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On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors … When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own. This quality is essential to dialogue.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Tradition is profoundly important.  It is, as Thich says, essential to dialogue. Without tradition one cannot easily acquire the experience of another for traditions convey human experience, reality discovered over centuries, truth as to human beings and the supernatural.

In America, today, we have little constructive or civic dialogue between the Left and the rest of us.  Rather, we hear very harsh, hostile and angry language from the Left.  Their word and conduct decry this fact: those at war with others are at war with themselves.

War, you say.  Yes.

The Left feels betrayed.  They lost power and an election that felt sure they would win … one they and their candidate felt entitled to win.

Indeed, they feel rejected and cannot come to understand as they must, in these circumstances, that they must look within to ask: why is this so?  Why did so many others not favor them?

Yes, they have been betrayed.  But not by those who voted for their opponent – but rather by their ideology – an ideology which attacks tradition and faith that is its common witness.  In short, the Left has attacked and opposed tradition and religion.

As to ideology, it has no long human history.  It is a recent human construct, a fiction of intellect – not a vehicle of human and divine truth.  It is simply: a lie … and to live a lie is a personal betrayal, self-deception from which no authentic dialogue can arise.

In the West, the modern liberals and the Left have chosen intellect over faith, power over humility, what is false on its face from what is and has been sustained truth about humans and eternity.

If we are to have a civil society, the Left will have to see their errors and change their ways rather dramatically.  On our part, we must be present in kindness and calm to receive them when they desire to advance civil community once again.

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.

In living we are directly doing the will of God … our very existence is contact with His will … life is holy and a responsibility of God and man.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man is Not Alone

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If you can imagine that your existence is willed by God, that each moment of your existence fulfills God’s will – would you think differently … act differently … feel differently than you do?

If one’s very existence touches the will of God, would you make different choices in life than you now do?

Each day I awake and in due time look at the news of the world.  Typically, I see some article that tells of something like this: a man tried to drown his two twin children, or a school teacher threatened to flunk a student with whom she was sexually involved if that student “broke” off their “contact.”

Seeing these things, I am repelled – not just by the event but by the fact that these things are thought newsworthy.  

These reported stories make me ask: Why would I want to know this?  What effect does reading this have on me?  On others?  Do these stories not bring us down? Sow seeds of despair?  Turn our appetite for life sour?

I am sure that every day there are any number of horrible acts committed and that newspapers and the news media in-general have their pick of horrible stories to convey – but is there any glancing thought that feeding others these stories has a debilitating effect?

The mere reporting of such stores tells us that the lost souls offering these stories neither conceive of living as collaborating with God’s will, nor that life itself is holy, sacred, divine in its creation and ought to be respected as such.

The truth is if you look around you will see all sorts of actions which deny that life is holy, sacred and divine.  Having seen this so clearly, I have decided to ignore this crap.

My view is quite simple: why do I want to have my spirit be poisoned by the godless conduct of those gripped by evil and its manifestations?  I know such people and acts occur, but why must I be made a party to them each day? Consequently, I’ve come to “keep by distance” from these reports just as I reject a diet of rotten food.

Why bathe in other people’s dirty water, or each rancid food?

Shalom.

If this post strikes a positive cord for you, please send it to others.  The process of reclaiming the public square and public space calls for our participation … and that means you and me together.

God works in history, therefore a contemplative who has no sense of history, no sense of historic responsibility … is not fully a Christian contemplative: he is gazing at God as a static essence … But we are face to face with the Lord of history and with Christ the King … light of the world … We must confront Him the awful paradoxes of our day …

Thomas Merton

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If there is one (and there is) central failure that puts us in the conflict, and confusion, and chaos … and danger and division, that we face today it is our failure to know and serve God as the Lord of History.

All of the immorality, hostility, bitterness, rancor, hatred and rank stupidity can be assigned to that one failure.

Likewise, the destructive behaviors we witness in special pleaders of unwise causes are the product of God’s exile, and in that absence – the geometric ignorance and needless destruction it produces.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show and one of The Rockford Files.  The former from the 1950’s and the latter from the 1960’s.  Each was a delight. Each well-written, and nicely acted. Each told an engaging story – the former in a family context, the latter in a detective format.

In the former we saw truths about husbands and wives, men and women, family, brothers, neighbors, boys and girls and human nature.  It was fun to watch. Truth told in a gentle and amusing manner.  It was nice TV … it sat a tone, was believable – represented a reality that was and could be: a relaxed and kindly family environment.

In the latter, we had a “who done it” yarn with the focus being the work of a not-so-successful, and unflappable private detective whose status-life was that of living in a trailer parked on asphalt adjoining a stretch of California beach.

Our hero detective was an anti-hero – an earnest man (yet not beyond employing a street-smart trick now and again) who was resigned to the riff-raff of life without losing his kind and understanding nature.  He was, indeed, an everyman with the wonderful grace to live life as it presented – without scorning what he saw.

Yes, in the 50’s and the early 60’s we effortlessly lived with God the Lord of History and in so doing, we were not out-of-control, frantic, required to “get-our-own-way.”  We were then, sublime, without anxiety or fits anger, public or otherwise … better yet there was no need for intolerant crusaders.  Social justice had yet to emerge to anoint any and all mediocre C-minus-minus people into obnoxious “know-it-all” crusaders.  In short, looking back you see that when God is recognized as the Lord of History … our life is easier and our relationships much more pleasant.

I’ll pass on the very unfunny bores of late night TV, and the likes of Chuckie Schumer and the talking heads of CNN, MSNBC, et al, the vacuous celebrities who have opinions about all manner of things never thoroughly considered, and on the minor leaguers of The Times, The Post etc.

Today we are so dumb and uninformed we don’t realize life (properly considered and experienced) is so much easier … death-defying anxiety and hostility is not mandatory.

Try thinking of God as essential – as the Lord of History … ignore those who speak as if God is either dead or indifferent to us … Such people are as common as a penny and just as valuable.

Shalom.

Delight in smooth sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts … the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality … played a definite part in unleashing upon the world … horrors and miseries (World War II).

Winston S. Churchill, in The Gathering Storm

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Wars have their prelude, their component miscues and misadventures, their self-delusions and grand deceits.

One thinks of this now as many troubling signs emerge.

Russia is in Syria propping up a brutal regime, Iran pursues both nuclear weapons and expansion while supporting insurgents in foreign lands, North Korea strives for a nuclear arsenal and European countries seed authority to stateless Brussels bureaucrats while terrorists roam their homeland largely unabated.

In the United States, we enlarge the national debt, fatten the dependent population and the expand the expectations of citizens for more and more national benefits.

Some European nations are beginning to resume required national military service, yet attention turns to “global warming” as if nothing is more important. Fantasies absorb us.

In our once mature and sane representative democracy, college students require pampering and “protection” from free speech while some assault civility and those with whom they disagree.  On campus, hate is protected by cowardly administrators.

In the public square God is unwelcome while obesity looms and one wonders where the next “Greatest Generation” has gone.

As Churchill rightly notices, the antics of the Liberals pave a nasty road to a tragic destination.

Hard to dispute this today.  Indeed, we have lost touch with truth, and consequently, with reality.  But neither truth nor reality have lost touch with us.

At the foundation of moral thinking lie beliefs in statements the truth of which no further reason can be given.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

When immorality prevails, we have stopped believing … without belief, truth and reality are lost and the storm gathers.

Shalom.

Postscript – An “unfunny”* female “comic” thought it amusing to be photographed holding the “head” of President Donald Trump.  Darling …

It is, thank God, always the case that people “self-report” – tell you who they are. So with this woman we see the Left is quite comfortable with those who behead their enemies. Charming …

(* “unfunny” is a state of being whereby a person does not have a humorous impulse in their body … if you see these people coming, run quickly in the opposite direction … if you encountered them in a social setting, make yourself disappear as soon as possible)

“Come let us build us a city, and a tower with it to in the sky, to make a name for ourselves.”

Gen 11:4

This Tower of Babel story is quite an interesting story for its utility and application throughout the ages.

If you recall Babylonian people wanted to build a tower with its top to the sky.  In essence this is a story used to show the pridefulness of people – how they could not come to defer to the dominion of God … their Superior.

How often do people act having “made a name” for themselves or seek to make a name for themselves?  It is quite a frequent event … now and throughout human history.

Think about it, the Babylonians were technically advanced … yet, they did not pursue this tribute to themselves with any sense of God, any reverence for God. They exalted themselves – mankind, their genius.

Pride always derails the prideful. Humility, on the contrary, insures success and contentment.

Shalom.

Excarnation … the process by which religion is dis-embodied and de-ritualized.

James. K.A. Smith, in How (Not) to Be Secular

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The challenge we face in America and the West is excarnation.  The question posed: will we believe or will we not?

Failing to believe in God, we shall all the same rely on something to anchor us. That something might be our gender, or our sexual behavior, an ideology, our self to the exclusion of all others, or nothing at all …

Yesterday, little was said by American mass media of the killing of a bus load of Egyptian Coptic Christian mothers and children on their way to a monastic retreat. Why, you might ask?

The answer is really quite simple – those who govern media are excarnated.  They do not believe.  Religion does not matter to them … or to the Democrat and “progressive” Left politicians, by the way.  It is worth noting that Senator Schumer did not pop up on T.V. to rant about the killing of these innocent, unarmed believers.  Granny Pelosi was absent, too.  No surprise really. Remember, candidate Obama referred to believers as those who cling to the guns and the Bible … and Hillary thinks of believers as “unredeemable.”

The Left does not hide its hostility, nor its ignorance.

If you want to know what is at the core of the hatred of Donald Trump – it is not Trump himself but those who voted for him and their beliefs.  Religious belief is an obstacle to the pagan practices and policies of the Left.  The core of today’s problem in our nation and the West centers on belief.  

Incarnation or excarnation?

Shalom.

We venerate the song of the tragedians.  It contains truth about suffering, not often God: yet God has revealed himself by means of this truth.

Reinhold Schneider

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The soul-sick and lost kill children.  I am not surprised by this.  I wonder why others are. How can they be surprised?

In an unsolicited grant of grace I learned as a small child that life can be hard and lonely – that what was once there can disappear, that betrayal comes to innocents and disappointments land deeply within, that the world can present difficult moments and some can seem a crushing weight, a dent too deep to be restored.

However, like Reinhold Schneider says … “yet, God has revealed himself by means of this truth.”  My life is testament to this, living proof of this truth.

And so too, in the Manchester Murders of the Innocents – we see not the evil doers but the good that we are made to be.  Would we cry for the loss of a small child if we were not good?  Would we swear to rid ourselves of those whose intent is evil?  Would we cry for those lost across the sea?  Or vow to arms when it is peace we want?

In tragedy we hear the Cathedral bells more clearly and lift our eyes aloft.

In yesterday, grandfathers pray for their small grandchildren and ask that God might help them keep safe his little ones.

For too long we have played a peripheral game on the far outer edge of reality in a discussion that is surreal.  How many human rights can you stack on the head of a pin?  This question while London bleeds and Paris burns, and Europe fades from view.   

Life – all life – conveys knowledge of God.  Yet, we indulge our fetishes and focus on the tragedians and bury our dead.  Our sight clouded and hearts numbed. Avoiding reality while deaths multiply and sacred faiths are targeted.

Perhaps Manchester, in the shadow of our historic overture to an Arab-Israeli-American alliance, will bring us to our senses and reminds us that we have strayed from God and faith and seeded debate to the godless and their prideful desires and ideas.

Illustratively, perhaps a new generation of leaders will turn to those before who as exiles from their native land and its precious faith wrote of Christ as Wisdom, the role of the Spirit in the world, the place for mystical understanding in mortal life, the integration of life in worship, the sacred destiny of the cosmos.  I think, in example, of the Russian Orthodox intellects like Nicholas Berdyaev, Vladimir Lossky and others who saw clearly not evil but God who prevails above all disorder and in whom all can turn to good, and peace, and purpose, meaning and understanding.

In faith, we expel evil.  Politics alone provides no impetus for action being short of clear faithful vision and the infused wisdom and courageous resolve it brings.

Let not the Manchester murders of Innocents be in vain.  Rather, let it call us to repel evil and build the brotherhood of all faithful souls.  Return to faith … and march on we must.

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.

I have long held the opinion that the amount of noise that anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity and may therefore be regarded as a pretty fair measure of it. (Emphasis added.)

Arthur Schopenhauer, in The World as Will and Representation

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Schopenhauer.  Written in 1819.  Emphasis added, and needed today.

Mass communication.  Too much noise.  TV.  Endless cable channels.  Voice mail. Email. Facebook.  Twitter.  I-phones.  Cells.

Words, endless words.  Ideological noise.  Partisan noise.  Noise for the sake of noise. People as deranged parakeets.  Talking heads.  Chatter.  Mindless chatter. Incoherent chatter. Useless chatter. Thoughtless chatter.  Daily chatter, hour by hour chatter, minute by minute chatter.  People talking who have nothing to say.  People talking who relentlessly subtract from the sum of human knowledge.

Is there anything to be learned from anyone on Morning Joe?  Network news? CNN?  The Washington Post?  The New Your Times?  Charles Schumer?  Nancy Pelosi?  Maxine Watters?  Bernie Sanders?  Pat Leahy?  Al Franken?  The various partisan hacks and “special pleaders” that occupy television time?  Or from the professorial class, God-help-us?

The more noise, the dumber and more psychologically unhinged we get.  Yes, the more noise the sicker and more misguided we get.  The noise we hear is a lodestone, a weight, a drag on peace, sanity, common sense, wisdom, effective action, problem-solving, intimacy, friendship, community, cooperation, full human development.

When we are all talking, no one is listening … and thinking is NOT going on.

You know why got Comey fired?  Two things.  One, he talked too much.  Two, he got too close to the utterly disordered lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Their chaos takes its victims (remember Vince Foster) just as noise itself dumbs us down, supplies the means to a national stupor.  Think bathrooms as a “human rights” issue.  Noise kills.

The President would be wise to stop talking.  Better his deeds speak for him.

The Presidency and leadership is like courtship.  The mystery and beauty of a woman is enhanced by her quiet presence.  Fewer words attract.  In reserve, words gain greatest effect.  The quiet ones think before they speak and in speaking have greater effect, reflect more often that they thought before they spoke.

Few are worth listening to.  If you hear or read something and you are not called into substantive question or reflection then words have failed you.  If words merely feed your bias, they do little for you.

The best we can hope for is less talk and more quiet.  No great deeds come for perpetual talkers – only noise, chaos, confusion, errors do they produce.

Shalom.

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