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If someone believes that he is a Christian and yet is indifferent to the fact that he is, then he truly is not Christian.

Soren Kierkegaard, in Works of Love

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Kierkegaard is not the only person to raise this issue.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jacques Maritain and Christopher Dawson said much the same thing.

The point that is raised is this: what is required of a Christian?  Are we justified in sitting back and waiting for God to correct errant conduct, evil, hatred, violence, abhorrent behavior and the actions of those who would de-sacralize institutions and drive God, religious liberty and faith from culture?

The answer would seem (to Kierkegaard for sure) “No, we are not justified in silence and retreat.”

This leaves one to ask: if I am a Christian am I not obligated to speak up when I encounter godless behavior, see others advocate those things that do harm to self and others, destroy sacred institutions, divide and make enemies of groups based on race, sexual ethos, gender and such?

It is difficult for many to speak up when the crowd favors a view the is contrary to you.  The desire for social relations and acceptance is strong – people fear being isolated, and alone.  Hence, silence is common and in that we are often under siege in a secularized mass culture.

Sadly, I know Christians who recede from public discourse because they do not wish to address hatred and disorder that is publicly expressed and politically advanced.  Of course, this was St. Peter when asked by others if he knew Christ when Christ was apprehended on his way to crucifixion.  It is human but not our best conduct, and to Kierkegaard and others it is not Christian in nature.

We have some hard questions in today’s environment.  On this matter we are divided: godlessness vs. godliness.  It is a “St. Peter time.”  A very serious moment with high stakes.

Shalom.

Boy Scouts.  Well, the Boy Scouts will now include girls in their ranks.  Sounds harmless enough if thought of as an isolated matter.  But is it an isolated matter?

Regrettably, feminism carries an overt antagonism aimed at men.  It is (like all Leftist movements) saying this: hurray for me (woman), the heck with you (man).  Yes, the broad thrust of feminism is anti-man.  Forget the “war in women” – feminism presents “the war in men.”

You wonder if that is so?  Look at social welfare dependency, abortion, the sexual “revolution” – where are the men in dependent families?  In out-of-wedlock births?  Fatherless families – especially (but not exclusively, for sure) in Black families?

Liberals, having successfully driven Black men from families, continue on their way to undermining the role of men and manliness in general.

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I saw that carrying out a vocation differed from … actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse … essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to be the greatest of all ills.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Vocations arise from distinctly personal impulse.  One has the interior impetus to dedicate oneself to God and God’s service in an exclusive way.

Impulses like this cannot be easily ignored. To live in relationship with God is to be aligned to the impulse to serve God when needed.  Vocations come to those who are open to receive the call to vocations – to God’s service.

Those who close themselves from these impulses by saying – I will not be involved, I will simply be quiet and let God do the work – have no vocation, cannot be called to vocation because their pre-conceived disposition prevents the openness that impulse requires.

To deny the impulse to serve God actively – in word and deed – forfeits discipleship.  It leaves one to remain safely on the sidelines – even when Rome is burning.

Disciples speak and act.  Other are sideliners.

Are you a sideliner?  Or are you one who is open to the call of God and prepared to do what God asks of you?

Shalom.

Simone Weil was a French Jewish girl with a devotion to Christ.  She was born in 1909 and died in 1943.  My wife Sylvia was taken by Simone Weil and her remarkable life in search of God.  The next few blogs I offer on Simone Weil are for you and for Sylvia whose birthday was this month.

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I always believed that the instant of death is the center and object of life.  I used to think that, for those who live as they should, it is the instant when, for an infinitesimal fraction of time, pure truth, naked, certain, and eternal, enters the soul …  I never desired any other good for myself.  I thought that a life leading to this good is not only defined by a code of morals common to all, but that for each one it consists of a succession of acts and events strictly personal to him, and so essential that he who leaves them on one side never reaches the goal(Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Such a cogent proposition laid upon our table.

The object of life is the exact moment of our passing for that is the moment in which we might know Truth in our soul.  

One lives for that moment by living a moral code “common to all,” and by our particular acts and our accepting the events that come to us (each uniquely personal to us) with the clear proviso if we deny the events and avoid the acts we are called to do in our mortal life we will fail to know that sublime moment when Truth is imparted to our soul in an eternal life.

Well there you have it.  Do you live the life you are given?  Do you avoid the actions required of you by the events that are brought to you?  Are you living for you, or are you living the life God has made for you?  Do you live and act in the context of a common moral code?

So we ask: Are you moral?  Do you long for Truth and eternal life?  Do you accept what God gives you and act accordingly?

Shalom.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful. (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of December 9, 1958

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We are willful.  We prefer our ways to the ways of He who made us. This one thing accounts for our disorder, and eventually to a demise.  It is for each of us the single challenge in our life.

Done well life is a process of submission to God.  Yes, we grow when we decline so He might gain. In shorter the shadow we cast, the greater we are – the healthier we become, the more certain and the calmer we are.

Look around you.  We now have organizations that work to advance selfishness, sin – one preferred method of rebellion and godlessness or another … and we have many who co-exist with those who advocate disorder and sickness.  The enablers can sink this culture, jeopardize our health and wellbeing.

The tug-of-war between good and evil is a consistent part of the human story from the beginning of time.  Flannery O’Connor reminds us in this December 1958 letter that God does not miraculously meddle in each and every human affair, rather He offers the grace to grow, mature, come to faith and meaning through life experience, the sacraments, belief, worship.  In grace we grow in dignity and our implicit responsibility is to defend and preserve the sacred value of life itself.  Yes, this may put us at odds with others … but is it not Jesus who asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:48)

To reject grace is to reject God and life itself.

Look about.  Do you see bad being called “good?”  This is the condition of our time, and the ageless challenge: good or evil – life or death, God or His adversary?

Shalom.   

 

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.

 

There is an internal longing for harmony and happiness that lies deeper than ordinary fear or the desire to escape misery or physical destruction.

Czeslaw Milosz, in The Captive Mind

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The politics of the Left in American today fuels anger, conflict, division and violence.  It does not seek to heal but rather to dominate and destroy those who disagree with them.  They proceed just as Milosz saw under Communist rule in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Today in American, Czeslaw Mislosz would likely be persona non grata among those on the Left for he appealed not to hate and hostility but to our better human nature: the divinely planted desire for harmony and happiness.

Would not this nation excel if we sought first harmony with others?  Of course it would.  But first we must say to those who shout, malign, insult and act out violently: “Stop – calm down – are we not brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends?”

The fever pitch is far too loud today.  The angry voices of the Left are breaking bonds that hold us together.  The distance between the privileged elites and the common person is far too great.  Those on top act in isolation and expect others to conform to their wishes despite any discomfort those wishes might cause in the life condition and circumstances of those without privilege.

Those in power forget that communities are built on relationships from which trust and fellowship flow, and harmony is the common treasure.

Nothing would become us more at this moment in American history than to say to those who shout: “Be quiet, sit down – let’s share a table and a meal and talk about things we have in common and the harmony and happiness that we each seek because God made us good and wishes our relationship with Him and one another.

Think about this.  Reach out.  Practice harmony.

Our present task: restoration of this culture.

Shalom.

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer … Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life …”

Rev 2:10

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There are probably very few who read and think about the Book of Revelations.  Yet, the above is an excerpt written to one of several Christian communities at the beginning of the Book which assesses the life and faith of early Believers.

Reading these messages reminds me of our plight today.

We are undergoing a very fundamental assault on our culture.  This challenge presents us with the prospects that the place of religious liberty under the U.S. Constitution will be diminished.  Yes, religion is now suspect in the United States.

Make no mistake, the Marxist Left advances secular existence and, as Marx, Lenin and Stalin did, counts religion as its enemy – especially Christianity.

So what is my point?  Who among you thinks each day that you are living in a moment when Christ and Christianity is under serious siege?

Who among you realizes the fundamental challenge we face?  That our nation and its culture may be altered in a very significant way?  That morality may fade out of view?  That expediency may govern and politics and power will control all thinking, being itself?  That when faith is lost, we are profoundly altered – impaired, reduced.

Reading the initial words in The Book of Revelations might be worth your time.  Is its message, a message to us today?

Shalom.

Please Note

My Computer is at the Tech Doctor … I expect to have it back next week.  I will try to post between now and then, but do not be surprised if there is a lull in my posting.

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Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.

Carl Jung, in “Depth Psychology and Self Knowledge,” (Collected Works, Vol. 18)

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The American Left Democrat Party has brought us “identity politics” and we are paying the price Dr. Jung refers to in the above observation.

Implicit in identity politics is the naming of “an enemy”- someone on whom we may place blame in lieu of a serious look at ourselves.  Yes, identity politics creates animosity, persecution and injustice.

Think about it.  Does any identity group look at its own faults?  Or does it pick a theme and make a target of those who are not them?  Do feminists not need to lay blame on men?  Are not “Whites” seen to account for all that non-whites view as their “problems.”  Do not socialists, Communists, progressives need those who are not them as “the enemy.”

Dr, Jung said in his Collected Works (Vol. 8) that “the … existence of an enemy upon who one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience.”  As one can, he says, identity the devil and become “quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not in your own attitude.”

Identity politics manufactures discontent and provides an excuse for those who fear to achieve and elect be angry and upset.

Think how differently our culture would function if we all accepted with humility our circumstances and limitations and proceeded all the same to do our best and work like heck to advance our own well-being.  Think how that strengthens a person, instills dignity – and think (in the alternative) how much time is wasted when others carp and carp about this party or that as an obstacle to their success and full existence.  Imagine how lives are wasted by those who complain endlessly, raise a real ruckus when they could be seeking to excel.  Think, too, about the how the American Left fosters discontent rather than excellence.  What a shame.

Shalom.

Freud … replace(d) religion with psychology.  In this therapeutic vision, we should stop the fruitless searching for a nonexistent meaning and instead seek self-fulfillment.

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In a section of his book (“The Triumph of Eros”) Dreher shows the overt contemporary shift in America (and Western) culture to the glorification of Self over God; and, then discusses the subsequent rise of eros which produces a dramatic divide between and Believers and non-believers and the subsequent attack on religion and those who are religious.

As sociologist Philip Rieff so simply states – the shift presents this: “Religious man was born to be saved.  Psychological man was born to be pleased.” (Emphasis added.)

As time unfolds we see that “pleasing” found its base in sexual matters: in easy no-fault divorce, lurid entertainment, contraception, abortion, “re-defining gender,” same-sex marriage, female teachers (often married with children of their own) engaged sexually with young and under-aged students, homosexuality and its advocacy, and now “transgenderism.”

Recent decades seem to have established that in an unbelieving culture “freedom” produces carnal chaos.

Yet, the shift we have witnessed has one very fundamental flaw: cultures survive when their normative institutions support and protect what is implicitly good and ordered to human prosperity and happiness.  Absent institutions which do this and culture fragments, and then eventually collapses.

You see it is a hard-sell to convince neutral listeners that bad is actually good.

Illustratively, a failure to maintain a steady growth in the birth rate will finally result in a vulnerable, aging population and extinction – first, by the way, manifest in the presence of fractured families, out-of-wedlock births, and children born to teenage mothers accompanied by the growth of a dependent class composed of able-bodied workers who have been consigned to inactivity.

Perhaps the most troubling part of what we see around us is: the ignorance of elites who do not contemplate the course of self-destruction upon which we have embarked.

As the esteemed philosopher, Canadian Charles Taylor so succinctly states:

“The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaning of the cosmos).” (Emphasis added.)

We live in a time of testing – of a very fundamental test and it is this: God or no God.

Yes, each of us must elect God or godlessness and the chaos and utter collapse and death that godlessness brings.

In a sense this is a privileged time.  Few generations has faced so critical a challenge, faced a war as to preserve the goodness of being and believing … and make no mistake: it takes courage to elect God in the presence of the aggressive godless class – social relations being what they are per se.

Good luck, Friends.

Shalom.

The Great Divide.  Want to know how great the divide is between “the elites” and the rest of us?  Harvard University named Bradley Manning (a “transgendered” man previously convicted of espionage) as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.  Or is it the Kennedy School of National Destruction?  Birds of a feather flock together.

Was there really any wonder?  God or no God?  Your choice.

 

 

… emotivism: the idea that all moral choices are nothing more than expressions of what the choosing individual feels is right.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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The above words refer to a concept that Moral Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has identified as the present method of reasoning employed in America and the West given the collapse of moral philosophy in our culture.

The point is a simple one and visible in all sorts of public advocacy.  Emotivism operates this way: there being no universal and applicable morality, one gets to do what they wish, what “feels” right for them.  Enter: the fiction of multiple genders, same-sex “marriage,” no need for borders, taking down statutes, flinging about the accusations that “white privilege” exists and must be checked, and ignoring the obvious in corruption like the prosecution of Hillary Clinton and those around her.

What MacIntyre identifies is a populace each member of whom can simply do as they please regardless of what once was thought to be guided by morality.

He has identified the problems created in America by radical individualism and undifferentiated egalitarianism so vigorously endorsed and sought by modern liberalism, the Left, “progressives,” socialists, Marxists and special pleaders of one sort or another.

More to the point, he has identified a major cause of the collapse of a nation and a civilization in the present time and reminded us of two things: (1) morality and a moral code are critical to the well-being and literal existence of a nation and a civilization, and (2) religion and religious narratives as essential to the creation of moral codes and the collective welfare and existence of a nation, a civilization and its people.

That said, why do you not hear emotivism discussed?  After all, MacIntyre introduced the concept in a book (After Virtue) written in 1981 and regarded as the best book in moral philosophy written in the last 100 years.  Tis, but another example of how poor is our public discourse for all the talking we seem to do.

Shalom.

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