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There is for all of mankind but one felicity – a gracious God.

Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews 

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Well, there you go.  Written in 75 A.D.  If only we had the wisdom of Flavius Josephus!  But alas it is absent.

Nowhere in public discourse is there much thought of God, of life in the Spirit, of our historical record or wisdom of the many centuries.

No, in its place – talking heads, the chattering class of ill bred, poorly schooled, ideologues incapable of holding two contradicting ideas in their head at the same time.  And yet the most astonishing thing is this: their words pass as worthy of our attention. Who is the greater fool there?

RETREAT while you can.  Take safety in wisdom and reality.

Imagine a God of felicity – a gracious and loving God.  Such a novel thought today in this deflated culture flooded with harmful utterances and ideas.

In contrast, I can offer this.  I have never doubted that there is a God and that this God had an interest in me and all others.  That is not to say that I acted without sin, nor that I did not attempt a life of self-reliance, a life in which I acted as if it all depended on me, my efforts.  Yes, we are foolish for a time until we prove ourselves less than we think we are.

There is nothing, by the way, like tragedy and injustice, chaos whose actions abound to your loss and pain to bring you to God … and, in due time, to Flavius Josephus and his insight.

In retrospect, I can now express daily sincere gratitude for the grace to have always known there is a loving and merciful God – and that God, not man, reigns over mortal and eternal life.

After years of life, I know the valuable gift of humility, in knowing that I am His subject … and you are too.  Likewise, I know in that reality, that relationship – the priceless value of intimacy … God’s love of me, of us and our divine opportunity to love others as God loves each of us.

Imagine if we knew what Flavius Josephus knew, we would not live in fear and think in that fear of the world as governed by race, or gender, or class, or force, or power, or money, or intellect, or sex, or status, or nonsensical ideologies.

No, on the contrary – tension and anxiety would dissipate; we would know certainty, live in confidence and gratitude, know peace and fellowship.

Best of all – if we were as Flavius Josephus – there would be no place for those who spread words of hate, who divide and speak so carelessly, so ignorantly.

That, Dear Friends, is a step toward Eden and you have been given the opportunity to step toward that Paradise.  Alas, seize it … or suffer more, and continue to hurt yourself and others until you die and face this question: Why did you not take the path I gave you?

God help us all.

Shalom.

God, let the words of Flavius Josephus rest in our heart and animate our every thought and action in the confidence of your gracious and loving dominion.

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We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it normalizes by mass media and rendered unproblematic.

Bell Hook, in Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

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I have been alarmed recently by the loose talk about racial conflict.  Some talk of the need for violent racial conflict aimed at “white oppression.”

Words can inflame.  Their use requires care.

The above words are ideological.  Their base: racism, feminism and socialism.

Ideology is a no guide to good.  It narrows the sight and hardens the heart.  Where ideology appears, faith better serves.  You see if peace is to prevail, God is required.  Our best actions do not separate by gender, race, antagonistic political fiction.

I know of no problem that can be solved without kind, honest, conversation.  I know of no peace that is made without care, no embrace that binds without humility and love.

People do bad things.  All people.  This is the human dilemma since the beginning of time.  It is embodied in the story of Adam and Eve – the Fall from Grace, Original Sin.

Our only path to love and fellowship is through growing our relationship with good, becoming wiser, more humble, thoughtful friends and neighbors.  Peace can never be insured through divisive ideology.  Ideology is the language of the lesser heart, its pitch is calibrated to hatred.  Yet, relationship with God dissolves anger, raises us up by bringing us to our knees.

There is an inmost center in us all where truth abides in fullness.

Robert Browning, in Paracelus

Shalom.

Lord, give us the strength of faith to know the truth about ourselves so we might live in peace as one.

Begin the morning in the dark and quiet again – but there is a glimpse of sunrise to come where the clouds have parted.  In the background the chants of the Monks from the Monastery of St. Ottilien.  Peace is in the air … beautiful, eternal, above all mortal being.

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” … at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Gen 2:23

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We have lost our way and make grave errors that antagonize and divide, make us enemies in the most fundamental areas of our life – in the most sacred areas – places from which our happiness, joy, and contentment – meaning and purpose are meant flow.

Perhaps no area of error and divergence is any greater than that of  understanding man and woman – understanding their sacred identity and divine value.

God willed the creation of man and woman.  They share perfect equality, one to the other.  Each possess inalienable dignity as they are made to be.  Efforts of any kind to subvert this are reckless, utterly destructive, contrary to nature, God’s will and doomed to fail.

Men treat women as your equal, revere them, protect them, defend them.  Women, see your extraordinary dignity, your special gifts, your most cherished honor to bear a child and love so deeply.

In creating man and woman as helpmates to one another, we see God’s wisdom and goodness.  Together in Holy Matrimony we see God’s image – – – God as pure spirit, pure and steadfast love, and union with us.

Men and women: marry and honor your pledge of union.  No absent fathers.  No single mothers.  No out-of-wedlock births.  No more abortions.  No more rebellion against God.

Men and women are made for one another – as a communion of persons in the intimate manner in which God is unified with the human person.  Two as one – complimentary to one another.  One flesh, “bone of my bone.”

As one we are entrusted with creating new life – sharing in God’s work of divine Creation.  In this we have personal responsibility for the world around us: how it will be, what it will do  – whether it is dominated by Good or Evil, Truth or Lie, Life or Death.

Does not our faith and heritage give question to “same sex marriage,” to “multiple genders” and a self-claim to gender?

Shalom.

Prayer for the Dying

All-powerful and merciful Father, in the death of Christ you have opened a gateway to eternal life.  Look kindly upon Margaret McCurdy who is suffering her last agony.  United to the passion and death of your Son, and saved by the blood He shed, may she come before You with confidence.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Your prayers for Margaret McCurdy are welcome.

 

 

Jung felt that the pursuit of wholeness was essential for redressing the split between the conscious and the unconscious.  Although the differentiation … is a natural part of psychiatric development, a total break between the two realms can cause psychic problems.

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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Dr. Smith, a Jungian psychologist whose focus is human development and the history of religion, goes on to quote Carl Jung, M.D., who said the “more powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will” the less well and whole we are. In this state, psychic problems follow.

Why do I bring this up?

Well it is quite simple.  I hear from people quite often that they see and encounter people whose actions seem disordered, selfish, troubled, and without concern for others, irrational.  Indeed, Jung is talking about this very issue – about people who are “unconscious” – cut off from their whole being.

Dr. Jung is talking about human wholeness – the unification of the whole human person – the person’s full human development (intellectual, social, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, etc.) as the object of our creation and existence; and I am concerned that culture can either advance or impede this development.  Further (having studied the relationship between faith and exclusionary secular culture) I see that we produce an abundance of unhealthy, even disintegrated individuals, and that unnecessary chaos, conflict, suffering, division and isolation abound.  May I reference Harvey Weinstein and the legions of married female teachers engaged in sexual conduct with their underage students as “a for instance.”

Consistent with Jung, when man becomes the exclusive focus of man the individual self becomes all important and man’s reason is cultivated at the cost of the unconscious aspects of his being.  Said another way, when man is focused exclusively on man his psyche (soul) is forgotten and problems manifest.

Yes, in our secularized culture we have become one-dimensional, trapped in self and materiality but devoid of a metaphysical intelligence (and spiritual maturity) and hence fall short of the capacity for a full range of experience and human development.  Frankly, we are not well.  We are fragmented at best – lack the capacity for introspection, self-examination, intimacy, and the ability to receive others.  To the contrary, we objectify others and cannot fully comprehend the bizarre actions (even tragedies) that surround us.

Case in point: we are mystified by the actions of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock.  His autopsy shows no brain damage to explain his rampage and the authorities can find no particular motive, personal social footprint or provocation for his actions.

Unable to see as other than diminished secularists, they ignore the Unibomber in explaining Mr. Paddock.  They do not recall the Unibomber’s rage arouse from his parents who demanded he forsake other people and things, from childhood on, in favor of constant study.  His parents made him a slave of his intellect.

Yes, in a single fit of rage as a teenager he screamed this to them: “You never let me have a friend!”

It is hard to imagine a more chilling indictment of one’s parents nor a more dreadful, socially starved existence.  He, like Paddock, was a greatly diminished person, one far from wholeness – asocial, isolated, alone.

The neglect of our God-given fullness is the cause of the serious disorder among the godless from top to bottom of the social strata.  We are devoted to self and self alone – and far less well for it.

If we continue in this way, our suffering and murderous chaos, abhorrent interpersonal behavior, group violence, corruption and cover-up, and our isolation one from another will continue us on a destructive, evil path.

When God is neglected, the soul cannot be well.  We prove this daily.

Shalom.

If someone believes that he is a Christian and yet is indifferent to the fact that he is, then he truly is not Christian.

Soren Kierkegaard, in Works of Love

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Kierkegaard is not the only person to raise this issue.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jacques Maritain and Christopher Dawson said much the same thing.

The point that is raised is this: what is required of a Christian?  Are we justified in sitting back and waiting for God to correct errant conduct, evil, hatred, violence, abhorrent behavior and the actions of those who would de-sacralize institutions and drive God, religious liberty and faith from culture?

The answer would seem (to Kierkegaard for sure) “No, we are not justified in silence and retreat.”

This leaves one to ask: if I am a Christian am I not obligated to speak up when I encounter godless behavior, see others advocate those things that do harm to self and others, destroy sacred institutions, divide and make enemies of groups based on race, sexual ethos, gender and such?

It is difficult for many to speak up when the crowd favors a view the is contrary to you.  The desire for social relations and acceptance is strong – people fear being isolated, and alone.  Hence, silence is common and in that we are often under siege in a secularized mass culture.

Sadly, I know Christians who recede from public discourse because they do not wish to address hatred and disorder that is publicly expressed and politically advanced.  Of course, this was St. Peter when asked by others if he knew Christ when Christ was apprehended on his way to crucifixion.  It is human but not our best conduct, and to Kierkegaard and others it is not Christian in nature.

We have some hard questions in today’s environment.  On this matter we are divided: godlessness vs. godliness.  It is a “St. Peter time.”  A very serious moment with high stakes.

Shalom.

Boy Scouts.  Well, the Boy Scouts will now include girls in their ranks.  Sounds harmless enough if thought of as an isolated matter.  But is it an isolated matter?

Regrettably, feminism carries an overt antagonism aimed at men.  It is (like all Leftist movements) saying this: hurray for me (woman), the heck with you (man).  Yes, the broad thrust of feminism is anti-man.  Forget the “war in women” – feminism presents “the war in men.”

You wonder if that is so?  Look at social welfare dependency, abortion, the sexual “revolution” – where are the men in dependent families?  In out-of-wedlock births?  Fatherless families – especially (but not exclusively, for sure) in Black families?

Liberals, having successfully driven Black men from families, continue on their way to undermining the role of men and manliness in general.

I saw that carrying out a vocation differed from … actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse … essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to be the greatest of all ills.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Vocations arise from distinctly personal impulse.  One has the interior impetus to dedicate oneself to God and God’s service in an exclusive way.

Impulses like this cannot be easily ignored. To live in relationship with God is to be aligned to the impulse to serve God when needed.  Vocations come to those who are open to receive the call to vocations – to God’s service.

Those who close themselves from these impulses by saying – I will not be involved, I will simply be quiet and let God do the work – have no vocation, cannot be called to vocation because their pre-conceived disposition prevents the openness that impulse requires.

To deny the impulse to serve God actively – in word and deed – forfeits discipleship.  It leaves one to remain safely on the sidelines – even when Rome is burning.

Disciples speak and act.  Other are sideliners.

Are you a sideliner?  Or are you one who is open to the call of God and prepared to do what God asks of you?

Shalom.

Simone Weil was a French Jewish girl with a devotion to Christ.  She was born in 1909 and died in 1943.  My wife Sylvia was taken by Simone Weil and her remarkable life in search of God.  The next few blogs I offer on Simone Weil are for you and for Sylvia whose birthday was this month.

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I always believed that the instant of death is the center and object of life.  I used to think that, for those who live as they should, it is the instant when, for an infinitesimal fraction of time, pure truth, naked, certain, and eternal, enters the soul …  I never desired any other good for myself.  I thought that a life leading to this good is not only defined by a code of morals common to all, but that for each one it consists of a succession of acts and events strictly personal to him, and so essential that he who leaves them on one side never reaches the goal(Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Such a cogent proposition laid upon our table.

The object of life is the exact moment of our passing for that is the moment in which we might know Truth in our soul.  

One lives for that moment by living a moral code “common to all,” and by our particular acts and our accepting the events that come to us (each uniquely personal to us) with the clear proviso if we deny the events and avoid the acts we are called to do in our mortal life we will fail to know that sublime moment when Truth is imparted to our soul in an eternal life.

Well there you have it.  Do you live the life you are given?  Do you avoid the actions required of you by the events that are brought to you?  Are you living for you, or are you living the life God has made for you?  Do you live and act in the context of a common moral code?

So we ask: Are you moral?  Do you long for Truth and eternal life?  Do you accept what God gives you and act accordingly?

Shalom.

The spiritual history of man, as seen by God, is not of progress but of recovery, redemption.

Aelred Graham, in Christian Thought and Action

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In this Age of Unbelief, ignorance appears and history and souls are lost.

Think about it.  We spend billions on education – primary, secondary and university education and professional schools – yet we act as if there is no valuable historic legacy, no lessons learned, Truths discovered at high price, through sacrifice and dying.

Ignorance and unbelief have their cost.  The cost is destruction and division.  We see this now.  It need not be.

Take redemption as an example.  Those who cause a public fuss seem utterly unfamiliar with the concept of redemption.  Their conduct says: we do not believe … They would have a hard time defining what redemption is and an easy time being hostile and angry.

I ask you this: Who raising a ruckus links redemption to Christ?  Or classifies it as central to the Christian narrative?  Why do we listen to others who know so little?

When we lose our legacy, forget our story, bad things multiply, we divide and hostility grows.

Think about belief and redemption.  If you do you will begin to restore some calm and sanity to your life.  You will put the angry into perspective and create a healthy distance.

Who needs unnecessary anger and agitation?  Is not peace and wisdom better?

Shalom.

If the U.S. ever comes under attack, let’s have the military “take a knee” and the NFL players go to war.

I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian … in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on (the) experience … of unbelief.  (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of May 30, 1962

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We have had a difficult time understanding what provoked Stephen Paddock to kill defenseless people at a Las Vegas outdoor country music concert.  Mr. Paddock’s action has been lost to law enforcement, public officials, media mavens, security experts and the mental health community.  But the truth is it is not that difficult to explain or understand.

Flannery O’Connor gives us the answer: we live in a treacherous age of unbelief.  It is a treacherous time in which God has been exiled.  Ms. O’Connor reminds us that without God life has no meaning.

Mr. Paddock’s brother, from whom he was estranged, said Stephen Paddock had “no politics, no religion.”  We know that Mr. Paddock had two short failed marriages, that he was a CPA – bright, good with numbers – yet, a loner with seemingly no close friends or neighbors who have come forward to tell us who he was.  He was a successful gambler, not a joiner.

Loner, smart, wealthy, no religion, no close relationships: a godless life – one without belief.  This a barren existence – a daily suffering.

One has to enter the depth of relationships to experience love, to find meaning in life – to see the animation of God in self and others.  Mr. Paddock was largely estranged from others, even his brother with whom he had prior business relationships.  Without God such estrangement is murderous and suicidal.

Mr. Paddock’s strength was his intellect but intellect narrows existence – in itself, it keeps the person in the head while starving the heart and soul.  Nothing promotes unbelief like the exclusive emphasis on intellect.  (Does this not explain a great deal about the failure of the education system and the educated class, their disposition and ideas – and their trusted tutors and favored ideologues.)

An exclusively intellectual life sterilizes life; it kills feeling and intimacy while isolating one from others.

In a purely intellectual life that neglects God and social, emotional and spiritual growth – one cannot see the divine image in others.  Mr. Paddock acted from that base – that was the genesis of his motivation and his mass murders and suicide.  Over-intellectualized, unbelief, personal under-development, isolated asocial existence were the seeds that took root in Mr. Paddock and produced his ethos and his final life-ending acts.

That said, the lesson for us must be this: we are so out of touch with the critical role of religious belief in contemporary life that we have created estrangement that kills and destroys in many forms – daily in this land … and we cannot even name it when we see it and suffer its consequences.

Forget all the “isms” – we have a greater problem in this land.

Finally, the answers to riddles often are conveyed in the facts offered.  In the Las Vegas killings innocent people were attending to the music of America, country music, with its stories of hard work, marriage, family, the land, faith, small children and small towns, first loves and love lost, hardship and reconciliation – these were Mr. Paddock’s target.  He made that which he did not have his targets.

Yes, a man without these intimate things confessed his godless alienation in this heinous massacre. 

Time to wake up – and get serious about what we have created and what we excuse and tolerate.  We are not the people we have been made to be.

“I do believe; help my unbelief.”  (Mk 9:24)

Shalom.

Please share this post with others if you wish.  Restoring belief is very important.

 

 

 

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful. (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of December 9, 1958

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We are willful.  We prefer our ways to the ways of He who made us. This one thing accounts for our disorder, and eventually to a demise.  It is for each of us the single challenge in our life.

Done well life is a process of submission to God.  Yes, we grow when we decline so He might gain. In shorter the shadow we cast, the greater we are – the healthier we become, the more certain and the calmer we are.

Look around you.  We now have organizations that work to advance selfishness, sin – one preferred method of rebellion and godlessness or another … and we have many who co-exist with those who advocate disorder and sickness.  The enablers can sink this culture, jeopardize our health and wellbeing.

The tug-of-war between good and evil is a consistent part of the human story from the beginning of time.  Flannery O’Connor reminds us in this December 1958 letter that God does not miraculously meddle in each and every human affair, rather He offers the grace to grow, mature, come to faith and meaning through life experience, the sacraments, belief, worship.  In grace we grow in dignity and our implicit responsibility is to defend and preserve the sacred value of life itself.  Yes, this may put us at odds with others … but is it not Jesus who asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:48)

To reject grace is to reject God and life itself.

Look about.  Do you see bad being called “good?”  This is the condition of our time, and the ageless challenge: good or evil – life or death, God or His adversary?

Shalom.   

 

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