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“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.

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“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.

As it is with a play so it is with life – what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.

Seneca

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Under Seneca’s guidance, if White House Director of Communication Anthony Scaramucci were a play, it have closed in one day.  Ditto the U.S. Senate and its ineptness and seeming indifference to the absolute disaster that is Obamacare. Ya, some care!

What we see in the Washington political crowd is Nero in multiple forms.  One wonders how the competent military people can stand this.  We fiddle while Iran and North Korea speed toward nuclear intercontinental weapons, China seeks its expansion and Russia (being contemporary Russia) looks for any unlocked door in the hotel.

Scaramucci is hardly a person our times can tolerate.  Childish does not cover his behavior.  What becometh a small man with a foul mouth?  Memo to others: the toughness guy in the room is never compelled to tell you he is the toughest guy in the room.

Tweets?  Need I say more than this: one hopes thoughts are earnest enough to warrant careful reflection – not spontaneous utterances.  Funny, most successful people do not “tweet.”  Doesn’t that say something worth contemplation.  And, the Senate being a Chamber of elite America – their actions say one thing: there have little in common with the rest of us … and they show it in spades.  They are indifferent to the problems we face. Heck, they have their comforts, so they fiddle.

And then there is Senator John McCain.  He makes a dignified speech on the need for Senators to cooperate and then, as a party of one, scuttles his colleagues efforts to move a health care bill (in some form) to a Conference Committee of House and Senate members who will do what they can to curb some of the disasters Obama created with his health care folly, and try to improve on some of the most troublesome realities Obama caused – like rising health insurance premiums and rising health care and drug costs.

Dear John: the perfect is the enemy of the good.  By seeking perfection you have denied an opportunity for some chance at “the good.”

Generals expected – we have too many filling the role of Nero in this wreck of an off-Broadway farce.

Shalom.

When you try to extinguish a tantrum by ignoring it, the first response … is called extinction burst.  People do whatever it is you are trying to ignore louder, longer and more enthusiastically.  This might make you believe that ignoring them isn’t working, but what it actually means is that it is. (Emphasis added.)

Albert J. Bernstein, in Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry

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Whether it is Code Pink, the juvenile dweebs in college throwing childish fits, or some racial group pitching a public tantrum, it is always best to ignore them  – unless, of course, they break the law in which case they should be treated accordingly.

Society gains nothing but rather loses a great deal when it honors uncivil, intemperate, deconstructing, insulting, anti-social and childish behavior. Tantrums fall squarely in this category and we have plenty of tantrum-throwers around today.

Heck, the Democrats in the Congress fall into that category: sit-ins on the House of Representatives chamber floor are an example.  The juvenile departure from their legislative duties and their foot-dragging as to the public business – including processing of the President’s Executive Branch appointments is another. Childish, very childish. Behavior that demeans them and fails America.

This week Jaime Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, called out those in the federal government (particularly those in charge since the “Great Recession” of 2008) whose “stupidity” and gridlock deadened economic growth and impeded the natural strength of corporate America to bring prosperity to the nation’s citizens.

Yes, childish behavior has an economic cost.  Listen up, Liz Warren.

Since we cannot rely on the press and media to be fair, intelligent and honest critics of the central government any longer, it behooves us to heed the words of Albert Bernstein: ignore the tantrum throwers … walk away from them – even when they are a political party or call you nasty names like “bigot,” or “fascist.” And by all means do not reward such people in the “hopes” that they will change.  They will not.  As a footnote: one would do well to ignore media reports of these childish fits – hear the report and simply tune-out.

Indulging and rewarding bad behavior only teaches that “holding one’s breath” prompts the “nannies” among us to cave in thereby guaranteeing more bad conduct and more ludicrous “demands.”  One would think by the way that “educated adults” might know this … then, again – maybe they are not adults …

You can’t run a country ceding treats to the impudent.  We do ourselves a great disservice by rewarding bad behavior … and childish conduct robs us all.

The world is a dangerous place.  Others aim to get their way at our expense.  No time left for childish conduct.  Such conduct shows our weakness; giving in to it shows our disarray.

Shalom.

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)

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things.  (Emphasis added.)

Phil 4:8

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This is from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians.  It speaks of virtue.

We are not a healthy society, not a virtuous society.  Yes, there are virtuous people.  You can see them in the military men who occupy positions in the present administration of President Trump.  One thinks of General Mattis, General Kelly, General McMaster.

Sadly one does not see it in critical places like universities, in the Church leadership, in the Congress, in the Judiciary.  Without virtue we will  perish.  If there is one thing that we need and must insist upon it is: virtue.

Truth.  Honor.  Justice.  Love.  Grace.  Excellence.  Purity.  These are the things we lack within the culture and in critical institutions.

When it is lacking, those who fail in this regard need our scorn, and surely not our silence nor our support.

We must stand for these virtues.  Accept nothing less of leaders and one another. Those who lack virtue must be called out, held accountable, dismissed from public life and possession of any position of authority.

When those such as Hillary Clinton go unpunished for breaches of national security and laws governing national security, we lose self-respect.  Likewise when others are unpunished for unlawful use of the IRS to thwart the legitimate political interests of American citizens, we lose self-respect.  And when the former President’s national security advisor lies and appears to escape punishment for using classified surveillance material for political purposes, we lose self-respect.  In these unpunished things – virtue is denied and the esteem and authority due America is lost.

A critical part of our present ills, a part that can spell our doom, is the lost of virtue.

There is no greater problem we face than this.  We had better place this at the top of our tasks – the restoration of virtue must be our national priority lest we destroy ourselves.

Shalom.

Fraud of the First Order – Barack Hussein Obama, “the self-righteous one,” with yet another “speech” for $400,000.00.  Two incredible things about this: (1) it shows what a fraud he and the Democrat Party is, and (2) it is unimaginable that anyone would think that this guy has anything to say that is worth their attention, let alone their money.

Wonder if Chris Matthews and the MSNBC crew still get chills when they think of Mr. O?

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not by yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Eph 2:8-9

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St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, short as it is, describes the plight of a human living in mortal existence in concert with a loving God.  It is a humbling portrait to behold.

In it, St. Paul reminds us that God has bestowed on us every spiritual blessing and that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we may be holy and blameless before Him.” (Emphasis added.)  Humbling, to say the least.

St. Paul notes that God made known the mystery of His will, “summing up all things in Christ.”  Yes, we have been given a great inheritance “with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession.”

Yet, as St. Paul reminds us before Christ we were “dead in … trespasses and sins;” that prior to Christ we “walked according to the course of this world” … as “sons of disobedience,” that we “lived in the lust of the flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and the mind … by nature children of the wrath …”

Yes, St Paul reminds us of our earthly shortcomings and that with Christ we are raised up … that our perfection is by the grace of God not by ourselves.

It humbles me to think, to know that without Christ I am lost and that so often in this mortal life I can lose contact with Christ, that my heart can be troubled and my desire of good can produce objection, frustration poorly expressed.  This I must pray might change.

As a mortal, even our desire for good can be expressed in the ways of mortals, imperfect humans … then, one becomes humbled and must seek both God’s mercy and forgiveness and a restoration of Christ as our foundation.  Man, it seems, cannot avoid missteps – Christ alone is our guide, our anchor, our health and perfection.  Humbling, indeed.

Forgive us our tresspasses even those that are the product of a desire for good.

Living in a manner that reflects our faith, shows Christ in us is our call, our task.

Shalom.

 

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