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“ … rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me … “

Matthew 15:7,8

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Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who had questioned him critically about his compliance with Jewish law.  His point in the above reply is this: we often find comfort in the rules and rituals, even rituals of faith – but do we lesson with our heart … do we act from the heart … as Christians do we act as Christ would have us act?

That is the point.  We submit to governance – but do we live what is right and from our heart?  Jesus sees that the Pharisees have not lived the teachings in their heart  they instead absorbed only words and rules but not that which changes the heart and all that flows for heartfelt actions.

This, too, applies to us.  It is one thing to apply teachings but it is another to live in faith, live from the heart – be fueled by belief.  

In faith and acts stemming from faith – we lead others, we positively inspire others, we banish fear and uncertainty.

In the present viral problem we face – best we face it together and it faith – together and in faith we are one united by faith help in the heart.

Invincible as one – but splintered and fractured we are alone – and weaker by these divisions.  Shame on those who divide in the face of crisis.  But those who live in the heart and beliefs they profess – they lead in humility and courage.

Rules mean little when the heart does not lead.  The head can block what the heart demands.

Shalom.

Postscript – Case in point.  We have a crisis on our hands – a big one, one that takes the lives of innocents – many of them and randomly so!  In the midst of this bureaucracy (the home of endless rules, regulations and protocols) – they are FAR TOO OFTEN so much like the Pharisees.

In crisis that kills readily – moving to the “speed” of a sundial is far from acting in, from and with the heart and with the urgency deaths require.

“And as for death, if there be any gods, it is no grievous thing to leave the society of men.  The gods will do thee no hurt, thou mayest be sure. But if it be so that there be no gods, or that they take no care of the world, why should I desire to live in a world void of gods, and of all divine providence.

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations.

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These – the words of the pre-Christian stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor.  And, I offer them in this time when death surrounds us each – such is our plight in The Present Time of Virus.

In these words, Marcus Aurelius tells us that if there is a God we need not fret leaving the “society of men” and if there is no God there is no sense or desire living in a world without God.

Aye, would that this be how we live in the world today, and especially in the largely Christian West and among those who profess to be Christians.  A Christian, of course, believes there is a God – and as Marcus Aurelius declares – of such a Deity one can expect that in death no hurt will the Deity proscribe for those in God’s presence.

Roman Emperor notwithstanding, Aurelius, you may not know, chose to remain with his Roman Legions north of Rome for much of his reign.  He did not, it seems, require fanfare or the luxury and entitlement that a Roman Emperor who remained in Rome would most surely receive.

I suppose he is not unlike many of us who live among the others with no special dispensation when it comes to life and its calamities.

Alas, we share no Rome but the visit of a deadly foreign virus – and it has shown its rathe and come close as it appears to claim its victims. In this it holds all in wait – paused and mindful of mortality and our death.  This far apart from normal distractions, work and routine chores which were for us “the coin of the realm” – day after day, week after week, month after month, year upon year.

No.  With the virus death draws nye.  In the social distancing we live an isolated life – one that stresses “I am here, and you are not.”  Now for each of us death is more the companion from the day rising to the eve retiring.

Perhaps it is a strange gift we have in this trouble we witness so near, in this wretch who takes the living ones from us.

The gift?  Simply this: in an otherwise affluent life where most things function as designed and days are full of plenty and others, and the minutes scoot by without notice – for in the singular viral silence each one of us death stands near.

Yes, In The Present Time of Virus … our mortality is evident and maybe, just maybe, this virus might beckon us to recalibrate the worth of mortal life, decide the issue of God or no God, as well – the prospect of life ever after.

Ah, would that be the case, for then our behavior might restore us to nature, and for all so much the better.

In the best of the Spirit and of faith I offer these two quotes to send you on your day:

”It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.” Samuel Johnson

“All that live must die, Passing from nature to eternity.” William Shakespeare

Shalom.

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and in as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

Albert Einstein

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Mathaemetics = not certain, not reality.

How interesting.  And look who is speaking.  Let that sit in your mind for a while. Let it sit in your mind now – “In the Time of a Present Virus.”

We are, it seems fair to say, blessed with some knowledge – but not all knowledge … blessed with some measure – but not all measure.  Some understanding – but not all understanding.  Some problem solving – but not all problem solving.

”In the Time of a Present Virus” is this not clearly that case, clearly demonstrated, clearly true?

Gifted in some ways, but mortal.  Able yes, but not perfect.

Humility must never be forgotten or unpracticed – rather always present in our daily lives.  Humility reminds us that we are human and in that vulnerable – so vulnerable that we’d best be thankful for the mistakes we have not yet made, and the calamities averted while properly measured and sized by the calamities we have made.

Only in humility are we able to dismiss nonsense – the nonsense of those so certain of their perfection.

The message “In the Time of a Present Virus” is this – humility and the reminder that we are fragile – sacred but not divine.  Thank you, Albert Einstein.

Shalom.

 

 

“The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

Viktor Frankl, M.D.

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Ahhh … Viktor Frankl.  He who lived through three Nazi death camps.  He offers many lessens.  He paid the price among the worse of things.  He flourished inside hate and madness.  He saw.  He lived.  He shared himself with others in this dreadful hell he knew and in the world that awaited him when the demons were defeated and he was returned to all.

Choosing one’s attitude in any situation or circumstances.  This is not just our last freedom, it is our first and our forever and eternal freedom.

We are born into a world as it is.  Despite the zany notions of all who speak, that would have us change all things to reflect their vision.  Be discrete.  Be sober and careful.  Discern.  Some know and others do not.

But do you pause and think and see?  More to the point do we laugh at the folly ever present?  Do we see the world and those in it as the unwitting comics they are – the fools they present, the lunacy displayed?

Yes, some offer helpful advice. Others do not.  Forget not that at any given moment there is insight and foolishness, laughter and tears.

Laughter liberates and saves.  It is our comforting rebellion.  Seeing things around us as strange, even absurd at time, is the first step toward the good feeling of laughter, of truth, of wisdom and of freedom.

We are in such a state today – that we need laughter to defuse frustration, fear, worry, alarm, doubt … and anger.  Think about this – we are to pursue “social distancing” but what are we to do with our spouses and them with us?  Separate homes?  Meeting with glass doors separating us until all illness is vanquished?  And how about our children?  Are we to consign them to the life of a hermit in unpopulated places oceans away?

Think about it.  Is laughter part of your freedom?  Or do you bow to all the noise and all the echoes of those you hear?

Discretion.  Quiet.  Laughter.  Pursuit of what life is in all events – a gift well worth living and protecting but not at the cost of fear and worry and despair.

In choosing freedom in hard times – do not forget laughter and faith that tells us – life will go on no matter the challenges that spring up.  Listen discretely and remain human, hold on to love and laughter – carry courage and your wit and feel for what a “good life” is.

Shalom.

 

 

“ … after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

1 Peter 5:10

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Yes, in life we face adversity … and today we face a particular hard challenge.  A new virus is sweeping the world and our economy has its issues.  Our investment markets have sunken and many have seen loses in their retirement accounts.Uncertainty reigns and once again we find adversity has found us.

Make no mistake, in this circumstance we can expect to be stunned, upset, worried … but think about adversity as God knows it will find us,  He does not depart ever.  He is always present.  But the question looms – in our success, and affluence, and comfort, and success – have we lost sight of God?  Have we forgot His promises?

Yes, we have real problems in health and in finance, investments, savings and the economy.  We wonder if our industry will continue to have jobs for us.  We wonder if we are returning to an earlier time when we had less and knew what it was to be poor or of modest means.  Yes, these thoughts can bring us down.  But God brings us up.

Our first step is to turn to Him.  Ask for His guidance and support.  Ask for calm, and hope, and patience, and clear thinking.

We suffer and the God of all grace comes to us in our need.

Turn back to God.  All things become easier when we face in God’s direction.

Shalom.

Sorry to have missed posting a Blog yesterday.  Had a series of tasks and responsibilities that ate up time … and a balky computer also.

Good to be back with you today.  I offer a “thank you” for the people who have recently indicated they have become regular followers of Spirlaw.

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“ … the individual psyche is not just a product of personal experience.  It also has a pre-personal or transpersonal dimension which is manifested in universal pattens and images such as are found in all the world’s religions and mythologies. (Emphasis added.)

Edward F. Edinger, M.D., in Ego and Archetype

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Dr. Edinger is a Jungian Psychiatrist.

In the above quote he is telling us that Carl Jung realized that we are not just a product of our life experiences but rather we all house within us, as human beings, a residue of experiences that human beings who come before us have captured, and have woven into our nature as being simple humans – men and women.

Indeed, he is saying, as Jung said, that we carry the lived experience and knowledge secured by humans over the course of their existence.

Likewise Dr. Edinger notes that what is captured within is found in the religious narratives and mythologies which stretch through human history.

So let us assume that this is true.  What might that mean?

Number One, it means that if you wish to be fully human and well developed psychologically, emotionally, socially, interpersonally and intellectually, you had best come to know in the longest and deepest sense who you are as a human being  – from a long line of human beings.  It means you need to know what it is to be a human person in the long history of human beings and that you carry within a necessary and sacred story of being human.

It also means that, since what we know pre-personally is recorded in religious narrative and mythology over many centuries that we had best take an interest in religion, in mystical stories and in faith, religious narrative, religion and the sacred that is within us.  

It means also that there is a spiritual dimension to being a fully developed human being and that a society of human beings had best have room in its culture for religion and the mythology that tells us truths of what a human being actually is.

And most importantly it tells us that we had best have a hallowed place in our culture and our life for religion, for faith and our religious narrative … that our country, its peaceful functioning, its preservation of liberty and prosperity, our communities, happiness, civility, family life, marriages, joy, health, contentment, meaning and purpose, wisdom and compassion, honor and courage, enduring nature, moral and strong character requires that we have a place within us and the culture for religious disposition and religiously inspired behavior and action.

Friends, without faith, without religion – it is impossible to live a full human life or sustain a nation whose culture forsakes the vital primary role of spirituality and religion in the human person and the community of people.

Shalom.

“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 13:49-50

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Taking out the wicked.  Think about that – those who pursue evil will be held to account – face a very severe punishment.

These are Jesus’ words.  The most kind of all tells of the end what those who pursue evil and selfishness will experience.

Last night, after pretending non-partisanship, the Democrats withdrew their previously agreement to support legislation to fortify the well being of small employers and their small businesses.  The legislation would reassure the stock market and others suffering like us to avoid economic collapse.

Having agreed on a massive 1.7 trillion dollar bill to stimulate the economy and steady markets, save people from being laid off and having businesses close their doors – the Democrats with Senator Schumer and Congresswomen Pelosi in the lead pulled their support from the agreed upon legislation.  Their Democrat colleagues followed – one week after the Republicans joined (despite their concerns) the Democrats in legislation that they offered to address our present economic and health problems.

Plain and simple – the Democrats focused on power – their possession of power … they will go to any lengths to gain power and do just about anything to destroy President Trump, this country and our sacred legacy.

As a practical matter – people will be laid off, businesses will close, markets will decline – investments will lose value, people lose money- lose their savings if invested, lose their security if invested, lose their retirement as well.

The wicked will be thrown into the fire.  Better them than you.  Better them than me.  Better them than us.

It isn’t easy being faithful when others oppose what is good.  That’s where we are in this culture and in Washington D.C.  Shameful.  Absolutely shameful.

Shalom.

“ …the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

Matthew 13:22

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Jesus is talking to a crowd in these parables.  The above is part of the Parable of the Sower.  He speaks here of the sower who cast his seeds among thorns.  The seeds, of course, are his words, his lessons, words inspired by The Father.

This poor sower is like us today.  We have reason to worry about the world. We are, by any objective measure of human history, far more affluent than so many of God’s children who have preceded us.  And, Yes – we live among the thorns.

Our thorns are many.  I think of the political division and fragmentation in “the land of the Free” … of hostility amid this horn of plenty that is America.

Likewise, I think about those who seem intent on dismantling the family and the sacred vows of Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman.  I think of how human sexuality is misused and its blessed content denied.

I think of those who desire to destroy the free market and replace it with totalitarian rule – a system in which all power is concentrated in the few at the political apex.  I think of the greed the many who are affluent show – and of the four U.S. Senators who secured a private briefing on the state of the Wuhan virus and promptly sold large portions of their investment portfolios leaving the innocent public to see their hard-earned investments decline sharply in value.  

I think about the corruption of a number of Democrats that stood as aspiring candidates to become President.

Yes, I see the thorns and realize that they pay no heed to the seeds so freely given to the ground they share. Is this not the picture of the common person among the privileged, the powerful,“the progressives?”  Thorns by choice they are.

Yes, I see that it is the thorns that do us harm and choke off the sound of seeds hitting the ground and intended for our prosperity.  Yes, we live among the thorns. 

It is our sacred calling, our privilege and task to tend to the land so that the seeds might bring the nourishment that insures the joy of a fruitful harvest, a shared table where all seek for what is good … and I think of over triumph over thorns .

Make no mistake the thorns are a problem – may they no longer deprive us of life as God intends it.

Shalom.

 

“How often the priest had heard the same confession … man was so limited he hadn’t the ingenuity to invent a new vice …” (Emphasis added.)

Graham Greene in The Power and the Glory

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Lot of large volume selling in the recent stock market decline.  A very, very large amount … and today we learn that four U.S. Senators made very sizable sales of their holdings (in the millions, it seems) after receiving a Senate briefing and before the frantic sell-offs took root and moved the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) from a level of close to 30,000 to a level of 19,000 – a drop of about 30 percent.  Such a loss stripped the investment portfolios of Mom and Pop investors significant value that took years to secure … For many people these invested savings are their retirement funds.

Yes, some people took advantages based on information they had that was not available to others, known to others.  Some got to the leave the building knowing that it was destined to ignite.

This is very much the kind of actions that we regrettably see among the “privileged” class … the elites.  This, by the way, is exactly why Boris Johnson is Prime Minister in England and why Donald Trump is President in the United States.  Simply stated – people have a poor regard for the “elites” – the privileged class.

How fitting is Graham Greene’s observation – old fashion vice exercised by those used to having more wealth than others and coming to expect that they shall always be at the head of the line. Is this not a variation of the Hollywood parents who schemed to gain admission to college for their mediocre children by bribing individuals in the targeted colleges, paying others to take entrance exams or correct answers to those exams so that their “little darlings” might secure admission to a here-to-fore “elite’ college?

What we see is corruption – the type of behavior that destroys community, devours nations and guarantees economic lost and decline. Yes, the corruption of others has an extremely high cost and yes, the innocent pay most dearly for this corruption.

Make no mistake we are at a crossroads.  Good or evil?  United or divided?  One or all?  Fair or unfair?

Shalom.

“The world is not divine sport; it is divine destiny.  There is divine meaning in the life of the world; of man, of human persons, of you and me.”

Martin Buber

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Hard to see the divine meaning in what surrounds us.  The panic present with a virus that claims only a few and of them really only the old and impaired.

Without significant risk we hoard toilet papers … Is that because what we hear is horse – – – – … ???

Looking at the daily collision that is the present stock market or of the vacuous people standing as Democrat presidential hopefuls, you’d have to think “someone kidnapped the divine part of innate existence.”

We are, it seems, woeful and woefully lost.  Lots of strange self-proclamations – the sky is falling, the ice is melting, there will be no more oceans, cows must be destroyed, businesses too, there are multiple genders, those who we dislike or disagree with are “racist” …  Not much divine in these cultural guideposts.

We could use a little Martin Buber.

We need a little re-orientation.  You see there is very little thoughtful analysis of the state of our culture and the identification of the things we do and beliefs we carry which are damaging to self, to other, to critical institutions, trusted beliefs, historical identity, common sense, faith and community, civil relationships and truth derived from human experience from the dawn of time to today.

Time to separate from the illness that surrounds us.  Take out the “ear buds” – turn away from the chatter – sink yourself into quiet, reading that conveys what is true and good, uplifting and has shown us life that is far more than material and self centered.

Shalom.

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