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… Epictetus was telling his students … that there can be no such thing as being the “victim” of another.  You can only be a victim of yourself.  It’s all about how you discipline your mind.  (Emphasis added.)

James B. Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in the Laboratory of Human Behavior 

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You can tell the strength of a nation by the number of “victims” in its population.  Yes, those who willingly and loudly proclaim they are “victims” are showing their weakness and in the aggregate showing the nation to be weak.

There is nothing flattering about being a victim.  And much less so when “victim-hood” is claimed as a life long “status” to gain the sympathy of others, lay claim to financial support and particular “privilege” as a persistent “advantage” as to life’s routine tasks.  Yet, worst of all – those who adopt the permanent status of “victim” implicitly excuse themselves from living as full and as responsible a life as they are able to live.

Oddly, and with intention and cunning, the Left loves to count people as victims and in doing so advance their own agenda – which is to gain power and control over others.  Frankly, the Left is shameless in this regard – their faux interest in others is always an interest in themselves.

“Cynical,” you say.  Yes.  They are a cynical and insincere bunch.  They gain at others expense.

Want to live free and with dignity?  Heed what Epictetus has said.

You need not make yourself a victim … for being a victim diminishes you and sows the seeds of perpetual unhappiness, discontent and under-achievement – in short: a life far below your talent and ability.

Think about it.

We can no longer counsel or tolerate the production of “victims” so some may claim power and control over those they diminish and consign to dependence and unhappiness.

We do not have a Declaration of Dependence – but a Declaration of Independence.

Shalom.

 

 

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I was traveling yesterday and unable to offer a post.  I am back in the saddle today, however.

Holiness toward God and justice toward men usually go together.

Philo, in Abraham (37 A.D.)

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Believe it or not, I am actually amused by the assumption widely held by people who have a college degree and particularly held by people in the “news” business, in education, technology, in politics, in law and the judiciary, the “entertainment” business and the upper management tiers of the Washington bureaucratic apparatus – that they are smart people – the really smartest people, and we should all listen to them, do as they say and just follow along without questions – yes, fall in line, shut up and let them “do their thing.”

Well, here is a piece of news worth their consideration: Philo was smarter than you and he lived in 37 A.D. without Al Gore’s amazing internet, Google,  Facebook, Microsoft, The New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, “activists,” “liberals,” so-called socialists, Harvard and its faculty – such as it is with a faux Indian Princess “teaching” at their law school, etc.

How can that be?  Well, if the elites who seek always to enjoy a superior status and to be obeyed are so smart – where the hell is justice?

I see routinely lawyers, whose job it is to serve justice and protect the lawful interest of their clients, but have no discomfort with unethical behavior – nor with their abdication of the pursuit of a just result under the law.  On the contrary, like elites do – they are utterly comfortable with injustice so long as they maintain their status.

Does this sort of view not explain the conduct of the former Attorney General of the United States telling others to kick those who disagree with them, or Dame Hillary’s view that those who disagree with you can be dismissed and treated harshly, uncivilly because do not deserve to be treated cordially having so disagreed?

Assuming arguenado that I am right – why would what I say be so?  How is it that justice is not sought – but rather absent?

Philo had it right: when we have no regard for God, there is no regard for justice and civility is lost.

In a godless world neither morality nor justice hold.  This is precisley where we are and it is, as it always is, that culture rots from the top down.  We can thank our elites for this.

Those mentioned above who like to run the show are destroying the show.

Shalom.

Labor Day, September 3, 2018

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Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.  He has a work, a life purpose.

Thomas Carlyle, in Past and Present

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Ora et Labora.

Prayer and work.  Ah, life is complete.  These two go hand and hand.

Take rest.  Have quiet.  You have labored long and hard.

Today there is time for prayer.  Find such time in each day.

Shalom.

Dumb Elites – The power “elites” in Washington so out of touch that they cannot resist engaging in behavior that drives people to Donald Trump.  They actually engage in conduct and schemes that make themselves undesirable.  That is what thinking you are smarter than others, better than others and more entitled to power than others gets you.  We are watching a very interesting object lesson.

 

 

“No matter what the writer may say, the work is always written to someone, for someone, against someone.”

Walker Percy

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I sit alone to write.  I sit in quiet to write.  I write each day.  Normally before dawn.  Maybe at 2 a.m.  Maybe at daybreak.  Yes, I write to others.  To someone else.  To those met or those not yet met.  To the living and the dead.  To those before and those to come.  And to myself.

I write for, and I write against.  I write to all, to the family we are.

Writing: a message in a bottle.  My crucifixion.

I write alone … hanging on a tree.

Shalom.

Our wills are not ours to be crushed and broken; they are ours to be trained and strengthened.

Hamilton Wright Mabie

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Many things in life seem to stall us, trap us – but what of our will?  The ability to persevere.  The mental toughness to “gut it out,” “grind away,” refuse to quit, to give up?

Does not will overcome the obstacles that arise when feelings are hurt and action is needed?  Yes, of course it does.

But who has the will is the question?  Look around.  How many are trapped by childhood problems? Life’s misfortunes?

Is it not the case that all will be hurt in some primary way, suffer some insult and neglect?  Yes, of course it is.

But those who employ the will, arise from the damage and get stronger, smarter, more determined, more confident, wiser, sly and cunning.  Those who will advancement beyond the pain rely on the will to live, to live despite the setbacks – indeed, because of them.

Does God not give us free will for a reason?  Yes, so that will itself may be chosen and in doing so honor the sanctity of life that we have been given.

Shalom.

Victory over modern liberalism will require a robust self-confidence about the worth of traditional values that … liberalism has already seriously damaged … This is at bottom a moral and spiritual struggle.  (Emphasis added.)

Robert H. Bork, 1997

The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.  (Emphasis added.)

President Ronald Reagan, 1983

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Opposition politics today is not about policy and surely not about tweaking the business of government and established big-government programs.

Yet none of the opposition candidates have shown that they understand what a significant percentage of the electorate does: that our nation is being re-defined and lost, its once reliable institutions destroyed, its citizens targeted, faith unwelcome, God exiled, courts as agents of nihilism, executive action – lawless, unilateral and contrary to our national security and interests.

Yes, we face a spiritual crisis, one of moral will and faith.

Yes, the United States and Western Europe are at serious risk because of the ideas and policies of the Left and modern liberalism.

We face a spiritual crisis, one that jeopardizes the fundamental nature of America and the West and our survival.  The battleground is – what we believe, our spiritual existence.

Our candidates, lacking comprehension of the nature of the conflict we face, do not speak to the damaging change in culture and country that has been visited upon us by the Party of the Left.

Nothing less than a head-on assault on the thinking that the Left embraces and promotes in its public policy is required; and that, today, means a scope of criticism that engenders the spiritual needs of people and the spiritual damage Leftist thinking has presented to us in the last 60-70 years.

The leadership we need must be wise in matters of faith and spirit, have the ability to articulate and explain the damage caused by the Left’s destructive thinking, policies and ideas, and the public presence to strip the bark of the Leftist tree with intelligent insight, wit, warmth, and commanding presence.

We face a time not unlike the 1st Century of Christianity in which we stood against the tyranny of the Roman Empire and the self-limiting ways of the existing religious hierarchy.

Challenging?  Yes.  But this is the rarest of opportunities to be overtly Christian again – strong and unflinching, unashamed and determined.

We can do this one by one.  Christians have stood against oppression since 33 A.D.  This is our heritage, our identity.

Shalom.

Christian simplicity is the very perfection of the interior life – God, His will and pleasure as the sole object.

Jean Nicolas Grou, in The Hidden Life of the Soul

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” … Reagan was – I use the word simple, as in simplicity … What you saw is what you get, it’s not phony … I mean the guy cared about the country, he cared about the people.  He wasn’t a phony …”

So says Dennis Le Blanc a young California highway patrol officer assigned to Ronald Reagan’s security detail when he served as Governor of California and who worked side by side with the Governor at his ranch when he became President and after he served as President.

When I say “worked side by side” I mean that literally.

You see, Ronald Reagan always did manual labor on this ranch.  He maintained the land, improved it, created trails where once thick wild brush thrived.  He added small improvements to his very modest home there.  He made and laid fence.  He worked alongside Mr. Le Blanc and shared lunch with him and others who helped in the work.

As Le Blanc reports, never asked anyone to do work that he himself would not do.

This was an everyday occurrence and truth is: he loved it.  It was part of his day, every day – rain or shine.

Yet more impressive, and so critical content in understanding the nature of the balanced and good life of Ronald Reagan was this: he was grounded in a relationship with God.

Indeed, simplicity and God go together as Jean Grou says.  They form a contented and fulfilling life of service to God and others, a life with and for God and others.

As Mr. Reagan’s daughter Patti notes: he saw God in creation, in the land and its beauty.  He saw the human being as being responsible to care of what God created.  He saw man not as a problem but as God’s humble problem solver.

As author Peggy Noonan says “He saw the sanctity of ordinary things” and acted accordingly.

Indeed, here was a man who occupied a position of enormous power but never clung to it, nor lauded it over others. No $200 haircuts.  No retribution.  No superiority.  No family foundations taking in millions and blurring the lines between proper and improper, lawful and unlawful.

No need to sustain a public presence after his service was complete.

Rather, here was a man willing to get his hands dirty, happy to be a private citizen, a retiring presence, a contented man.  A simple man with a relationship with God who he saw in all things, in others, in His beautiful creation.

A grateful man who never forgot his early life of poverty and his mother’s enduring trust in God.

Yes, he perfected, without fanfare, his interior life and, yes, his simplicity was real and connected to his relationship with God.  This: a lesson for all of us.

How we need public figures like this.  Authentic people, those who serve God and others – not themselves.  Not problem makers but problem solvers.  Humble servants.  Good people.

Christianity … makes a man’s greatness consist in the amount of service he renders to the world.

Theodore Parker, in Thoughts on Labor

Shalom.

Note – Credit goes to Peggy Noonan for her chapter “The Ranch” in When Character Was King.  She has written such a good and useful book.

How might you know what will become of your life, and what work you will do? You probably will not know that.  Living is first an approximation – notions that, in living, get refined and reveal who we are as we proceed.

You will have at the onset an approximation, a general direction – something that will be distilled, shaped into an identity, a place in the world. We live by faith, you see – and walk by light, at first a glimmer and then a flame.

How does the journey look?  What is it like?

We mature over time.  And this takes sorting through what comes our way, learning from the missteps and mistakes, coming to grips with the early events of life – and learning from relationships and past wounds and gaining emotional and social wisdom.  In the process, somewhere along the way, creativity grows and our place and name is more familiar to us and we grow in the spirit and become savvy at living in the world as it is and can be.

You arrive when calm is the dominant disposition and you realize you can help others quite readily and often find yourself doing so.

Live with patience.  Grow each day.

Shalom

Knowing God is more important than knowing about God.

Karl Rahner, S.J., Theologian

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How does one come to know God?

This is a concise question that opens up our life, changes us and promises our expansion and fulfillment.

If God is in all things, then God can be known in all things.

The traditional ways of coming to know God are through worship, by reading and contemplating Scripture.  Yet, there is so much more that it natural to our existence that reveals God to us.  We know God in our friendships, in caring for those who need help or understanding.  Likewise we know God in family and through the work of our hands and heart.  And in nature also.  As in silence.

Then there are the things special to you.  The things you enjoy doing are often a place to know God who places in your life skills and a disposition to know the joy of living that is unique to you.

For me, I find God in children, in friends, in my care of dogs, in painting and in reading and writing, in my suffering and the suffering of others, and in the warm reception of others and they of me.  I find God in the suffering of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the Nazi Holocaust for I cannot see a reminder of this monumental tragedy but that I think how God was betrayed by those who tortured and killed His children.  I see God in our Jewish kin and their steadfast devotion to God and learn from them what the love of God is.

Yes, God in everything.  And with God in everything, then always God.  Nothing above God.  Nothing more than God.  God.  Just God. God and you.  God and us.  God.  Knowing God.

May you draw closer to God each day, with each step.  May your consciousness be of God; may you be with God and God with you breath by breath.

Shalom.

It is said that St. Patrick suffered enslavement as a young man and that while tending sheep in solitude he had a conversion, that his conversion was aided by dreams and interior understandings; in short, that he evolved in his faith and his identity grew as did his closeness to God.

Likewise it is said that in the course of his spiritual development he sat out to visit the Apostolic See in Rome in order to gain a greater understanding of the divine wisdom and holy mysteries to which God called him so that he might preach Christ to those who were not Christians.  Yet, as the accounts tell, St. Patrick was hosted in Gaul by a holy and wise Bishop (Germanus) who became his tutor and teacher.

While with Bishop Germanus, it is said that St. Patrick had a dream that told him it was time to fish with “the net of the Gospel” so that he might bring others to Christ.  This, it is told, inspired St. Patrick to evangelize the people of Ireland.

In this story and at this time in need of Christ, does St. Patrick not ask us: Is it now time for us to evangelize, to fish for others with “the net of the Gospel?”

Father in heaven, you sent the great Bishop Patrick to the people of Ireland to share his faith and to spend his life in loving service.  May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess and our love bring others to the peace and joy of the Gospel.  Amen.

Go and fish for others as St. Patrick did.  The times require this.

Shalom.

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