Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

I changed my mind … what now?

Woke up today in a very dark place. At 5:00 AM the world is very dark here, but not as dark as the place where I was then. Looked at my wife of forty years, sleeping beside me.  Thinking about detachment.

Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay. No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.

I Am In thy Hands, O Mary”, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Doctor Scott Piper, Sir Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP & Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, OP;  from the album “Mater Eucharistiae”, (2013)

Got up, had a long hot shower, put the wash on. Still in a very dark place. Thinking about detachment from material things, and especially creatures. Some creatures are hard to detach from, others go out of their way to make it easy, without realizing that is what they are doing, not realizing that they are so attached to themselves that there is no room for attachment to anything else.

Those self centered creatures are surprisingly easy to detach from but creatures where attachment is reciprocated, where there are mutual consolations experienced, are more difficult to approach true detachment from. Brother Death is the culmination of detachment. the ultimate detachment from material things and creatures.

Got dressed and headed out about 5:45 for a long drive in my 1 ton – I like to think while driving – silence – solitude – hum and rhythm of the pavement and the low rumble of the diesel … sometimes I get consolations and inspirations while driving like this.

I have been meditating on detachment for months now. Fasting brings a sharp focus to the concept of “detachment”. Been fasting, full fasts and 1 meal a day fasts since January 2017 now. Body is stable probably won’t loose any more weight unless I fast totally and continuously. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Having become seriously detached from food I now have a better understanding of what detachment from other material things and creatures involves.

Thinking about my father’s death 33 years ago. Thinking that he understood detachment, if not as a spiritual thing then as a rejection of a kind of slavery to material things. I think, like Roy Batty in the scene at the top of this post, he understood that it was “time to die”. At age 57 he stopped taking all his meds one day without asking permission and without consulting his doctor or anyone.

A few weeks later he collapsed and died after taking a long hot shower – massive brain Aneurysm – some of my family attribute the arterial weakness to an injury sustained while serving as a paratrooper in WWII. Whatever, he swore he would never grow old but would keep going full bore until he dropped and that is exactly what he did.

Detachment from all earthly things and creatures is certainly fully realized by Brother Death. And suicide is certainly not an option. On the other hand Brother Death has a comfortable feel, no fears, and end to all trials, peace, welcome. At times I envy my father. Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ shall come again“, sung or chanted after the consecration, the Memorial Acclamation, at every Catholic Mass. This is the Christ who died, descended into Hell, then rose that Death shall have no dominion.

We live, if we live at all, in Him. He is The Eternal Sunrise. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

Changed my mind – lots of geese calling overhead on their southward trek … still lots of work to do before we are done … “Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”

pray for a good day

Joe

 

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The Inner Struggle

Brother Death Take My Hand …

Into the West”, performed by Annie Lennox, composed by Howard Shore, from the LOTR soundtrack, (2003)

Thinking about my father, gone from this mortal coil some 33 years now, and still fresh in my memory as if I had coffee with him yesterday. Wishing, with all my heart, I could sit down and talk with him about things I have learned in those 33 years.

Death takes everyone … death is what binds us all together … no one escapes, no one buys their way out, no one. No one, no matter the extreme sacrifices made on the alter of self to appease the gods of our secular lives, no matter the banality of the attachments of this world of flesh and passion and decay.

No matter the pride and achievements in this short night in this bad hotel … no one … escapes … Brother Death.

Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… then you see it!
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores… and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn’t. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Here, at the end of all things, Brother Death takes our hand and leads us towards the light at the end of the tunnel of the tomb … and the light … is the glorious light of Eternity’s Sunrise, or the smoldering glow of Mount Doom.

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ shall come again, sung or chanted after the consecration, the Memorial Acclamation, at every Catholic Mass. This is the Christ who died, descended into Hell, then rose that Death shall have no dominion.

We live, if we live at all, in Him. He is The Eternal Sunrise. Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

Cheers

Joe

Praying for Humility … at the end … of a short night …

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Life in a small town, Politics and Economics, The Inner Struggle

Guidelines, Vested Interests, and Politics …

Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, from the album “Highway 61 Revisited”, (1965)

Can anything good come out of a post about Guidelines, Vested Interests, and Politics? Possibly, some minor “good” in the immediate today, but less likely “Good” in the eternal, when all comes down to the Vanity/Humility ratio.

In the arena of politics, sitting in Wendy’s burger restaurant in a nearby city (nearby meaning only 2 hours of driving involved) and witnessing some political barbarian setting up a “Registration Station” on the next table to ours, to “register” voters in the upcoming provincial United Conservative Party leadership race.

Brian Jean ...

Brian Jean …

The leadership contest is between Brian Jean, leader of the Wild Rose Party, and Jason Kenny, leader of the Progressive Conservative party. This “Political Operative’s” target demographic: retired seniors taking a coffee break with friends , no cost folks, just a little of your time and your personal information, you don’t even have to actually turn up to vote, just “register”.

No credentials displayed … is this guy really a political party representative or is this a blatant fishing expedition?  Nobody lining up to offer up their personal info seemed to have a clue or to doubt the truth of his sales pitch. No permission to be there either just walking in off the street and setting up in a private business.

Jason Kenny ...

Jason Kenny …

Trespassing on private property and perhaps misrepresenting his “cause” as having the endorsement of The Wendy’s franchisee … hmmm …. aren’t there laws against this sort of thing, the act of trespass, the act of misrepresentation and fraud?

I suppose in some deliciously Canadian way he belongs to that large class of Canadians to whom the rules just don’t apply, the laws just don’t apply, right, they are special. When the manager phoned it in she was told that he couldn’t use the site for political activity.

She tried to get him to leave.  The “Political Operative” refused both to leave and to stop his recruiting activities and embarrassed her into not making a scene.

I borrowed the next bit from David Warren’s post a few days ago, on this very topic, this very Hallmark Characteristic of modern progressive Canadians everywhere:

Dysopia (no relation to “dystopia”) will be our Greek word for the day. It is from Aristotle via Plutarch; a term held to be untranslatable into our modern tongues. By the dictionaries it is defined as “the embarrassment that compels us to grant an unjustified request.” The closest we come in English is “compliancy.” They get no closer in German or French. … So mark it down in your commonplace books, my dears: dysopia. Pour a shot of rum, and swear off it entirely.

Compliant, complaisant, acquiescent. Docile, submissive, ingratiating. Servile, tractable, obsequious. Ever deferential, glad to be of use. This is what my fellow Canadians have become, though we were not in the past, according to my elders (now mostly dead). When unreasonable demands were made upon them, their inclination was to stiffly resist.

Ours is to be chumps, patsies, dupes, treacle saps. In our vanity we think that we are “nice” people, and celebrate our own gormlessness.

And that is why what we too mildly call “political correctness” has advanced so far, through barrier after barrier, erected by our ancestors against perversion. It begins with a small minority of fanatics, bent upon turning our world upside down. It continues not by conversion but by dysopia. We look upon those making the demands, and can no longer see what they are, owing to the pain in our heads. We think we can buy peace with concessions. But the devils are encouraged by our every retreat.”

And from one of my own previous posts of not too long ago :

Canadian figureheads ...

Canadian figureheads …

Lest we forget, or maybe we never knew it, but the generation that fought and died at Vimy Ridge was in no way “nice” and “gormless”.

The generation that sang: “D-day Dodgers knew everything there was to know about push-back against gormlessness (great series of YouTube videos at this link – none of this shows up in Social Studies, does it?).

Lest we forget, Canadians were not always a mob of gormless poltroons. Where are they now? Realization dawned one day in the midst of World War III, that the real enemy was not, most undoubtedly not, that young kid clinging on to the Soviet frigate 100 yards away. He was me.

The real enemy was back home in the comfortable office towers and media redoubts taking pot shots at the ones doing the bleeding.  The real enemy was back home in the Kremlin, and in Washington, and in Ottawa, and in London (and in REDmonton). The real enemy was the figureheads and their agenda of “What is Truth?” 

Just in case we missed something and mistakenly understand “gormless” as synonymous with “nice” we can look at a definition of sorts: “Gormless began life as the English dialect word “gaumless”, which was altered to the modern spelling when it expanded into wider use in the late 19th century.

Running Rachel ...

Running Rachel …

The origins of “gaumless” are easy to understand; the word derives from a combination of the dialect noun gaum, meaning “attention” or “understanding,” and the suffix -less. “Gaum” also functions as a verb in some dialects, where it means “to pay attention to” and “to understand.” An unrelated verb gaum means “to behave in a stupid or awkward manner.” There’s also a noun gaum, meaning “a stupid doltish person.” But none of these are as commonly used nowadays as “gormless”, which itself is most frequently seen in British English.

True synonyms, for the Canadian context, would be: airheaded, birdbrained, bonehead, boneheaded, brain-dead, brainless, bubbleheaded, chuckleheaded, dense, dim, dim-witted, doltish, dopey (also dopy), dorky [slang], dull, dumb, dunderheaded, empty-headed, fatuous, stupid [chiefly British], half-witted, knuckleheaded, lamebrain (or lamebrained), lunkheaded, mindless, oafish, obtuse, opaque, pinheaded, senseless, simple, slow, slow-witted, soft, softheaded, thick, thickheaded, thick-witted, unintelligent, unsmart, vacuous, weak-minded, witless.”

Kenny ...

Kenny …

Now don’t I just feel SO much better in my nice Canadian gormlessness … sigh. “What is Truth?” And what about Gratitude? Is there really anything to be grateful for in a polite society lacking in sincerity and justice?

And the Political Barbarians, the corrupt exploiters of the gormless masses, the 30 second sound bite voters, the predictably Liberal Progressive categorization of this target demographic as the “low information voters” this just SO Lame-Stream straw-man.

Was the barbarian ever ejected from his lawless squatting or was he allowed to stay like the “Occupiers” south of the 49th. Who knows, we moved on before the final inning and never did find out if the manager was able to muster the fortitude to face down a brass balled social bully preventing her from exercising her responsibility by causing embarrassment that compels us to grant an unjustified (illegal) request.

So we look forward to a Provincial election, somewhere down the road, in which we are faced with a choice between the Cancer of the “New Democratic Party” commanded by Running Rachel, or the Leprosy of the United Conservative Party  most likely commanded by Jason Kenny. Quelle Dommage!

Cheers

Joe

We The People ... In Our Hot-tubs ... Low Information Voters, eh?

We The People … In Our Hot-tubs … Low Information Voters, eh?

 

We The People … In Our Hot-tubs … Low Information Voters, eh?

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Life in a small town

Happy Good Sunday Morning from the Shire …

Driving home from church last night, in the dark, yup, the sun is going down earlier and earlier this time of year setting at about 6:45 pm and came up this morning about 7:40 am, but last night the most impressive “Harvest “Moon”  I have seen in a long time dominated the drive until it rose high enough to pass behind a bank of scattered light clouds.

Then it became a different kind of spectacular … lighting up the clouds like some kind of celestial vision.  I guess others thought so as well and there are lots of photos and videos about the moon and the northern lights at the link below from our weather channel which I use as my home page now.

With this “home page” I get a “first thing in the day” reminder of all things to be grateful for in our lives, before the litany of evil and drama washes over me when the rest of the MSM “news” intrudes on my peace.

One can scroll down through the Weather channel article to see the still photos below the video feed at the top. The video from space of the Northern Lights is pretty spectacular, and I especially enjoyed the Land-Rover advert.

Wish that one was longer with more Racing Cat coverage. Big on Racing Cats myself, lifelong passion in fact. Really not big on sand though, “The Sandbox”, “House built on sand”, “Sand in the gears”, nope, not big on sand around here. Also, I rather suspect that this site gets updated regularly so it may not have the same content in a few days as it does now.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/october-harvest-moon-2017-fall-equinox-northern-hemisphere/87168 

September Full Corn Moon

September Full Corn Moon … from the site: https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-september

The kind of news showing up here is about as different from the MSM as it is possible to get and that is all good in my books. Of course we get full moons every month but in the fall we seem to be out more in the dark evening and we notice them more, especially if one lives in a rural area and the activities with fall harvest see many folks working late into the night, sometimes all night.

Harvest seems to be going much better this year with many farmers having only a couple of thousand acres left to harvest varying from farm to farm of course depending on what was planted and the decisions on the ground.

But last year, folks had 10’s of thousands of acres left unharvested and many didn’t finish harvest until the end of November and still had crops unharvested, so we are doing OK this year in a general sort of way. Of course there are always problems but when are there not problems?

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Today is the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, and my meditation readings are about “The Power and Love of Jesus”. Yesterday was an Immovable Feast, the “Feast of The Blessed Virgin Mary of The Rosary” a Catholic Feast Day which has it’s origins in a famous battle and which Feast Day marks now the 446th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, a great naval battle, perhaps one of the greatest naval battles in all of history.

Lepanto, and the events leading up to the battle, have fallen into unfashionable obscurity, notwithstanding the fact that were it not for that battle, and the victories of the beleaguered Christians in many other lopsided battles of that time, there would have been no Western Civilization to give us all the good things we take for granted in our lives, in the here and now, every day.

We ignore history and reality at our peril, we, men and women both, need to examine what the future holds if Christians fail to win victory in this age. The enemy has not improved with age, no, Old Nick has aged gracefully and is more powerful than ever as mankind has chosen to pretend that he does not exist.

The Battle of Lepanto, 1571 ...

The Battle of Lepanto, 1571 …

There are still a few people who remember Lepanto, some honest scholarly individuals, who continue to try to remind us of a past which the fashionably Progressive Brights and the proles of our modern day and age would much rather prefer to forget, or at least to not have this “version” of “Truth” and “Facts” come up in polite conversation or be mentioned in the news.

One such writer is Fr. George W. Rutler, pastor of St. Michael’s church in New York City. He is the author of many books including Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943 (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press) and Hints of Heaven (Sophia Institute Press). His latest books are He Spoke To Us (Ignatius, 2016) and The Stories of Hymns (EWTN Publishing, 2017).

Fr. George’s take on Lepanto can be found at “Crisis Magazine” in an article from last October 7th entitled “The Banners of Lepanto”.  What follows is a few paragraphs from the middle of his 2016 essay:

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… Not to diminish the Battle of Baltimore, the Battle of Lepanto ranks as one of the greatest sea battles of all time, and in one sense it was the most important. There never would have been a Trafalgar or Jutland or Leyte Gulf without it and, as a matter of fact, it is likely that it made possible the survival of everything we know as civilization.

Had the Christian fleets sunk off western Greece on October 7 in 1571, we would not be here now, these words would not be written in English, and there would be no universities, human rights, holy matrimony, advanced science, enfranchised women, fair justice, and morality as it was carved on the tablets of Moses and enfleshed in Christ.

Many banners wafted at Lepanto. The great one bearing an image of Christ Crucified was the gift of Pope Pius V to Don Juan of Austria. One of the admirals, Gianandrea Doria, a nephew of Andrea Doria often confused with his uncle, used as his ensign, if not a banner, an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this only forty years after her appearance in Mexico. The bishop there had commissioned five copies, touching each to the original tilma. The one given to the King of Spain, Philip II, was in turn entrusted to Doria for the battle.

Then there was the sixteen-foot long silk banner of the Ottoman admiral Ali Pasha decorated with Quranic verses and the image of a zulfiqar, the double-bladed sword said to have been what Mohammed had used in his slaughterings, with the name of Allah stitched in gold 29,800 times.

Naval historians have extraordinarily detailed resources for studying the battle. Perhaps the most literate remembrance is that of Cervantes who fought heroically at Lepanto despite a severe fever and wounds; later he was able to write Don Quixote with his right hand, the left being totally useless after October 7.

Pope St. Pius V never recorded the details of his astonishing vision on that day, but he saw the scene miraculously while in the church of Santa Sabina discussing administrative accounts with his advisor Bartolo Busotti, and announced the victory to him, nineteen days before a messenger of the Doge of Venice Mocenigo reached Rome with news—no longer new—of the great victory. (Pope St. Pius V said) “Let us set aside business and fall on our knees in thanksgiving to God, for he has given our fleet a great victory.

Five years later the astronomer and geographer Luigi Lilio died. He was a principle architect of the Gregorian calendar implemented in 1582. Trained minds like his, acting upon the testimony of witnesses, calculated by the meridians of Rome and the Curzola isles that the pope had received his revelation precisely as Don Juan leaped from his quarter deck to repulse the Turks boarding his vessel and when the Ottoman galley “Sultana” was attacked side and stern by Marco Antonio Colonna and the Marquis of Santa Cruz.” (More here …)

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“Deep Peace” Bill Douglas, from the album of the same name, (1996)

Another writer and Blogger of note, David Warren, has also touched upon the significance of Lepanto and the anniversary of the battle. (and also here), as above I have extracted a few paragraphs from the middle of his 2015 post:

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… Heroic chastity might take the form of declining to steer the willing wench into bed, but here I am considering the “high political.” And this includes the high political in humble stations of everyday life. The question, What is for the good? — aye, there’s a question. It is a masculine one, so that when a woman asks it she must play the man. (So much of mothering requires masculine decision.)

But, par excellence, the father in the household must exercise a judgement in which his own interest is sublimated within the interests of his family. He must stand above himself to see what these are, and make painful personal sacrifice sometimes, without selfish whining or complaint. Or else, become a failure in the eyes of wife, children, and God.

And likewise, all leadership is in its essence chaste and masculine, whether the ruler be a woman or a man. The commander of the fleet — our Don John of Austria — has before him Victory in a holy cause, demanding all sacrifice together with the knowledge that he is in the service of Heaven. For all the private failures of his past, he must not fail now.
*
There is a distance from which some clarity is possible, perhaps; and then I fear a greater distance at which the subject shrinks and disappears. I am referring here to the Battle of Lepanto, whose 444th anniversary we celebrate today, in the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

The issue of that battle was not clear at the time. The fleet of the Holy League had destroyed the massed Ottoman fleet, but could hardly reconquer the eastern Mediterranean. The initial intention had been to recover Cyprus from the Infidel Turk, but this was impossible; and long after Lepanto the recovering Ottoman forces harried Catholic (chiefly Spanish) interests in the western Mediterranean.

Tunis and Algiers resumed as centres of piracy, and long into the eighteenth century the European coast remained an open target for Muslim depredation. Indeed, as we were reminded on the 11th of September, 2001, the spirit of Islamic raid and conquest is far from quelled today.

It was only over time that the magnitude of the victory of Lepanto came plainly into historical view, as the most consequential naval engagement since the Battle of Actium — fought at nearly the same location, in 31 BC. In each, West prevailed against East, and had it not been so, the history of Europe would be much different. ” (the rest is here).

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So much to be thankful for, so many events, big and small, so many minor and major miracles every day. Consider the miracle of just waking up after 13 hours of good sleep, wow!  So many people didn’t experience this miracle, so many people didn’t wake up at all, so many people went to their final judgement unshriven and unwittingly desperate, having ignored all the signs and messages all their lives.

Pray for the souls of the dead … “Eternal Rest grant onto them O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen” Pray for the souls of the living … “Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ save us, and the whole world”.

It seems that whenever mankind has things good, the first thing mankind does is thumb the nose at God or some flip Him the bird, God doesn’t exist, God doesn’t care, I don’t know about God but I am definitely gonna worry about me first and have fun right now.  4000 unbroken years of “Things are great, God doesn’t matter!  WHOOAAAH! Things are BAD!  “You and me Lord, You and me!”

Prosperity, Peace, Babylon, Prosperity, Peace, Persia, Prosperity, Peace, Rome, Prosperity, Peace, Islam, Prosperity, Peace, Nationalism, Prosperity, Peace, Communism, then came the 20th century and WWI, WWII, and WWIII, now the 21st, … are things looking better or worse than last century?

Does anyone notice a pattern here? Where do we feel that we are on the Prosperity, Peace, Disaster, Downfall cycle? We can look at what is actually going on around us and, in spite of what out leaders and the elite of the intelligentsia tell us, do things seem OK to you?

Your mileage may vary, but my gut tells me we are approaching a major “chastisement”.  So Sunday is a day for praying and reading scripture and Joshua has some things to say about the behaviour of the people which are still applicable to we the people in this day, especially applicable in this day and age I think:

Mother of Sorrows”, Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent At Ephesus”, (2014)

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Joshua 23:

1And when a long time was passed, after that the Lord had given peace to Israel, all the nations round about being subdued, and Josue being now old, and far advanced in years: 2Josue called for all Israel, and for the elders, and for the princes, and for the judges, and for the masters, and said to them: I am old, and far advanced in years: 3And you see all that the Lord your God hath done to all the nations round about, how he himself hath fought for you:

Joshua ...

Joshua …

4And now since he hath divided to you by lot all the land, from the east of the Jordan unto the great sea, and many nations yet remain: 5The Lord your God will destroy them, and take them away from before your face, and you shall possess the land as he hath promised you. 6Only take courage, and be careful to observe all things that are written in the book of the law of Moses: and turn not aside from them neither to the right hand nor to the left:

7Lest after that you are come in among the Gentiles, who will remain among you, you should swear by the name of their gods, and serve them, and adore them: 8But cleave ye unto the Lord your God: as you have done until this day. 9And then the Lord God will take away before your eyes nations that are great and very strong, and no man shall be able to resist you. 10One of you shall chase a thousand men of the enemies: because the Lord your God himself will fight for you, as he hath promised.

11This only take care of with all diligence, that you love the Lord your God. 12But if you will embrace the errors of these nations that dwell among you, and make marriages with them, and join friendships: 13Know ye for a certainty that the Lord your God will not destroy them be- fore your face, but they shall be a pit and a snare in your way, and a stumbling block at your side, and stakes in your eyes, till he take you away and destroy you from off this excellent land, which he hath given you.

14Behold this day I am going into the way of all the earth, and you shall know with all your mind that of all the words which the Lord promised to perform for you, not one hath failed. 15Therefore as he hath fulfilled in deed, what he promised, and all things prosperous have come: so Will he bring upon you all the evils he hath threatened, till he take you away and destroy you from off this excellent land, which he hath given you,

16When you shall have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he hath made with you, and shall have served strange gods, and adored them : then shall the indignation of the Lord rise up quickly and speedily against you, and you shall be taken away from this excellent land, which he hath delivered to you.

Joshua 24:

Abraham and Isaac ...

Abraham and Isaac …

1And Josue gathered together all the tribes of Israel in Sichem, and called for the ancients, and the princes, and the judges, and the masters: and they stood in the sight of the Lord: 2And he spoke thus to the people: Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel: Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the river, Thare the father of Abraham, and Nachor: and they served strange gods.

3And I took your father Abraham from the borders of Mesopotamia: and brought him into the land of Chanaan: and I multiplied his seed, 4And gave him Isaac: and to him again I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave to Esau mount Seir for his possession: but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

5And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I struck Egypt with many signs and wonders. 6And I brought you and your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea: and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen, as far as the Red Sea. 7And the children of Israel cried to the Lord: and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them. Your eyes saw all that I did in Egypt, and you dwelt in the wilderness a long time:

Moses parting the Sea ...

Moses parting the Sea …

8And I brought you into the land of the Amorrhite, who dwelt beyond the Jordan. And when they fought against you, I delivered them into your hands, and you possessed their land, and slew them. 9And Balac son of Sephor king of Moab arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and called for Balaam son of Beor, to curse you: 10And I would not hear him, but on the contrary I blessed you by him, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11And you passed over the Jordan, and you came to Jericho. And the men of that city fought against you, the Amorrhite, and the Pherezite, and the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, and the Gergesite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite: and I delivered them into your hands.
12And I sent before you hornets: and I drove them out from their places, the two kings of the Amorrhites, not with thy sword nor with thy bow. 13And I gave you a land, in which you had not laboured, and cities to dwell in which you built not, vineyards and oliveyards, which you planted not.

Choose Whom You will Serve (Deuteronomy 10:12-22)

14Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him with a perfect and most sincere heart: and put away the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

16And the people answered, and said: God forbid we should leave the Lord, and serve strange gods. 17The Lord our God he brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: and did very great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way by which we journeyed, and among all the people through whom we passed. 18And he hath cast out all the nations, the Amorrhite the inhabitant of the land into which we are come. Therefore we will serve the Lord, for he is our God.

Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin ...

Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodom_and_Gomorrah

19And Josue said to the people: You will not be able to serve the Lord: for he is a holy God, and mighty and jealous, and will not forgive your wickedness and sins. 20If you leave the Lord, and serve strange gods, he will turn, and will afflict you, and will destroy you after all the good he hath done you. 21And the people said to Josue: No, it shall not be so as thou sayest, but we will serve the Lord.

22And Josue said to the people: You are witnesses, that you yourselves have chosen you the Lord to serve him. And they answered: We are witnesses. 23Now therefore, said he, put away strange gods from among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord the God of Israel. 24And the people said to Josue: We will serve the Lord our God, and we will be obedient to his commandments.

25Josue therefore on that day made a covenant, and set before the people commandments and judgments in Sichem. 26And he wrote all these things in the volume of the law of the Lord: and he took a great stone, and set it under the oak that was in the sanctuary of the Lord. 27And he said to all the people: Behold this stone shall be a testimony unto you, that it hath heard all the words of the Lord, which he hath spoken to you: lest perhaps hereafter you will deny it, and lie to the Lord your God. 28And he sent the people away every one to their own possession.”

*****

I guess that would be enough for one day. The parallels are startling if one takes a moment to consider. Are we, as a culture and society, really THAT sure that we are right about God … the last 4000 years of history are not on our side in that bet …

Cheers

Joe

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Spread the Flame of Love of your Immaculate Heart over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death, Amen

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

World Problems and Joy?

A part of the ancient Hadrian’s wall in northern England. Image from: http://catholicexchange.com/peace-and-security

So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?

I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.

“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)

Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.

It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.

So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.

I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.

I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …

… Prayers to start the day …

O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”

“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”

My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to  see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)

and

“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)

prayers from : (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 907)

Cheers, and have a blessed and peaceful day …

Joe

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Spread the Flame of Love of your Immaculate Heart over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death, Amen

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

The Ride of The Poltroons … revisited because what happens in Vegas truly does not stay in Vegas

Ride of the Valkyries”, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, from the soundtrack of the movie Watchman, (2009)

Really feeling much less understanding and contemplative today … so lets look at things in the news: 

Poltroon: An ignoble or total coward; a dastard; a mean-spirited wretch.  Word Origin & History: poltroon “spiritless coward,” 1529, from M.Fr. poultron “rascal, coward,” from It. poltrone “lazy fellow, coward,” apparently from *poltro “couch, bed” (cf. Milanese polter, Venetian poltrona “couch”), perhaps from a Gmc. source (cf. O.H.G. polstar “pillow,” see bolster).

Read a post by David Warren yesterday about “closure” that wonderfully evocative emotional “thing” which Progressives confuse for  compassion and charity.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 01: People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Withstanding the media and political tsunami of tears and wailing from all the usual sectors is exhausting and breeds depression and before I drown in my misery while seeking closure about the tragedy in Vegas I decided to reprise a post I made back in mid 2016 after the Orlando shootings. Make no mistake about it, the Vegas event WAS A TRAGEDY, but all the subsequent noise and posturing and virtue signalling completely missed the point and the essence that is tragedy.

The big tragedy is the private hell of all the undeserving folks who were victims of the shooter in Vegas. The little daily tragedy is that the survivors are being exploited and abused by all the usual suspects for all the usual agendas without the slightest concern for the real needs of the survivors and families of the victims and those very victims who were lucky enough to survive the event.

And the real perpetrators of tragedy give themselves a pass, they give themselves cover on all their virtue signaling by being sure to mention just how great the first responders, firefighters and police behaved! Gee what a tragedy! Time to ban guns! Blah! Blah! Blah! Knees just jerking all over the place and drooling gibbering emoticons in suits babbling about how they have to control people for their own good.

Hillary slammed for ignorant gun remarks after Vegas tragedy

Hillary slammed for ignorant gun remarks after Vegas tragedy

What about the much talked about fact that the bad actor had absolutely NO religious affiliations – NONE!  Can anyone remember what this sort of behaviour used to be called? “Possessed by Demons”, really, not just some Hollywood horror script. Yes Virginia, demons exist and are happy to insert themselves into human affairs at every opportunity. Especially easy targets are amoral drifting humans with no religious affiliation.

The modern predilection for denying the existence of God and the supernatural really doesn’t mean that God and the supernatural stopped existing suddenly when “all that stuff” went out of style. I happen to believe in the existence of demons and the demonic. It does offer the only way that I am aware of to explain or account for acts which all the talking heads and politicians brand “senseless”.

Visiting a great blog site called (appropriately) Internet Monk we  find:

C.S. Lewis writing at his desk

C.S. Lewis writing at his desk

Whenever we consider the subject of demonology, it is hard to ignore the contributions of C.S. Lewis. In the modern era, few have stimulated the imagination with regard to the spiritual realm as much as the author of The Screwtape Letters. The book, dedicated to his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, begins with two quotes:

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” (Luther)

“The devill . . . the prowde spirite . . . cannot endure to be mocked.” (Thomas More)

This Lewis proceeds to do in masterful literary fashion. Through witty epistles, he captures the cleverness and wiles of Satan’s agents as well as their ultimate shortsightedness and folly.

This series of letters and memos comes from a senior demon (Screwtape) to a younger protege, his nephew Wormwood — a “Junior Tempter” — regarding Wormwood’s assignment to damn the soul of a human being known only as “the Patient.” A portion of one of the letters pertinent to our discussions this week deals with modern humanity’s view of the existence of spirits and the Devil.

Here is Screwtape’s counsel about how to best exploit that.” … :

from the C.S. Lewis book “Screwtape Letters” chapter VII :

*****

My Dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient (that would be humans) in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command (that would be Satan). Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.

Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet.

I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy (that would be God).

The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits” – then the end of the war will be in sight.

But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”

Chapter VII

*****

So, yeah, demons and demonology do in fact provide a “sensible explanation of “senseless” events and actions, although, at present, such beliefs are seriously out of fashion amongst the “intelligentsia” and the “proles” of our Secular Progressive Modern “Enlightened” society. Why, of course we no longer believe in demons and demonology. We are so much more sophisticated than those primitive superstitious peasants of the European Middle Ages or Medieval Period.

The Medieval age, “The Dark Ages”, began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Medieval Period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century – like, man, that’s about a thousand years, eh? Gee, we moderns have only been believing what we believe for about a hundred years or so, right?

Our Lady of Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our Lady of Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I sometimes wonder if the occasional mass murder spree by some lone wolf perp with no discernible religious affiliation is the Demonic equivalent of the Divine apparitions like Our Lady of Fatima and other such Divine apparitions.

It’s not much of a stretch, once you think of it, to imagine Demonic apparitions demonstrating the power of the Devil to counter the Divine apparitions such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico, Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady of Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland, and so on, many such Divine apparitions are reliably recorded but mainly ignored by our sophisticated mainstream society. A pretty complete list of Marian Apparitions is located here.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico

So think about it for a moment, a Demonic apparition to counter all the many Divine apparitions? It’s not really so far fetched as one might first think. Is there any slightest possibility that a thousand years of experience might have given the Medievals a more realistic, in depth, understanding of the supernatural?

I mean, really, the so-called “Dark Ages” weren’t really very dark. Some of the brightest minds in history flourished in the “Dark Ages” and did a much better job, under much worse conditions, of keeping Western Civ alive and well than our current crop of brilliant “Brights”.

Like, man … what’s the difference in believing in the supernatural and believing in “science”. Except for the various flavours of magicians it’s all just magic anyway for the mythical man in the street, right? Can any of you explain how an integrated circuit or a radio telescope works – nope?  There ya go, just magic again, on to the next 30 second sound bite, the next Tweet, the next Facebook post. David Warren has an interesting little post concerning how the Devil makes use of humans, so go and read the whole thing here.

Prophecy” Adrian von Ziegler, from the album “Feather and Skull”, (2013)

Meanwhile, back to my previous post from June 18th 2016

*****

We are blessed to live in an age where for the first time in history the poltroons are running ALL government and media channels and the progressive narrative is poured over us 24/7, world without end, amen.

When faced with evil we are confronting a binary choice – do something about it, or don’t do something about it. Doing something about it requires guts, brains, courage, grit, self sacrifice, willingness to speak truth to power, willingness to die for what we believe in, the list is endless. All of the above qualities and talents are utterly lacking in the denizens of the government universe and the media universe.

Therefore we get the second option – don’t do anything about it. But that creates a quandary for management because; by every definition “leaders” have to be seen to be “doing something”. So the question becomes “How do we do nothing while appearing to be doing something?”

The answer is “Hell!  Let’s focus on the implements of destruction!” Because we all know the proles are just scared know-nothings who will believe that all crimes of violence are actually committed by “Autonomous Self Propelled Seeker Drones” called “Assault Rifles“.

WHOOOO!  The modern bogyman we can use to push our agenda on all the innocent because we are too weak to actually do something about the guilty evil actors. Because if we ever once acknowledged evil we would logically have to include ourselves in that category and we sure don’t want to do anything to hurt ourselves, right?”

Except where noted, the rest of this I lifted wholesale from here. Please go to the site and read the whole piece. The author makes perfect sense, not that that has ever had any impact whatsoever on the Progressive Brights who have the knee jerk  “Ban Guns” response every time the media start frothing about the latest (and rare) murder committed with guns.

Favorite-Tactical-Rimfies-Review-11

****Tactical Style .22 rimfire “Assault Rifles”. A .22 cal Àssault Rifle for assaulting gophers … OY!

” ... If the cosmetic features used to define an “assault weapon” in the 1994 law strike you as really stupid ways to define an “assault weapon,” it’s because the 1994 law was a stupid law with stupid definitions written by stupid people.

(Blog Note: and while we are on the topic, I have never heard anyone who knew anything at all about guns ever suggest that a .22 cal rimfire was a reasonable facsimile of an “Assault Weapon”, as in something one could use in an actual assault on a defended stronghold.  We use .22 for varmint popping, it`s for children’s toys.

In the real world the term assault rifle implies a caliber of at least 5.56 x 45 in a Bullpup Assault rifle or, even, preferably 7.62 x 51 in an FN C2A2 or even, possibly, a civilian 308. But a .22 rimfire assault rifle – don`t make me laugh)

And not only was it a stupid law, it was a stupid law that didn’t even accomplish its stated goal. How do we know? Because today, more than a decade after the law’s expiration, the number of people murdered by rifles is 36 percent lower than it was during the last full year the assault weapons ban was in effect.
redneck_assault_rifle

ISIS Islamic Warrior or member of NRA – GEE they all look the same to me. Quick! Better ban guns!

The law expired in September of 2004, making 2003 the last full calendar year in which the law was in effect.According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime statistics, 390 people were murdered with rifles in 2003, making rifles the weapon of choice in 2.7 percent of murders that year.

 But in 2014, more than a decade after these vile weapons of war flooded American streets, the number of rifle murders surely skyrocketed, right? Not so much. Quite the opposite. In 2014, the most recent year for which detailed FBI data are available, rifles were used in 248 murders.
 
And not only are rifles used in far fewer murders over a decade following the expiration of the 1994 gun ban, they’re also used in a smaller percentage of homicides. In 2003, when the gun ban was in full effect, rifles were used in nearly 3 percent of murders. In 2014, they were used in barely 2 percent.
 
That’s the exact opposite of what gun banners said should happen. After the assault weapons ban, guns were supposed to flood the streets and just start killing people. Crime was supposed to skyrocket. But that’s not what happened. Yes, Americans bought a ton of rifles after the law expired, but rather than going up, the number of homicides in which rifles were used drastically fell. There were way more guns, but way less crime.
 
She cut off their tails with a carving knife ...

She cut off their tails with a carving knife …

Are you ready for a mind-blowing statistic? In 2014, you were six times more likely to be murdered with a knife than you were with a rifle. Knives were the weapon of choice in 1,567 murders in 2014, according to the FBI. It gets crazier. You were also nearly three times more likely to be killed by someone’s fists or feet than you were to be murdered with a rifle. In 2014, 660 people were murdered with what the FBI calls “personal weapons”–hands, fists, feet–compared to 248 with rifles.

 In the United States, knives are more deadly than rifles. So are fists. And feet. This is not my opinion. It is an incontrovertible fact. And it’s a fact that highlights a point that far too many people refuse to acknowledge: the human desire to kill is far more deadly than any weapon. Weapons do not of their own volition and agency decide to kill people. That requires human intervention. Humans hell-bent on death and destruction will get their hands on whatever tools they need to wreak their desired havoc. Restricting the use of those tools by innocent people who only want to protect themselves and their families is delusional madness.
 
Yet here we are. Rather than blaming individuals and ideologies, the leading lights of American society have decided to demonize inanimate objects. Despite the fact that the terrorist in Orlando was a radical jihadi who pledged allegiance to ISIS, (and the shooter in Vegas was not affiliated with any religion) our Progressives have decided to blame the NRA for what happened. Even though the terrorist was registered to vote as a Democrat, (and the Vegas shooter had no known political affiliation) …  Democrats have decided that Republicans are the true culprits.
 
This is apparently how 2016 is going to go. If a boy tells you he’s a girl, then he’s a girl. If an Islamic terrorist who pledges allegiance to ISIS tells you he’s killing for Allah, then he’s probably a Republican with a lifetime NRA membership. After all, Islamic terrorists don’t kill people; peaceful, law-abiding citizens who believe the Second Amendment means what it says kill people. And lone wolf, demon possessed murderers who kill themselves when they suddenly understand the horror of their own actions are obviously right wing nut jobs – BAN GUUUUNSSSSSS!!!!!
 
Collective leftist denial about the existential, radical Islamic threat facing America is not going to prevent Islamic terrorism. Gun bans that ban guns based on nothing more than scary-looking cosmetic features are not going to prevent radical Jihadis from murdering innocent people. Pretending that Republicans and the NRA are the real villains is not going to prevent ISIS from killing more Americans. Ignoring the fact that these attacks seem to only happen in gun-free zones won’t prevent violent psychopaths from waltzing into those gun-free zones and gunning down the unarmed civilians who congregate there.
 
But all those things will make progressives feel better about themselves, and who are you to deny them that right?
*****
quote-we-don-t-let-them-have-ideas-why-would-we-let-them-have-guns-joseph-stalin-28-6-0671

We don`t let them have ideas, why would we let them have guns

But not one item of fact will have any affect on the decisions made and directions pursued by the Progressive Poltroons making political hay or the media talking heads babbling on and on calling for gun bans.

Because they are most afraid of guns – in the hands 0f their own citizens! The Poltroons are most afraid of we the people … that would be … US!  Their own law-abiding citizens are their worst nightmare. What’s next?  Banning Assault Boots?

Quoting from the above article: “Are you ready for a mind-blowing statistic? In 2014, you were six times more likely to be murdered with a knife than you were with a rifle. Knives were the weapon of choice in 1,567 murders in 2014, according to the FBI. AAAAAGH!!! BAN KNIVES! (AND WHILE WE ARE AT IT LETS INCLUDE FORKS AS WELL, THEY LOOK KIND OF DANGEROUS WITH ALL THOSE POINTY PARTS!)

Assault Boots (aka Black Combat Boots)

Assault Boots (aka Black Combat Boots)

It gets crazier. You were also nearly three times more likely to be killed by someone’s fists or feet than you were to be murdered with a rifle. In 2014, 660 people were murdered with what the FBI calls “personal weapons”–hands, fists, feet–compared to 248 with rifles.” Gee Wiz! Assault Boots are black, with heavy cleats, and laces, and are provably three times more dangerous than Assault Rifles! Who KNEW! AAAAAAGH!!! BAN ASSAULT BOOOOOTS!!!!!!

Cheers
Joe
Lichtenstein-CastleFrom where I sit, logic and facts have no place in the progressive narrative. I sometimes wonder if this cognitive dissonance I am experiencing, this pervasive unease, is how the regular folks in the Roman Empire felt around 475 A.D. just before Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, the first Barbarian to rule in Rome, and who ushered in those mythical Dark Ages our modern sophisticates so enjoy mocking.
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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Counsel and Mercy … listening and acting …

“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)

Everything mentioned in my previous post may well be provably “true” but the focus of the post is not on “facts”, and “truth”, but rather on my personal “agenda”, my own “truth” so to speak, and my observations of my own conduct in what I am saying about “others”.

I am poking at the frailty of the faceless undefined “class” of persons who are “dealing” with the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, intentionally avoiding responsibility and commitment.

I am observing how I react to this perception and the offense I take at the actions of “others”. My reaction to the perceptions seems to be a wellspring of unhappiness which I choose to drink at.

Roaring Hairy EGO!

Roaring Hairy EGO!

“Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. And well, wouldn’t you know it, the great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again. I find nothing considerate, merciful or charitable in judging perceived actions of “the others”.

Isn’t it really more reasonable, and merciful, to assume a level of misery on the part of the “others” that may be even greater than my own in my observations and feeling of desperate helplessness, Oh Lord, the problems are so BIG and my ability is so small.

I used to have a default position with respect to the goings on around me to the effect that “one should never assume malice on the part of actors when simple stupidity and incompetence  will account for what is going on“. Another iteration of these sentiments is any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice“.

Better Get My fire Suit Ready ...

Better Get My Fire Suit Ready …

So my almost daily experience ofActive Stupid” on the part of many managers and directors in government service (outside my 8 years in the military but including my 15 years in “Social Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”) informed my acid view of all bureaucracies everywhere and my uncharitable opinions about the incumbents of these civilian food chains.

Even these “charitable” defaults of giving the actors “the benefit of the doubt” about motives fail the sniff test for Charity and Mercy. Every event may be a “fact” but reality on the ground indicates that if God judges me the same way I have been judging others for years, then I am truly screwed and I better get my fire suit ready.

Isn’t it truly more reasonable to assume a level of misery which blinds the “others” to everything except their very own ocean-like puddle of misery. Charity, charity, charity, compassion, compassion, compassion, mercy, mercy, mercy. What am I blinded to, and by what?

So, once again, regard the position of modern man, Progressive man, secular man, and consider the spiritual life of that subject man. In looking at myself as an example of the subject man, I am like a child, walking a dark path without help or guidance, and finding myself at a fork in the road, I find I cannot proceed alone.

While I have a few clues about which road leads to home I fail at every turn to act upon those clues. Two roads lie before me, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.

On the one hand, we have the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit. I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements.

How is one to deal with the kingdom of the flesh and all its passions and attractions and appetites? A couple of things come up, the first being listening to God’s voice … Huh? what does that mean … I never “hear” God’s voice.

The world I live in is so noisy with all the various temptations of the secular yelling their mating calls at the tops of their various voices. I am distracted and deafened by the voices of creatures and filled up with the noises of the world and the answering noises of my own appetites.

The voice of the Holy Spirit is the “whistling of a gentle air” (I Kings 19, 12). To hear this voice we must be silent, silent exteriorly and silent interiorly, only in silence can the the voice of God be heard. Second, I am attached to my own judgement and the limited councils of my own wonderful mind. Even a little attachment  to my own ideas is sufficient to deafen me to the voice of the Father.

Attachment to my own opinions seems to be never good, even when the opinions are about good things. These attachments to my own opinions and views seem to be rooted in my self love, and as I have remarked before, if I am full of myself there is no room for God, and I think I am unlikely to hear his gentle voice if I have shut him out of a soul which is full of myself.

Like a sailing vessel which cannot be moved by the wind as long as it is moored, so my soul cannot enjoy the precious influence of the voice of God if it is “moored” to it’s own opinions. Trying to practice awareness of the presence of God, and trying to stay recollected minute by minute, hour by hour, so easy to say, so hard to do, overcoming the noisy habits of a lifetime. Listening to the “whistling of a gentle air“.

Speak then, O Lord, for Thy servant heareth; Thou hast the words of eternal life. Speak to me, that it may be for me some comfort to my soul, and for the amendment of my whole life, and also to Thy praise and glory, and everlasting honor” (Saint John of The Cross Imit III 2, 1-3)

Anyway, more thinking … more praying … listening

Cheers

Joe

Shikamaru’s expression “What a drag.” was “めんどくさい (mendokusai)” in the original Japanese Naruto manga and anime, which translates as – “troublesome” or “bothersome”.

This is a very common phrase to use when you don’t want to do something. I find behaving myself with charity and mercy and listening to the voice of God to be troublesome and bothersome. Not easy to put into practice.

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Two Kingdoms … A Tale Of …

“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)

Hong Yi

Hong Yi (23 October 1880 – 13 October 1942; Chinese: 弘一; pinyin: Hóngyī), born Li Shutong (李叔同) was a Chinese Buddhist monk, artist and art teacher.

My last thought, in my last post was “Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …” accompanying the above image by Hong Yi. I think the image is intended as “the Buddha sitting under the tree rather than as a self portrait – the source site is unclear.

My prayer would be something like “O Lord, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.”

A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014,

A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014, depicting an ongoing blizzard across portions of the Ohio River Valley and the Northeast United States as cold air from Canada moves across warm air from the Gulf of Mexico

I purged over 4 thousand emails yesterday from assorted accounts. Found an item from my pre-blog era when I was busy annoying email contacts with long rambling emails about what was wrong with the world IMAO. Can’t hear myself think over the barking of my EGO.

So out of my personal Way-Back machine from the dark winter of 2014, back before I started my ranting in this blog … this monster rises from the slab of my Atelier …

A writer of great talent and no small amount of clarity regarding our daily grind and happily, at last call, still amongst the living, at least we are happy he is still around even though his mileage may vary, finding as he does that the Hoi Polloi for the most part do not share his sensibilities with respect to eternity. It sometimes seems to us that the Progressive idea of eternity is how long it seems between coffee breaks. But that for another day.

Anyway, he once remarked on ways to lose readers … mention church (and hell) … mention the poor … criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy. And in a “Me Too!” sort of way I leapt on board his wagon.

The Church Militant ...

The Church Militant …

On the topic of Church:

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in his Erasmus Lecture for 2014:
If we ignore the poor, we will go to Hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to Hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to Hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is the surest way to dig a chasm of heartlessness between ourselves and God, and ourselves and our neighbours.”

Or the poor:

This is so true that, it would seem, the opposite is also true. This is Christ’s dismissive reply to some liberal posturing from Judas, when He said, “the poor you will always have with you, but me you will not always have.”  suggesting that if we ignore God, we will go to Hell.”

Or criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy:

Ambassadors

Ambassadors of … a Big Red Shiny …

“Our progressive society has programmized fraternal charity in a desperate ongoing attempt to sanitize and manage reality out of existence and has created the perfect system to facilitate ignoring our neighbours.

Enter the The Nanny State, queue marching bands … Big Red Shiny Maple Leaves Forever … long may they wave from Sea to Shining Sea … over the home of the brave and the land of the free lunch, in which daily we willingly participate, and which State provides us with a wonderful opportunity to ignore the poor, in our spare time while we are ignoring God full time.

The Pool of Worship ...

The Pool of Worship …

After all, there’s not much time or room left for God when every waking moment of consciousness is totally focused on self worship. Said State even gives cover and plausibility deniability for the murder of any fellow inconvenient souls in the name of dignity and health care, at least until our turn comes … It allows every enfranchised taxpaying citizen to declare glibly, “I gave at the office.”

Meanwhile, the bureaucracy itself ignores the poor, reducing them to an economic transaction, within an administrative routine, whose heartlessness must be experienced, to be believed.

So what’s the point here?  Who’s the target here? What are the goals which lead to the perpetuation of these heartless situations? What are the Brass Rings of goal, desires, and rewards of this life, this road, this set of choices for a secular self centered society?

REALITY CHECK FOR PROGRESSIVES: Not too many years ago I spent 18 months pushing the bureaucratic system strings to get a 50-something year old handicapped man enrolled into a program to assist the handicapped for which he had been manifestly qualified as a candidate for almost 50 years.

running Rachel ...

running Rachel …

Nobody cared enough to ever do anything about him. Because nobody cared, nobody helped, everybody thought somebody was looking after the poor handicapped nobody.

Then I got involved!  WTF! Why has nobody ever done anything for this somebody? And even with myself, a motivated, talented highly vocal, champion working hard on his case, phoning and following up and visiting face to face, and – well you get my drift –  it took a whole bloody year and a half to get get him enrolled in the program.

The government agency and program which existed solely to help people like this man was mired in requirements and vacant positions and proofs and every conceivable bureaucratic obstacle to prevent people from qualifying instead of helping them to qualify.

Truly, Truly, Heartless. The real goal of the managers and directors charged with overseeing these programs is to PREVENT candidates from qualifying because then you can preserve your budget for doing the things the management bureaucrats think are important. Actually Helping Candidates?  Where’s the fun in that?

I’ve was told many times, over the years, by those infinitely my superiors, while working in Social “Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”, that the situation merely has to be properly “managed”. Heartless, the putative target of my self-righteous anger and judgement is the uncaring self centered bureaucrat and his/her self centered goals and objectives. But didn’t someone famous recently say “Who am I to judge”?

“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)

Lots of going to hell and pissing in other people’s soup in the above topics, BUT, IMAO, the ultimate fart in the elevator show stopper is to mention Man’s (or even worse – Woman’s) frailty, especially in a spiritual context:

Frailty  from an old site called “Liturgy that Works” even thought some of the links therein seem to no longer work as they originally might have.

Let us pray (in silence) [that we and the whole church may be kept by God’s love]

pause

“God of grace and goodness,
you know that by reason of our frailty we cannot but fail;
keep us always under your protection
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.”

New Zealand Prayer Book p. 571b

Glenstal Abbey House

Glenstal Abbey House

The old monk was asked, “So what do the monks do here in this monastery?” To this he replied, “We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up.” It is a story just as applicable to ordinary Christian life. Another version has it ending with variations of “…one day we fall and we get up in heaven.”

For you Latin Scholars, this Gelasian Collect for Trinity 15 in the Sarum Missal (11th century) read, “Custodi, Domine, quaesumus, ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas, tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxis et ad salutaria dirigatur.”

Cranmer translated this for 1549 (Epiphany 5) as:
KEPE we beseche thee, O Lorde, thy Churche with thy perpetuall mercye: and because the frailtie of man without thee, cannot but fall: Kepe us ever by thy helpe, and leade us to al thynges profitable to our salvacion; through Jesus Christe our Lorde. Amen.

An Irish Abbey ...

An Irish Abbey …

The 1662 revisers restored “for all things hurtful” (lost again in the collect at the top):
KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

International readers of this page may echo my surprise: I cannot find this collect revised in any Anglican prayer books except New Zealand’s! Do let me know if your province’s revised prayer book has it. Just when the church needs all the prayer it can get – as well as acknowledgment of our frailty!

Roman Catholics have this collect tucked away for Tuesday in the second week of Lent, where ICEL has it translated as:
Lord watch over your Church and guide it with Your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us. Help us always, for without You we are bound to fail. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

The great roaring hairy legged EGO

The great roaring hairy EGO devouring all …

Our frailty, never more immediately obvious than in my own comments here, designed to provoke those who may not share my own views of reality and eternity. How does what I have said above conform to what I wrote on September 23rd, Saturday last.

Everything mentioned may be provably true but the focus is on the frailty of the undefined persons embracing the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, “Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. The great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again.

So behold the position of man, with respect to the spiritual life, like  a young childe who, finding himself at a fork in the road, cannot proceed alone and knows not which road leads to his home. Two roads lie before him, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.

Which to choose, the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit? I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements, “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would.” (Gal 5, 16-24)

Oliver Ridge, 2016

Oliver Ridge, 2016

So just where WAS I going with this?  Oh yeah!  Two Kingdoms, two paths, two realities, two universes, one centered on self and spiritual stagnation and the other centered on God and spiritual growth, and the choosing, Ah yes, the choosing … seems obvious when regarded at leisure, in calm thought, seems obvious, the path of Peace is rooted in humility, the path of Mammon is rooted in pride.

Pride in seeking the first place, at table, at meetings, the first place spiritually, the esteem of others, the regard of others, our self love always tries to make us take a higher place than that which is due us.

There is great harm and great evil in wishing to elevate ourselves above what we are and in preferring ourselves. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

Last Days Of Summer, 2016

Last Days Of Summer, 2016

If we have trouble translating these ideas into real life then perhaps a tangible media example of this idea works for us, as portrayed in the film “Last Days Of Summer” which won a gaggle of prizes and critical recognition in late 2016. This Festival Circuit darling, produced by British born OLIVER RIDGE, appeared at the Whistler Film Festival.

Having taken the grand prize for best feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the acclaimed drama starring WILLIAM FICHTNER competed at the prestigious Canadian event.

And our point is: “The film tells the story of a suburban husband whose quiet life is turned upside down when he becomes obsessed with the beautiful young woman who moves in next door”. Obsessed with the things of this world, earthly affections, sensual pleasures, all the golden rings of our material society.

The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)

In the face of all that life has to offer, honors, satisfaction, affection of creatures, comforts and riches, the path of peace offers humility, to desire nothing more than what one has, even to give up what one has, not to be eager for riches and pleasures, consolations and fame, or any earthly affections and sensual pleasures. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

Son rise …

The things of this world, the golden rings of our material society, do not occupy our soul nor cause it harm. The things of this world are neutral with regards to man.

But out of the will and desires of man spring all the evils and joylessness which plague our lives. When we remain attached to our own will and ideas, or remain too fond of our independence, we are “rich in ourselves”, in our self love and pride.

It seems to me that if we seek the affections and approval of creatures and the joys and satisfactions which they can give us, we find only increasing hunger for more.

We find unhappiness with what we actually get, and instead of satiation we get misery with what we find. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.

DP130155, 2/7/06, 11:18 AM, 16C, 6856x8852 (180+693), 100%, Rona Copywork, 1/30 s, R93.8, G57.6, B56.4<br /> Working Title/Artist: The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji)Department: Asian ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: 10Working Date: 1831-33<br /> photography by mma, Digital File DP130155.tif<br /> retouched by film and media (jnc) 8_17_11

Choose Wisely, lest we be overwhelmed … (The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji))

We choose … so choose wisely … so far I am trying to choose NOT to be critical of the choices of others, at least not vocally.

I am choosing NOT to preach about how I think things should be done (and why).

I am choosing not to express my annoyance when things are not going my way.

I am choosing, so far with mixed results, but lots of opportunities to try again keep showing up so I will keep on trying.

And praying … “O Lord, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.”

Cheers

Joe

This Purgatorial struggle to choose the right path, to choose to put away self and make room in my soul …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Humility … revisited.

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Been writing about all the NO JOY places in my life, my personal raised bed garden of negativity and resentment. So, where to go from here?  Presumably to a better place, I hope, a place more accepting of my own failings and the differences of opinion and point of view encountered every day. A place where the resolutions I have made about change and dealing with my failings actually get realized in my daily life and not just muttered about when I am talking to myself, by myself.

How about trying to spend more time contemplating my own faults and less time opinionating (is that even a word?) about the faults of others. So what to do about the EGO thing, namely MY ego. No fragile shy retiring flower is THAT ego, just one forged titanium armor plated battle bot, which believes that the best defense is a good offense.

I love my opinions, and I enjoy having them, and I enjoy writing about them in this blog. After all, that’s why I started writing so many posts ago, to get this stuff off my chest and this is all about me, right?  Isn’t it?  You mean it’s not all about me?  (8-(

My opinions are big brain opinions, and require serious judgement, and thinking about what the judgements point to. And where’s the fun in opinions that are flawed and imperfect, no, I’m aiming for “practically perfect in every way”, I want Poppins Opinions! 

Oh, anyone at all can have lots of opinions, even without any thought at all, but where’s the fun in that? I hear all about that in the media every day whenever I bother to turn on the news. Anyone can do that, anytime at all. No, what I want are opinions with real weight and credibility, and these sorts of opinions require some amount of critical thought in order to at least determine if they pass the sniff test, and that is what I’m trying to achieve, right?

If I hope to achieve “respected” opinions, I have to give some consideration of the likelihood of this opinion balloon getting a lift, if this particular batch of hot air has more lift than the surrounding hot air.

No point in judging and articulating exactly what is irritating and frustrating in others, in what they say, in what they do, in making wild ass guesses about motives and intentions if I can’t prove logically and in detail why I’m right about them being ass-hats.

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Hairy Roaring EGO!

Great big hairy legged EGO roaring it’s superiority for the whole world to applaud. This is the driving desire underlying the whole opinion thing, and there is truly “No happiness here for Joe” … DAMN!

Seriously, I just have to chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, gotta chuck all these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy HERE! My life depends on this.

Examining my conscience, thinking and listening, and trying to find what is wrong with me and not confirming it by expounding at length on what is wrong with others.

Thinking about anger and humility, thinking about meekness, cultivating detachment from the perceived “rightness” of my own opinion and the turmoil generated by defending that “rightness”. If I was not so attached to my superior position and the need for validation I would feel less anger and resentment (maybe none at all?) when not accorded the adulation I feel I deserve.

Meekness, Humility, aye, there’s the rub … sincerity … being completely honest with oneself about oneself …

So, being completely honest with oneself seems to be rather painful, admitting to myself that in fact I am not “practically perfect in every way” hurts. What to do about this?

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

I am thinking that I have to keep on doing this until it doesn’t hurt anymore. Or, at least keep on doing this until I can simply accept what is and accept the hurt … to paraphrase Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear:

I must not fear the hurt.

Fear of the hurt is the mind-killer.
Fear of the hurt is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear of the hurt.
I will permit my fear of the hurt to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear of the hurt has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

Reference the novel “DUNE” 1965  which I thought was a great book back in the early 70’s, along with Atlas Shrugged,  “The Virtue of Selfishness“, by Ayn Rand,   Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig  and  An Introduction to Zen Budhism by D.T. Suzuki.

Kumo ga Ngareru  Gogo”, Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

Ah, those were the days … back when I was all knowing and immortal and certain that Man was the pinnacle of all things. Back then I hadn’t yet discovered that “man as the pinnacle” had all kinds of unhappiness attached to it.

But, back to “Only I will remain” … here I come upon a whole new world of effort, because if only “I” remain then where is the room for God? All these problems of judgement and arrogance and resentment and pride start with the foundational problem of “Only I Remain”. God cannot come to us if we are full of ourselves, if I am full of myself God has nowhere to sit in my soul. God is polite and loving and will not force Himself onto a “self” centered soul.

I can’t be God centered if I am self centered. And developing a “self” that is not “self-centered” involves chucking out all the “No Joy” opinions and behaviors of the past. Even the idea of a “Self” which is not “Self-centered” is kind of an oxymoron, right? It’s sort of like that stupid old joke favored by the Lefties about “Military Intelligence”.

Steering a course away from the shoals of “Self-centered” means adapting myself to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others and doing the right thing with good will. Yeah …  doing the right thing with good will … a whole world of struggle and discipline in that little task.

If I give myself a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” whoever, is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … then I have already run aground on the reef of my ego.

The excuses I use to heal my self image and justify my bad behaviour are endless. And they are all completely useless in the quest to steer away from being self-centered. The fact is that if I am full of myself God has no room to come into my soul. The fact is that in everything … in essence and in act … in natural and supernatural … I depend on Him and I can do nothing without Him.

I continue to exist, even in my self-centeredness, because He wills that I exist. Divine Charity …

More thinking about humility and meekness … and charity … more thinking …

So far what this is all about is the Wimbledon of Pride, the endless back and forth of pride and the offshoot of pride, anger, and the endless search for approval so necessary to self. So lets see what Father Gabriel has to say about humility.

Charity is the essence of Christian perfection, for charity alone has the power to unite man to God, to his last end. But for us poor, miserable creatures, whom God wishes to raise to union with Himself, is charity the ultimate basis of spiritual life? No. There is something deeper still which is, so to speak, the basis of charity, and that is humility.

Humility is to charity what the foundation is to a building. Digging the foundation is not building the house, yet it is the preliminary, indispensable work, the condition sine qua non. The deeper, and firmer it is, the better the house will be and the greater assurance of stability it will have. Only the fool “built his house upon sand,” with the inevitable consequence of seeing it crumble away very soon. The wise man, on the contrary, “built … upon rock”; storms and winds might threaten, but his house was unshakable because its foundation was solid.

Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the edifice of his spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations,” says St. Teresa of Jesus to her daughters, “each of you must try to be the least of all” That is, you must practice humility. “If you do that … your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall”.  Humility forms the foundation of charity by emptying the soul of pride, arrogance, disordered love of self and one’s own excellence by replacing them with the love of God and our neighbor.

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual man] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God.”  (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.  from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 301 – 302)

Cheers

Joe

Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Can We Find True Happiness … or is happiness JUST a problem?

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

Rise Up, by Lesley Oldaker

“Rise Up”, by Lesley Oldaker

I have been writing lately about aspects of life which I have come to believe are probably both obstacles and paths to happiness.

In this case, the obstacles are our failures to perceive and act, on and in reality, and our inclination to indulge in self-harming behavior and magical thinking. These are our failures to be “sincere” about ourselves to ourselves.

The obstacles are those behaviors or thoughts which impede our efforts to “see the truth” about ourselves and so prevent us from ever fixing the nasty or even evil aspects of our lives and our behaviors. We have to “Rise Up” from the dark mob and struggle with our demons and overcome them.

Stephen Covey, 2010

Stephen Covey, 2010

The paths are those parts of life where we “get it right” … those parts are, in the words of Stephen Covey,  where we tailor our circle of concern to match our circle of influence, and then we put all our energy and effort into realizing those dreams and desires which fit into our circle of influence.

The paths are the behaviors and thoughts and processes by which we slowly amend the obstacles and discard them from our lives. The paths are painful, and winding and torturous and take perseverance and fortitude to keep walking.

Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo

Another author, Marie Kondo,  a young woman who specializes in de-cluttering our lives, in fact owns and operates a company delivering service, instruction and advice on de-cluttering and the healing power of tidying up. Her razor for deciding what has to go is “Does It Spark Joy?”

There is a lot of writing around about how happiness and the expectations of same are the foundational groundwork for the pursuit of the “good” life, the pursuit of “Livin’ the Dream” the prime motivator for the successful life.

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” seem to pretty much define most of Western Culture and Western Society these days. On closer observation one might profit greatly from using Marie’s razor for shaving the legs of our ego’s and desires.

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

Answering “Does It Spark Joy?” with honesty and sincerity about everything we think and do is a huge service in attempting to follow Mark Manson‘s advice about not “Giving a F—” about far too many things we should not really be “Giving a F—“ about .

For example, does this mental image spark joy? “An alternate societal path to a sort of quasi-success seems to be that if we are not engaged in the actual pursuit of these goals ourselves (for whatever reason suits us at this moment) then we adopt a kind of semi-permanent career victim-hood through which we blame others for our failures in our personal “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Not very charitable …

If in fact this thought sparks something less than joy, if it’s just an old habit of thought, unconsidered and reflexive, if it’s useless, harmful, why OH why not just throw it  in the dumpster of useless emotions which don’t help me live in peace and happiness?

Al Pacino, "Devil's Advocate", 1997

Al Pacino, “Devil’s Advocate”, 1997

Does this thought spark JOY: “And in that place of failure we attempt to virtue signal and guilt trip others who are perceived to be more happy or more successful into providing for our happiness or at least compensating for our shortcomings by sharing our unhappiness.” No Joy?

Again, why not just throw it in that dumpster of useless emotions? Why indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them?

How about this follow on from the above thoughts?  Does this thought spark JOY: “And if that doesn’t work, then we engage the government in providing for our happiness, in validating our victim-hood and ensuring that our fair rights and expectations are met by other actors however willing they may be. We call that whole industry “Social Programs”. No Joy?

Again,  yet again, why not just throw it in my dumpster of useless emotions?

November 2016

November 2016

Why do I indulge in joyless thoughts and the behaviors and bitterness resulting from thinking them? How about this thought: “At the lowest level we don’t believe we can be happy on our own steam so we just vote Socialist because it appeals to the “victimy” self-pitying part of us and we feel that a bigger gang will get us better results, and the successful folks don’t deserve what they have anyway. Definitely No Joy here …

NO JOY used to refer to some task or trial or exercise engaged in by some squad or group which exercise was ending in failure and frustration, as in: “DID YOU FIND THE FUEL LEAK YET? Negative Chief, No Joy”. Of course when the result is “NO JOY”, then we are expected to try harder to fix what is stopping the joy, right?

Or finally, this thought: “In Canada we call these gang lovin’ folks NDP’rs and Liberals, and in the U.S. we call these same folks Democrats. and that pretty much sums it all up except for the small detail that our Canadian Conservatives are actually more Socialist than any American Democrat on his wildest “share-the-wealth” day“. NO JOY!

No happiness here for Joe … gotta chuck all these NO JOY modes of thinking, these judgemental habits, the resentment of opinions and actions which differ from mine … No Joy.

But is unhappiness the only natural outcome, and is the only answer to simply accept that and get on with our lives, coping as best we can with chronic unhappiness and telling everyone to “suck it up princess”?

Look into the mirror and “turn your eyes back upon yourself, and see that you do not judge the doings and sayings of others. In judging others you expend effort for nothing, often are mistaken, and easily offend. But in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.

We often judge things, actions and speech according to our own biases and beliefs, our heart’s preferences and desires. In this we very easily loose site of true vision and judgement due to private affections and personal preferences.” Thomas à Kempis

Does it spark joy?

Cheers

Joe

Does It Spark Joy? Suck it up Princess? On the other hand “in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Meekness, Sincerity and Happiness … What’s the Connection?

” ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

What’s the connection between sincerity and happiness, or meekness and happiness?

About twenty-five hundred years ago, in the Himalayan foothills of present-day Nepal, there lived in a great palace a king who was going to have a son. For this son the king had a particularly grand idea: he would make the child’s life perfect. The child would never know a moment of suffering—every need, every desire, would be accounted for at all times.” Mark Manson.

About thirty years ago I would have described my first wife and I (which wife, BTW, I am still happily married to after 40 years) as WTDINKS (World Traveling Double Income No Kids). This supposedly was the apex of existence in the circles in which we circulated. We were “Livin’ the dream”.

Air Nepal Boeing 737

Air Nepal Boeing 737

We flew in from Hong Kong and spent some weeks in Nepal in the late 80’s before flying on to spend several weeks in Thailand. We landed in Kathmandu (काठमाडौं/काठमाण्डौ (Nepali) in the middle of the night, flying in an Air Nepal Boeing 737.

I remember the approach was … frightening … not rough. Everything appeared to be working right, cabin lights dimmed, power down, some flaps dialed in, wheels down and locked with a bit of rumble and turbulence now, cabin air smelled different, but descending peacefully.

The sudden sharp bank followed by full flap deployment and the powerfully increased whine of the turbines increasing thrust …HEY! What the heck are we doing on finale in utter complete darkness, not a light in view anywhere, … we are coming down in the Himalaya Mountain range (हिमालय, “Abode of Snow”).

These suckers are like …  23,000 feet high, impossible to miss ya know! Maybe too much knowledge and a vivid imagination are not helpful during these sort of experiences … maybe …

Langtang Range, Nepal

We are supposed to be flying into a large city of over a million people and not a single damned light anywhere!!! Is this the feeling you get just before you smack into a mountain side at 150 knots??? One line below the fold “Nepal Air Boeing crashes in Himalaya, no survivors”!

Airport and Himalaya, Nepal

Then suddenly, in seconds, runway lights, touchdown on tarmac, reverse thrust full power, brakes, and a short taxi to a dimly lit terminal building.

RELIEF! Things one remembers being grateful for even before finding God. I didn’t notice Him, but he was there all the time. Thank You God for looking after me even when I was ignoring You.

“早春賦”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

So what about the Prince … well Dad was the King and very rich and could do whatever he wanted so he pretty much completely spoiled the Prince, lavishing him with food and gifts, surrounding him with servants who catered to his every whim. And just as planned, the child grew up ignorant of the routine cruelties of normal human existence.

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

All of the prince’s childhood went on like this. But despite the endless luxury and opulence, the prince became kind of a pissed-off young man. Soon, every experience felt empty and valueless.”

So, being a young man, and being rebellious, not meek, not humble, are any young men meek or humble? – I don’t remember that part, hmmm … ,

“… late one night, the prince snuck out of the palace to see what was beyond its walls. He had a servant drive him through the local village, and what he saw horrified him.

For the first time in his life, the Prince saw human suffering. He saw sick people, old people, homeless people, people in pain, even people dying. The Prince returned to the palace and found himself in a sort of existential crisis. Not knowing how to process what he’d seen, he got all emo about everything and complained a lot. And, as is so typical of young men, the Prince ended up blaming his father for the very things his father had tried to do for him.

It was the riches, the prince thought, that had made him so miserable, that had made life seem so meaningless. He decided to run away. But the prince was more like his father than he knew. He had grand ideas too. He wouldn’t just run away; he would give up his royalty, his family, and all of his possessions and live in the streets, sleeping in dirt like an animal. There he would starve himself, torture himself, and beg for scraps of food from strangers for the rest of his life.” Manson, Mark.

Lockheed Electra l-188A

Lockheed Electra l-188A

The Prince wanted to suffer, and He would suffer … a lot … and there is a point to this. Really, there is a point.

We “deplaned” – I remember one time a taciturn pilot coming on the cabin speaker, after a particularly violent landing somewhere in the Canadian Arctic, traveling in an old Lockheed Electra L-188A 4 engine turboprop and announcing “Survivors may deplane”. Nothing else, no welcome, no weather, no cheery cheery cheery …

Kathmandu Tuk-Tuk

Kathmandu Tuk-Tuk

Anyway, we deplaned, and paid a little brown man in some sort of uniform $10 U.S. to stamp our passport, skipping the loooooong lineup of people with visas and walked out into the cool Nepalese night.

Traveling in Asia with no visas, no itinerary, no schedule and no reservations is an adventure in living not talked about in any guidebooks. Flagged a Tuk-Tuk and rode to the Kathmandu Guesthouse in 5 horsepower luxury. Modern tourist sites describe this old old old hotel in the heart of the Thamel neighbourhood thusly:

*****

Kathmandu, Nepal

Travelers know that the frenetic pace of a crowded city like Kathmandu needs an escape. The Kathmandu Guest House, a converted Rana dynasty mansion with fragrant gardens and airy corridors, has provided the peaceful refuge of choice since 1967.

Since the days of being the first and only hotel in Thamel, the packed tourist district of Kathmandu, it’s become something of an institution. It’s close to everywhere and its gate is the meeting point that nobody can mistake. As a guidebook put it, “Kathmandu Guest House acts as a magnet for mountaineers, pop stars, actors and eccentric characters.” Even the Beatles stayed here in 1968.

Kathmandu Guest House prides itself on being affordable to all budgets, from those looking to treat themselves to total comfort in elegantly modern suites, to volunteers and scholars who take the famous no-frills rooms.

Whether you’re returning from the mountains or arriving from the airport, come and relax at the courtyard restaurant, order a cup of fine Italian coffee or a chilled Gorkha Beer, and escape for a moment in the historic surroundings of Kathmandu’s most loved guesthouse.”

*****

Looking at today’s online images of the Kathmandu Guesthouse low end rooms, basically 10 by 12 with bath but no AC, I am immediately impressed by the apparent luxury of the finish and appointments, must have been some incredible renovations since the late 80’s.

All I remember is damp bare cement and tile and surgical tubing for plumbing, and surface mount handyman special electrical wiring, and an old “Geezer” water heater in the loo which exploded one night while we were sleeping there … things are certainly looking up in Nepal, at least in the tourist adverts.

By Leofleck at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3686630

Elephant back safari, Chitwan, by Leo Fleck at English Wikipedia

And so the next day we began to circulate in Kathmandu and over the next few weeks we explored further into the valley and the south of Nepal and everywhere we went what struck me was the extreme poverty of most of the inhabitants of the mountain kingdom, and the joyousness of the population in general.

Basking Mugger Croc, Chitwan, Chris Hartford from London, UK

Basking Mugger Croc, Chitwan, Chris Hartford from London, UK

Poverty and suffering everywhere, and Sincere Joy everywhere … openness, honesty, friendliness, trust, in a city of over a million souls, without streetlights, or all the fancy modern amenities which we all take for granted here, I found a centre of unexpected Joy and Peace and peacefulness. And what set this place apart was the people who showed sincerity, meekness, and happiness.

I found a place in this primitive Asian capital in 1989, where I felt safer, in the midst of poverty and suffering, at any hour of the day or night, in darkness or in sunlight, than I had felt anywhere else I had traveled up to then. I think at the root of it all, looking back with an understanding I didn’t have then, that what made this place special in the whole world of my experience was “SincerityandMeekness” and “Happiness“.

Sincerity and meekness, and acceptance of people and existence as it really was, generated a sense of profound Joy and Peace – in a word, “Happiness”. I think my Kathmandu experience was the first ray of light shining on my realization that happiness was not something one pursued and found but rather was a result of approaching life with meekness and sincerity.

Shakuhachi Flute Music”, from the album “Chinese & Japanese Koto Harp & Shakuhachi Flute Music”, {2008)

I couldn’t have explained this feeling, this understanding, at that time because I lacked the spiritual and cultural tools to understand. Mark Manson touched upon this insight when he wrote:

Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live.” Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 166-170). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

So what about that Prince from Mark’s story? Well … “The next night, the prince snuck out of the palace again, this time never to return. For years he lived as a bum, a discarded and forgotten remnant of society, the dog shit caked to the bottom of the social totem pole. And as planned, the prince suffered greatly.

He suffered through disease, hunger, pain, loneliness, and decay. He confronted the brink of death itself, often limited to eating a single nut each day. A few years went by. Then a few more. And then . . . nothing happened.

The prince began to notice that this life of suffering wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. It wasn’t bringing him the insight he had desired. It wasn’t revealing any deeper mystery of the world or its ultimate purpose.

In fact, the prince came to know what the rest of us have always kind of known: that suffering totally sucks. And it’s not necessarily that meaningful either. As with being rich, there is no value in suffering when it’s done without purpose.

And the prince came to the conclusion that his grand idea, like his father’s, was in fact a fucking terrible idea and he should probably go do something else instead. Totally confused, the prince cleaned himself up and went and found a big tree near a river.

He decided that he would sit under that tree and not get up until he came up with another grand idea. As the legend goes, the confused prince sat under that tree for forty-nine days.

We won’t delve into the biological viability of sitting in the same spot for forty-nine days, but let’s just say that in that time the prince came to a number of profound realizations.

One of those realizations was this: that life itself is a form of suffering. The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty. People without a family suffer because they have no family. People with a family suffer because of their family. People who pursue worldly pleasures suffer because of their worldly pleasures. People who abstain from worldly pleasures suffer because of their abstention.

This isn’t to say that all suffering is equal. Some suffering is certainly more painful than other suffering. But we all must suffer nonetheless.”

Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 25-26). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

So, as I have remarked in other places, this thing called “Life” is a fatal STD. Or as an old CPO once remarked to his men, “Shake out of it ladies! Life’s a suicide mission, none of us are coming back alive!” Yea, whatever, I can hear it now as clear as yesterday.

And the punchline of all this is that I now believe that Happiness is indeed a problem, as Mark says, but not because there is anything inherently wrong with happiness, rather because we confuse happiness with something which we can find, like $100 dollar bill that we stuck in our jacket pocket last spring and we are now finding it this fall. Whoohoo!

And happiness isn’t a “something”. Happiness is really a natural byproduct of living our life right, of practicing virtues like sincerity, and meekness, and fortitude and just getting on with the daily trials of normal life with patience and charity and, dare I say, compassion for all the others with whom we are sharing this little lifeboat of suffering in an uncaring perfectly impartial world.

More on Sincerity, and Happiness, and stages of understanding, maybe in my next post or maybe the one after that, gotta think some more.

Cheers

Joe

Kananaskis, right here in Alberta

 

Don’t have to go half way round the world to find world class mountains

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