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… she seated herself at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching …

Lk 10:39

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Here we refer to Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus feet listening to His words, His teaching while her sister Martha prepared a meal for others.

As you recall, Martha complained to Jesus that her sister sat while she worked.  And you likely recall that Jesus remarked that Mary chose the better way.

We in this Nation are, in my opinion, at the most significant historical point in my lifetime of 72-plus years.  We face today a political, moral and spiritual crisis which I believe to be the most ominous threat to our existence that we have faced.

There are those among us who seek to secularize us completely, to disgorge us of faith and morality, substitute socialism for free market capitalism, concentrate power in Washington, regulate human behavior, thinking, and opinion, and institute a government of a small and privileged ruling class.

So why reference Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus?  Well, because there is a profound and urgent lesson in this story.  The lesson?  Our welfare, security, prosperity, peace and the preservation of this unique free nation, built on belief in God coupled with freedom, can best be maintained by listening to the Word of God, being guided by it and incorporating it into our life and political views.

“If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.  Out of his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.”

Jn: 37-38

Shalom.

 

 

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I am free … anonymous … my flights and falls occurred while … wearing a magical cap of invisibility, my successes and sins sailed on in invisible corvettes …

Tadeusz Konwicki, in A Minor Apocalypse

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I have been in the public eye in a very favorable way.  Favorably written about, interviewed at length on television.  Profiled by famous others.  But my public life was all accidental – utterly without plan … and that is the best of it, the very best of it.  I’d have it no other way for who am I but one who will, in time, expire.

I do not understand the quest of those who must be “somebody” – who must be public, out-there.  I am most concerned with those who hunger to be seen … seen by faceless others that they do NOT know and who will never really know them.  There is an unnatural hunger in this.  In many ways, this is social media and celebrity per se – the ways of those compelled to make a public spectacle of themselves – and “the unknowns” who follows their desperately disordered example.

“See me! See me!”  Is this not a sick anthem?

Does this not explain the noxious political advocacy of mindless ideologues?  And those who self-righteously claim a “high ground” to shame others who just may not share their opinion, ignorance and shameless exhibitionism?

I suppose when intimacy is lost people get rather desperate to be noticed, affirmed, seen, acknowledged.  Such is the calamity in the highly visual, 24-7 mass communication secularized culture which has jumbled gender and poured far too much in a sexual cup that hath now runneth a good deal over.  Absent intimate experiences – people panic.

Me?  I prefer anonymity.  I find freedom in it.  And fullness, too.  And peace.

In anonymity, I can freely befriend those I choose to befriend and there is no element of “use” or selfish motive to my caring or presence.  Indeed, I live mutually with others.  I experience reciprocity – the essence of good relationships.

In contrast I offer this: I receive Facebook entries from two individuals who constantly send photos of themselves here and there, doing this or that.  One is a chap who is the  companion of an older fellow.  I met this chap once years ago.  I am among his “audience.”  The other is compelled to show endless photos of himself around the world with this person or group.  His photos are meant to exhort his “artistic” talent.  In this he is supported by a religious order.

In these things I see pathology – plain and simple.

Sadly I see lost souls.  Unbeknownst to them, they have become products of a sort.  Their social media: but commercials for themselves.  Is this not sad?

I’ll take anonymity anytime.  Everytime.

Shalom.

I looked for you in everyone and they called me on that too

I lived alone but I was only coming back to you …

and springtime starts but then it stops in the name of something new

and all my senses rise against this coming back to you …

Leonard Cohen, in Coming Back to You

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Each of us has someone – and probably more than one someone – that we have lost to mortal time.  For many, the years of loss have piled up while the memories persist and set in us deeper roots.

It need not be springtime to feel those losses – but in springtime when all is new and delicate and beautiful, those losses seem to move about like the warming breezes – turning our attention to the touches we knew, the embraces we shared, the laughter we had and all those days together.

Spring is “the coming back” time.  I give you this –

So take your walk, and sit a bit when the breezes beckon you

 for in the Spring when warm sets in, I’m coming back to you.

Shalom.

 

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  (Emphasis added.)

Eph 5:11

You have an affirmative duty to expose corruption.  This all the more important when it is clear that laws have been broken by the powerful and the privileged.

A nation cannot stand for long when evil is done to advance political power and wealth.

Think about that.

Shalom.

 

A Day of Rest

Trying to tame a swollen leg so staying inert with leg elevated – all part of knee replacement and a whole lot of arthritis.  (Lucky me!)

So I invite you to brouse some of the past entries (there are 1000’s at this point) and then to take a few minutes alone with something said and think about it in a contemplative pause.  Yes, we are usually running wire to wire and that is in essence spiritual starvation.

God Bless.  Peace be with you.

Shalom.

Will be occupied for a few days.  Hope you’ll take time to review some of my previous blogs.

God bless.

Back at it on February 8th.

 

Humility is the truth about ourselves, the whole truth – about our weakness, our failures, our history, our virtues, our gifts.

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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My life has taught me that humility is surely a natural goal as we age.  Humility leads to wisdom and there are no shortcuts.

Yes, you will grow in wisdom and stature from birth to death – if you simply and honestly learn from your life along the way – from your mistakes, misconceptions, errors, failures, losses, heart breaks, modest acts of good fortune and courage, from betrayals, deceptions and time’s fashionable untruths.  Indeed, life’s calamities are (when honestly received) the path to humility.

In living a long time, I have also learned this: people resist humility and doing so make a mess of life – their own and the lives of others.

Rather than grow, people resist recognizing their own human shortcomings.  People seem to prefer defense to honestly.  They deny their wrongdoing and miscues.  That, by the way, is often a signal of their own frailty.

Some see their education, or status, wealth, profession or possessions as designations that raise them above the common folk.  Ah … no humility in this diversion.

Elites almost by definition shun humility … no fun to be a commoner apparently.

Ironically, humility gives one freedom.

Life is easier when you see your capacity for miscues, for being wrong.  When you have that baseline understanding that people are imperfect – all of us, you included – and hence prone to mistake and endless folly, life actually becomes amusing, fun, far more relaxed, and quite entertaining.

To show the essential place of humility in life I offer just this one thing: Saint Bede cited the incarnation of the Son of God as an extraordinary act of humility.

Think about it: if God would offer Himself to us in such and action is it not sure indication that humility must be a central part of our human existence???  How could it be otherwise?

Think critically about your growth in humility.  Have you aged well in this regard?  You will know if life comes to you easily, without strain, with pathos and laughter, understanding, insight, mercy, compassion, and a divine humor and honesty.

Shalom.

Humility’s Absence.  Humility is scarce in secular mass communication culture.

Case in point: in a new book on the media by Howard Kurtz, Kurtz reports that young Jonathan Martin, a New York Times reporter, labeled Donald Trump and those that work for him as racists and facists.

Martin makes this claim as one with a simple B.A. in history from an obscure small college.  “Higher education” being what it is today, one might assume that Martin’s schooling is about the equivalent of a ninth grade education at a rigorous prep school of yore.

Today’s public discourse is flooded with under-educated people, lacking humility, throwing about all sorts of nasty assertions.  This, by the way, is a primary reason why I do not miss television and forsake newspapers but for The Wall Street Journal.  No sense taking on foolishness, now so common.  Humility absent, one’s access to truth is limited.  Listen and read very selectively.

Please note that I have a computer that needs a repair.  I will post as often as I am able during the repair time.

In the interim I invite you to read some of the past blogs and encourage you to sit quietly and think about what has been written.

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I give you something to think about.  Many were surprised by the verdict in the San Francisco criminal trial of the illegal immigrant who was changed with the killing of the young lady who was merely walking with her father on a city pier that is a favorite place for tourists to gather.

You are right to be puzzled.  Let me give you something to think about.  One can legitimately wonder how the jury concluded that the only crime committed was the possession of an unlicensed firearm – i.e., a gun violation.

The better point to consider is this: is this jury not attesting to the proposition that one cannot expect a competent judgment to be rendered in a city and culture that has lost contact with the sacred nature of live itself – lost contact with God.  Yes, the City of St. Francis has long ago turned to celebration of conduct that is, frankly, the opposite of sacred – that is: mundane, pagan, sinful, self-destructive.

The point to be made is that a culture unbundled from religious narrative (especially from the Judeo-Christian narrative) is incapable of understanding the sacred nature of life and forfeits the ability to even identity when a sacred life is taken by another.

Make no mistake.  The Judeo-Christian narrative embodies a moral code and divorcing ourselves from that narrative produces results precisely like that in this recent trial.

We have lost Our Way – and the price of that loss is our own destruction.

Shalom.

 

 

… it is all pretense … the truer man inside himself is the silent man.

Czeslaw Milosz

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This from a letter the aging Czeslaw wrote to a friend.

I fully understand this.  As I age I feel an inner desire for quiet, for peace.  It is much as if I must sit with God without a need to speak  – sitting in a presence that requires no explanation or utterance.  Yes, this is a product of a life lived with its motion, anxiety, effort, triumphs and defeats – its endless speech and it many miscues and human artifacts, its manmade structures that never fulfill – no matter the pomp and circumstance.

In aging one feels that the food of this world is both too much and not near enough.  My suspicion is that well before the end, pretense seems comical – a hideous misconception.

Pretense confirms neither emperor nor slave can be made new by clothes, title, office.

Pretense has no buoyancy – it attends the opposite.  It makes comedy of what is sacred.  It falls way short.  Farce is not faith.  Presence is not reality.  It is never even good acting.

Czeslaw recalls the morning after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and he received a call from a reporter from the New York Times who asked about his hobbies only to respond “Poets don’t have hobbies, they have obsessions” to which the reporter said, “Come on, he must have a hobby.”

Czeslaw finally said as to hobby ” … translating the Old Testament into Polish” and then he notes “deadly silence … receiver put down.”

Pretense can be most deadly, de-humanizing, reductive.  It kills conversation, presence, intimacy, what is real and true.

On the eve of death itself – quiet conquers all that is pretense.  I fell it as one feels the late autumn cold fortells the impending snow and the coming of a frozen ground.

Shalom.

 

 the Renaissance … mark(s) a distinct change in European culture, which shifted its focus from the glory of God to the glory of man.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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Yes, the Renaissance shifted the focus from God to man.

The Renaissance was fueled by the extraordinarily foolish (secular progressive) notion that the Middle Ages were intellectually and artistically sterile. In this idea the brilliance of metaphysical realism was bid farewell.

We have suffered illusion ever since – providing extraordinary hopes for the perfection of the human person despite obvious, abundant proof to the contrary. Indeed, it is this central idea that has plagued Western Civilization now for five plus centuries in various iterations to the present day.  Yes, this is the fanciful thinking of the Liberal, the Marxist, Socialists, the Progressive today.

Thus, the long hangover.

To be drunk on man as God – as perfection is to severe one’s connection between transcendent reality and material existence – discarding the former in favor of the latter. Likewise, it elevates reason to absurd levels while reducing and eventually privatizing religion – reducing it to a mere superstition or, at worse, a suspect way of being.

The shift away from metaphysical reality – is a shift away from morality and virtue and a movement toward chaos.  As well, it forfeits religious narrative in favor of each person being a narrative unto himself or herself – leaving space for ideology to govern personal choices and provide insufficient meaning housed in power and politics alone.

As Philosopher Charles Taylor notes the shift moved the human being from a state of enchantment to disenchantment thereby making belief less prominent and I would add making life less full, less spiritual, less intimate while curtailing everyday access to imagination and diminishing access to wisdom, faith and the experience of God.  In short, we lost human territory – yes, sacred space … and for many eventually faith itself.

If you wish to understand what you live today and know the very base of your misgivings and discontent being mindful of the shift from metaphysical reality to the modern era of man over God ought to inform you rather well.  Restoring what we once had in metaphysical reality is, of course, the obvious adjustment needed.

Finally, isn’t it rather revealing that few (if any) in public life mention any mega-narrative that refers to the history we have lived?

Hard to proceed wisely when wisdom is absent in the opinion-makers who command the public stage.  Is it too much to ask that those who take the stage might know something about history and have some command of lessons that it presents?  But alas, watching the public discourse now more often resembles the Three Stooges at work.  We must have better.

Shalom.

Suggestion – Rod Dreher’s book (The Benedict Option) is a good, relatively short read which does a very nice job outlining the events that lead to our present state of being.

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