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… left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them.

N. T. Wright, in Surprised by Hope

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For a person of faith it is never the case that can do nothing when matters are getting worse.

Why would I say that?  I say this because if one is a Christian one has a mission and that mission is the mission of Christ … to live in a manner that announces, witnesses the Good News of the reign of God.  And that Good News is that God is present and faithful … that God remains present in all times and circumstances.

In this, we can always have hope and certainty that God and Good prevail … and we always have the task of witnessing that reality … and all the more so when evil is present and on the rise.  And today we see this evil so present in culture and the godlessness of ideology in politics today, and in the errant conduct of many prey on others and promote decline of person and society.

For a Christian – doing nothing in the face of evil and self-destruction is NEVER acceptable.  We are a people of hope … of public witness, and courage.  Act we can and act we must.

Shalom.

 

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Coming Out of a Snow Storm … Renewing the Blog

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I don’t think of conversion as being once and for all and that’s that.  I think once the process has begun and continues that you are continually turning inward toward God and away from your own egocentricity and that you have to see this selfish side of yourself in order to turn away from it.  I measure God by everything I am not.  I begin with that.  (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor

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Call.  Conversion.  Covenant.

This is the essence of a relationship with God.

Our longing for God is God’s call to us.  Implicit in this call is our response.

When you yearn for God you are posting for your answer a “response.”  That is, your yearning for God implies a need for you to stay “Yes, God – I desire you, that you be in my life each and every day.”  Yes, your yearning presents a radical trust and subsequent affirmation that you wish to bring God into your life and that you trust God completely – so completely that no other thing surpasses God in your life.

A call hastens a conversion.  In this your life is changed fundamentally and forever.

In this conversation you enter a covenant.  A covenant is NOT a contract (an agreement that can be broken, altered, amended, reinterpreted).

No, a covenant is a faith relationship in which each party assumes the responsibility to be faithful to it and the other party to it.  Yes, God offers unending love and relationship with you, and you offer the same to God.  God chooses you and you choose God – all doubt, all confusion ends – in time temptation has no appeal – good seeks its presence in your life and life has new, sacred and eternal meaning.  In this you have a purpose and certainty in the face of what is yet to come and to know.

In parting, think about thiswhy everywhere does the political Left, the socialist, the Communist, the totalitarian always attack religion and God?

The answer is simple.  In a covenant with God your loyalty is to The Divine, not the state and those who wish to control every aspect of your life.  There is after all a reason why freedom of religion precedes freedom of speech in our Constitution.  The reason?  Our Founders valued God more than state … Do you?  That is the very question we face as a nation today in the United States – all referendums are referendums on God and your relationship with God, the protection of your right to free access to your faith, to God.

Make no mistake, the policies pursued by the Left in the United States are intended to destroy your relationship with God.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Recommend Highly – Historian Victor Davis Hanson has written a MUST READ essay entitled “Autopsy of a Dead Coup” which explains and identifies those in politics, the Washington bureaucracy and “consulting,” law, intelligence apparatus, media and celebrity who violated the law in an attempt to dislodge a properly elected President while ignoring the legal transgressions of his former opponent and her aids.

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Aristotle … believes that when we feel anger in the right amount, at the right time and toward the right people, it is virtuous.  Without it we wouldn’t stand up for ourselves or for important principles.  Failing to feel anger when we are wronged is a vice … (Emphasis added.)

Edith Hall, in “Aristotle’s Pursuit of Happiness,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec 2-3, 2019

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I have for years now felt disgust for those who, having been wronged, do nothing about it.

Alas, Aristotle tells me why I fell that way.  In failing to stand up for yourself, you license another to pursue an evil path and in doing so you forfeit your dignity and the dignity of others who might well be the next victim of injustice or evil.  Yes, doing nothing you advance corruption of the culture and the victimization of others.

Failing to stand up for yourself is cowardice.  Nothing makes a man look worse that a failure to defend himself from those who abuse him or others, especially those who are vulnerable.  How I wish I did not see this conduct in men … but such a man says to us in his inaction this: those who will not defend themselves will never defend you.

He who will not act on righteous anger does endorses corruption and rewards evil.  How dare these people impose the fruits of their failure on others!

A chain is never stronger than its weakest link.  “Weak links” hurt us all.

Shalom.

Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

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Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

Where loves rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Love and power.

Jung is saying that the will of one that desires foremost that one attain power presents us with one who lacks love.

Turning this on its head, I think of one who loves … one such as Christ who loves and demonstrates this: – those governed my love indeed are powerful without needing to secure a position of power.  For it is the case that love has power particular to itself, and calm, and certainty, and in this an other-worldly/transcendent nature.  Love endures all things and surpasses all things – surpasses betrayal, suffering, loneliness, rejection, poverty, hunger, isolation, and all manner of evil deeds and the need for mortal kingship.

Think about the images of those who seek power.  Of Lenin.  Joseph Stalin.  Fidel Castro.  Adolph Hitler.  Mao.  Their legacy is not pleasant – labor camps, imprisonment, death, suppression of individual freedoms, confiscation of private property, hostility toward religion.

Think too of today and those who seek political power here, among us.  Think subjectively.  Do they seem loving?  Sacrificial?  Calm?  Humble?  Or are they smitten by status and political power?  Do they impress you as somewhat odd?  Captured by a will to power and the necessity of a public stage, a title, a preferred status, special treatment, access to wealth?

Those most likely to lead are those who have no need for power, no desire to control others or pursue radical change.  Those who divide us by race, class and gender lack the voice of love – for love does not divide, it unites.

It is a grave danger when a political party divides us by race, class and gender.  In them love is absent and there is no unity … rather division and decline.  We are strongest when there is no divide.  For that, love is essential.

Shalom.

 

Aristotle didn’t equate happiness with wealth, pleasure or fame.  For him, happiness was an internal state of contentment that we acquire only by living life in the best possible way.

Edith Hall in “Aristotle’s Pursuit of Happiness” in The Wall Street Journal (Feb 2/3 2019)

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Happiness is an inside job.  It is evidenced by our good feeling, our aim at what is “well” and “good.”  Hence contentment, tranquility, peace of mind and heart.

In his early life (as Dr. Hall notes) Aristotle saw the unhappiness of the elites, their malevolence and turmoil.  He saw (much as one might see now) how the “high and mighty” are miserable, living in and creating chaos for themselves and others.

For Aristotle the road to happiness was an honest understanding of who you were – that is, self-knowledge/knowledge of self.  He sought to know the ethos of the human person – the way to virtue and virtuous living – not wealth or possessions, or fame or title or power – but rather heart and soul and good health.

Aristotle would have each of us know our best and worse behavior and strive to maximize the best – to improve where we need to grow for the better.

In such a life is, as he determined, “moral self-sufficiency” … a good life, a stable existence – contentment, maturity, wisdom and compassion.  Men and women such as this are and always will be critical to the leadership of others – for they model the best within each of us that is frequently honored in its absence.

As for me, we tolerate too easily those who are not near well-developed and in that condition sow division and unhappiness and act in error and ignorance.

Seek happiness.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

Aristotle

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Throwing money at institutional “education” has set us back in that last five or six decades.  Yes, education of the mind and not the heart presents us with not whole people but slivers of indoctrination – in our case … with small-mined ideologues, life un-examined.

The heart.  The heart.  The heart.  We are more than a brain – which is but a secondary organ.  People survive brain injuries, no one survives without a heart.

Wonder why you see the sights and hear the sounds you hear in contemporary media and culture?  We have poured dubious ideas into college students but little to reveal what Aristotle knew 300 years before Christ.

Great damage is done by those who have not done the work of understanding who they are and what the purpose of a lived life is.  When we neglect the mystery and truths about mortal life, when we ignore what has been complied on this subject in the last 2500 years and in many cultures all along that time line – we are far less “educated” than we reckon.

Such is the cause of the nonsense we see daily … of the foolishness and hostility of those who vie to lead this nation, influence others, advocate all manner of mischief.

Best you see where we are and how we have missed the mark very substantially.  And better yet – best we are to listen critically and discount all those whose sing-song rhetoric does not witness in the speaker wisdom of a life fully lived and the humility and calm that such experience generates.

Shalom.

 

“How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?”

Arthur Schopenhauer, in On the Foundations of Morality

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This is precisely the kind of question that is not asked by individuals in America today.  It is precisely the sort of question in which we are of a very desperate need.

Its absence is the product of our failed education system – especially university education and makes its absence in a secular culture that denies God in favor of “trivial pursuits.”

Yes, what we concentrate on does not seek the feel and understanding of the mystery that this implicit in this question and others of its ilk.

I give you one such distraction that is our preoccupation.  It is “equality.”

Who images any one person is in every measure the equal of another in very detail?  No one who is thinking.  Yet, we chase in all sorts of “social justice” pursuits “equality.”  Likewise such a notion allows us to divide in hostility one from another.  Such estrangement does great damage – separating us woman from man, and by race, religion and income.

Yet over all these separations and distractions – one stops to help another who suffers.  One risks one’s life for another. We do this because we are who God made us to be in the doing of such things.

In contrast, the political climate separates us and with God in exile we grow further apart and weaker as people and as a nation.

My constant frustration is this: I see hardly anyone in public life who lives as if they ever ponder as Schopenhauer’s inquiry so clearly does.

We ought to be ashamed and less a pack of complainers and more individuals with interest in the defining questions of life that make us far better people and a stronger and more faithful nation.

Shalom.

 “… a myth is not a lie.  A mythology is an organization of symbolic images and narratives, metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and the fulfillment of a culture at a given time.”  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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This is an excerpt from an exchange the comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell had with a young radio interviewer who insisted a myth is a lie.

As Campbell tells the story since his host seemed not to comprehend what a metaphor was he asked the young, snappy, “educated” radio host to give him an example of a metaphor.  The host resisted but eventually responded, “My friend John runs very fast.  People say he runs like a deer.  There’s a metaphor.” To which Campbell replied, “That is not a metaphor.  The metaphor is John is a deer.”  The interviewer shot back, “That is a lie.”  And Campbell said, “No, that is a metaphor.” 

I look around and see a fake American Indian Princess running  to become the President of the United States, and a female adulterous fornicator doing the same  … and Senator Spartacus – a 49-year-old man with the same aim who has never been married or raised a family who seems to be a religious bigot, a Virginia Governor and Attorney General who dressed in “Black face” and a Virginia Lt. Governor who has been accused by two competent adult women to have sexually assaulted them.  And, then we have the fanciful, young up-start, done-nothing socialist Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the 70 Congressional Co-Sponsors of her insanely zany Green New Deal proposal … and I ask myself: “How the hell did we get here with these loons?”

Surely part of the answer is contained in the Campbell “metaphor” story.

We have lots of very poorly formed and poorly educated people in positions of authority.  They are, like the radio host Campbell encountered, none-too-bright, and dangerously unrestrained in the exercise of their ignorance.

Yes, these people are in public forums – on television and radio, in the print media and among the technological and Hollywood elites and a good majority of politicians – yes, we are surrounded by nut-cases each of whom has an erroneous collection of “popular” but wrong-headed views – like the world is not “fair” and it must be, or inequality exists and it mustn’t.  These people are the snappy (but ignorant) radio interviewer.

Across a broad spectrum – these people and their childish views have become far to politely welcome.  Yes, they lead us down the dumb road of the un-examined foolishness of the Left, the “progressive,” the socialist, the Communist.

It seems to me we are more than adequately warned that there are many wrong-headed people among us with limited ability and preposterous ambitions.  Who among you wishes to allow any one of them to loose their pathology on you and the innocent children of this country?  A myth is NOT a lie.

Shalom.

“Once we go down the path of abstraction we’re taking moral risks, psychological risks.  We become drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”

Walker Percy (as reported in Robert Coles, M.D.’s book The Secular Mind)

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” … becoming drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”  It sounds like an abstraction itself but what if it is descriptive of us, of who we are – and who our “leaders” think they are?  And worse yet, what if those leaders act on this drunken misconception?

Walker Percy (himself a Catholic convert, medical doctor and extraordinary novelist) went on to say this to Coles: “Thomas Aquinas … worked his mind hard so he could understand God’s intentions.  But today, even our theologians aren’t interested in God … ”

Percy continued “a lot of folks believe in their beliefs, they believe in their ideas, they believe in themselves, and maybe they believe in someone’s politics or some social cause … ”

Centered in the head (in abstraction) creates moral and psychological risk.

Ironically, we have come to see Percy’s observations rooted in all manner of people who know little of God, history, great literature, psychology, philosophy, or moral theology who careen thither and yon in the public square like characters from a Monty Python movie telling us: “a wall is immoral,” “suspend the ‘presumed innocence’ in all “he said, she said” allocations, infanticide – once murder – is now hunky-dory … etc.

Moral and psychological risk indeed … add risk of social chaos and a rise in instability, suicide, mental illness, random violence, addictions, idleness and overwhelming discontent.

Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote of the concrete manifestation of the moral risk to which Percy referred in his presentation entitled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters” in which he was rightly highly critical of the present expectation that judges will act as “moral arbiters.”

Says the Justice: ” … there is no reason to believe that law-trained professionals can discern (the right answers to moral questions) more readily than, say medical doctors or engineers or ethicists or even the fabled Joe Six-Pack.” Yet, I add in concert with Justice Scalia this is precisely what activists judges and Leftist politicians and policy makers do today.

So this is where we are on many fronts – abortion pursuant to rape becomes “choice,” which becomes killing a child on the eve of or after the child’s birth.

Liberals have led us to the moral and psychological wasteland that Walker Percy and his colleague (Doctor, writer and psychiatrist) Robert Coles saw so clearly four or five decades ago.

Now that you might see, what will you do?

Shalom.

 

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