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In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Democracy imposes a burden on its citizens.  The burden – to speak truth when what is false is said.  Ah, but this requires knowledge and courage.  While courage is perpetually in short supply, now knowledge is rarer yet.

Yes, the measure of our over-funded education system is failure, misinformation, ideology not free thought but special Leftist nonsense, softness, the destruction of language and belief, gutless “administrators,” the devaluing of education itself – and the long ago desertion of moral reasoning, virtue, honor or consistency.

Last year I asked my Ph.D. son what he wanted for schooling for his two young children.  He answered – “a place where they would not lose their interest in learning.”

That just about nails the problem.  A serious one at that.

You wonder why elected officials run about pedaling “socialism?”  Because they do not know what it is nor its inevitable thirst for total control and hence its inclination for the communist gulag, its hostility to human freedom, humans, religion and God.

At the present time, one is wisest who turns a deft ear to the “young, unlearned and inexperience socialists.”  And one is bravest who speaks truth in a room of silence.

Shalom.

 

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In his inimitable, frank language, Epictetus explained that his curriculum was not about “revenues or income, or peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, slavery and freedom.”

James Bond Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior

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Navy fighter pilot James Stockdale is the only three star Admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy to have spent years of captivity in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war and become a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

He holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University where his focus was on the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus included.

Epictetus, as the above indicates, maintained a school in Rome the purpose of which was to produce students who could speak of philosophical ideas without “idle” babble. As he said “Let others practice lawsuits, others study problems, others syllogisms: here you practice how to die, how to be enchained, how to be racked, how to be exiled.”

Mind you he lived in a harsh time.  Indeed, he was a slave who gained his freedom.  He faced (as did many) a hard life with great risk.  His desire was to help others find a way to live well in the midst of real challenges.  Philosophy was his vehicle – as it was with Admiral Stockdale.

Epictetus thought that a person was responsible for his own “judgments, even in dreams, in drunkenness, and in melancholy madness.”  His view was that each person brings about his own good, his own evil, good or ill fortune, his happiness or unhappiness.  He held the view that to be a victim one must consent to victimhood and that in virtue is serenity.  Indeed, how we chose to live our daily life was key to our contentment, wisdom, survival and prosperity.

Why do I write of this today?  To raise the point that we are not captive to the language and conditions of secular culture.  As human beings we have a sacred autonomy that allows us to author a life that is positive and strong in the face of what seems hard, unjust, dismissive, hurtful, disrespectful, faithless and harsh.

We are made to know our freedom, dignity, happiness and autonomy and to encourage and respect others who possess precisely that same nature as we do.  Seems to me we could use a good deal of what Epictetus is “selling.”

Be well.

Shalom.

 

 

It is often tragic to see how blatantly [one] bungles his own life and the lives of others, yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how continually feeds it and keeps it going.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in Aion, Collected Works 9, Part II

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Life is a journey and by that one means life is a process of growth and greater understanding, of change and maturing, of gaining in insight and wisdom in the face of changed circumstances, experiences and most importantly troubles.

This is what Jung meant by individuation – the growing over your adult years in wisdom and self-understanding – stability and maturity, peace and contentment as well.  Living is a process of active development and comfort.  It is the process that Christ invited when He seeks that we ought to pick up our Cross and follow Him.

Yet, what Jung says is so true.  Look at those who are discontented – especially in their personal life.  It is quite common that they do not take account of their own life – in search of how they have come to their discontent.

As Jung says it is often “that the whole tragedy originates” in oneself.

To the troubled and discontented I say – look at your beginning.  What did you experience in your most early life, in your childhood, in your family and circumstances?

Undoubtedly, you learned and imprinted impressions from those experiences and employed what means you had to attend to them.  Those early strategies are often the only tools one uses to attend to life. 

Yes, to every hammer every object is a nail.  This is not a good (however common) strategy for all that we will face in life.  Most problems demand more than the “insight” we possessed in our youngest years.  Translation: we must be open to growth throughout our life and its contours – its peaks and valleys and learn and grow accordingly.

Alas to the perpetually discontented continual growth is honored its absence.

We are, of course, talking about not intellectual growth per se but emotional and social growth, savvy understanding, spiritual growth, maturity and wisdom.

Learn from all your life, its successes and disappointments or failures (the latter being the best teachers).

Failure to look critically, honestly and introspectively at your own story, your life in its full measure – is the engine of discontent and continual mistake.

With best wishes.

Shalom.

Thumbing One’s Nose at Others – A recent national poll shows that 93 percent of  Americans think that illegal immigration is a serious problem.  Eighty-eight percent of Democrats think so.  Yet the Democrat Party of the Left is thumbing their collective noses at 93 percent of the public.

What ever happened to “the will of the people?”  Right, the governing class just thinks they “know best.”  This is why Popularists are being elected in Western democracies, why Brexit is Brexit, France has their middle class yellow jackets protesting in the street of Paris and Trump was elected by “a basket of deplorables.”

No one likes to pay their taxes, be lawful and then be discarded by those elected by them.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.  In your compassion blot out my offense.  Oh wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51

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This from Morning Prayer – Psalm 51 is most useful reading.  It speaks honestly of our imperfection, our capacity for sin.  More importantly it speaks to us truthfully.

It acknowledges that we fail and that sinful conduct is an offense committed against God.  This, of course, is a humbling truth.  To admit our own shortcomings, however, is essential to identifying with precision who we are and who God is.

We are merely human; while God is Perfection – and we are imperfection.

The Psalm reminds us that God desires our growth and humility and the strength to admit our failures and our sinful conduct.  In this disposition, we come to know God and in our humility acquire wisdom and the avenue to communion with others who are made just as imperfect as we are (without exception).

Progress in a well-lived life has much to do with knowing our limitations and faults and admitting them.  Such admissions anchor us in the reality of being human and the reality of a Loving God who prizes our honesty and humility.  You see, in admitting our humble humanity we order ourselves to a relationship with Our Creator.  In this, life becomes easier and good arises naturally from our modest acts and thoughts.

So I end with this, also from Psalm 51:

Oh rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue will ring out your goodness. Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.

God desires our goodness emerge from within us.  Civil society depends on this as does our human flourishing.

Shalom.

Postscript – Yesterday, a newly elected female member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Muslim and Leftist from Detroit, Michigan, choose to celebrate her being seated in the Congress by dropping a crude phrase (to wit: “Mother-F”) in reference to a member of the opposing Party.  What a classless presence in celebration of “democracy!”

This is what we have that is offered as leadership material by the Democrat Left – a coarse and vulgar person with a surplus of hatred, hostility and ignorance.  Thus saith the Democrat Left.  How sweet!!!  Does she actually eat with this mouth and kiss her children with same???

Psalm 51, Friends, Psalm 51.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their life style.  That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Brennan Manning

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There are many around us who profess Christ but do not act like Christ.  That circumstance is as old as dirt itself.  But what effect does it have on us?

Do we simply forfeit our belief, and on what basis?  Do we conclude that if the man next to me says he is a Christian but does not act thus – are we to abandon our beliefs?  Does this in any reasonable manner justify the rejection of Christ, his denial?

That hardly seems justifiable.

I am from a hard background – one where hardships and injustices, rejections and betrayals, and where deaths, poverty and bigotry were common.  None of those things made me apt to divorce myself from Christ or Christianity.  Perhaps this was simply because hardship made me and others in my family and community tougher – more independent, more loyal to one another and our professed beliefs.

I spent a good deal of time at the University of Notre Dame and in vowed religious life.  I can tell you without any hesitancy – I saw in both religious life and life at Notre Dame that many among each cohort did not live as one might reasonably expect those who professed Christ as their Savior – as the Son of God – might live.  Yet their failures only deepened my resolve to live as Christ would desire me to live.  I concluded from this one simple truth – many who claim Christ are neither faithful enough nor strong enough to commit to a life of faith, a life growing in relationship to Christ.

I guess my hard knocks life in Boston made me one hard dude when it came to living my beliefs … indeed I became more committed the more my faith was attacked and the more the principals in the faith showed their failure to abide by their faith.  About the only thing these episodes showed me is this: I was tougher and they were weaker.

In this regard I think of this historic quotation to encourage you: “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!”

Shalom.

 

 

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

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We are, it seems, better at discontent than contentment.  This need not be.

Look around – so many assert themselves, make pleas as to a perceived “injustice.”  Mind you each voice of self-promotion of this sort is a voice that divides one from another … for there is no advocacy but that someone is designated as the “oppressor,” the enemy.

I ask you this – if you have the peace of Christ can there be this need for advocacy and self-promotion?  Would angry voices and division ever be necessary?

You know the answer.  Our peace is in Christ.  Yet, we are a quarrelsome breed, always at odds with others.  Look at our public figures, the public “intellectuals,” our news media, celebrities, the legions of advocates – who among us speaks with the voice of Christ?  Who counsels and conveys the certainty we are afforded in the life, death and resurrection of Christ?  Who, despite disappointment and deceit, remains certain as to this life and its outcome?  Who is undeterred by conflict and inequality?

Those who live in Christ live in peace – maintain a stable disposition – are neither chaotic or perpetually angry.  No, they are confident and strong of heart.

We need in this culture today to reduce the conflict, discontent and disorder.  We need men and women who build a life on Christ and faith.  I think particularly of our political figures – Members of Congress and the those whose life have been as permanent fixtures in the federal government.  I see no one in this group who speaks with the confidence and reassurance that witnesses the peace of Christ.  Rather I see, among the elected and particularly among the ideologues, a hostile disposition that knows no comfort.

Having lived a life of hardship, loss and poverty in the midst of combat that such things bring – I can tell you that living in the peace of Christ is the only vehicle that brings one peace, certainty and stability.  Each of the discontented and quarrelsome voices deserve only your rejection – for they know nothing of a life of peace.

Who in their right mind would want to be led by those who are angry and hostile, discontented and not at peace?

Shalom.

It is never easy to discern what motivates people to vote, but exit-poll evidence and other survey data suggested that a significant reason for the vote to leave the EU (European Union) was a long running resentment at what people saw as a lack of accountability from government and large institutions.  There was a powerful sense that the very fabric of democratic politics had been torn as powerful people and institutions … simply did whatever they wanted without deference to the will of the people, pursuing economic imperatives seen as favoring the advantaged.

Gerard Baker, in The Wall Street Journal, December 8-9, 2018

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” … powerful people and institutions … did whatever they wanted without deference to the will of the people … “

While Mr. Baker is referring to Brexit and the English people and their politicians and bureaucrats … and (by inference) the wealthy and corporate elites and those in the public media and higher education, what he says explains the riots in France and the election of a populace in Italy and in the United States.  To make this simple – the political class and the well-healed have created a divide between the populace (and their ethos) and their own particular desires, interests and often loony or unsavory ideas, fetishes and fancies.

In France, England, Italy and the United States – there is a great divide between the common man and woman and the governing class and the wealthy class.  The divide is best seen in the question of sovereignty – namely: Who rules in a representative democratic republic?  Those in public office or government bureau, or the citizens of that nation?

Make no mistake – the identity that accrues from being a citizen of the United States, England, France or Italy is not easily dismissed or dissolved by those who think they know better by virtue of their: status, power, title, education, wealth or social circle.

Indeed, to be blunt – here in the United States we have seen the likes of the Clintons as representatives of governing class and we know they are, to be kind, utterly unlikable and substantially disordered.  Of course, they are not alone among the elites in that regard.

My point?  The voting public is no longer apt to play follow “the leader” when the costs of doing so are the loss of their livelihood, identity, freedom, family, religious ethos, culture, their priceless morality or safety and security.

For this tension to be resolved favorably, the elites must be disabused of the idea that they know best.  They do not.

Shalom.

In the Celtic tradition many stories tell of the warrior or hero who goes off to battle but, before leaving, begets a son.  The hero dies and so the son is born with no father and this is regarded as a Virgin Birth.

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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In the history of human story over the Ages, the idea of a Virgin Birth is rather common and it linkage is with the quest of the child (often a male child) who must seek his identity as a man and find his spiritual father.

James Joyce in Ulysses has Stephen Dedalus in search to find his spiritual father – the one who gives him his character.

Seeking one’s father is so common a literary event, is it not odd that this presents itself almost not at all in a secular culture whereby many children, and many male children, are born without a father in residence, even born to an unknown or absent father?

I, of course, ask this to point out that we are ignorant of a common human motif and the very critical quest that is presented to a boy who does not know his father.  Likewise, I add this – we talk of Virgin Birth as largely a scientific non-starter … something that cannot be reasoned … as if reason is the source of all truth and understanding.  Odd isn’t it.  This the narrow scope of those who received an “education” such as it limits present.

A boy without a father faces a significant hurdle.  I was such a boy.  My father walked by me when I was a small child and never said “hi.”  He played no greater part in my life.  From him I learned that those who do not love you, do not love you … and that I was largely on my own, left (as I did) to protect my mother and learn from life and the good men and women around me – what it is to be a man.

In the context of this quest – I acquired considerable understandings – many subtle and nuanced – but all trans-generational and trans-cultural truths … In this context I was all eyes – watching and learning.  In this context I learned how to defend myself and others and be aggressive when I needed to be … I saw more clearly the fit between men and women and our indispensable need for one another, and the unique and heroic nature of both men and women.  I learned that two are stronger than one … and that we all have a Spiritual Father.

Shame on us for not seeing the common search of one’s father and the cost imposed by a father who flees his responsibilities, and for damage done by women who make “men” the cause of all that they feel has been wrongly done to them.  Shame on us for not seeing that the violence of fatherless children has a great deal to do with our ignorance as to one’s desire to know who he is and to have a rite of passage to adulthood and an honorable fatherhood.

Is not Christ’s birth one such as our’s and given to us as a guide, a gift, a necessity?

Shalom.

 

Hell … is the condition of people who are so bound to their ego lives and selfish values that they cannot open out to a transpersonal grace … They are stuck with what they are .. for eternity.  That is the Christian idea of hell.  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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Now isn’t that a little alarming – consigned to hell if you refuse to grow and would rather remain in the small world you yourself create – casting aside the notion that God has called you to a life God intends you to know so that you might serve Him and others while coming to know your full, whole self.

I look around me and see in public figures (from Hollywood, to Washington, to the Boardroom of large companies, in the media and in the Ivy Towers of academia) those who live by ego and selfish values while constantly promoting themselves and telling others what to do, or think.  Indeed, it is so striking that one can assume if there is but a remnant remaining after the whole collapse – that remnant will not be composed of those in the public eye, in authority, from the privileged class.

If I am correct, I guess that there are a whole lot of familiar faces in Hell.  Well, I guess that is a modest comfort.  Sure makes you glad to be among the unknown who can, if they desire and are smart, simply do what is right and faithful and stay far from the collapse that will surely result – perhaps in our life time.

Think hard about where you wish to spend Eternity … and with whom.

My advice – draw closer to God and further away from the fancy crowd …none of whose company I remotely desire.  Without dramatic change the ship will go down.

Shalom.

 

 

… the Boston Irish are different … (than any other Irish who settled in this country)

(future President and Colonial Boston’s) John Adams, a thirty-year-old lawyer … viewed “popery” as incompatible with liberty and agreed … that Catholicism had no right to recognition or toleration.

Thomas H. O’Connor, in The Boston Irish: A Political History

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I have always wondered why my friends, family, neighbors were never afraid to speak up, were frankly tough, determined people who seemed to fear nothing – who would, in the face of adversity, double-down and be all that more insistent to overcome any obstacle they faced.  The answer to my wonder: Boston – where we lived, where we grew up and built life long bonds with others.

I was raised among the Irish and as a Celt (Scot) with a similar disposition and history vis a vis the British,  I took on the character of the remarkable Irish people that were my friends, second family, my brothers, sisters and neighbors.

History Professor Thomas O’Connor lays out the history peculiar to Boston of years upon years of Puritan and Protestant hatred of the Irish.  I give you one example: in the 1700’s November 5th was a day of Protestant parades celebrating anti-popery which ended each year with the burning of an effigy of the Pope followed my violent clashes between Puritans and Catholics.

Nothing toughens one as having to defend yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors against bigotry and hatred.  Yes, the Boston Irish (of whom I am in union) are a rare breed – an extended family, a clan of courageous, hard-nosed, clever, determined people – more than willing to step up and speak out – those with no fear of authority figures.

Knowing this I wonder where is the toughness of today’s working and middle class who have been dealt a bad hand by the arrogant, self-serving elites – the globalists who export jobs to foreign lands and support or pursue what can generously be described as policies that diminish family and marriage and allow unborn children to be destroyed?  Where are faithful people, Believers, particularly Catholics and evangelicals who see these things and others and remain polite when their faith is assaulted?

I can say but one thing – quietude is not the habit of the Boston Irish as to such matters.

You might want to think about that.  We are too quiet, too silent, too polite.

Perhaps this is why I gravitate to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame …

Shalom.

 

 

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