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Whoever does not honor the son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Jn 5:23

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These are the words of Jesus.  They are spoken after Jesus encouraged a lame man on the Sabbath to arise from his mat and walk and the man did – thereby prompting faithful Jews to take exception with the man because it was “not lawful … to carry (the) mat” on the Sabbath, and to find fault with Jesus for telling the man to do so (and effectively curing the man’s disability).

There are two things that struck me in this story.  One, the faithful Jews knew their law and lived by it.  That is – their faith governed their life.  And, two – Jesus spoke what he knew to be the truth – that he was the Son of God sent by his Father.  He, too, lived by faith.

So why write about this?

We live in a time when many live by ideology, or their own particular and individual desires or personal interests.  Indeed, many who live this way condemn those who do not share their views.

We have a good deal of political notions advanced as if they are holy and divine.  Not so.  They are mostly individual perceptions advanced as if they are the bedrock of moral existence, superior to other’s points of view.

It seems to me, upon reflecting on the above story, that we are best when we ask: Do I live by the tenets of my faith?  Or do I merely advance my own ideas regardless of my professed faith?  In short, does a professed Christian live as a Christian?  A Jew as a Jew – honoring their tradition and professed beliefs.

It seems to me this is worth some reflection.

Shalom.

Amazing and Ironic – In a new book by former White House aid to President Obama,  Ben Rhodes writes that his boss viewed himself as special, above the fray – an exemplar for what is good and wise – with views that are just best of others to adopt.

The irony is this: that idea of being “special” and better and wiser than the electorate is precisely the view held by those in Washington who have sequestered themselves away from the common man and common woman who comprise this country – and who deem that they too are “better,” “wiser” and “a cut or more” above the voters.

The even greater irony?  Donald Trump won because he demonstrated he is more like the voter than the permanent Washington crowd and those who deem themselves “elite – and thereby “privileged.” You know real humility never hurt anyone – but ah, is it hard to find among the “special people.”  

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We make ourselves real by telling the truth.  Man can hardly forget that he needs to know the truth, for the instinct to know is too strong in us to be destroyed.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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The Left has come to a very significant hurdle, a road block.  What is it?  The public at large does not trust or respect it.  Their day is about to be up.

After five decades they have pushed their ideology too far.  They are now seen as untruthful – governed by an ideology that breeds hostility, creates conflict and division.  They show their arrogance.  They think for too much of themselves.  Their support is dwindling.

In most ironic way, a fellow like Donald Trump exposes their untruthfulness, their sense of entitlement.  He provokes their wrath and deceit.

Yes, this time will be remembered as “the period of fake news exposed.”  Hollywood has been seen for what it is – the land of the bacchanal and excess.  The media, the press and academia has shown their narrow-mindedness, and extreme partisanship – the truth “be damned.”

People at the top of Washington power centers in the FBI, the IRS, the Department of Justice, the judiciary, the Congress and the intelligence agencies show their distance from the public they serve and their willingness to play “loose and fast” with the law and truth.

You see Tom Merton is absolutely correct – “the instinct to know the truth is too strong in us to be destroyed.”  Why is that?  Because God is Truth, Christ is the living exemplar of Truth; and, those who deny the truth of the matter are destined to failure – and their failure and rejection is near.  Good bye, “fakers.”

Make no mistake those in the Republican Party who have made peace with their Leftist colleagues who savaged truth will also come to a reckoning – the voters response.

Life is funny.  The unusual happens.  Reckoning comes in ways one hardly can predict.  To me it always seems that God reigns and God has a real sense of humor salted with irony.  Trump is exhibit “A.”  The godless Left “resistance” mimics a collective nervous breakdown.  Life has its moments and teaches Truth can never be extinguished.

A Dear Friend of mine (a guy I grew up with in Boston) asked me (with a laugh in his voice) early on in the last presidential campaign cycle: “What do you think of this guy Trump?”  Knowing he and I grew up among some very strange, strong and plainly spoken people, I replied: “I never knew he went to high school with us!”  He laughed.  We both were saying this: This guy is more like the people we know than any of the privileged “Blue Suits” we see far too often.  He saw this guy’s appeal and alerted me to something that was afoot with this unusual character in the public square.

Good bye, Blue Suits, eggheads and all.  Hello, Truth.  The times they are a-changing.

Shalom.

 

 

Without a life of the spirit our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory.  The life of the spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible reality – not as we imagine it, but as it really is.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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I am sure if you look about you see as many do that people have become difficult, coarse and quite narcissistic – self-centered.  Likewise you see, like others, hostility and incoherence – just look at the news and the unimaginable crimes – a woman kills her infant child and hides the body, a mass shooting of innocents by a troubled young man.

There are, alarmingly, many signs of disorder – individuals whose behavior and utterances indicate they are “lost,” disoriented, without sensible purpose or direction.  Just look at addictions and the vast spread of drug use – broken families, illegitimate births, killing unborn children in the womb, violent crime.

These things do not arise all by themselves.  They are a manifestation of a life without any spiritual context, that is a life of illusion, life without substance – or meaning … and aimless, a life that is destructive of self and others.

In such circumstances reality, sanity, health, stability, relationships, contentment, and nation are lost to us.

You look and see the problems growing and see in others behavior that gives you caution, concern and seeks that you keep your distance and be on guard?  All of this is attributed to but one thing: No God.

All of course is made worse by the ignorance of those in media who are as lost as anyone, and by politicians on the Left who manifest some of the same traits and many ideas that are void of wisdom – but do us harm, and further chaos.  The Left discounts God and the essential nature of spiritual life and all that it propounds — –  their work and words are simply the product of their self-deception and their narcissism.

God identifies the order of things.  Deny this and life and nations disintegrate rather rapidly.  Better return to the beginning.

Shalom.

The hero is one who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine, Eternal, which exists there … His life is a piece of the everlasting heart of nature itself.

Thomas Carlyle, in Lectures on Heroes.

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Heroism, like life itself, is lived from the inside out.  The hero’s deeds are divine and state this truth “no greater love hath one that he lays down his life for another.”

Let’s face facts.  Carlyle is talking about the place of the Divine in the acts of heroes much as I have written often that one’s life cannot approach excellence without a relationship with God.  Apropos, and as I have written so often, a culture without God is ruled by darkness – seen so easily day after day in the chaos and disorder of so many – living so close to one another – to us … and memorialized in the daily news.

When I see the public figures and talking heads on television each day – I do not see heroes … on the contrary I see sickness, disorder and chatter which signifies that those who chirp on and on have no clue that they put their failure on display.

Memorial Day Weekend – think about heroes.  Are you disposed to be in the right form and manner of your sacred being?

Shalom.

I define evil, then, as the exercise of political power – – that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion – – in order to avoid extending one’s self for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth.  Ordinary laziness is non-love; evil is anti-love.

M. Scott Peck, M.D.

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Dr. Peck, of course, wrote a marvelous short book about evil (People of the Lie) in which he noted that lying is evidence of evil.  Peck observes that evil is built on lies.

Peck’s above words (that of a noted Psychiatrist) are worth thinking about with what we face today: the questionable conduct of high-ranking people in the FBI and Justice Department and, seemingly, in the intelligence community.  Yes, we see a collective partisan interest in using their positions politically – in order to destroy a candidate for President and, once elected, the man himself.

Such conduct as we see is ripe with lies.  For Peck – this is evidence of evil.

Notice that in Peck’s words he says that those who pursue evil do so rather than extend themselves to grow spiritually – in effect, to mature and take on a healthy wholeness.

The root of evil is, it seems, faithlessness – a disregard for God.

When you think about it – he is describing (in the extreme) people like Stalin, Hitler, Mao and others – those who are godless and treacherously sick.  Yet, people as people can easily submit to lying and evil.

That said, Peck reminds us that evil is anti-love.  Yes, hostility to God.

What an indictment he has made.  Where do our present miscreants fall?

We live in times that are fundamentally challenging.  They put us to the task of asking: Who are we?  And, what have we become?  And, who dared corrupt us this way?  What shall we do to those who destroy what is good?  Shall we all return to faith, to Truth and to God?

Shalom.

 

… it came to pass … that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world would be taxed …

Lk 2:1

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This census, of course, required each person in the Roman Empire to assemble in their ancestral village or town … and this was a prelude to Jesus birth in Bethlehem as Joseph and Mary journeyed from their home in Galilee in accord with Caesar’s directive.

How many note the significance of Jesus being born at a time when the entire Roman population was assembled as a whole?  My point being that the birth of Jesus has characteristics to it that proclaim something quite special in this birth.  Illustratively, the birth of Jesus heralded the assembly of all.

Yet, there is more.  Jesus birth in a manger among farm animals makes the statement that the child’s presence exceeds mortal reality – but rather speaks to all creatures and creation.  Yes, Christ is for and of the whole of this world and the next.

Indeed, shepherds and kings come to his place of birth.  Is this not a proclamation that in Christ the humble and exalted are but one in the same?

Yes, the circumstances of this birth speak to us of its universal and eternal importance – but do we think of this in our own time?  Is this a point of reference for us?  Does this magnificent birth inspire us?  Motivate us?  Lead us in our daily existence?  I dare say: “it does not.”

Does not the star that led others to Bethlehem speak to the cosmic significance of this holy birth?  Does it not say that each birth is God’s intention?  Yet, who are we now?  Do we see these things?  Are we comforted and governed by them?

Shalom.

 

Humility is an attitude of honesty toward all reality.  It is not self-deprecation … but the truth.  It is the conviction of being created out of nothing and of being gratuitously redeemed.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Think for a moment what life might be like if each of us lived with this basic Keating proposition: we are created out of nothing and are gratuitously redeemed?

Remember Keating is talking about humility.

Were we to follow his guidance, would we not be more civil to one another?  Less anxious?  More sedate?  More settled?  Far better equipped to keep a balanced disposition – not too up, not too down?  Steady?  Content?

Seems simple doesn’t it.  However, in our culture such stability and contentment is not common.  Rather, we stress material success, are anxious and quite analytical – not much for interior existence.  And, of course, we have spent a great deal of time dismissing God and undermining religion.

Keating’s view would have us simply being for the sake of God.  … for the sake of God and NOT our self.  In Keating’s words one moves from thinking about God – to experiencing God and it is in the experience of God that humility roots in us.

Shalom.

Humility in Real Time.  In today’s America, I see what happens when lawyers and judges lack humility – do not live for the sake of God.  The consequences can do great damage to the rule of law, to liberty, the Constitution and civil society.

In practical terms without humility – prosecutors unlawfully withhold evidence that might prove a defendant’s innocence, they keep critical facts from a Judge when seeking search warrants, use fabricated allegations to commence investigations – even of an American President, seek to uncover crimes without sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed, and partisan lawyers “game” the immigration system to further the invasion of foreign citizens into this country while cities, counties and states (with the assistance of lawyers) usurp the role of the federal government by ignoring federal laws they simply do not like.

Yes, without humility – without being for God’s sake – a nation and freedom can be easily and quickly lost.

 

 

 

Religious experience is inevitably human experience.  It has to do with the human consciousness both individual and collective.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If religious experience is human experience, then it follows that human experience is religious experience. 

That said, experiencing human life is the experience of religious (or spiritual) reality.  What we are saying is this: one cannot separate the experience of the Divine from that of the mundane – from human existence.  Indeed, God is neither absent nor dead – but rather present and alive in us – whether we acknowledge it or not.

Assume for a moment that this is absolutely true.  With that, one might ask what caused us to discount God and Divine experience?  And, what is the price we might pay for living only in the mundane world?

The first question is answered by Charles Taylor in his book A Secular Age where he lays out in considerable detail how the Enlightenment and the Reformation pushed us toward an exclusive humanism that counted reason and the mundane world as the preeminent focus of human life and in so doing radically altered (narrowed) the scope of human experience.

As to the “price” we have paid – I would say that it made each life less full and made living far more difficult.  My view is that we have vested much hope and expectation in the “genius” of the imperfect (and often nefarious, selfish or disordered) human person and his and her institutions, governance, ideas, ideologies, laws, rules, regulations, fades and fancies.

In short, man in his power and conduct is not God – not even close.

Abandoning the relationship with the Divine, one is left to rely on one’s own very limited ways and many weaknesses.  The consequences are visible today.  Need I remind anyone of adultery, abortion, divorces, child neglect and abuse, homicides, suicides, sexual molestation, drug addictions, obesity, mental illness, unhappiness, envy, hostility, randon mass shootings, political corruption, widespread government inter-generational dependence, racism, gender confusion, teen pregnency, unwed mothers, broken families, fatherless families, female teachers having sex with their underage students … etc.

If human experience is religious experience, you would have to conclude that in today’s secular culture we show evidence that we are neither living as human beings nor as religious people.

Where are you in this matter?

Shalom.

“The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.”

Jn 10: 25, 26

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These are the words Jesus spoke to Jews in Jerusalem at the Temple.  Let’s put them in today’s context.

Yesterday a young man in Toronto drove a van down the sidewalk and killed ten people and seriously injured more.  A few days ago in Nashville, Tennessee, a young man entered a restaurant early in the morning and shot and killed four patrons and injured others.  Each young man had a history of mental health problems.

These two incidents are reminders of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings that took the lives of 17 students.  That young man also has a history of mental illness.  In that case, the public authorities totally failed to address the needs of that very troubled young man.

” … you do not believe, because you are not my sheep …”

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous is dependent on recognition of the existence of God (“a higher power’) and on our limitations to address our problems as if we are that “higher power.”

It seems to me that the constant signs of our neglect of those in need and the violent actions of those who (in their deranged state) randomly kill innocent people is an indication of our neglect of our own spiritual needs.  

I think too of the two lesbian women who adopted six foster care children and retained custody of those children while having had run afoul of child welfare officials in three states.  As you recall these two women drove a vehicle (with the children in it) off a California cliff to their collective deaths 100 feet below.

We are a troubled nation because we have forsaken belief … because we have neglected our full health, our need for spiritual sustenance.

Indeed we live like we are each a god unto our self.  We are, in this regard, absolutely NOT helped by all the discontented “special pleaders” in politics and particularly the angry godless voices on the Left who create division and disorder and their counterparts in the Democrat Party in the U.S. Congress, the federal bureaucracy and in state and local government.  Yes, godless voices breed sickness and hostility.

Let’s be honest, we awake each day to read or hear about one or more horrific accounts of murder, child abuse, infanticide, abhorrent sexual assaults, or some form of human deprivation that is beyond our imagination or understanding … and we see day after day the utter failure of authorities to do much of anything about these matters.

You know I recall the hubris of Mr. Obama who boasted about fundamentally transforming America and that no one seemed ever to ask in what form this change might take, nor did anyone dare to say to him: “Hey, pal, you’re NOT God and you have accomplished nothing thus far in your life.”

The point to be made?  Man is not God.  Heck, we are not now even clearly showing that we are the Shepherd’s sheep.

Might be time to believe again.  But do we have it in us to be humble as we once were?

Shalom.

Warped Self-interest – No Democrat Senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.  They did so largely to deprive President Trump the person he wanted in that position.

Mr. Pompeo, a former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A., graduated first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School.  He has had both a successful military career and an excellent business career in which he started (as I recall) two successful businesses.

When you think that we have had recently both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State (neither of them who achieved any particular success in their lifetime), it shows you that Democrats always put their own interests before the interests of the Nation and its people.  Shameful.

In order to be enchanted we must be, above all, capable of seeing another person – simply opening one’s eyes will not do.  (Emphasis added.)

Jose Ortega y Gasset, in On Love, Aspects of a Simple Theme

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In his book A Secular Age, Charles Taylor tells us that those in secular culture have lost their capacity for enchantment.

To be enchanted is to be charmed, enraptured – capable of being taken by delight.  The word itself is rooted in the Latin word incantare meaning: to chant magic words.

What Taylor is saying is that in a secular existence one cannot easily be enraptured, taken by the mysticism of sacred things, lost in sacred words.  In terms of Ortega y Gasset – Taylor is saying that one is unable to know a love of another completely.

Mind you Ortega y Gasset reminds us that to take another in one must do so not with eyes but with heart.

Considered fully, Taylor makes a very serious observation; in secular culture we are unable to be fully human, to know the love of another as fully as we once could.  Taylor is saying in secular existence we lessen or lose the capacity for intimacy, for relationship with others – lose the capacity for deep intimate union with others.  In this we are less human, less fully developed, less able to experience the mystical experience of faith or the wholeness of our being.

Taylor’s view seems right to me.

I listen to the contemporary music of the 1940’s and 50’s and I hear ballads that express the love one can have for another.  The content of the music of those days was overflowing with descriptions of the rapture of love of another.

I hear very little today that conveys such sentiments.  No now, I mostly hear coarse lyrics, and I see marital infidelity, divorce, abortion, the rise of pornography, harsh language on the public airwaves and little that models healthy devotions of man to woman, and woman to man.  It is my view that feminism has actually deprived woman of their humanity and men and women are much the worse for this.

Secularism levies a heavy price.  No wonder we manifest such unhappiness and loneliness.  Maybe it is time to reject secularism in all its crippling forms.

Shalom.

Absolutely shameful.  Congressman Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, indicated today that there was no intelligence material alleging any collusion between Russia and candidate Donald Trump that would have justified the opening of an F.B.I. investigation of Candidate Trump.  He made this comment after reviewing the existing intelligence reports that would have contained such information should it have existed.

Mr. Nunes also said that two former associates of Candidate Hillary Clinton (the former Secretary of State in the Obama administration) were disseminating information to people in the State Department – leaving Nunes and others to wonder if Hillary might have been the impetus for investigating her opponent Donald Trump.

This is all absolutely shameful and fitting a totalitarian regime.  Very serious stuff.

 

 

 

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