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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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Greek religion was a set of stories belonging to the entire community, rather than a set of well-bounded statements about ultimate moral and philosophical values … Within the common Greek culture, then, was an urge to understand and create systematic structure of sacred knowledge which ordered everyday life.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

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If you want to understand why we are in the mess we are in, why the state of affairs in our nation are troublesome (indeed self-destructive) you need only know that those who would command our attention have no idea of our inheritance – the place Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews played in the development of Christianity and, in turn, Western Civilization.

You see we license all manner of poorly educated public personalities to speak to us without them knowing much at all about who we actually are.

Yes, we listen to people with no claim on our attention but that we listen because they are presented to us on television, in the media, among the intellectual or celebrity or political class, and the “special pleaders” who push one or another foolish idea or idiotic claims.

In short, we have an extreme deficit when it comes to the wise and broadly read, experienced and insightful whose knowledge runs to our origins and the process of human development dating back two thousand years before Christ.

Think I am wrong?  Ask youself who among our public figures might be able to explain the connection between Greece, Rome, the Hebrews and the development of Christianity and the laws, institutions of governance in the West or identify the distinctions and similarities between Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christians when it comes to the Divine and our relationship with God or gods.

When is such a fundamental conversation ever been expected of those who seek to lead or “share” with us their opinions and desires for radical change?

Get serious.  Those on the public stage subtract from the sum of human knowledge when they speak.  This, of course, is taking its toll on us and our long term existence.

Shalom.

… it is difficult for churches, government, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing.  Everything divides into oppositions … vested interests pulling against one another.  Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation.

… you can lead people only as far as you yourself have gone …

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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Richard Rohr writes of two monks of the 11th and 12th century – Hugh of St. Victor monastery in Paris, France, and Richard of the same monastery.  He tells us that these monks wrote that humans have been given three different ways of seeing.  One way arises from the eyes that produce thoughts.  The second way of seeing leads to reason, and to reflection and meditation.  The third way of seeing leads to true understanding and contemplation.

It is the third way of seeing that is the rarest and most evolved.  Whereas the first way of seeing is common, it produces little depth of experience, is more concrete and binds one to the immediate without nuance.  The second way of seeing allows one to relish his or her power to conceive of the material disposition of the world.  Ah, but the third way of seeing allows one to do more – it allows one to “taste” existence, to be in awe before the underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connects one with everything!

The third way of seeing is seeing as a mystic sees – seeing as God has designed us to see.  This seeing exceeds the senses, does not rest on knowledge and intellect alone – but rather sees in a manner that expands his or her consciousness – and in this is transformed, made whole, lives in and above at the same time, is mortal and immortal, contented, whole and wise in ways that neither the senses nor intellect can offer.

In commenting on this Rohr says “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sight-edness and religious crises in the Western world.”  Hence the above quote that leads into today’s blog.

The view that Rohr shares, Dear Friends, highlights how and why “identity politics” is so destructive, so wrong-headed, so primitive, tribal, hostile, aggressive, hateful and unappetizing.  Those with greater depth of human experience cannot abide that which pits one against another in a death struggle.  We are, after all, not made to be enemies to one another but rather brothers and sisters to one another.

This historic moment requires us to see as the mystic sees.

Shalom.

Another attack on a synagogue.  We are paying a horrible price for moving away from faith and religious worship.  It is not the weapon that kills but the cold heart of one who has lost faith.

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American society is now remarkably atomized … The Left has a lot to answer here.  There is a drift toward very fragmenting tendencies among left groups, toward this sort of identity politics.

Noam Chomsky

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When a man of stature who is a Leftist, as Noam Chomsky is, indicates that identity politics is a problem, we had best all think about what precisely identity politics has done.

It has, simply stated – divided people, made neighbors adversaries, made others the target of resentment and hate.  It has turned some to violence – that is people on the Left and the Right.  But even more than that it has diminished vital institutions.  For example, it has crippled the Legislative Branch of the federal government and some state governments – leaving us with inertia, hyper-partisanship and government by executive fiat (yes, “the pen and the phone” unilateral governance).  Such division destroys democracy.

Illustratively, no judicial confirmation process can be anything but a brutal effort at character assassination.  We saw this with the Judge Clarence Thomas hearing years ago and in the recent hearing to confirm the last appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Likewise news has ceased to be journalism and become mere partisanship – losing all sense of fairness and truth in its public presence.

What identity politics does is divide and division is very dangerous as a result.  With division comes hostility, even the provocation of violence as we have seen in the streets, on college campuses and in targeted public confrontations.

In identity politics we are estranged from one another, others are seen as enemies and all things become political – all issues or opinions are a source for disagreement and opposition.  In identity politics lines are drawn and others become the enemy – humility, and humor, and collegiality fade – friendships are lost and little to nothing is accomplished.

Make no mistake a culture of extreme political partisanship and ideology has badly marred religious and educational institutions where in the former age-old beliefs are abandoned and in the latter indoctrination has replaced learning.

In the midst of this – we are a weaker nation.

Take heed – some say we cannot get to genocide without first getting to identity politics.

Form all together one choir, so that, with the symphony of your feelings and having taken the tone from God, you may sing with one voice …

St. Ignatius of Antioch, in Letter to the Ephesians

Shalom.

 

“Shall I tell you where the men (and women) are who believe most in themselves? … The men (and women) who really believe in themselves are all in a lunatic asylum.”

G. K. Chesterton, in Orthodoxy

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“Tis quite a thing to see the Democrat/Socialist Party of the Left looking like it has something in common with the thought process of the late Charles Manson.  But alas it seems so.

Where does one start? Well, Joe Biden is a good place.  He was in Boston recently talking to labor union members and claiming that he was one of them – one of the middle class, working men who build this country by their sweat and labor.  Only one problem – Old Joe has never worked a day in his life in a private job.  No, he has been on the government payroll as an elected politician for his entire adult life.  Never had a private pay check – not one … but he is a millionaire-plus.  Lunacy.

Then we have the ever-strange Mad Uncle Bernie who advocates that all imprisoned convicts have the right to vote.  Bernie (another guy with no history of work in the private economy but with accumulated substantial wealth) never says how he will explain this “convicts can vote” idea in the small towns and sparsely populated counties where the prisons are usually situated.  Uncle Bernie never explains what he’ll say when those small towns of 1500, 3000, etc. law-abiding citizens are governed by a town council and mayor who are convicted murders, robbers, sex offenders and the like.  Lunacy.

Then there is Democrat Mayor of New York City who announced yesterday he would present legislation to forbid (or banish) skyscrapers from “The Old Big Apple” because he opines that nothing does more damage to the environment and “global warming” than skyscrapers.  Yes, lunacy.

Then we have the young Congresswomen Cortez (sans an accomplished life in the private economy) who advances the Green New Deal which will (in the name of saving the planet) dismember the American economy by banning all sorts of things like airplanes because they and all other free-market objects and activities are (for her) a central cause of “global warming.”  Lunacy, again.

Then you have the female Democrat candidate for President who slept her way up the political ladder.  With no embarrassment whatsoever she seeks to occupy the Oval Office – becoming the first occupant of said office who has been a dedicated courtesan. How quaint!  Lunacy, again.

Then you have the press/media and activists going somewhat bonkers for the Doogie Howser candidate in the form of young Mayor Pete of South Bend who has a “husband” to accompany him to the White House.  Who among us thinks that his election will strike fear in the hearts of our adversaries?  Lunacy, once more.

Alas there is not time enough to extend the list to the “pretend” Indian Princess and the fellow Democrat presidential candidate who fancies himself Spartacus.  Lunacy.

We have the asylums in plain view, Friends.  Yes, we have an open-air asylum. The residents can be found within the Democrat/Socialist Party of the Left.

More over Venezuela!!!  Here we come.

Shalom.

Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

Good Friday

… aware that everything was now finished, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

John 19:28

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Take a moment today to stop and let your mind feed your heart, as on this Holy Day it most surely will.  When the heart is in play the soul is touched … on this Holy Day even more so than on most others.

Make a few minutes for this silent retreat – from the head, to the heart, to the soul.

In silence now, I come to this question: What did Jesus do?  And to this recitation – He entered mortal life as the incarnation of Our Father and all that Our Father is and enkindled in us.  He healed those who suffered.  He befriended the friendless.  He called others to the Father.  He taught others including the religious scholars he encountered.  He made the sinful clean.  He suffered and was rejected.  He hung on the Cross and was taunted and ridiculed.  He redeemed us by His death … and was resurrected!

I ask this question and provide the above answer in the hopes that you might look around you and particularly look at those who appear prominently in our mass culture – those whose images, voices, opinions and criticisms we see and hear all to frequently.  Indeed I ask in this – what have they done to justify our attention?  And I mean people in politics, the intellectuals, elites, princes of the tech industry, those in media with unrestrained opinions about all things, and the endless “advocates” of self-serving (destructive) politically (in)correct views.

Who is worth your attention?  Jesus or the talking heads of present day American mass communication culture?

I’ll take Christ … and proclaim that no one who seeks our attention warrants our time or consideration who does not show he or she has lived a life representative of the selfless nature of the Son of God.

Shalom.

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