds, the divine and the human, can be pictured only as distinct from each other – different as life and death, as day and night.  The hero ventures out of the land we know into darkness … his return is described as coming out of that yonder zone.  Nevertheless – the two kingdoms are actually one.  The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know … the exploration of that dimension … is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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Easter approaches.  But do we think of Christ the Hero who joins again the divine and the human in “the two kingdoms that are actually one?”

Yes, this is the time for our unification of the divine with the human – a reminder that we live in but one kingdom – whole and divine … that we are made whole and divine!

I am often struck at how it is that we live as if there is no recorded human story over all these years of human existence and how in our ignorance we miss the obvious truth and significance of the essential and repeated stories of the Hero, the sacrifice – the rule of the Divine over all from Age to Age.

Our Easter celebration occurs in many forms in varied cultures, religious narratives and ancient stories – making it all the more True, and making us in our ignorance all the more in need of wisdom and sight that is not blinded by our badly mistaken assessment of our own importance.

In our political life we are trapped in the daily event – unable to connect history’s dots.  We live so superficially – and listen to the most inane dribble day to day.  In this small frame of mind we fumble about, pontificate, content to be doomsayers, hopeless, foolishly assertive grand problem-solvers, faithless.

Shortly after the above passage Campbell questions the Hero who returns, thus: “Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of heavenly bliss?”  He notes it is just as easy to “commit the whole community to the devil.” Yet, he notes for the Hero comes “the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity.”

Christ descended into darkness for three days and arose and, then, returned to us so we might know eternity in time, and time in eternity.  But are we governed daily by the Hero’s selfless deed?

In Easter we meet reality.  But do we live this reality?  That is the critical, life-changing, life-saving question.  That is what you face at Easter – that one and only eternal question – that which governs mortal life and time, and eternity.

Shalom.

Hillary Kills Feminism.  Well, the poor-as-church-mouse Miss Hillary is at it again.  Traveling in India she tells us that she lost the election because White Women were directed by their husbands, male bosses and sons to vote for Donald Trump.

There you have it – the end of Feminism!  After years of listening to feminist nonsense and their howling at the moon – Feminism has achieved this one amazing thing: the White Women among their ranks now do what their husbands, male bosses and sons command!  Guess that puts an end to that “Cause.”  Take a bow, Ladies.

With Feminism dead, can gender studies be far behind?

You never have to change anything that you got up to write in the middle of the night.

Saul Bellows

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Live your life like you wrote it in the middle of the night.

Victor Davis Hanson tells a funny story about his wife.  Apparently she was watching Donald Trump the candidate on television.  For her it was a case of “first impression.”  She called to her husband to come see “this guy,”  He joined her and she asked something like this: “Listen to this guy – do you think he has any guilt in saying what he says?”  Mr. Hanson says, “No, none at all.”  Mrs. Hanson, a “middle of the roader” as to politics, says – “I think I could vote for this guy.”

Trump lives his life as if he got up in the middle of the night to write it.  Freedom.  The soul fully engaged, no self-deception – living what you got.

This scares the heck out of the programmed and the pretenders.  It is as if – unfamiliar with Truth – the imposters are confronted with reality – with what they have steadfastly ignored, and avoided.

When you think about it freedom is in sharp contrast to the figures we see in political life: the fearful, contrived, scripted, cranks, whack-jobs, the predatory heavy breathers, social climbers, the inbred sons of the wealthy, the wannabe’s and others seemingly washed ashore after some colossal hurricane to stand damp, disheveled, dazed and confused.

Leadership requires authenticity.  Those who lead are real.  Not ideologues.  No, they live what comes and make headway.  They are unperturbed.  They have not just seen the movie, they lived the movie.

Yes, there are good people in public life – but they connect with others because they write their story having gotten up in the middle of the night to do so.

Much of life is in the middle of the night.  Sleep not.  Freedom waits.

Indeed, how can those who are not free themselves lead a free people?  Most public figures today prefer you to be the sleep they are.  Ah, the night is so liberating – in its sacred quiet and moonlight.  It is not conquered, you know.

Shalom.

 

The most paradoxical and at the same time unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies in a totally new creation … Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has been generally left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and 20th centuries … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Well that pretty much explains the roiling discontent many feel in their souls each day and explains the concern one has for their children and grandchildren – their country, Western Civilization and the exile of God from culture.  That is to say – we no longer carry at our core the above understanding.

The abandonment or loss of this perspective also explains the errant notions that flood our culture: same-sex marriage, Marxism, feminism, racism (expressed even by those who were once its victims), fanciful ideas of multiple genders, liberal intolerance and the like.

Think about it.  Is there any reason for a Believer to adopt any of the popular mantras and divisive dispositions so present in contemporary culture?  No.  There is not.

If one believes that Christ in His resurrection conquered death, there is no need for doubt, discontent or division.  And, yes – Merton is quite right that liberal Christianity have abandoned the unconquerable truth that Christ was Resurrected and as Christians this Resurrection rescues us from all apprehension – furnishes us with certainty, frees us to live fully and in the Spirit.

So in a sense, the unease we see, the hostility and antagonism and their attendant expressions and assertions literally have no place among those who Believe as Christians.

As Merton goes on to say – “Christianity without this fabulous eschatological claim is only a moral system without … spirituality consistency.”  I add only “a moral system” at best; for I have seen in my lifetime the weak idea of “ethics” displace morality as surely as man has replaced God in secular culture.

Ironically, in the age of ethics we get endless rules and regulations of all things and the extraordinary result that those who author the rules and regulations seem never to be held to them.  Out with morality – and corruption flourishes while individual responsibility, freedom, and accountability of the rule-makers seems to disappear.

Without the recognition of the Resurrection we are (as we now show) but a culture inclined to chaos and decline, the loss of freedom and community, and the sickness of godless existence.  Our present trajectory, of course, cannot hold.  We are at a critical moment.

Where are you in your thinking and living?  Best turn to God and the Truth of the Matter.

Shalom.

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