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

Erich Fromm, in The Sane Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lk 6:19

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

Shalom.

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Insofar as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individuals … A million zeros together do not, unfortunately, add up to one.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Undiscovered Self

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Carl Jung is talking about the process of “individuation” whereby one grows in maturity and wholeness by moving from an ego-driven being to a healthy whole self.  The point being that a whole person discovers his or her true self and whole identity – and moves from the narrow, shallow state of egotistical existence and behavior to that of a full person able to value self and recognize others (who have grown fully) as mutually sacred and equal persons.

Ego – selfish.  Self – selfless.  Ego – prideful and disordered.  Self – humble and whole.

The process of individuation without access to symbol systems (like religious narratives and ritual) does not easily access the wealth and wisdom of human history and humanity in that history.  Indeed, without familiarity with the wholeness recorded and presented in such as religious narrative – one is left to live in the ego – a state of immature development – and disorder follows.  Such is our situation today.  

We live in a mass communication culture with social media being a common form of personal discourse.  Think about it, millions of un-individuated individuals chattering away – a collision of ego-driven undeveloped people.  This is a prescription for chaos and confusion – discord and trouble.  As Jung says “A million zeros joined together do not  … add up to one.”

In our present mass communication, secularized culture, we are captured by de-individuated people … and chaos ensues.  Case in point – a large percentage of those in television and print news are simply not worthy of our attention.  Celebrity itself impedes full development.

As much as we show technical competence, we suffer from a lack of subjective growth and development as human persons.  That, it seems, is the most destructive issue we face – we are not as grown and insightful as we could be – and once were.

The rectifier?   Greater attention to religious narrative and ritual and greater attention to subjective inquiries and personal introspection.

Shalom.

… what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in the outward reflection in our own acts.  We must find our real selves … in our own soul … the principle of all our acts.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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This from a wonderful essay entitled “Being and Doing” in Merton’s No Man is an Island.

His words are very useful in a mass communication, digital and social media culture where images and acts are often center stage and narcissism is a real problem (as reflected in its prominence in therapy and as daily exhibited in the news and on TV).

As to our present climate public acts are so a part of others need for attention.

In the present era we seem to be besieged by those who need to sustain a public image at all costs.  We seem to have a culture that accommodates projecting images as the normal form of being while passing completely on the critical important core of one’s self – the soul.

As Merton noted in his 1950’s essay – “I need not see myself, I merely need to be myself.”

Yes, Merton gives us in eleven words the heart of health, meaning and contentment – not our image (and surely not our narcissistic actions and proclamations) but our eternal soul.

How smart he was.  Imagine now how we are surrounded by narcissism and self-promotion.  How many say nothing of value and cannot maintain day-to-day coherence.

How public figures have convenient double standards that say subliminally: I have no guide but ideology invoked and applied to bolster my personal preference.

It is, I think, fair to say – we have many lemmings, but few Mertons.  Therein is our illness, agitation, confusion, calamity, untruths, treacherous deeds and great unhappiness.

Shalom.

 

 

The hero is one who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine, Eternal, which exists there … His life is a piece of the everlasting heart of nature itself.

Thomas Carlyle, in Lectures on Heroes.

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Heroism, like life itself, is lived from the inside out.  The hero’s deeds are divine and state this truth “no greater love hath one that he lays down his life for another.”

Let’s face facts.  Carlyle is talking about the place of the Divine in the acts of heroes much as I have written often that one’s life cannot approach excellence without a relationship with God.  Apropos, and as I have written so often, a culture without God is ruled by darkness – seen so easily day after day in the chaos and disorder of so many – living so close to one another – to us … and memorialized in the daily news.

When I see the public figures and talking heads on television each day – I do not see heroes … on the contrary I see sickness, disorder and chatter which signifies that those who chirp on and on have no clue that they put their failure on display.

Memorial Day Weekend – think about heroes.  Are you disposed to be in the right form and manner of your sacred being?

Shalom.

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

1 Cor: 10, 20, 25

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

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

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

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

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

We make what is direct obscure.

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

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

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

Shalom.

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

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the universe.

Albert Einstein

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One obvious flaw in contemporary American existence is that, despite the evidence, we listen to people in the television media, in colleges and universities, among the Left, in the judiciary, in politics and, God help us, in the celebrity class and among the elites without any reservation.

Heck, we can’t even heed Albert Einstein’s very plain admonition!

Look around – we have Poor Old James Comey who can’t recite his story from one TV spot to the next but that he contradicts himself and confirms his astonishing intellectual limitations (well before one questions his soundness of mind).

Einstein unheeded – we assign merit to the words of ideologues and think that assembling as a mob with one mantra (“ban guns” “hate Trump,” etc.) reflects favorably on our wisdom.  Yet, if you locked four people in a closet and expected them to find their way out – it is unlikely that they would agree on anything much less how to get out of their bind.

Friends, we over-estimate our intelligence.  That is one of the negative by-products of college education in an affluent society where humility and faith are less present than they once were.

My advice?  Listen to few people and pick carefully those to whom you might give your ear.  After all, how wise can a culture and its people be when God is dismissed and “entertainers” revered.

Shalom.

Religious experience is inevitably human experience.  It has to do with the human consciousness both individual and collective.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If religious experience is human experience, then it follows that human experience is religious experience. 

That said, experiencing human life is the experience of religious (or spiritual) reality.  What we are saying is this: one cannot separate the experience of the Divine from that of the mundane – from human existence.  Indeed, God is neither absent nor dead – but rather present and alive in us – whether we acknowledge it or not.

Assume for a moment that this is absolutely true.  With that, one might ask what caused us to discount God and Divine experience?  And, what is the price we might pay for living only in the mundane world?

The first question is answered by Charles Taylor in his book A Secular Age where he lays out in considerable detail how the Enlightenment and the Reformation pushed us toward an exclusive humanism that counted reason and the mundane world as the preeminent focus of human life and in so doing radically altered (narrowed) the scope of human experience.

As to the “price” we have paid – I would say that it made each life less full and made living far more difficult.  My view is that we have vested much hope and expectation in the “genius” of the imperfect (and often nefarious, selfish or disordered) human person and his and her institutions, governance, ideas, ideologies, laws, rules, regulations, fades and fancies.

In short, man in his power and conduct is not God – not even close.

Abandoning the relationship with the Divine, one is left to rely on one’s own very limited ways and many weaknesses.  The consequences are visible today.  Need I remind anyone of adultery, abortion, divorces, child neglect and abuse, homicides, suicides, sexual molestation, drug addictions, obesity, mental illness, unhappiness, envy, hostility, randon mass shootings, political corruption, widespread government inter-generational dependence, racism, gender confusion, teen pregnency, unwed mothers, broken families, fatherless families, female teachers having sex with their underage students … etc.

If human experience is religious experience, you would have to conclude that in today’s secular culture we show evidence that we are neither living as human beings nor as religious people.

Where are you in this matter?

Shalom.

“The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.”

Jn 10: 25, 26

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These are the words Jesus spoke to Jews in Jerusalem at the Temple.  Let’s put them in today’s context.

Yesterday a young man in Toronto drove a van down the sidewalk and killed ten people and seriously injured more.  A few days ago in Nashville, Tennessee, a young man entered a restaurant early in the morning and shot and killed four patrons and injured others.  Each young man had a history of mental health problems.

These two incidents are reminders of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings that took the lives of 17 students.  That young man also has a history of mental illness.  In that case, the public authorities totally failed to address the needs of that very troubled young man.

” … you do not believe, because you are not my sheep …”

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous is dependent on recognition of the existence of God (“a higher power’) and on our limitations to address our problems as if we are that “higher power.”

It seems to me that the constant signs of our neglect of those in need and the violent actions of those who (in their deranged state) randomly kill innocent people is an indication of our neglect of our own spiritual needs.  

I think too of the two lesbian women who adopted six foster care children and retained custody of those children while having had run afoul of child welfare officials in three states.  As you recall these two women drove a vehicle (with the children in it) off a California cliff to their collective deaths 100 feet below.

We are a troubled nation because we have forsaken belief … because we have neglected our full health, our need for spiritual sustenance.

Indeed we live like we are each a god unto our self.  We are, in this regard, absolutely NOT helped by all the discontented “special pleaders” in politics and particularly the angry godless voices on the Left who create division and disorder and their counterparts in the Democrat Party in the U.S. Congress, the federal bureaucracy and in state and local government.  Yes, godless voices breed sickness and hostility.

Let’s be honest, we awake each day to read or hear about one or more horrific accounts of murder, child abuse, infanticide, abhorrent sexual assaults, or some form of human deprivation that is beyond our imagination or understanding … and we see day after day the utter failure of authorities to do much of anything about these matters.

You know I recall the hubris of Mr. Obama who boasted about fundamentally transforming America and that no one seemed ever to ask in what form this change might take, nor did anyone dare to say to him: “Hey, pal, you’re NOT God and you have accomplished nothing thus far in your life.”

The point to be made?  Man is not God.  Heck, we are not now even clearly showing that we are the Shepherd’s sheep.

Might be time to believe again.  But do we have it in us to be humble as we once were?

Shalom.

Warped Self-interest – No Democrat Senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.  They did so largely to deprive President Trump the person he wanted in that position.

Mr. Pompeo, a former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A., graduated first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School.  He has had both a successful military career and an excellent business career in which he started (as I recall) two successful businesses.

When you think that we have had recently both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State (neither of them who achieved any particular success in their lifetime), it shows you that Democrats always put their own interests before the interests of the Nation and its people.  Shameful.

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.

 

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

Ex 19: 5, 6

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

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

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

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

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

Shalom.

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

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

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