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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  (Emphasis added.)

Mother Teresa

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They placed Nikolas Cruz’s younger brother in a facility for a mental health evaluation.  He is 18 years old, Nikolas is 19.

You know the thumbnail story of their lives – given up for adoption, a history of personal difficulties, thoughts of fetal alcohol syndrome, poverty, adoption, living on the edge – a home life that required the police to respond to their house multiple times a year, a failed school life, being ostracized, rejected by peers, self-mutilation, despair, confusion, learning problems, thrown out of school, abandoned – left to their own destruction.

They say Parkland is a family town where people care for each other.  Hard to see that in Nikolas and his brother, in the way the school system took a very deprived kid and threw him our of school with no oversight or care.  Hard to see the good people of small town U.S.A. in a good light when we know these kids lived a variant of being unwanted all their lives.

Parkland was not too long ago a smaller town without the Yuppie homes with big rooms.  I gather from news reports that remnants of its earlier status might be known by the few trailers that still house some families.  One imagines a sharp contrast between what might have been a short time ago and what is now.

Nikolas and his brother are lost kids, kids who likely needed care – maternal, paternal, familial, adult care … who needed real institutional support and particularized education and preparation for adult life.  Like all of us as children: they needed stability – the loving consistent care of an able adult, encouragement, predictability at home and in their small childhood world – truth is they needed love and care more than the lessons of rejection, alienation, confusion, defeat, loneliness and despair which seems to have come their way over and over again.

The story of the Parkland tragedy is at its core a story about lost children – and specifically lost boys in a culture and time that them.  It is a story that indicts not those who are unwanted but rather those around them who took no care to shepherd these lost sheep.  Shame in this Lenten Season!!!

I know these kids, I might have been one but for a mother who cared and sacrificed, two uncles and a loving grandmother, a great aunt and uncle, kind neighbors and childhood friends who accepted me and are today (now 68 years) still my brothers and sisters.

I am quite honestly sick and tired of those I see in public life, in positions of authority – with some exceptions.  They’d be best to leave us alone – go off and experience the realities of a hard and precarious life that humbles you by having you ask of yourself as I did as a child: what will happen to me if my mother dies?

If we demonstrate anything daily, it is this – all the talking heads and celebrities, and politicians, entertainers, media folks and those in authority everywhere – those who lay claim to our attention … might want to stop (as we all might) and ask: Do I see the Lost Sheep?  And what do I do when I see them?

Shalom.

 

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The American Left is getting their version of the Dickens “Christmas Carol” this year when American corporations give generous bonuses to their entire work forces after the Trump tax reform legislation.

“See Tiny Tim, people do have kindness in their heart … the government is not needed to see people caring for one another!”

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Each one has to find … peace from within.  And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.  (Emphasis added.)

Mahatma Gandhi

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Finding peace in a mass communication culture must be intentional.  That is, to find peace one must set about to discretely select what one hears and what one does not hear, what one does and what one does not do.

Yes, we must work.  But if one seeks the calm that is “peace within” one must consciously and intentionally secure time that produces peace, quiet, healthy inattention to that which captures us, occupies the mind, worries the heart.

Christ sought peace by withdrawal to the desert.  He sought it in time alone, in quiet – in prayer.

Although I live in the quiet of a mountain ridge, I must consciously disengage from the habit of being busy – cleaning the house, running errands, talking on the cell, etc.

We live in a culture that draws us into it.  We are stimulated each day by news, and messages, noise, responsibilities, attractions.  But are these matters not obstacles to peace, tranquility, comfort, a slower heart beat, less stress, less preoccupation.  Most people live in worry and do not live in the moment.  Missing the moment one loses the peace of that moment, the grace of one’s heart beat.

Look at the political world – people are frantic.  No one leads who is frantic.

The ideologues are, to put it plainly, unhealthy – on the verge of insanity.  Their shrill proclamations are the voice of sickness, constant discontent, unhappiness – even anger at times.  People like Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren are visibly hectic and “on edge.”  Is this any way to peace?  No.

Shalom.

Tip of the Hat – A tip of the hat to Senators Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Tim Scott (South Carolina) for the gracious manner in which they conduct their public business.

It is a delight to see gentlemen in public life.  Bravo!  We are well served by men such as these.

 

 

 

Christians … were much more rigorous about matters of sex than the prevailing attitudes in the Roman Empire; they did not forget their founder’s fierce disapproval of divorce … either party in a non-Christian Roman marriage could declare the relationship to be at an end.  Likewise, abortion and the abandonment of unwanted children were accepted as regrettable necessities in Roman society, but like the Jews, the Christians were insistent that these practices were completely unacceptable.  (Emphasis added.)

Diarmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

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Oxford Historian MacCulloch lays it right out there for us to read and think about.  He writes here of the early church and their opposition to divorce, abortion, child abandonment.  He shows us the vast difference between the Romans and Roman authorities and Christians, Believers.

While public entities, governments, and politicians have not changed much from those in ancient Rome, Western Culture has departed from its Judeo-Christians.

Look simply at today’s election in Alabama.  One Senate candidate is being accused by women as having shown unwelcome interest in them 40 years ago.  Their accusations are not laid out in detail and none at this point have offered sworn statements regarding their allocations.  Unwilling to say anything about their allegations for four decades – the women now appear on the eve of a Senatorial election to level accusations against the Republican candidate.

Pardon me if I smell a set-up here … but I recall vividly what Democrat Leftists did to Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with the unsubstantiated claims of Anita Hill that Mr. Thomas uttered odd and suggestive words to her.  You see images of video lynchings are not easily forgotten nor are the craven actions of the Democrat Left who count power and ideology more important than truth.

In contrast the Democrat candidate in Alabama today is plainly pro-abortion and this established fact has no weight in today’s public conversation about sexual mores and mortal behavior.

So we have unsubstantiated allegations vs. established pro-abortion.  One think the we are living as Romans at least in the news rooms and among members of the national news media.

We have regressed since the early days of Christianity.  We no longer see the issues that were quite clear to Jews and Christians 2000 years ago.  Ironically, today’s sexual mess, family deconstruction, pornography, unwed mothers and fatherless families, etc. are the product of the Left’s advocacy and lax morality; and we, regrettably, have been bent to their misshaped ideas, attitudes and policies.

So one concludes two things: one, the early Christians knew better than we as to what constitutes a good, stable and elevated life and, two the Left has worn out its welcome.  They have done enough damage.

Shalom.

 

Welcome Back after Thanksgiving.  I hope you had a delightful respite.

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Out of suffering has emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.  (Emphasis added.)

Kahlil Gibran

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Suffering is and has been a part of human existence since the very beginning of human existence.  Yes, we are vulnerable.  Long ago we might have learned that people actually betray one another.

Indeed, you may assume that those who hunker down in an effort to avoid suffering will impose suffering on others.  

Forget climate change.  Far more daily destruction comes at the hands of those who foolishly will to avoid suffering.

They are the ones who cannot absorb the experiences of life and the experience of other people or come to know themselves as they are and can be.  They are the family despots, the ones who exclude – keep secrets and demand total loyalty from others while giving little of themselves (having so little to give to begin).

The fear and avoidance of suffering has a faithlessness to it.

Strange isn’t it to fear suffering.  In this, one denies reality, life and the wisdom of Gibran words.

If you wish to listen to others who have something to say listen to the one who has suffered and grown because of it.  He or she gains wisdom, character and courage for they have accepted the divine gift of life as it is and have, consequently, gained peace and relationship with God.

Shalom.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 5:8

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John Dunne in The Circle Dance of Time tells of a student who asks a rabbi why it is that men no longer see the face of God.

The rabbi replies that men no longer “stoop so low” – meaning that they no longer subordinate themselves to a superior reality … that our preference for our own autonomy keeps us from knowing God and ironical finding and knowing ourself.

It follows that not knowing self nor God staves off contentment, peace and loving self or another.

If you do not know yourself nor God can you know another or have peace?  Indeed the question arises – Without knowing self or God, can you love at all?  Can you find peace?  Tranquility in mortal existence?

One can justifiably ask: does our autonomy – the priority we place on our rights under the law of man in a culture that disdains faith, relationship with God … does this state of being, this consciousness leave us discontented, quarrelsome, far less than we are made to be … does this emphasis on autonomy insure our unhappiness? 

The loss of God in a mass communication culture where legal rights are extolled accentuates our unhappiness – particularly when all manner of uninformed, sparsely educated voices, ignorant and hostile and divisive ones dominate public discourse?

If we are offered the “pursuit of happiness” in our nation, are we not wiser still to subordinate ourselves to the superior reality of God?  Is it not obvious that our access to happiness requires that we bend to a superior reality.

One nation under God – – – yes or no?

If you wish to understand the chaos, division and hostility that abounds daily in this land – think about what is written here today.

From mass media to politics and mindless homicides – we show our distance from health and happiness.  This need not be.

Shalom.

 

 

I do not know … by what subtle stages this conflict of the spirit of man gained on the doctrine and practice of Communism in me.  I do know that over the years the unwanted thought … crossed my mind: What is lacking in Communism?  What lack is it that keeps the human level of Communism so low, that makes the party a rat’s nest of intrigue and faction?  What is the source of its corroding cynicism … that makes us waste human life and effort without scruple …?  Why … thirty years after the … revolution … Communists have not produced one single inspired work of the mind?  What is our lack?  (Emphasis added.)

… I asked at last: can it be God?

Whittaker Chambers, in Witness

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Chambers, an American and a Communist Party member, recounts his thoughts in 1937 prior to his break with the Party and his renunciation of his role as a Soviet spy.

His words then are applicable today.  Why?  Liberalism and one of our two prominent political parties and its many activists groups have taken on a Marxist disposition as their guide, and foundation of their political discontent.

Indeed, how else can you explain a President signing off on selling our uranium reserves to our Russian adversaries?  How else can one explain the cozy relationship between the Clintons and Russia?  How can one explain Russian oligarchs enriching the Clinton Foundation by millions of dollars?  Or explain the Leftist feminists who link their complaints to the Marxist dogma of class, race, and “imperialism?”

We are in a Chambers Moment.  Will we conclude as he did – that we, too, need God?

I know of no other way to restore this culture or the human person to health and sanity.  We are badly disoriented and artificially divided.  God alone can make us healthy again.

In the strangest way – in a mystifying way, I see our healthy turn in the troubles of the day.

The bark is being (incident by incident) stripped off the Left.  Its principal Party is being exposed for its lying and corruption.  Its special pleaders are losing favor with the public.  The media that echoes Leftist views is dying – its newspapers have been discredited time and again.  Its campus hold seems farcical and cartoonish – a Doonesberry character of the absurd.  Feminism, too, seems like this – gender politics the same, occupying a juncture of absurdity, fantasy, abject foolishness – too much the curse to warrant any serious reflection.

Take heart.  The spirit of man cannot be denied for we are spiritual beings before we are anything else.

Shalom.

 

“(Jean) Piaget and (Lawrence) Kohlberg both thought that parents and other authorities were obstacles to moral development … (and) if you want your kids to learn … don’t lecture them about the Ten Commandments.  And, for heaven’s sake, don’t force them to obey God or teachers or you.”

Jonathan Haidt, in The Righteous Mind

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There you have it – our present day moral foundation: the not-so-moral or wise world of contemporary Liberalism and all the destruction, chaos and illness that it has produced in that last 50-plus years.

Harvard’s Lawrence Kohlberg taught in the late part of the last century.  His work unwittingly furthered the upside down “moral” world we see today in America and the West.

As Haidt says “he transformed moral psychology into a boomer-friendly ode to justice, and gave [college-exposed baby boomers] a tool to measure children’s progress toward the liberal ideal.”

Further, moral psychologist Haidt says as to Mr. Kohlberg, ” … by using a framework that predefined morality as justice while denigrating authority, hierarchy, and tradition, it was inevitable that the … worldviews that were secular, questioning and egalitarian” would be advanced.

Think about it.  We are like lemmings.  We follow without examination.  We do not challenge.  We accept and repeat the mantra of the allegedly esteemed.

As to morals – we discount anything historical or comparative … spiritual, interior, deeply personal, faithful, ageless.  Our reward?  Abortion, euthanasia, fatherless families, shameful murder rates, corruptions hither and yon, addictions, suicides, broken families, sexual perversions aplenty, a gigantic idle dependent class, a President who doubled our national debt and made us dreadfully vulnerable in so doing.  All this the product of an idiotic application of “morality” without mentors, sages, adults, wisdom figures, trusted narratives that have survived many centuries, faith, regard for historical record and God.

This is the fundamental foundation of our present foolishness as foisted upon us by witless “elites.”

I end with a profound story.

When I was at Notre Dame I had a friend and colleague who was a graduate student of Lawrence Kohlberg.  He told me that he invited his mentor to visit him at Notre Dame and that Dr. Kohlberg sat in his house one eve for dinner with his family.  He recounted  that after dinner Kohlberg (having spent days at Catholic Notre Dame) began to cry and in the ensuing conversation (having been moved by what he saw at this faithful University) that Mr. Kohlberg confessed that all his life he had focused on the “wrong thing.”

Yes, having missed God’s place in morality and the lives of humans Kohlberg wept.

Lawrence Kohlberg died a victim of suicide at age 59.

Friends, what we face is deadly serious.  

Shalom.

Please feel free to share this post with others who might be interested.

There is for all of mankind but one felicity – a gracious God.

Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews 

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Well, there you go.  Written in 75 A.D.  If only we had the wisdom of Flavius Josephus!  But alas it is absent.

Nowhere in public discourse is there much thought of God, of life in the Spirit, of our historical record or wisdom of the many centuries.

No, in its place – talking heads, the chattering class of ill bred, poorly schooled, ideologues incapable of holding two contradicting ideas in their head at the same time.  And yet the most astonishing thing is this: their words pass as worthy of our attention. Who is the greater fool there?

RETREAT while you can.  Take safety in wisdom and reality.

Imagine a God of felicity – a gracious and loving God.  Such a novel thought today in this deflated culture flooded with harmful utterances and ideas.

In contrast, I can offer this.  I have never doubted that there is a God and that this God had an interest in me and all others.  That is not to say that I acted without sin, nor that I did not attempt a life of self-reliance, a life in which I acted as if it all depended on me, my efforts.  Yes, we are foolish for a time until we prove ourselves less than we think we are.

There is nothing, by the way, like tragedy and injustice, chaos whose actions abound to your loss and pain to bring you to God … and, in due time, to Flavius Josephus and his insight.

In retrospect, I can now express daily sincere gratitude for the grace to have always known there is a loving and merciful God – and that God, not man, reigns over mortal and eternal life.

After years of life, I know the valuable gift of humility, in knowing that I am His subject … and you are too.  Likewise, I know in that reality, that relationship – the priceless value of intimacy … God’s love of me, of us and our divine opportunity to love others as God loves each of us.

Imagine if we knew what Flavius Josephus knew, we would not live in fear and think in that fear of the world as governed by race, or gender, or class, or force, or power, or money, or intellect, or sex, or status, or nonsensical ideologies.

No, on the contrary – tension and anxiety would dissipate; we would know certainty, live in confidence and gratitude, know peace and fellowship.

Best of all – if we were as Flavius Josephus – there would be no place for those who spread words of hate, who divide and speak so carelessly, so ignorantly.

That, Dear Friends, is a step toward Eden and you have been given the opportunity to step toward that Paradise.  Alas, seize it … or suffer more, and continue to hurt yourself and others until you die and face this question: Why did you not take the path I gave you?

God help us all.

Shalom.

God, let the words of Flavius Josephus rest in our heart and animate our every thought and action in the confidence of your gracious and loving dominion.

If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things work out.

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture

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I’ve never been a fan of whiners so the well-healed NFL football players, coaches and owners who put their social complaints on the captured audience of ticket-holders and television viewers have lost my interest and respect.  Shame on them.  Nothing admirable about them – nothing.

Just watched Patriots Day about the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Excellent movie.  More than that a terrific story about tough-minded, loving men, women and children who rallied together as one to see that those who killed innocent people were apprehended and punished.  It is a story about courage, toughness, achievement, honor, resolve, determination, individual strength, shared mission, sacrifice, community, love.

I grew up in Boston in a very testy public housing complex.  I know these people.  Many have been my friends for 64 years and more.  They are my family.  They would sacrifice for me and I for them.  Several recently faced tragic medical situations, I kept in touch: encouraging and caring.  I prayed for them and, as is always the case in tragic situations, I drew closer to God and became more thankful for all that we are generously given – especially for friends, neighbors, the capacity to care for others – and love God and others more than self.

Today, I see the legions of complainers in American culture today and am sickened by this – disgusted with them.  I knew a far different life.  I knew the life of taking what you get and moving forward, proving the obstacles non-existent, defying others who thought less of me by being more a person than they were.  I was not a genius but I was a hard worker, determined, tough, a realist who saw the near-empty glass and said: “Damn, I’ll fill the thing and more like it.”

I knew the bigotry that befalls the guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  The thoughts others affix to the poor neighbor and its residents.  This was my badge of courage – a badge shared by others in my same situation.  I saw life being raised with one parents and not much money.  I lived that life.  Became the first in my family to go to college.  First to graduate from college, go to law school, become part of a profession.

I became an Army officer.  Went on to graduate school at Johns Hopkins, worked in the U.S. Congress on foreign policy matters, had a successful law practice helping the poor, the sick, the under-represented.  People wrote articles about my work, about me.  I walked my wife through a devastating illness that took her life at age 29.  I left law in my late 50’s to earn a graduate degree in theology at Notre Dame, became a Catholic convert and vowed religious Catholic Brother.  I raised a successful son with his own Ph.D.  By the grace of God, he is a better man than I am – talented, smart, a terrific son, father and husband.  Ya, I was busy … I had no time to whine nor taste for it.  Like those around me, I saw bigotry and said “Screw you, I’ll show you who I am and what I can do.”  Their bigotry was motivation to me.  I didn’t sit on my fanny or make a political statement: I lived and defied those who discounted me and my friends.

At the end of the movie Patriots Day the men and women who participated in the hunt for the hate-filled brothers who killed and maimed children and adults spoke of visiting those wounded and without limbs and made this point: none were bitter – but rather they were optimistic, courageous – ready to strive, to live and prosper.  Yes, working class people I know are – not whiners … they are Boston Tough. 

Damn it, we ought to learn from them.

Shalom.

 

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire for you, but you must master it.”

Gen 4:7

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These are the words of God to Cain.  They are worthy of our reflection.

Life has its ups and downs.  Yes, even its injustices.  We will be deceived and betrayed by some and circumstances will conspire against us from time to time. Anger is a normal byproduct of deceit and betrayal.  And of disappointment, too.

But know this: anger is the gateway to sin, and evil is often its destination.

In times of disappointment, deceit and betrayal it is best to seek quiet and settle your soul.  Best in these times to be alone with God.  Wise to ask when anger is stirred within us: shall I be as Cain, or shall I be the Lord’s?

It is human to sin.  We are imperfect beings.  But the best way is always to be the Lord’s in all things and all circumstances.

My recommendation? Start each day in Scripture.  Wisdom and strength reside there. The words tend the soul and calm the turbulent seas we all encounter.

In challenging times God’s words settle us and give us peace.  In hard times all is arid and barren, but the words of God are living water – our sustenance and source of our survival.  Life is in the soul, not the body.  Feed the soul each day and calm follows.

Shalom.

In times of public turmoil is it not best to quiet the soul and seek the leadership of those who have done just that – quieted their soul in reliance on God?  Leaders must retain calm to be worthy of our support.  Only those who rest on faith can offer that calm.

We often expect far more from politics and government than is justified … and far less of ourselves and those who would lead us.  Our God desires that each of us grow in Him. There are no substitutes for God if we desire to live well in mortal life with all its challenges.  God bless you all.

Trump Short Term Debt Ceiling Agreement with the Democrats – Smart move. Why? Trump has not been helped by the Congressional Republicans who are captive to the Washington-ways.  Like the Democrats they dislike that Donald Trump is an “outsider.” They now recognize that he is an independent force whose constituency is the American people who are sick of the inertia in Washington and policies that are destructive.  Yes, he represents the “basket of deplorables” – and they are not fans of Washington-ways. Frankly, this shows you that Trump (like military officers) are not wedded to politics and surely not Washington’s ways. Wake up: Mr. Ryan.  Wake up: Mr. McCornell.

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