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… the Light has come into the world, and men have chosen darkness rather than Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought by God. (Emphasis added.)

Jn 3: 19, 20, 21

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I have been focusing on the Gospel of John and the teachings that Jesus brings us in it.  I do so for a particular reason and it is this: we in the United States, especially among elites – those of privilege … including the media and entertainment class, lawyers and the judiciary, and university teachers and administrators, have lost contact with God, or have rejected God, religious narrative and Christ and this underlies all of our problems and our deteriorating public discourse and the reduced quality of those serving in public life.

Spirlaw is a blog about faith and culture.  About the intersection between faith and the culture in which we live.  There is no moral guide without faith and religious narrative.

The loss of recognition of faith’s invaluable importance to a healthy culture is crippling, destabilizing.  In its absence all sorts of ideas and wants are pushed forward without a glimmer of depth or understanding.  The subsequent foolishness is and can be both costly and utterly destructive.  We seem to have adequately demonstrated this quite clearly in the last five to six decades.

We are unhealthy, divided, crude and increasingly ignorant and wasteful.

Things have got to change.  We must return to the source of our wisdom and humanity – to faith – knowledge of it and life lived in it.

Look at the above words.  Read them.  Pause to think about them.

Do you see evil in this culture?  Among the most vocal advocates?  Or do you see good? Light?  Is faith banished or welcome?  Is God dismissed or welcome? Is Light manifest?

Or does one hear actors and celebrities, elected officials even – talking hatefully and doing so without hesitation?  Is the media truthful or are they not?

Those who are not truthful are not of the Light.  They destroy and there is no reason to give them ear.

Shalom.

Common Mistake – I recently watched an interesting report on the BBC about suicide among homosexuals.  The claim was made that it is a serious problem and that its cause is the denial of equality.

The common mistake?  Not all matters and forms of human behavior depend on “equality.”

There is far more to a healthy life than “equality.”  It is not the essence of human existence.

Indeed “equality” is invoked by political advocates without any evidence that they have studied the concept.  They use “equality” in an undifferentiated way.   Big mistake.  A mistake of ignorance.

The result in this case is this: neither “equality” nor suicide are understood.

Our ignorance grows seemingly in direct proportion to the growth of educational institutions and budget increases in education.

… 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.   

On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors … When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own. This quality is essential to dialogue.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Tradition is profoundly important.  It is, as Thich says, essential to dialogue. Without tradition one cannot easily acquire the experience of another for traditions convey human experience, reality discovered over centuries, truth as to human beings and the supernatural.

In America, today, we have little constructive or civic dialogue between the Left and the rest of us.  Rather, we hear very harsh, hostile and angry language from the Left.  Their word and conduct decry this fact: those at war with others are at war with themselves.

War, you say.  Yes.

The Left feels betrayed.  They lost power and an election that felt sure they would win … one they and their candidate felt entitled to win.

Indeed, they feel rejected and cannot come to understand as they must, in these circumstances, that they must look within to ask: why is this so?  Why did so many others not favor them?

Yes, they have been betrayed.  But not by those who voted for their opponent – but rather by their ideology – an ideology which attacks tradition and faith that is its common witness.  In short, the Left has attacked and opposed tradition and religion.

As to ideology, it has no long human history.  It is a recent human construct, a fiction of intellect – not a vehicle of human and divine truth.  It is simply: a lie … and to live a lie is a personal betrayal, self-deception from which no authentic dialogue can arise.

In the West, the modern liberals and the Left have chosen intellect over faith, power over humility, what is false on its face from what is and has been sustained truth about humans and eternity.

If we are to have a civil society, the Left will have to see their errors and change their ways rather dramatically.  On our part, we must be present in kindness and calm to receive them when they desire to advance civil community once again.

Shalom.

The text has disappeared under the interpretation.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil

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In America today we do a very poor job attending to the problems we face.  The principle mistake: we fail to determine the source of the problem.

We are most frequently trapped by the parameters of the problem itself, as it appears on the surface to us.  We let the problem define us.  We have lost touch with our text.

Yes, all problems tell us of the human person, his and her propensities, limitations, recurrent mistakes and failures.  Yet, in losing text, we lose context. Context lost, we fumble around making all sorts of mistakes and enemies while sustaining the presence of the problem, even institutionalizing it so that it becomes a permanent (but utterly unnecessary) presence in our life and culture. (Think how accommodations to race institutionalize racism.)

I give you an example.  Thinking about “activism” today, one might ask why so much of this?  Why do women assemble dressed as “vaginas” and with “pink pussy hats” to air their grievances?  Why do disgruntled Blacks burn down their neighborhoods, or Leftist and anarchists dress in black, wear masts, assemble to destroy private property, set fires, throw rocks at others?

We rarely ask: where does this come from?

In reading about Catholic monk Thomas Merton’s admiration for writer Albert Camus, I saw something of the origin of the activism we witness today. Indeed, I see the grand fallacy of social activism as it appears today … and yes, I see text lost to poorly formed interpretation.

Merton (like many liberals) admired French intellectuals who thought that it was an intellectual’s duty to be politically engaged.  In Camus, Merton saw an intellectual who did so.  He was smitten.

Camus, like his Leftist colleagues, saw the tension between a belief in things transcendent and evil.  Being without faith, Camus mistakenly dismissed God altogether.  His faulty reasoning: a good God would not allow evil to exist.  He failed to understand this basic proposition: God is perfect Good and as such not evil, yet God made the human being as an imperfect image of the Divine and it is man, not God, who besmirchs good with less good or evil.  In the godless Camus, the text is lost: it is NOT God but man who authors evil.

So Camus’ activism and today’s activism is imperfect man acting without God (without text and context) and producing evil when good is desired.  This the grand mistake of social activism.  We do not, as mere humans, possess the capacity to produce perfection – a world that is without evil.

All godless activism leads to politics and power and these divide, foster hostility – particularly when ideology replaces a more learned view of human existence.

Yes, there is an enormous price paid for text lost.

So we have now, real division – social activists who hate others and this nation. ‘Tis a very sorry state – one that may well destroy us.

Think about the lost text.  Christ was not a social activist.  He did not revolt.  He sustained in the midst of evil.   He was the willing, innocent victim of political power.  He suffered and died to glorify God and the truth man and of the Judeo-Christian story.

Truth and perfection does not come from man, nor in mortal life.  The truth of the matter is that we live for what is transcendent.  Camus, French intellectuals, Merton and the activists have it exactly wrong.  Christ does not.

Shalom.

 

 

 

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.

Czeslaw Milosz

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Czeslaw Milosz’s observations of life in totalitarian societies are spot on.

Yesterday’s testimony by former F.B.I. Director James Comey suggests we are closer to totalitarian society than we have ever been.

How can I say this?

Well, we had an F.B.I. Director who admits to leaking self-serving personal views of a privileged conversation with the President of the United States to the press through an Ivy League law professor at that!  As they say in my hometown of Boston: there is no honor among thieves, they’re just as dishonorable as the rest of us.

But the leaking was not the worst of it.  Mr. Comey admitted that he conformed willingly to the benign characterization Attorney General Loretta Lynch (another career government lawyer) imposed on him regarding the Hillary Clinton email/computer server/national security breaches when her friend Ms. Clinton was under criminal investigation at the F.B.I.

So our F.B.I. Director “took a dive” upon Democrat command but was, as he testified, afraid to meet with President Trump privately or to inform the President that he was uncomfortable with discussing any ongoing F.B.I. matters … and he was unwilling to tell the public at-large that Mr. Trump was not under investigation!

While there is more that could be said, suffice it to say that we saw the presence of corruption at top levels of the federal government … and at the very top levels of the legal profession.  This is very alarming.

In addition, now that we know President Trump was not the subject of any examination of the alleged Russian hacking attempts during the last electoral cycle and we also know that Democrats in the House and Senate knew that the President was NEVER a subject of an investigation YET THEY CONTINUED PROMOTING THE NARRATIVE THAT HE WAS, implying that he was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin and that Mr. Trump “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton with the benefit of Russian hacking and support.

If, as Milosz says, truth is a pistol shot … Mr. Comey and friends, and the House and Senate Democrats never fired a shot.  I guess truth is not “their thing” – slander, lying, character assassination to overturn an election result and secure political power apparently is.

And let us not forget the media and the press – biased as they are – full of “unnamed sources” and untruths.  No Milsoz gunshots there.

The conduct of the lawyers involved, the Justice Department, F.B.I., Democrats in the Congress, of the press, reporters and media commentators was disgraceful … and very harmful to this nation.

Let’s me plain: totalitarian societies rest on lies – big lies, little lies, daily lies, foundational lies and the silence that surrounds them.

The Left and the liberals in this nation have increasingly succumbed to untruths since the explosive late 1960’s.  This is very alarming.

Mr. Comey and company provide a troubling indication of decline, loss of virtue and of liberty.

No wonder common Americans rejected Ms. Clinton and the Democrats, and the “established” Republican politicians in favor of an inexperienced political novice now under constant attack.

Shalom.

 

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country … To the land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great nation … And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Gen 12: 1, 2, 3

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I sit in the morning fog in God’s green land.  Behind the mist are the pastures and the hills and mountains that I am sure to see when the veil is lifted and the sky is opened. I listen to De Profundis and Palestrina’s Gloria from Missa Papae Marcelli.

The news of the world is troubling.  In this land we wake to stories of overdoses, and of the murder of two young Muslim teenage boys on the eve of their high school graduation, both honor students on their way to college, and of conflicts and hostilities in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.  In our legislature the Party out of power acts like spoiled children, turns to obstruction while problems pile up and division disheartens.  Small groups act like angry pagans demanding this or that.  Racism surfaces among those once its victim.  The morning fog cannot hide the shame of this.

It had been four centuries without a prophet until Jesus emerged.  Four centuries.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters wondered why God was silent.  Then we received The Word, Immanuel – “God with us.”

We have been given the opportunity to become the children of God, to become the great nation that Abraham was called to bring forth.

Children of God and children of Abraham, but how do we act today?  We act as if there was no Abraham, no Jesus and there is no God.

Today we seek to create good through human acts but in place of good is conflict, discontent, selfishness, hatred.  The flesh and the will of man cannot triumph … it is God who perfects man, not man who prefects man.  Like Abraham we must be His vehicle, His instrument.

Like you I see the conflict, the needless hurt, the arrogance of man and woman, the reliance on self as if we are God.  We have credited ourselves with wisdom and power we do not have.

The good and wise man is humble, speaks softly – sees others as his family.

Are you the good and wise man?  Am I?

Shalom.

 

 

We see the world … as we are …

Stephen R. Covey

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These seven words are worth remembering.  There is truth in them.  Our actions, inactions, thoughts and concerns tell others who we are.

Thinking about this I am struck by two things: (1) how often we meet or are exposed to difficult or disordered people in this culture, (2) how often we can conclude that those we encounter have defaulted to a status far below their full growth and development.

This brings me to Carl Jung, M.D., and this opinion: we do little or nothing to present people with an understanding of what a human being is, and how we are formed and develop.

Jung’s life work provides a useful template which we neglect at great expense.

His view was that each person had to develop as the individual person they were created to be (i.e., individuation).  To explain this process, Dr. Jung focused first on the psyche.  

Jung divided the mind into a conscious and unconscious sphere.  The latter is divided into two components: what is personal and what is collective.  The personal is composed of lifetime experiences – including things forgotten or repressed.  The unconscious is comprised of universal and timeless images and understandings that are “inherited” and formed in archetypal patterns the denial of which creates disorder, keeps one from full development and individuation.

Jung’s view is that when one attends to the conscious (the center of which is the ego) and neglects the unconscious imbalance follows, and reaction appears in dreams, dream images and fantasies intended to encourage the full experience of human life.   Those who repress or neglect the unconscious sphere rely on ego alone and their assertiveness and disposition can be punishing to themselves and others upon whom they impose their will.  Yes, rely on ego and consciousness alone and disorder arises.

The latter, those egotists who impose their will, are abundant in politics and mass media today – giving rise to the hostility, bias and rather zany and self-destructive ideas advocated by the Left and ideologues today.

The practical point to be made is this: when you encounter those who advance strange ideas and insist on your allegiance to them, and turn hostile when you pause or refute their views you are likely facing one who is imbalanced.  One who does not manifest a healthy humility, is frantic when there is no reason for such a state – is probably short of the development they can, if the wish, achieve.

When you look about, when you encounter people and groups who are insistent and aggressive, who demonize those who do not agree with them – you are wise to discount their views.  Their behavior itself discredits what they advocate or propose.

Shalom.

Amazing – It is amazing to listen to the “Priests of Climate Change” who see those who disagree with them as heretics … and use scathing words to show their discontent.  So much for tolerance, civility and a democracy that allows for difference of opinion.

 

Delight in smooth sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts … the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality … played a definite part in unleashing upon the world … horrors and miseries (World War II).

Winston S. Churchill, in The Gathering Storm

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Wars have their prelude, their component miscues and misadventures, their self-delusions and grand deceits.

One thinks of this now as many troubling signs emerge.

Russia is in Syria propping up a brutal regime, Iran pursues both nuclear weapons and expansion while supporting insurgents in foreign lands, North Korea strives for a nuclear arsenal and European countries seed authority to stateless Brussels bureaucrats while terrorists roam their homeland largely unabated.

In the United States, we enlarge the national debt, fatten the dependent population and the expand the expectations of citizens for more and more national benefits.

Some European nations are beginning to resume required national military service, yet attention turns to “global warming” as if nothing is more important. Fantasies absorb us.

In our once mature and sane representative democracy, college students require pampering and “protection” from free speech while some assault civility and those with whom they disagree.  On campus, hate is protected by cowardly administrators.

In the public square God is unwelcome while obesity looms and one wonders where the next “Greatest Generation” has gone.

As Churchill rightly notices, the antics of the Liberals pave a nasty road to a tragic destination.

Hard to dispute this today.  Indeed, we have lost touch with truth, and consequently, with reality.  But neither truth nor reality have lost touch with us.

At the foundation of moral thinking lie beliefs in statements the truth of which no further reason can be given.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

When immorality prevails, we have stopped believing … without belief, truth and reality are lost and the storm gathers.

Shalom.

Postscript – An “unfunny”* female “comic” thought it amusing to be photographed holding the “head” of President Donald Trump.  Darling …

It is, thank God, always the case that people “self-report” – tell you who they are. So with this woman we see the Left is quite comfortable with those who behead their enemies. Charming …

(* “unfunny” is a state of being whereby a person does not have a humorous impulse in their body … if you see these people coming, run quickly in the opposite direction … if you encountered them in a social setting, make yourself disappear as soon as possible)

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.

… the time was approaching … when the Ego … would be mere putty in the hands of something much larger than any human being … a strangely impersonal (and inhuman) construction of social and political reality, that would have enormous, compelling, even definitive sway over all within its grasp … the state’s (moral and political) power (would) become for the individual a commanding and pervasive presence … enforcing its institutional will on … all … (Emphasis added.)

Robert Coles, M.D., in Secular Mind

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In the above Dr. Coles, an esteemed research psychiatrist who held three endowed chairs at Harvard University, is commenting on George Orwell’s classic 1984 (written in 1948) in which Orwell foretold of man’s loss of self to the state and its impersonal and often brutal, a-spiritual, conforming power.

We are, of course, precisely where Coles said we would be in his 1999 book –A Secular Mind.

We are – notwithstanding, the useless, uneducated, destructive chatter of “talking heads,” newspaper editorial boards, Leftists intellectuals, “progressive” politicos, feminist and sexual “special pleaders,” the mindless celebrity class, and misplaced vaudevilleans of late night television – just a Coles predicted … at risk of losing our Self.

The problem we face is not merely political.  No, it is far more.  It is cultural.  As cultural, it is fundamental.  It poses this question: what is and shall be a fully developed human being?

In particular, the force of the state on the human being always invokes this question: what is it to be human?

Of course, the history of the Communists’ gulags and the adjacent death camps of totalitarian states tells us that centralized, ideological governments and politics never advance the fullness of the human person.  Their concern is control of the mass, not the sacred reality of being a human being.  Hence, all central states (our behemoth included) incline to homogenize and reduce the human to dependent or servant and in doing so they seek to reduce the role of faith, exile God and curtail religious freedom.

The impulse which elected Trump is the impulse to salvage human existence in the face of the growth of the central state.  The hatred this has stirred up on the Left and among the statists Republicans (i.e., globalists, and vested elites) and those who make their very nice living as media handmaids of the governing class is precisely a defense of the large state and its imposition on the human person and critical subversion of faith and spiritual existence.  Think, for example, of the Obama IRS which took active, lawless aim at religious tax exempt citizen organizations.

That is where we are …and I add I see no one in mass communication culture who has called this to the fore.  Rather, I see debates over this or that policy, the appointment of this or that person to do X or Y.

We have a more comprehensive problem … one requiring a broader scope of intellect and a greater knowledge of psychiatric welfare and spiritual development.

Alas, the politicos and media-types are least likely to possess anything like the knowledge, experience, insights or analytical tools to navigate us through very troubled and dangerous waters.

We have an interesting challenge in the present moment.  The discussion must be broader than politics.  It must be cultural and fundamental.

Shalom.

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