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What did I see … a state of inner disintegration and biological decay; sallow ugliness, sensuously marred and worsted … able to fan its smoldering concupiscence to a pallid impotence …

Thomas Mann, in A Death in Venice

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We used to have the bizarre and insane confined to tabloids you passed at the checkout line at the grocery.  Now their content is the daily news.

A female TV cable personality with an eating disorder who teaches dance to young girls binges on food while being driven to a prison for her incarceration.  A former Vice-President is pleased to learn his troubled, married adult son is involved with his deceased brother’s wife.  The creator of a large social media site says his creation will be the new religion.  A university study and its advocates conclude that people are the greatest threat to humankind and recommend it best to stop having children.

A presidential candidate who received millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs after approving the sale of 20 percent of American uranium reserves to them is not the subject of a criminal investigation but rather her successful opponent is. The head of the FBI lawlessly leaks information to a law professor for distribution to a major newspaper so his close friend can become special counsel to investigate the candidate who did not gain from the uranium sell-out.

We live in a tabloid world.

We live, as Thomas Mann so eloquently says, in a state of inner disintegration and biological decay.  Obesity abounds – especially among women … a sad and serious sign of disorder and decay – a “sallow ugliness.”  Sex seems to enter all cracks and crevices of public and commercial life: television – music – film – advertising … concupiscence becomes “a pallid impotence.”  Transgender fictions become rightly labeled “child abuse” by the female president of the national organization of pediatricians.  States and cities defy federal law.  Borders are erased. “Entitlements” pave the way to bankruptcy – backbreaking debt piled on the backs of our grandchildren and their children ad infinitum …

Is there any safe escape from this death spiral?  It is hard to say.  But one thing is certain: faithless, godless, sick men alone will not prevail against what we have wrought.  Nor will the silence of those who see this unnecessary, self-indulgent destruction reverse the deep dive into hell that we now witness.

Returning to faith is the only hope, the only defense, the only chance – a quick, earnest return to God and a loud, unrelenting, public stance against the sickness, corruption, destruction and evil present in all its forms must now emerge.

Shalom.    

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

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It would be hard to find a more ludicrous notion uttered by anyone than that contained in the above majority opinion authored Supreme Court Justice Kennedy.

Think about it.  Kennedy’s view is that each individual person (regardless of age) has the constitutionally protected liberty to define completely their own existence.  I can define myself as “Queen of the May,” as heir to the throne of Great Britain, as “Master of the Universe,” Peter Pan, Tinkerbell … whatever, and pursue activities that would flow from my self-defined reality.

In Justice Kennedy’s view, I can define the mystery of life to rest on stoning to death anyone who advocates that my liberty interest include the absolute right to define my own existence.  How would that be prohibited?

What you see here is complete foolishness.  Yes, idiocy, and destructive idiocy at that.

Justice Kennedy in his childish liberal sympathies shows us what a private personal predilection looks like.  He did the same thing in his majority opinion about same-sex “marriage.”  So much for a Harvard legal education.

In the Justice’s mind, anything goes.  If you can think it; you can do it – without restraint.

One wonders how he might house the notion (articulated by Leftist intellectuals lately) that the greatest threat to mankind is the human being and the birth of children.

What would the Justice do if it were argued successfully that since human beings are the greatest threat to humankind – a percentage of humans (men and women, young and old, infants and children, adolescents and young adults) should be sacrificed each year.  (I note by the way that Aztecs, it is said, sacrificed at least 20,000 people each year as part of their ritual beliefs).

If such an inspiration is a protected liberty interest might Justice Kennedy volunteer to submit to the regime of sacrifice should it be commenced? Somehow I doubt we will see voluntary action from him or others who hold his view.

Shalom.

Note – This is the post for Monday, July 24, 2017.  I encourage to read Sunday’s post (below) which was published late Sunday afternoon.

… the ‘natural’ hierarchy of species no longer applies.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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Franaszek is describing the world seen by the narrator in Czeslaw Milosz’s poem A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto.  In the poem Milosz is writing about the liquidation of the inhabitants in the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis in May 1943.

Yes, we have known a condition in which “the ‘natural’ hierarchy of the species no longer applies.”  You could say we are in such a time, or on its cusp.

I think of the Middle East and Syria, of ISIS, the destruction caused by the ill-conceived “Arab Spring,” terrorism exported to the West, the dismemberment of Venezuela, the eradication of national boundaries and nationhood itself, North Korea, and the exile of faith, religion and God in secular culture.  But I also think of the hyper-political hostility here on our shores: among the Left, the media, the press, and various leftist groups and special pleaders none of whom seem versed in history and its wise lessons.

Natural hierarchies collapse when metaphysical inquiry is lost for when it is lost so too is morality, and meaning, and virtue, and value, wisdom and compassion, community – indeed, humanity itself.

Sadly we face this on other shores and within this country.  It is most present in what now presents as the Democrat Party, the media, academia and popular mass culture.

You can see in today, the world that Milosz saw and experienced along with Koestler, Orwell, T.S. Eliot, Beckett, Solzhenitsyn and others.

A world without metaphysics is a world with but one leafless tree.

Shalom.

 

“Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”

Jn 5:8

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These are the words of Jesus speaking to the sick man at the pool at Bethesda who had been unable to enter the pool for its healing benefits.

While these seem like harsh words, Jesus makes this point – it is best not to concede all of your welfare to others, not to disgorge yourself of yourself, of your own effort and power, your own autonomy and dignity.

It is so easy in society today to assume someone will assist you, do for you, “make things better” for you, cater to your needs.  But there is a disempowerment that comes from this attitude.  Yes, this is an attitude that concedes power to others.

Jesus saw the dispiriting nature of this.  He said as well in verse 21 of Chapter 5 in the Gospel of John:

” … just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”

When relying on others is our way of life, we deflate – we die a little when this reliance is habituated.  Jesus seeks to give us life, to show us life, to tell us we have a life that the Father called us to live fully.

Of course, from time to time one needs help here and there, for we are not omnipotent and exclusively self-reliant.  However, we are often capable of more than we think we are.  Do not let others consign you to less than you are.

Shalom.

Wisdom is meaningless until your own experience has given it meaning … and there wisdom is the selection of wisdom.

Bergan Evans

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Many time people tell me that their brother, sister, mother, spouse does not seem to understand their plight in life.  The complaint I hear tells of the suffering and estrangement of being unable to experience a connection between those who you know well and for a long time and a person facing significant trials, angst, uncertainty, suffering and pain.

I always remind these people that one of the hardest things to do is to experience the experience of another.

Why is that?

Well, the primary reason is this: people do not examine their own experience in life fully.

Most people ignore the actual event of life.  They live what is easy, pleasant, necessary – but avoid the unpleasant things, challenges, the mystery of their own life and experience.  In that avoidance, one cannot take on another’s plight.  That being the case, two people who know one another – even reside with one another – cannot maintain an intimate connection with one another.  Sad and commonplace, but unnecessary.

The answer?  Live deeply, not on the surface.  Reflect on what is presented to you – whether good or bad, difficult or easy.

We are given a life so it may be fully lived, fully explored and experienced.  If you fall short, you reduce yourself and likely lapse into a smallness that leads to your own disorder … and your ability to befriend and love others, and to be compassionate is put out of reach.

It is easier to say you feel another’s pain, than it is to feel another’s pain.

Shalom.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

We should know that we are gods.  If we think like gods we become like gods, if we think like demons we become like demons.

The Words of a Headmaster of a Hindu School for Religious Scholars

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Suspended.

We are suspended between what is good, and what is not.  Such a plight presents a heart-felt tension on a daily basis.

My life on a mountain ridge is peaceful.  There is open space, wide and endless skies, a new sunrise each morning with colors and streams of light that are never the same from day-to-day.  In the evening, sunsets – each with their own shadows and hues.  And there is the wind – sometimes it howls, and other times it has a gentle voice, a soft and comforting voice of a sweet and lovely lady.

I live away for the crowds and the strife that was my life, my way of being.

As a lawyer I fought.  It was so easy.  I knew combat from a childhood “on the wrongs side of the tracks.”  We all knew that for we all held the short straw and others held us in contempt.

Lately I have realized that kneeling in preparation to receive the Body of Christ is the only thing I do each day that offers me the profession of humility – the declaration of my natural state, by actual state of being.  Suspended between the gods and demons, kneeling I speak the very essence of reality.

Suspended between gods and demons.  In the quiet of the ridge, I am close to God.  In this, I love and value life and others more deeply.  Finally, I know the blessing of love.  Yet, suspended I still remain, hoping that the demons depart …

Shalom.

 

For those who face a trial and complain or become resentful.

… do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing … to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ …

1 Pet 4:12, 13

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How often have I heard someone say: why is this happening to me?  Why am I suffering?

In what are rarer instances, I have witnessed in my life those who have faced hard challenges and yet never complained.  I think of my mother: struggling to find work, alone – having lost her parents when she was still a young lady.  And I think of my young wife with cancer, a punishing disease that worsened year by year. Neither complained.

I am asked from time to time, was your mother faithful?  I answer: “yes, by the way she lived – she encountered hardship and never wavered.”  The same could be said of my wife. They each possessed a courage that tells of faith, that comes from faith, that rests on faith.

They believed.  They saw God in the trials, and they walked with God without complaint, or doubt and they never felt sorry for themselves.  Indeed, they put others first.

In our trials we draw closer to God and learn to rely on God not on our self.  We learn that we are not alone and that life is but a passing.  In this we see who we are and what a human being is and can be.  We see how those who do not believe are in constant turmoil and how they cause problems for themselves and others – how discontented they are.

To believe in the midst of a trial is to be a witness to others of the Truth that gives us peace: we are God’s children and we are never alone or forgotten.

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Ask yourself – does this culture promote or disparage faith and the experience of God?

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Shalom.

On the Eve of a New Year

And now I was lonelier … than anyone in the world … I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.

Wladyslaw Szpilman, in The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

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These are the words classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman uses to describe the moment in Nazi-occupied Warsaw when he knew he’d have to hide from those who would kill him, have to be “entirely alone” to live.

His story is beautifully told in the movie The Pianist.  

What he says is true.  In a way, we must be alone to come to life – a life lived at depth and with reach, with meaning – in fulfillment, and in truth.  

This is a challenge to each of us.

However, many struggle mightily to avoid the challenges – to push the loss, or betrayal, calamity, or truth about themselves or others far from them (as if that is possible, and illness and confusion will not ensue).

There is an exquisite moment in the film when a particular invaluable truth is portrayed and it is when, with the Russians approaching Warsaw from the East, Wladyslaw is discovered in an abandoned home by a German officer named Wilm Hosenfeld.

In the stunned silence of this moment, Captain Hosenfeld asks Wladyslaw to play on an elegant piano that has survived persistent bombardments; and, Wladyslaw plays while the officer listens in rapt attention.  It is as if the beauty of this Jewish pianist’s artistry and the composer creative genius have touched the soul of the Nazi Captain.

The truth of the moment is the confirmation of the soul and its place of occupancy in each of them as it is in each of us.

The pianist’s talent and the composer’s gift traveled from one to another, from despised to preferred, from hunted to hunter.  With this the Nazi officer becomes the pianist’s protector – one who hides him and secures food for him so he might live.

The soul.  The unity of beauty, and creating, and music that lifts us and pulls us to each other.  No, evil cannot eradicate this.

Yes, evil and misguided ideas can cloud our way, dissuade us that bad is good when bad has a greater social acceptance.  And herein is the relationship between alone and full life.

The pianist and the officer each, individually and in silence, isolated from all around them, experienced what exists within and the eternal good that is in and of the soul – a soul created by God’s desire and design.

The truth of the matter for me, as I look back on my seven decade journey, is this: the trials and the “aloneness” that they impose on us – permit access to the soul and bridge the gaps between the preferred and the despised.  For you see, each is to cross the bridge of tears alone before life is fully lived from the soul outward.

May you think of this as the new year dawns.

Shalom.

Footnaote – Wladyslaw Szpilman purused his career as a concert pianist until his death at 88, in 2000.  Captain Wilm Hosenfeld died in a Soviet Prison Camp in 1952.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

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