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Suppose you were a member of Congress.  And suppose you were an idiot.  But I repeat myself.

Mark Twain

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It seems that accuracy and truth rarely share the same time and space with Democrat presidential aspirant U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

What do I mean?

Mr. Sanders likes to paint President Franklin Roosevelt as a dyed in the wool radical Socialist.  But alas that is not accurate.  For Roosevelt, for example, “social” programs were based on the obligation that one work to quality for benefits.  Unlike Socialist Bernie – government was not with Roosevelt “government as Santa Clause.”

Folks, we long ago crossed that bridge.  Indeed that bridge has been scuttled!  Now it is, per Sanders and his Democrat ilk, “free stuff for everyone” – with the “billionaires” and Middle Class footing the bill.  Ah, yes – with Sanders anyone working is subject to support the cradle-to-grave government dependents so those idle folks will support the Democrat Party that “owns” them.  Yep, give ’em things and they vote for the Dems is the reasoning and if you are the working Middle Class you subsidize Bernie and other Leftists who, like Bernie, and Joe Biden, never held a full time job in the private economy.  The Give-Away artists themselves are life-long “government dependents who like the Bill Clintons and Barack Obama are now multi-millionaires.  (By the way, is it not reasonable to ask why they need the life-time government pensions they now receive?)

Mr. Sanders calls his “Medicare for All” proposal an “income transfer” program to be paid for by taxing the wealthy among us.  But who is likely to trust a man who has never earned a private (non-government) income and never run any business of any sort.  Can a man with no knowledge and experience of tyranny of the “bottom line” be trusted with the remaking of a sixth of the U.S. economy?

Socialist Sanders, one must add, never mentions the calamity that is “socialist” Venezuela and Communist Cuba – or the former Soviet Union or Communist North Korea.  Me thinks a man who tells partial stories tells a dishonest tale.

Entrusting another who glosses over the truth of the matter is ill-advised when one’s freedom and economic system is put play.

Suspicion falls hardest on those would-be (Democrat) Presidents who lean hard Left, propose fundamental changes in a country, its culture and economy without a shred of evidence that they have sufficient intelligence, experience, expertise, candor, basic honor and honesty to “tell it like it really is.”

Half truths, faulty stories, Alice-in-Wonder “free stuff” and no responsibility for the many is the stuff of half-bakes Carnival Barkers – not bona fide leaders.

Be forewarned.

Shalom.

The existence of evil is not so much an obstacle to faith in God as a proof of God’s existence, a challenge to turn towards that in which love triumphs over hatred, union over division, and eternal life over death.

Nicholas Berdyaev, Dream and Reality

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I am particularly alarmed at the verbiage in public discourse that conveys evil when faith is needed.  Mind you, the political rhetoric on the Left, in particular, has been most troubling … and it has ratcheted up over time and found allies in what must be a free and fair press and media.

What once was helpful dialogue has turned in time to ideology, division and too often to hatred.

In this is destruction and the foretelling of violence, if it is not halted – unless cooler heads prevail, and voices come to echo faith and wisdom, unity, good will, fellowship, compassion and community.

Let’s pause to consider evil – as our words seem to tell us now that we do not know the measure of evil, its destructive force – its capacity to destroy all in its way, tear down, maim and murder.

Think of this: “Judge, not, that ye be not judged.”  These the words of Christ.

Christ does not say we ought to be silent when evil appears – but rather that we first must judge ourselves before we judge others.

Sadly, I see not much proof of pause in the words of those so quick to accuse others of evil intent and evil acts.  So think again of Christ: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote in thy brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:5)

Today we are too quick to judge, to claim a moral ground that those who judge and condemn show no evidence of actually occupying.  Nae, what we see is ideological “got-ya” moments – the opportunity to make of morality itself a weapon of evil, a way to advance one’s quest for power, one’s idiocratic ideas and demonstratively discredited ideology.

Yes, evil is being “addressed” by evil.  There can be no greater harm done, no better way to perpetuate division and nudge us closer to more violence and bloodshed, than to hijack morality to advance one’s private desires for gain, superiority, power.  Such conduct is evil itself.

A response to evil must have pure objectives – to correct, to teach, to heal, to build relationship, advance fraternity, community, repair misunderstandings, restore justice, advance love, create a stronger bond with others, with what is right and good and lasting – to grow closer to God and others – while excising us from hatred and the craven desire for power and retribution for one’s real or imagined slights and injuries.

I close with this: those who see themselves as perpetual “victims” are consigning themselves to a life of unhappiness and anger when in their mere but sacred being they are, in reality, sons and daughters of a loving God.

Evil begets evil – until we seek the Good that is above and in us.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Dedicated to Friends – and to Butchie, Roger, Giel and Diane

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If you want to be reminded of the love of God, just watch the sunrise.

Jeannette Walls, in Half Broke Horses

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I am rarely ever unhappy.  In this is grace and with grace vision.  I see … and I believe.

Never had much trouble believing.  It just seemed right … obvious.  Think of the sunrise.  When your father deserts the family there is still sunrise, and Mama and her strength of soul that is belief.

My sunrises now are of slopping emerald green pastures, purple mountains and, cows and calves gracefully, slowly eating their way down the incline as the pink on the sky fortells of the inevitable Father Sun.

We get all tangled up in ourselves and in a small screen that is our life span when there is an endless unfolding movie and we see it in the sunrise.

Context.  We lose it more often than we retain it.  Yet, wait – think of lunch with an old friend and his old friends – they are the sunrise and Mama’s strength and belief.

Rest your eyes and heart and soul on sunrise, cows and calves, and pastures and mountains, the sky, Father Sun, friends, Mama, belief, and God.  Happiness follows.

Shalom.

 

Every writer I knows has trouble writing.

Joseph Heller

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Gee, that is a problem.  I never have a problem writing.  Maybe I am not a writer.

To me writing is like breathing.  Like seeing.  Like watching the human parade of the morally and spiritually disshoveled with a blithering idiot section (reserved for those with a public presence), each marching out-of-step with one another – and in this I include the upper middle class haughty bourgeiose – the pretenders of affluence, the self-proclaimed “special people” and those of faux status and little humor – the “intellectuals,” the people near the top of the pyramid, the celebrites and the life-long elected – “ahummm” – “public servants” who seem to gain more belly fat with each successive electoral victory – balloning in time to the size of a small banana “republic” or a well-fed water buffalo.

I was born poor.  To this day I have not become a man who looks like he swallowed a small Volkswagon or Toledo, Ohio.

I can still see my feet clearly with no interruption at the waist line.  Poverty, dyslexia betrayal and untimely loss kept me humble – a near failsafe against a culture of being “special.”

As to writing – life has always seemed to me to be hand to hand combat and an hilarious Marx Brothers adventure.  A combination of terror and hysterical laughter.  This – more than an adequate mix for a verbal man such as myself.

Long ago someone said to me – “You write like you speak.”  Ah, that is the answer to the puzzle.

I am who I have always been.  The same eyes looking at variations of the same insanity with rare moments of crystal clear brilliance on our worse and on our best days.

Light and severe dark produce the same product:  I write from this – the combat, the terror, the instinct to fight back, the absurd idiocy and the humanity of it all – delivered outside to reside within until its moment arrives.

The crowd and its antics, like God, write of me – I just transcribe.  Somewhere in my head and heart the notes have been stored, the images kept fresh.

If I am a writer it is all because of what God gave me.  Blame Him.  I write from the gifts of pain and suffering, from cunning and courage – and from the endless laugther at the folly of it … from the surrounding of beauty, heartbreak, sacrifice, heroism, pathos, common injustice, freinds, people who loved me and the uncommon victory that emerges now and again.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

… false seeing … a love affair with words and ideas … But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with a judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And it usually is never fixed enough to deserve your protected self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall or Pause forever.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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When you pause to think about it – each day we are surrounded by other people’s words – a virtual down-pour of words, ideas, concepts, complaints.  The mere saying of them is accepted in the culture and common discourse as if these words convey something useful, truthful.

Need an example?  We speak of “multiple genders,” children in the third grade “deciding” that they are not male, but female – not female but male.  A man says his male sexual partner is his “wife.”

Yes, words are appropriated and their meaning distorted.  What was once “A” is now “Z.”

When life as it is is abandoned, false words and proclamation emerge and Truth vanishes.  We see here a love affair with words – a love affair with self, with fantasy, distortion – words used to personal and political advantage and the “hell with reality.”  In this, a journey away from truth in favor of fiction … and the added feature of fragmenting, dividing and destroying culture and shared community. 

Think too of ideology.  Despite historic evidence to the contrary ideologues tout the utility and “benefit” of socialism and the road to Communism – advocate for it without regard to its destuctiveness.  Here we have selfishness – the desire to tear down what others have built – anything to deny reality and life.

Things successful and unbroken are smashed with these words so those who cannot wade into life as it presents, or into history and common sense – arrogantly attempt to bend us to their disorientation and even their unhappiness and hatred.

You see this battle and its divide in our political parties – one houses those who hi-jack, usurp words and ideas for their own use and the other party that fights to salvage words, protect ideas and concepts that afford common understanding, support the essential and successful structures (marriage, for example) and institutions that have given us peace,  prospertity and freedom.

The battle over words as we have seen it thus far does one remarkably destructive thing – it has the capacity to alter the experience of human experience … the likes of  which substitute illness for health.

Where are you in this battle of words and established truth?

Shalom.

Almost all the great teachers say something to this effect: “Do not judge.”

But great teachers aren’t asking us to turn off our common sense and our rational minds; they are pointing to something deeper.

The great teachers are saying  that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with “No.”

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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We must be first open to life.  For life is the gift we receive and we are (everyone one of us) recipients of life.

Life teaches.  Life is the pre-eminent teacher.  To live life is to start with “Yes.”  “Yes” affirms life and the gift and Give-Giver and our basic shared identity as human beings … sacred vessels.

It has been said that one only knows what one has first loved.  It is in the “Yes” to life itself that allows us to see, and know, and grow, understand and experience more fully.  The “Yes” avows that in receiving life, we love life and the Gift-Giver.

Absent “Yes” one tracks to divide, distort and isolate.  The need to hide or control, deceive and argue soon flourishes when the fundamental “Yes” is denied, ignored.

Absent the primary “Yes,” as Rohr reminds, we are confinded to the shallows of fickled infatuation (from the Latin meaning “false fire”) not the indispensible breath of Love.

You see nothing can be known in its proper form without that First “Yes.”

The “First Yes” brings us to the fullness of human experience – life itself, our True Self, others, The Gift and The Gift Giver.

Shalom.

 

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born

Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outgrown

Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn

Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen

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The poet/songwriter/singer Leonard Cohen gave us truth in verses that spoke of this world and what surpasses its seeming boundaries.  He wrote and sang of Love in its presence and its absence, in its triumph and its defeat, in its joy and its pain.

We live, as we always have, in search of this tent of shelter.  No less now than yesterday.

Think of the old man who moves slowly alone to his last moments.  His being is of memory, longing and certain passage.  To the end he wakes and walks alone.

Think too of the children “asking to be born” in a time when choice trumps caring and hearts have been misplaced.

If Cohen’s words do not touch one deeply than a hollow being lives next door, down the street and in the structures where hope is placed but seldom known.

Dance be to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Shalom.

Postscript – I discovered Leonard Cohen when I was a young teen.  Met his niece in my graduate education at John Hopkins.  Not too many of my peers were familiar with him.

If you have not enjoyed his writing and his songs, I encourage you to become familiar with him especially at this time of public hostility and the harshness we encounter daily.

When darken clouds gather and no soul the meal sufficient fills – the sane among us seek the tent of shelter that is the homeward dove.

 

” … today … nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.”

Herman Hesse

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Yesterday I saw this fellow Beto O’Rouke on a midday T.V. show called The View.  It was actually remarkable because it was so pathetic.

Here was a youngish looking man offering all sorts of self-hating criticisms to three overweight, unattractive women – two of whom are far past their prime.  It was a dark and disturbed, inane act of confession.  Confession about skin pigment (being White), gender (being Male), affluence (being the Son-in-Law of a man who is a wealthy Texan) and simply being Beto.

It is strange to see self-hatred or self-loathing but there is a fair amount of it among today’s liberals.  Indeed, it seems to be a dreadful by-product of present day Leftism with their template of “identity” politics –  and especially prevalent among Democrats vieing to become President.

It is, of course, self-loathing … and as such – utterly unhealthy.  And, who, by God, would ever imagine that anyone would want someone with so such self-hated to lead a nation?

It appears the liberals have doubled-down on Mr. Obama’s nation-hopping “apology” tour that marked his early presidency.  No one, by the way, attaches admiration to a head of state whose instinct is to grovel.

This strange liberal instinct of self-loathing brings to mind Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution whereby in the midst of Mao failed economics he unleashed hoards of young brain-washed Marxists to corner individuals and extract from them public “confessions” for their real or imagined “betrayals” of the State.  Yes, the subjects were randomly selected for their “hatred of socialism” vintage Mao.

Some of those cornered were too “bourgeois.” Others were deemed to have courted “evil habits” of yesterday.

The Cultural Revolution is said to have resulted in 2 million dead, maybe more.  The take-away is this: Mao understood that a fearful populace composed of people who carry self-guilt in order to avoid harsh treatment, imprisonment, exile or death is easier to control.

Yes, it is alarming to see people on the Left evoking such self-loathing as young Mr. O’Rouke willing presented for all to see.  It is even more concerning that a political party seems to promote this sort of thing, expect it.

Cultures that separate from faith lead us to such states as self-hated.  Those who display this are in no position to lead.  A society were such illness is present had best rectify its disposition lest it decay and die a chaotic death.

Shalom.

Ekklesia (Greek word meaning church)  … signified the assembly of citizens of the polis (a city or small state in ancient Greece), who meet to make decisions.

Dairmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thosuand Years

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The history of Western Civilization aligns faith or church with governing – ekklesia with polis.  But we live in a time (a treacherous time) in which that nexus is lost … and that loss makes for a far more errant society and culture – a government more prone to chaos than tranquility, distain and division than gratitude and unity.

This is where we are now in the West and in America. 

If you want a source of our problems in government, in law and in public affairs – look no further than the disconnection between church and state and the hostility and sickness that arises when this nexus is ignored, or worse yet – attacked, disparaged and forbidden.

Really, there is not much more to say except – when you listen to public discourse ask yourself one simple question: Does this man or woman speaking convey any sense that he or she knows anything at all about who we are and who we have been for centuries, or for the tenets which have provided our foundation, survival, peace and prosperity?

If you answer in the negative – stop listening – for that speaker deserves none of your time or attention.

Shalom.

The life of the spirit is not your life, but the life of God within us.

St. Teresa of Availa, in Life Written by Herself

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Spirirual growth is aided significantly when we allow questions to arise in us.  What might that mean?

When something happens to us that we cannot quite understand, or when we experience something that is puzzling, even hurtful or disorienting – or something quite suprising and quite unexpected, it is good to pause and spend time asking yourself – what just happened?  Ask – why did that happen and what does it mean or what does it tell or teach me about life, others, interactions, me and the nature and history of my personal journey and the themes that have thus far emerged in my life?

In becoming familiar with your spiritual journey, you become familiar with yourself, your potential, your present personal settings as they orient you (most likely) partially to what is within you, what is your whole and presently unlived story.  And more to the point, in this questioning, you become wiser, more secure and find a relationship with God – your Creator.

Our journey is not so much about complete comprehension as it is about mystery – allowing the presence of mystery, and gaining stability in knowing not all things, but rather that – in growing in Spirit we need not know all things but only that all things are possible, even the things that we least expect and cannot predict.  In this state, we depart from the common installation of those things that are not certain – our identity in politics, career, education, title, wealth, status, political party, ideology, possessions, habits, gender, sexuality “identity,” etc.

Remember as to the Spirit and spiritual development – we do not and cannot unilaterally craft a life; to attempt to do so is bound to lead to frustration, chaos, unhappiness and failure.

In parting, I remind you of Mother Mary: “[Mary] was deeply disturbed [by the words of the angel] and wondered what they might mean.  Luke: 1:29 (Emphasis added.)

Ask questions.  Aim them particularly at yourself.  In this, you grow in the Spirit and peace, understanding and wisdom emerge.

Shalom.

 

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