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… God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judgedhe who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 17, 18

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Jesus appears not to judge us, but to save us through him – through his teachings, his sacrifice.  So if we believe, we are not judged – indeed, the judgement of others does not rule us in this life.  You need not, as a consequence, be so anxious about what others say or meeting a standard imposed on you – especially by those who do not believe.

Of course, those who do not believe are already judged.  Ironically, they are judged by their failure to believe.  Yes, non-Believers condemn themselves, pass judgement on themselves.

Think about the practical application of this salient truth today.

If you believe and live your beliefs you cannot be labeled “a bigot,” “homophobe,” “white supremacist,” “fascist,” “deplorable,” irredeemable,” etc., by those who do not believe.

Indeed, one could say that those who do not believe reveal themselves by their judgmentalism – the ease with which they condemn others, dismiss others, discount and devalue others.

Sadly, it is the case today that the Left labels people adversely, passes judgement on them, devalues them … thereby showing that they do not believe in the name of the Son of God.

Today the Left divides and in this has created a crisis of sorts – put one against another … Such is the way of Unbelievers.

Division is not possible when one believes.  Division is not necessary when one believes. There is no place for division when one believes.

The cultural crisis today in a fundamental way is a clash between Belief and Unbelief.  It is a clash between those obedient to, and humbled by, God and those, godless ones, who in their unbelief, are full pride and ego, seeking always to judge and condemn – in favor of their high opinion of themselves.  Best to believe, not judge.

Shalom.

Postscript – The Democrats keep losing.  Why?  Two-thirds of them play identity politics – “the me vs. you” game.  They divide, keep people agitated and angry, demanding and annoying.  Hating your neighbors doesn’t win elections and it is exhausting.  The guys you hate actually vote against you.  Imagine that!!!

The other third wants America to become a socialist utopia and places like Cuba and Venezuela, and gulag Russia just don’t appeal to people.  Why trade a big screen TV, AC, paid vacation, a nice car for chaos, a bad diet, lower life expectancy, no economic future and an authoritarian government?  Only Ivy League English Professors choose that option – but there are not enough of them to fill a walk-in closet.   

The Lord God planted a garden toward the East, in Eden … Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 2: 8, 9

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… the tree of life …

We often miss this vital point in the story of Adam and Eve and their exile from Eden that results when they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

At Mass yesterday, Fr. Tucker pointed this out.  It is, frankly, a profound observation with extraordinary significance.

Yes, we were exiled for our disobedience.  Left to live far from the tree of life …. until 

Yes, until Christ was crucified – the Cross Our Tree of Life.  Such a wonderful and simple Truth from Fr. Tucker.

Think about this.  You have been brought back to Eden.  It’s enough to make a person obedient, thankful, faithful.

Beware of those who attack faith, the Church, religion and Believers – they have little understanding and are far from Truth and Life.

Shalom.

 … words have power.  Words can light fire in the hearts of men.

Patrick Rothfuss, in The Name of the Wind

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Yes, words can inflame and we have been very loose with our words, caustic, harsh, antagonistic, divisive, hateful.  Our words can and do provoke others.

Republicans were hunted down yesterday by someone fueled by ideology. Words, harsh words – played a role in this act.

We had best take an honest account of our self.  We have demonized others, labeled them, made them targets, counted them “deplorable.”

This has been building for four or more decades.  This has got to stop.

One can only pray that we are kind enough and strong enough to put a stop to the hatred and demonizing that is so prevalent.  God help us all.

Shalom.

[Note: I had prepared a longer analytical post on violence and culture, but given the present inflammatory climate I have opted to offer what I hope is a helpful and more unifying post in the hopes that we might look critically at our self, our culture, and what we and others say.]

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

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.

“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.

… he who finds me finds life … all those who hate me love death.

Prov 8: 35, 36

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It is a simple admonition – plain and concrete.  Yet, it seems we live in an age in which many substitute ideology and bias and neglect the quest for wisdom and understanding.

I think in particular of the news media and the American Left.  And yes, it seems they hate all that does not match their ideology and yes, they lead to death.

Surely the division they breed shows this, as does the tenure of their most Leftist politicians and public policies.  One need only think of Obamacare, or the folly of the “Arab Spring,” or the abject weakness shown in the Syrian “line in the sand” regarding chemical weapons, or the fiasco and lies that surround the unnecessary deaths as Benghazi, or the Russian “reset,” or the inability to balance a budget, or the hateful efforts to destroy the Trump Presidency, or the insult that would have many Americans labeled “redeemable.”  The list goes on.

Ideology is the enemy of wisdom, and death is its yield.  The Nazis and Communists have shown this.  The latter in its many iterations across the globe in the last 100 years.

If you seek life, seek wisdom.  If you seek death, ignore the quest for wisdom.

When you live in an age where ideology is foisted on you, you’d best reject it and those who live by it.

In Christ there is wisdom and the way to life.  Ideologues, in contrast ignore, God and wisdom – and calamity results – on the way to death.

Shalom.

Hubris – Pride is poisonous.  It is ever present in America today.  You see it endlessly at college commencements when some celebrity or Leftist politician tells the graduates to “change the world.”  Horse-hockey.

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard graduates that they needed to create a world where everyone has a purpose.  This from a guy without a college degree. Did it not occur to him that perhaps God established such a world long, long ago? Or that telling Harvard graduates this most likely only added to their Crimson hubris?

Why do we want more nitwits running amok?

We don’t need more pride, we need more humility.  And, “No thanks, Lefty – you’ve done enough damage.  Keep your idiocy to yourself.”  I wonder if the person that invented the mousetrap felt compelled to tell others to “change the world?”  

… at the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives – this little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us.

Thomas Merton, in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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So what if Merton is correct?  That God dwells within each of us?  Would it not be likely that The Creator might leave a mark on you in your creation?  A fingerprint so to speak?

If that is so, would you act differently each day?  Would you not be fortified when facing difficulties?  Could you ever truthfully feel alone?

Does it not follow that what Merton describes might well explain the heroic conduct we see now and again?  If it is true, can we not shake our heads in disbelief at all the mischief and thievery, lying, cheating, violence and betrayal that we see?

Would Merton’s observation not reshape our idea that X or Y is “an honest” man or woman?  Would an honest person not seem to travel with greater humility and greater tranquility for their reference to God?

If Merton is correct would a government and its political class seek to drive God and faith from culture and the public square?

Think for a moment or longer, if this is so – what effect does this have on you? How would this proposition change you?

Seeking God is the noble purpose – your noble purpose.  That which provides meaning to you – a meaning that exceeds the limits of mortal life and trumps all earthly objectives.

Shalom.

Piggy Bank No More – Europe’s NATO member nations owe years of back payments to NATO, payments obligated by membership in the mutual defense association.  President Trump has called NATO members out on their large outstanding balances. Rightly so!

One smug NATO minister kept talking derisively while the President was speaking. I’ll bet you he was from one of the countries behind on payments.

Isn’t it funny how others just think the U.S. will carry them – that they need not do their lawful share.  Let those days be over – suckers no more!  

Friends don’t let friends pay for all the dinners out year after year.  Such nations are doubtful allies.  The times they are changing.  At long last!

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.

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