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… we are each and “each.”  As “each”es we are unique because each of us has, or is, a specific character that stays the same … It is most important to grasp that we are unique qualitatively.

James Hillman, in The Force of Character and the Lasting Life

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Equality goes to “eachness.”  But it does not extend qualitatively.  This, of course, is the great mistake of radical egalitarianism.  It follows that egalitarianism is the enemy of genius, the individual person, whole human development and spiritual existence.

Think about it.  Does not the present day use of “equality” divide and make of us less qualitatively distinct  – rather one undefined and uncultivated mass – each possessing a number, an ID and thereby known by Father Government and those of the governing class?

When one looks around Washington (think of it as a hothouse where plants are grown) – we see many each’es but quality is missing.  More shells than whole people.

In the hothouse – sameness is welcome, quality is not.

I am always suspicious of the newly appointed “special counsel” who has lived entirely in the bureaucracy, the Washington law firm, been dipped in the unholy waters of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and clerked for Federal Judge X or Y, and coasted along in the inbred club that is “The Federal Government” at its highest levels.

There is in them not the defining experience of achievement in the military nor on the poor end of the farm or the city street but rather the routine advance of “the privileged class.”

I grew up in the lean and mean streets of Boston – at the near bottom of the ladder.  My life required that I see far better than is needed at Princeton.  My daily calibrations required more precision of me – my lanes tighter, my hills steeper, my turns sharper.

Likewise, my circumstances required that being an “each” was not enough – you needed to know your qualitative self – your whole self – gifts and deficits – from that honesty, toughness, independence, cunning, and a feel for the real from the phoney.  You had to take in all within and without and play your hand without flinching.

Our nation suffers because we have permitted those with pedigree and no qualitative distinctions to land in positions of authority for which that are uniquely unqualified.

They do not possess the experience to lead.  Their roads do not teach.  The environment they occupy does not distinguish.  This is the lesson of the F.B.I. today and the Justice Department.  This is the dangerous divide we now know.

We live in serious times – the privileged pumpkin ain’t enough for our safety and security.

Shalom.

Time to Close the F.B.I. – It is time to close the F.B.I. – too much administrative deadwood, too much favoritism, too many politicos, etc.  It is too much a club.  Its problems are not the rank-and-file – but the people at the top, the nest and the cabal it regularly houses.

Better fold the best members of the F.B.I. (the field agents) into the 201 year old U.S. Marshal Service and create a lean and hungry investigative unit within them.

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It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it is possible to find them.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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These are the words of “the father of the Atomic Bomb,” – a brilliant man, delightful and well-liked and a physicist.

Last night I watched a riveting documentary entitled The Day after Trinity.  It was about the effort to collect a large team of physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and related scientists to conduct research and then make the Atomic Bomb which was subsequently used on our Japanese World War II enemies.

The documentary was the story in some ways about a Faustian Bargain, one made by innocents so easily captured by the hard and most interesting questions of science.

It is hard in watching this not to realize that man without morality, without a Spiritual base in life cannot fully appreciate what he has done until it is done.

Without a moral framework and a spiritual existence – we are easy prey.  This, by the way, explains how colleges and universities can capture our young with foolish, destructive ideas.  The truth of the matter is this: few people 18 or 19 years of age have lived sufficiently to have the judgement and courage to resist or refute failed and self-destructive fantasies promulgated and preached by their seniors in academia.

Indeed, they are too inexperienced to resist the easy conversion to ideas that make of them nothing more than herd animals.

The reduction of the young is a simple task of conversion for the idealists and ideologues who envision a utopia and enforce its development through the totalitarianism of “true believers.”  This is precisely where we are today in America with the Left and the Democrat Party.

Strange days, these days.  No one remembers Oppenheimer.

Shalom.

Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers.  For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Emphasis added.)

Ps 37: 1-4

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The application of these words could not be more applicable to today and American secular culture and its politics.

Hollywood female celebrities dress like streetwalkers and adult-age female teachers sexually assault underage male students.  Men in media and entertainment prey on female colleagues and young children, while men in politics and the workplace prey on staff members and associates.

Immoral and destructive ideas are advanced as public policy.  Government is seen as savior and God is shunned, faith dismissed.

We have been given divine guidance.  Turning our back on evil and wrongdoing is our task.  Drawing closer to God in darkened times is our mission.  Rejecting what is bad, impure, immoral, wrong, destructive and those who promote such things is our obligation.

How do you live?  Do you seek what is good?  Do you delight in the Lord and do what is healthy and right?  Or do you conform to the worse things and the ideas of lost souls who advocate what is unhealthy and godless?

Remember, you are a sacred being made for what is good and life-giving.

Shalom.

Mental Toughness – Looking at Tom Brady and his Head Coach you see two people who are mentally tough, determined, disciplined … these are traits accessible to each of us.  But who among us seizes these?  I can tell you this: starting from real deficits, as I did, presented those choices to me early on.  Fortunately I had people around me – my mother, members of my family, and friends who lived by these traits.  Yes, when your back is against the wall – these three things get you through life.  Seize what you are given.  Live despite the obstacles.  Happy sailing.

 

Life and death are at war within us.  As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die … If by chance we become fully conscious of it, not only in the flesh and in our emotions but above all in our spirit, we find ourselves involved in a terrible wrestling, an agonia not of questions and answers, but of being and nothingness, spirit and void. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Last night I watched Part One of Ken Burns film on the Second World War.  I saw the war from the perspective of the common man and woman, the families in small towns and large cities.  It is, of course, a story of all ethnic groups, all races and religions, rich and poor, farmer, factory worker, school teacher, professional. Yes, it is the story of Americans when we were once One and united – neighbors, friends, a community, a proud and patriotic nation – people from foreign shores who arrived to make a new life and seize opportunity in a free society.

Burns shows us what we once were – before we became “fat” and fancy, successful, too expectant, spoiled, too focused on our own welfare and too rooted in demands and divisions from one another.

Once we lived implicitly what Merton describes: we were conscious of our supreme value – yes, of our God-given value – the divine equality of the soul.  Friends, this was how we once lived … You see victory in this world and the next comes only to those who live this way.

I grew up on a street with World War II vets in a working class city known for producing more U.S. Marines per capita than any city in the country.

The ethos of our greatest hour is now misplaced.  You see its absence in Members of the Congress – in the Flakes, Schumers, Pelosis, Durbins, Waters, et al … in the public chorus of “me first, only me” special pleaders whose arc of complaint stretches from the banal to the bizarre, and among the over-privileged in the entertainment industry and in the lost souls of media.

What we see is clear evidence of a loss of faith – of wisdom, perspective, patience.

In a secular society there is no transcendent purpose, no eternity – no moral context and all-embracing narrative.  No – secular life lacks meaning, leaves us shallow and self-absorbed – dependent, unhappy, … with an emptiness that breeds drug use, sexual chaos, hatred and violence.  Godlessness, we see, produces self-destruction.

Time to wake up.  We have regressed.  We lack the honor we once had – and the valor, bravery, virtue, honesty, confidence, integrity and purpose of our recent past.

Shalom.

Frequently people who seek power are not as strong as they might wish to appear.  Many people who desperately hunger for power are weak.  They seek power positions to compensate for their own fragility and vulnerability.  A weak person in power can never be generous with power because they see questions or alternative possibilities as threatening their own supremacy or dominance.  (Emphasis added.)

John O’Donoghue, in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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Celtic wisdom – valuable insight.  People do not change over the centuries.  What they have been, they are.

Three Lessons:

  • Those who seek power are often lacking.
  • They seek power to compensate.
  • Too insecure and fragile, they do not share power – seeing others and alternative ideas as a threat to them.

This is as old or older than the biblical Herod who feared an infant child.

These three simple lessons tell you about the American Left and their clinging to a derivative Marxist ideology today.  They dread opposition to their ideas.  They demand conformity to their views.  Their claims of “tolerance” manifest themselves in intolerance.  When faced with losing power they hatch extraordinary schemes to discredit and destroy those not like them.  They govern by division.  They see others as a “basket of deplorables.”  They show their fragility and insecurity in their arrogance.

As to weakness and fragility.  Think of both the Clintons.  Do they not fit this Celtic framework?  No place in life outside of politics.  Lacking in other accomplishments.  Mr. Clinton from a difficult childhood with a troubled mother.  His womanizing.  Mrs. Clinton seemingly needing to embellish on her modest history – claiming she was named Hillary after Edmund Hillary who conquered Mt. Everest even through Sir Edmund did so five years after her birth.  Insecurity.

And then there is Mr. Obama and his disordered family life.  Despite a Harvard Law degree, a lack of accomplish before his election.  His overreaching sense of his genius.  His “we are the people – we have been waiting for” sense of super-importance … and his lack of presidential accomplishment.

Those who seem lacking seek to establish themselves in power, celebrity, status, wealth and control.

Applying ancient wisdom to life can make obscure things visible and explicable.  If Celtic lore works – would not religious narrative do the same?

Shalom.

 

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire for you, but you must master it.”

Gen 4:7

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These are the words of God to Cain.  They are worthy of our reflection.

Life has its ups and downs.  Yes, even its injustices.  We will be deceived and betrayed by some and circumstances will conspire against us from time to time. Anger is a normal byproduct of deceit and betrayal.  And of disappointment, too.

But know this: anger is the gateway to sin, and evil is often its destination.

In times of disappointment, deceit and betrayal it is best to seek quiet and settle your soul.  Best in these times to be alone with God.  Wise to ask when anger is stirred within us: shall I be as Cain, or shall I be the Lord’s?

It is human to sin.  We are imperfect beings.  But the best way is always to be the Lord’s in all things and all circumstances.

My recommendation? Start each day in Scripture.  Wisdom and strength reside there. The words tend the soul and calm the turbulent seas we all encounter.

In challenging times God’s words settle us and give us peace.  In hard times all is arid and barren, but the words of God are living water – our sustenance and source of our survival.  Life is in the soul, not the body.  Feed the soul each day and calm follows.

Shalom.

In times of public turmoil is it not best to quiet the soul and seek the leadership of those who have done just that – quieted their soul in reliance on God?  Leaders must retain calm to be worthy of our support.  Only those who rest on faith can offer that calm.

We often expect far more from politics and government than is justified … and far less of ourselves and those who would lead us.  Our God desires that each of us grow in Him. There are no substitutes for God if we desire to live well in mortal life with all its challenges.  God bless you all.

Trump Short Term Debt Ceiling Agreement with the Democrats – Smart move. Why? Trump has not been helped by the Congressional Republicans who are captive to the Washington-ways.  Like the Democrats they dislike that Donald Trump is an “outsider.” They now recognize that he is an independent force whose constituency is the American people who are sick of the inertia in Washington and policies that are destructive.  Yes, he represents the “basket of deplorables” – and they are not fans of Washington-ways. Frankly, this shows you that Trump (like military officers) are not wedded to politics and surely not Washington’s ways. Wake up: Mr. Ryan.  Wake up: Mr. McCornell.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

Mk 8:38

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Jesus speaks these words.  In an acute way they apply to us today.

I think in particular, however, about the foolishness of Catholic priests from prestigious Catholic universities, including the University of Notre Dame, who gathered several decades ago to proclaim that their universities would pursue autonomy from the governance and authority of the Church in favor of a more secular disposition.

If you look and wonder what happened to Christianity in the United States during your lifetime, or what happened to Catholicism during the same period, it conceded its power and place to secularism – as to universities they took an unwise turn to the Left … denied Christ, their faith, belief, the wisdom of Ages.  

Indeed, at Notre Dame and other places we now crown those public figures who favor abortion, work for its advancement.  We have turned from family to faithlessness and social nihilism in many ways.

That said, we might well be mindful of the words that Jesus speaks following the above:

” … what will a man give in exchange for his soul? … whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in glory to His Father with the holy angels.”

Mk 8: 37, 38

If it is not now obvious to us – that we have forsaken Christ – then we are truly blind.

There is nothing short of a repudiation of godlessness that is due – now.  And that Dear Friend is “on you.”

Shalom.

Blame everyone but yourself.  This is the way of Hillary Clinton and her cohort, and their offspring.  Now Ms. Excuse is blaming Bernie Sanders for her losing the presidential  election.  With her and her pathetic crowd and their “perfect” children it is always someone else’s fault.  

Attention Hillary & Company: Here is a Big-Boy Pants understanding: own your mistakes and if you are a leader – own the mistakes of those under your command. Ms Excuse shows neither she nor her cohort are leaders.

 

Granny Pelosi tells us the U.S. Constitution does not allow us to shout “Wolf” in a crowded theatre.  Time to take her car keys away.  Could it be California where people are showing up at medical clinics after putting sun block on their eyes so they could view the eclipse?  How about a stupidity tax?  California is a potential bonanza.

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So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method … of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or ‘science’ or psychology or what not.

C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

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These are the words of Screwtape (Satan’s senior tempter) directed to his young protegé (Wormwood) as he tells him that those who seek Heaven (the faithful, the hopeful – Believers) can be made to imagine heaven can be found on earth and that: politics, eugenics, what passes of “science,” psychology, et al can be vehicles to convince faithful people to abandon their relationship with God in favor of Satan’s fallen world.

Is there any wonder that the Left is godless, or that it pursues endless silly ventures to attract the wishful to useless diversions?  I cite a view such diversions: the notion of the 1960’s that the world would run out of food for its population, or that AID’s would claim the lives of millions, or that we needed “nuclear free zones” and unilateral disarmament, or that global warming will be our doom.

Such silliness – one after another … all diversions.  All pursued with “religious” vigor.

In the present day we have idiotic discussions and “investigations” alleging Mr.Trump’s electoral “collusion” with Russia, the inflation of fears of “White Supremacists,” the expansion of racial divide, hysterical allegations that American Nazism is attached to conservatives when, in historic fact, fascism is an outgrowth of Leftist collectivism and their consolidation of power in a totalitarian state.

Yet, in contemporary America we face not individual devotees of Satan, but richly funded organizations driving destructive diversions designed to engage all in battles over “perfecting” life here without regard to God and in the absence of faith, religious practices and institutions.

One source of financial support to such diversionary groups gave an interview on Sixty Minutes in which he acknowledged that while Jewish he assisted the Nazis in their confiscation of the wealth of his Jewish neighbors and, as he explained he felt no guilt in doing so insofar as he was not religious and he reasoned someone would have done this task at any rate.  Alas, an amoral agent.

When you consider what Lewis writes, you have to conclude that his words speak truth.

When you consider how politics is a primary focus of the Left, you tend to conclude that such attention is distracting, dangerous and distorted.  Indeed you begin to think that those who occupy themselves with such things do real damage to country and human existence.

In the end, as Lewis sees it in The Screwtape Letters, it comes down to belief. God or Satan’s world of mortal, corrupted beings?  In our present hazard, it is time to opt for God if good is to be known and practiced here.

Dark times but clear choices.

Shalom.

Imagine that!  Want to know why Republican Senators are upset with Donald Trump? He expects that they might do something.  Imagine that!

Do something?  They do not see being a Senator as a job.  They see it as a honorarium, being a member of an elite club, something they earned because they are “special,” privileged, smarter than the rest of us.

Now you see the great divide between voters and the Washington “establishment.”

How silly of us to think that those we elect might actually have to work!!!

 

 

“Why do you call be me good?  No one is good except God alone.”

Lk 18:18

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These are the words of Jesus in response to a man who addressed him as “Good Teacher.” This rebuff reoriented the man, pointed him toward a truth so easily lost to mortals in the world.  Yes, we are accustomed to thinking we are “good” and things around us are “good,” that we effect “good” easily.  Not so.

Our current disposition places more confidence in man and less in God.  We forget that only God alone is Good … and anything we do to good effect is only a remnant of reality: that we are imperfect and that the good we do is inspired, evidence only of the presence of God within that finds articulation now and again and hardly justifies our imagining that we are good per se.  

In the seven plus decades I have lived I have seen two men occupy the presidency that I identify as particularly good men.  They are President Eisenhower and President Reagan.

That said, in seven decades I have seen exactly one man who I think carried the good of God consistently in virtually all he did in life from childhood to his death. That man: Saint John Paul II.

I caution that we cannot expect good men to occupy public life routinely.  Nor can we scapegoat those who sit in the Oval Office for no one is elected who does not reflect us and the times we live – particularly our concerns, our worries and our reaction to change, loss, and immortality.  

It seems many among us seek to assert with certainty their idea of what is good. Humility is in short supply in our culture today.   Wisdom is absent.  Pride, foolish ideology, selfish interests, even hatred take the place of humility and leave Lady Wisdom without a home.

The question then remains: if Christ was not himself able to claim the title “Good Teacher” how can so many pundits, op-ed writers, media mavens, professors, politicians, judges, advocates of so many questionable “causes” asset with such certainty that what they promote is good and wise?

Shalom.

Postscript – I have tried to write about faith in secular culture in the hopes of showing how we have strayed from faith at great cost.  Yet, today I see we are past the point of discussion, that minds have been closed, positions are set in stone and conflict, hate and violence are on the rise.  Alas, I shall have to focus on God in the humbling knowledge that it is God alone who will correct our troubled ways.

Father, we ask for forgiveness and seek that you might lead us to humility so then we might listen and learn … and it time do what is truly good – live the way you call us to live.  We ask that You free us from what is false and give us the capacity to see what is good and what is not, and to do that which is good while rejecting what is not. Amen.

Peace be with you.

Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

C. S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory

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Lewis wrote this in 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany.  As sabres rattle, we come to this again.  Culture exists under the shadow of the Infinite.

The question for us is this: we knew this in 1939, but do we know it now?

It is hard to answer that question in the affirmative.  We kill the unborn child. Sanction illicit relationships.  Rely on reason, not God.  Favor pride over humility. A dropout makes a “social network” that takes the place of face to face contact and we think it is grand.  Loyalty is missing.  Character is not easily seen. Morality is breeched.  Excuses and lethargy are abundant.  Education shows it is not worth the price.  Many are lost.

The road ahead is the road restored.

When sabres rattle you’d best be standing under the shadow of the Infinite.

Shalom.

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