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The virtue of a man will be a state of character which makes a man good and makes him do his work well.

 Aristotle, in The Nicomachean Ethics

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Doing one’s work well.  Imagine if that was demanded of public officials.  If it were we could get a sense of the virtuous nature of those we pay to “govern” us.  Indeed, perhaps we might conclude from such a test that “we hire those with significant virtue deficits.”

Case in point: the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County, Florida.  The Supervisor is a woman who since her appointment in 2003 has consistently showed her ineptitude.

Illustratively, this former high school teacher and elementary school principal (yes, a life time “government worker”) – lost 58,000 ballots in 2004, left 1,000 votes uncounted in 2012, released elections results before the polls closed in 2016, destroyed 688 ballot boxes that were a subject of interest in litigation in 2016 and failed to report as required by law the total number of votes cast 30 minutes after the polls closed in 2018.

Doing one’s job well – this is not.  Aristotle would duly find virtue lacking.

So what does one do when a culture has an expansive government and a surplus of “government workers” who (thanks to the unionization of these workers) makes firing them virtually impossible … and active management of them utterly unlikely?

Well, another way of asking this question is this – what is one to do with government employees when work is not well done and virtue is absent?

Common sense would seem to suggest that down-sizing the public work force would be obvious in an age where automation and artificial intelligence can be readily employed to supplant those whose are inadequate, were supervision is lacking, and virtue absent.

Look at the calamity on display in Broward County and ask yourself: is this nonsense tolerable any longer???

P.S. – This nitwit in Florida makes $176,000 per year (as reported in the news).

Shalom.

Liberal California – Want to see the face of Democratic Socialism?  Look at the train wreck that is “liberal” California.

The Golden Gate state has piled up debt it cannot address, yields to “environmentalists” and leaves dead trees and uncleared brush to flame and fire with devastating loss of life and property, refuses to build dams to keep their agriculture prosperous, builds a billion dollar high speed train to nowhere, invites drug attics to populate San Francisco, establishes “sanctuary cities” and challenges those who prefer legal immigration.  Not much “good work” or “virtue” there.

Perhaps our future as a nation ought to aim at hard work well done, virtue and much – much smaller government that carries no unsupportable debt.

 

 

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… it is no sin to live a silent life …

The monk is … a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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I live as a monk … on a ridge at the edge of a forest and beside a large slopping pasture that sits at the bottom of a mountain range now in full autumn color posed against the blue November sky bolstered by the chill of brisk fall wind.

I live a quiet distance from a mass communication culture where those thrust ceaselessly at us are merchants of division, animosity, confusion, superficiality, self-interest and considerable ignorance.

A monk is counter-cultural.  His separation defines his values.  To stand outside the culture that divorces itself from God, that knows not sanctity, that neglects the spirit within us is to separate from disorder, to see the culture critically and keep peace with the Divine.

My cottage is my cloister where I may select what I read, hear, or see – a place where I may keep company with my thoughts and prayers and the things of a God who gave us our existence.

Having been planted on “the wrong side of the tracks” as a child, I was made ready to stand apart, to sustain a critical objectivity that refused “transient fashions and manifest absurdities.”  Leaving them was never to have fancied them at all.  Yes, it was a grace that liberates and leads me here.

In a solitary existence one finds the conditions for a full life, and life’s meaning – that is:

  • interior exploration and its sacred products – freedom, understanding and depth of being
  • the peace and health of silence and solitude
  • distance from distraction and disorder
  • contact with the Divine and what is Divine.

So I say (with emphasis added) what Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B. says in Essential Monastic Wisdom –  “…  find some where a place of silence and creativity, where one can listen to the voice of God and think one’s thoughts and be one’s own self.

Shalom.

The man who has been made in God’s image is the inner man, the incorporeal man, incorruptible, immortal one.

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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Want to understand disorder and those who are disordered?  Just listen to Origen’s words above which date back to the Second Century after Christ.

His point is this: we are made in God’s image and that means we are in essence and fundamentally the man within us, the interior man.  In this, where God resides in us, we are as God: incorporeal – more than bodily man, here we are incorruptible – that is good at the core of our being.  We are in this life God – immortal – cannot die except that we pass from mortal life to eternal life.

So the disorder ones are those who know not their interior being – have never examined themselves thoughtfully, who – in contrast – live an exterior life – one of appearance, one that seeks status and advantage and fame and wealth, and cannot deny their most corrupt passions and desires – however sick and self-destructive they might be.

For them: more drugs, more sex, more rock and rock – more “free” stuff – more dependence, less autonomy, less dignity, less responsibility – childhood forever – all demands met – no God – no morality – ideology governs – and the ideologues say “kill the infidels who dare to have faith.”

Friends, we live among disordered people and they make life very dangerous and quite its contrary.   Their living denies life – they are the dead who must bury the dead.

This is precisely the circumstances we live in today.  Without God insanity becomes sanity, and bad becomes good, chaos becomes peace – Yes, lies prosper and pass as truth.

Shalom.

St. Michael the Archangel defend us against the wickedness and snares of the Devil … thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls.

The Prayer of St. Michael

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How do you prepare each day to meet the challenges of this world?  How do you become equipped to refute what is wicked, what is unjust, hateful – what advocates dishonesty or exclusion of others?

What do you say in the presence of words that divide and urge the injury of others?  What do you say to the civil “servant” or the elected official, or the powerful whose behavior is unacceptable, who fosters violence and exclusion?

Are you strong of voice in these times, and these encounters?  Or are you one who thinks that affluence purchases your silence because after all you have much to lose?

Facing Satan or his minions in high places or low, what would you say?  What do you say?  Would have the strength, courage and faith of St. Michael?  Do you have that strength, courage and faith?

If not, you’d be but a collaborator with the Evil One.  That said, you offer no friendship to others.

Why?  Why do you stand idly by and watch the destruction of souls?  Have you no heart?  No conscious?  No faith?

Shalom.

Only the honorable people resist injustice.  The rest – the honorless – are afraid of their own shadow.

Mehmet Murat ildan

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The Turkish economist and literary writer has it just about right.

But have you noticed that we don’t talk much about what it takes to be an honorable man in contemporary America today?

Maybe we ought to think about this – what is an honorable man?  It seems we live today without many such men.

I grew up in the immediate post-World War II America.  I lived on a street and in an extended family with men who served in the War.  The question of being an honorable man was not necessary – men had proved their worth, showed their courage and character in the demands of war.

My mother was born just in time for the Great Depression and, in short order, World War II.  She manifest courage and honor by necessity.

The affluence we have come to know in the post-War, post-Depression times seems to have scrubbed us of questions as to honor, courage, heroism and sacrifice.

Simply stated, I do not find many men of honor.

In my profession (the law), I see men who, despite the professional ethics that govern them, routinely fail to fight for their clients.  Yes, I see many cowards and fakers in the law.  Frankly people who would have never made it in the Boston I knew as a child.  There honor took many forms – be loyal to your people, help the other guy, don’t let anyone “bully” another weaker person, protect your family and women, respect others, work hard, don’t complain – just compete and get better at life, get stronger and wiser in the ways of the world.

I see things in public men and women that are, to me, astonishing – and in lawyers and judges, too – things that are disgraceful … but to whom no shame attaches.

It has come to the point that I see this dishonor in the “public people” – those that I have no regard whatsoever for … I turn from them as I might an offer of rancid food.

Somewhere along this timeline we are going to revisit what is it to be an honorable man.

“Selflessness.  Humility.  Truthfulness.  These are the three marks of an honorable man.”  So says, writer Suzy Kassem.

I might add – courage as well.

You know I lost so much in this life, I refuse to forfeit my dignity or watch others lose their’s.  Maybe that’s why I really loved the fight required in trying cases and arguing appeals – defending the interest of those poor and weak who live among us.

Shalom.

 

I am not … addressing myself to the happy possessors of faith, but to those many people for whom the light has gone out, the mystery has faded, and God is dead … To gain an understanding of religious matters, probably all that is left to us today is the psychological approach.

Carl G. Jung, M.D., in Psychology and Religion: West and East

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That we live in troubled times is not much in dispute.

In a nutshell, we are living among many people who have lost their way.  Their conduct is that of incomplete people – those who are not fully developed.  Their anger and odd fixations give them away.  Likewise their rote, uncritically examined ideological disposition so aggressively pursued regardless of its historically exhibited failure and the chaos and incoherence that tired, discredited ideology breeds – gives you a picture of the core disorder we now witness.

That said Jung can be quite helpful.  You ask, “Why?”

Well because our under-development is rooted in our neglect of those historical records, the wisdom stories of the Ages, that once kept us informed, confident, largely contented, competent, cordial, collegial, communal and wise.

As Jung notes – religious narratives are ignored as God is dismissed from view.  With that a vital resource to full growth and development, and cogent insight has been forfeited and disorder multiples as people, uninformed as they are, hunker down and push ahead at all costs no matter the injury to self, other, venerable institutions, truth, morality, biology, nature or society at-large.

That is America today.  Enter Carl Jung.

As Jungian psychiatrist Edward F. Edinger, M.D. notes – religious narratives and Christ, in particular, provide us with a way to full growth and healthy individuation.  That is to say, Christ (like other religious wisdom figures around whom a faith is built) imparts lessons that allow us to move from an ego-driven life to a full, healthy, wise and contented life as whole Self.  In short, Christ provides us in his life and his words access to our True Self and the peace that it brings.

On Jung’s behalf, Dr. Edinger offers provides many useful illustrations.  I site but one as an example.  Consider these words of Christ found is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 10, verses 34-36:

… I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.

Considered literally this would seem quite upsetting – but its meaning is quite sane and furthers each person’s whole growth and maturity because it is saying that we must grow free of these bonds sufficiently to come to know who we are uniquely made to be.

Yes, the wonderful contributions of loving parents and extended family notwithstanding – each of us is intended to live fully as we have been made – not in the narrows of those who loving us may have captured us – even inadvertently.

The point of this illustration is to say – our disordered conduct is an indication that we no longer understand what full human develop is as one grows independently and in so doing becomes a healthy human being who has grown from ego to one’s True Self.

Think critically of what you see in others and ask yourself – does Jung lead us back to our historic, religious narrative and the competence and health that it produces?  Likewise, does our culture inhibit our growth and development?  And this – why do we listen willy-nilly to others who do not seem very stable or wise?

God is dead no more … and never was.

Shalom.

Political correctness … a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others … a heritage of communism.

Doris Lessing

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The American Left is “out there.”  “In your face.”  Heck, the likes of Tim Kaine talk about street fighting.  Leftists go into a restaurants and make a scene.  The Democrat Party and their pals in the bureaucracy are head-hunting the President.  Radical women sound like they want a fight.  Celebrities call for revolution and a miliary takeover.  Very strange stuff.

Hard to explain this swerve to the extreme left and the violent polemics.  No room for collaboration anymore.

Thinking about this, I began to think of V. I. Lenin and his profile.  Strange as it may seem his profile reminded me of the Democrat Left today.

How?

Reading Paul Johnson’s Modern Times he made a rather extensive effort to identify who Lenin was.  In his description we are told Lenin lacked any interest in humanity, that he was a loner, that he was obsessed with politics, that he hated religion and considered that “nothing was more abominable” than religion.

Further, Johnson says that Lenin despised God and was amoral, that he was self-righteous and intolerant, that he was heartless and had no friends only ideological alliances, that he knew nothing about how wealth was accumulated or how farming or factories worked … additionally, that he avoided the working class, that he destroyed those who disagreed with him, that he trusted no one but himself, favored one man rule and relied on a small group of dedicated revolutionaries.

Lenin, Johnston writes, a favored violence – including psychological violence and that he invented “reality” to serve him.  He was, like other dictators, a gnostic – believing that he alone could understand history and lead the revolution.

Listening to the Left – there is some interesting overlap.  Not a comforting thought – but not something to be dismissed.

His Will is our peace.

Dante, in Divine Comedy

Shalom.

 

It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.

A.A. Milne, in Winnie-the-Pooh

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After seven decades on the planet, I have come to prize modesty and see the value of humility.

Most recently I have been reading a history of the last century.  In reading about the Treaty of Versailles which concluded the First World War, anyone with any intellect, a beating heart and (yes) a soul is apt to think of the ruin that followed the Treaty that we might all do better with an anatomy to which a small tail is shamelessly attached.

I say this because human beings today (at least in the Western World) attach far, far too much value to themselves.  Indeed, you see an example of this in the antics of diplomats, self-proclaimed scholars of statecraft, national leaders and heads of countries who were parties to and/or beneficiaries of the Treaty.

What do I mean?  Nations grabbed new territories where they could, – assumed rule over those who spoke not their language but the language of their country of origin or small ethic group.  Worse of all – self-determination (which was the “phrase of the day”) promoted ethnic groups, within new boundaries and those trapped under rulers and parliaments who thought little (or worse) of them, to take to violence to claim their “slice of the pie.”

In short, chaos and brutality followed the interim “peace”and laid (along with the huge problem of reparations) the ground for a second (even more bloody, destructive and demonic) World War.

One wonders if all the geniuses of the day might have been less robust in preparing the world for more slaughter and destruction had they had “a small tail” to which they were modestly but honestly “attracted?”

Aye, yes – we think way too much of ourselves and surely of all the Ivy-educated elites, celebrities, people in media, faces on television, intellectuals, the educated class and the founding techno-monkeys who sit atop piles of cash as the benefactors of asocial dispositions in themselves and many others.

Small tails, people – small tails!  Poverty of the Spirit in plain view. Tails needed.

Shalom.

 

Moral values, and a culture and a religion, maintaining these values are far better than laws and regulations.

Swami Sivananda

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Noted Indian philosopher and wise man, Swami Sivananda has it right.  Laws alone are not our completion, our fulfillment – nor the source of our power and identity.

The truth is those with humility have the greatest strength.  They stand without fear in the face of terror and death, for they know eternity and that it awaits those who believe.

If you were to read of the history of Western Civilization and its unique formation and evolution over centuries, you would see and know of something to marvel.  You would see your blessings and take comfort – indeed you would seek to preserve what we have.

But alas we have many among us who attack what we have, disparage religion, attempt to deny God, and deconstruct marriage, gender, nature, the institutions that provide protection for each sovereign citizen and for those who live their religion in their every day, … those who adhere to a moral code.

The destructive actions I see today give me great concern.  Attacking what we have is an act that insures our dissolution – a destruction that cannot be easily re-assembled.

Those who destroy our historic gifts pave the way for an ugly totalitarianism, a loss of freedom and meaning.  This is a very, very dangerous course – rejecting sacred gifts always is.

What are you doing to preserve our blessings?

Shalom.

Postscript – We have been poorly served by the education establishment (colleges and universities included) and our political and media figures insofar as we have not familiarized our sons and daughters with the treasure that is Western Civilization.

… examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thes 5: 21-22

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God created man and woman to be in close personal relationship with their Creator and with one another.  (Gen 1:27)  We are made to be complimentary to one another.  In such union there is divinity – Holy Matrimony.  Yes, our relationship is sacred and honoring it is our duty and the source of our peace and happiness.  Scared it is.  Political it is not.  Divine it is.  Ideological it is not.

The relationship between men and women is good and it is our duty to retain its goodness.  But among us there are those who would destroy this.  Many radical feminists and others who pursue craven desires seek to divide woman from man.  Too often we are silent and inert when such hatred and division is so near, so clear, overt and hostile.

We are called to good, not silence in the presence of evil.  Woe to those who are silent in the presence to of evil … think of the threat posed to innocents, to children in particular when evil of this sort is left unchallenged – permitted its voice without opposition.

If you wonder that others possess such hatred, think of radical feminist Andrea Dworkin’s words: “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high heed shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.”

With words like this, is anyone surprised at the conduct of radical feminists women and the Democrat Left and those who counsel hostility?  Did they not show their colors in the Kavanaugh hearings?

Things that are sacred to life and essential to peaceful, free society, fellowship and community are being attacked.

Are we to remain silent and in this muteness hasten further destruction and division?

Shalom.

Postscript – Ms. Dworkin is best remembered for her good work in opposition to pornography – a topic well worth one’s opposition.  Sadly, she passed away in 2005 at age 59.

In a way, her life shows us that violence begets violence.  How well I know this from my own life experience.  Which for me is precisely why it is essential that we address anyone who urges hostility and attacks what is good – particularly what is godly and good.  May she find eternal rest.

 

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