The Inner Struggle

Riches …

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)

Mater Eucharistiae, the Dominican Sisters of Mary - Mother of the EucharistToday is the 8th Sunday after Pentecost. The Epistle today is Romans 8, 12-17 (old missal). In it St. Paul compares the two lives which always struggle within us, are at war within us. The Old Man and the New Man always struggle to control the man (or woman).

The Old Man, is a slave to passion and pleasure, the things of this world, a slave to self indulgence, a slave to sin, from which come the fruits of death.

The New Man, is the servant of, or even better, the child of God, producing the fruits of life, fighting for the right, without question or pause, willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.

To paraphrase Paul, “If you live according to the Old Man, according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you live by the Spirit, if, by the New Man, you mortify the flesh, you shall live”.

One of my favorite, perhaps my most favorite of authors, Rudyard Kipling touched upon this truth (the battle between the flesh and the spirit) in his poem “If”.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is best known for his novels The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, and Kim, and his most famous poem, “If—”.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India, to a British family. When he was five years old, he was taken to England to begin his education, where he suffered deep feelings of abandonment and confusion after living a pampered lifestyle as a colonial.

He returned to India at the age of seventeen to work as a journalist and editor for the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. Kipling published his first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties and Other Verses, in 1886 and his first collection of stories, Plain Tales from the Hills, in 1888.

In the early 1890s some of his poems were published in William Ernest Henley’s National Observer and later collected into Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), an immensely popular collection which contained “Gunga Din” and “Mandalay.” In 1892 Kipling married and moved to Vermont, where he published the two Jungle Books and began work on Kim.

He returned to England with his family in 1896 and published another novel, Captains Courageous. Kipling visited South Africa during the Boer War, editing a newspaper there and writing the Just-So Stories.

Kim, Kipling’s most successful novel (and his last), appeared in 1901. The Kipling family moved to Sussex permanently in 1902, and he devoted the rest of his life to writing poetry and short stories, including his most famous poem, “If—“. He died on January 18, 1936 at the young age of 70 years; his ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey. Kipling’s complete works are available as an e-book on Kindle for a pittance. The literary production values are poor (not flashy) but the works are original, pure, and beautiful.

“If–“

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling, in A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

“Ladies in Lavender”, Joshua Bell, from the album “the Essential Joshua Bell”, (2005)

If you mortify the deeds of the flesh you will live … Baptism has begotten us to the life of the spirit, but it has not suppressed the life of the flesh in us. The New Man must always struggle against the Old Man, the spiritual must always struggle against the corporeal.

Grace does not excuse us from this battle, but gives us the power to sustain it: “If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

Grace gives us the power to “Hold on”, Grace gives the New Man the power to hold on and continue the struggle against the Old Man when things go in the pot and it looks like all is lost … “If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

Grace …

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;

Grace …

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Grace …

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

Grace…

We must detach ourselves, from earthly things and creatures: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much;” in order to keep all worldly things in their proper priority of place.

God must reign over all. There will always be attachments in the human heart, but they must be subordinate to God and to His will so that they can never usurp His place as the mainspring of our actions. The spiritual life, the life of the New Man, is a love affair with Jesus.

We must be utterly convinced of the need to “Hold on …” so that we will not get self satisfied, or puffed up about our virtue, or perhaps discouraged when old sins come back to haunt us over and over again, even many years after we had thought them dead and gone. “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7,1) and “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence” (Mat 11,12).

But this never ending struggle should not discourage or frighten us. We are children of God and can call upon his paternal help without fear of being ignored or hung out to dry. St. Paul says “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, Father.

This world never tires of selling us that which is not important. None of our daily serving of important worldly news and information matters even one wit or is worth the time to digest it. When we are busy admiring our beautiful front lawn we are missing the exquisite treasures sitting there in plain view for those who can stop worshiping the beautiful lawn.

Sell everything and go for the eternal treasures with every power and ability that is in you. GO FOR IT! We should be putting at least as much effort and work and struggle into acquiring the things of the eternal reality as the children of this world put into acquiring the things of this passing world.

Nothing so darkens our gaze on God, nothing so weakens our striving to reach God, as a single inordinate attachment to anything of this world, a single attachment to the Old Man. That is the great source of all the trouble and trials in our lives.

Cheers

Joe

 Galadriel, “The Lord of the Rings”
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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Meanwhile, On Other Fronts …

Meanwhile, on other fronts …

001-a-bellcay-bahamas-national-parkI hear that  Justin Trudeau and family had a wonderful Christmas/NewYears vacation in company with the Aga Khan at his private island in the Bahamas.

Time to have a coffee and ponder why a posh vacation at the Aga Kahn’s private island, Bellcay,  following Justin’s  “granting” of millions to the Aga Khan Foundation qualifies Justin as an appropriate representative for the “middle class” and “small business” in Canada.

Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is the hereditary spiritual leader and absolute ruler of the world’s 15 (some estimates place the number at 25) million Shia Ismaili Muslims and also happens to be a multimillionaire philanthropist. and his foundation seems to do a lot of good stuff  in hard hit parts of the world. For a lot more information please visit the blog site Ismailimail

These folks are some of the good guys by any measure, regardless of their faith, or perhaps its really because of their faith.  Nizari teachings emphasize human reasoning (Ijtihad, the individual use of one’s reason when using both the Quran and Hadith as resources), pluralism (the acceptance of racial, ethnic, cultural and intra-religious differences) and social justice. Ismailis are often referred to as the Muslim diplomatic and business elite. They started out as traders but now work in banking and real estate and are steadily permeating the law, engineering and medical professions. [2]

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Justin and his wife having a photo op at Mr. Kahn’s summer cottage in 2015

The federal government under Justin Trudeau has contributed millions of taxpayer dollars to the Aga Khan Foundation to help fund its international development projects. Were they better spent in east Asia and Africa than here in Canada? Who knows.

Maybe Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV is trying to teach Justin how be a better leader, how to build up a loyal base of millions of followers so Justin can also become a multimillionaire philanthropist, doing real good in the world?

The Aga Khan’s family have been fully engaged in the real world since at least 1818. They appear to be a hugely successful family in business, as philanthropists  and also in the spiritual dimension, putting into practice the concept of “giving back”.

Justin, on the other hand, as a party leader in the House of Commons, earned a salary of $224,000 in 2015  (an MP’s base salary is $167,400, while a party leader makes an additional $56,800), according to a 2015 list of Parliamentary indemnities, salaries and allowances,  and his net worth is reported to be between 1 and 2 million dollars.

As prime minister, Justin is entitled to $334,800 for this year, not including a $2,000 car allowance. and his speaking fees garnered him more than $450,000 in his highest-earning year. While this is certainly NOT chump change, it also doesn’t begin to compare to the wealth influence  and accomplishments of the Aga Khan and the millions of Shia Ismaili Muslims around the world.  Justin just doesn’t seem to shine as brightly. In the world of the big fish Justin is a minnow and where does that analogy leave the rest of us.

I also wonder if Justin’s values are also acceptable Muslim values? I would bet not.  Justin Trudeau said in a statement issued Dec. 13 on the occasion of the Aga Khan’s 80th birthday. “I am proud to call His Highness both a mentor and friend. He has shown time and time again that no matter our faith, where we were born, what colour is our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this world.

001-a-justin-trudeau-in-a-kiffeya1478026125322That may be true, under certain circumstances (like “if you paid your Jizya”) and maybe if you are a multimillionaire, perhaps.

But, if one is the Imam and Supreme Ruler of 25 million Muslims, and one is no doubt aware of the concept of  al-Taqiyya,  is there any way WE can be sure that Justin understands the possibilities or even that we have any reason to trust that he knows what he is saying and doing.

Do we believe that Justin understands that all the residents of Dar al-Harb, the  “Realm of the Heathens” are most definitely NOT “equal members of this world” as Justin so naively puts it … he seems in this statement to be out of touch with reality.

Even his language in this statement smacks of school yard charm, ignorance and an utter lack of any real understanding of Islam’s 1400 year old war against Dar al-Harb.

Castro and the trudeaus

Fidel, Margaret, and Pierre in better days…

Notwithstanding all of the above, His Highness and recently deceased Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro are and were long time close friends of the Trudeau family. In fact, His Highness and Mr. Castro were pall bearers at Justin’s daddy’s (Mr. Pierre Trudeau’s) funeral.

Let’s also remember that it was under Pierre Trudeau and Paul Martin and Jean Chretien, that the Canadian Government came out of the closet and fully endorsed homosexuality and abortion programs as rights and health care programs. “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” right, Pierre?

Are these the sort of “values” that any righteous Muslim or Imam (or any righteous Christian) would embrace?

001-a-the-state-has-no-placeIt’s a pretty safe bet that Liberals in general and Justin in particular would definitely fall under the heading of “Unbeliever” in the eyes of any Muslim, but especially a Muslim Imam. So the “Unbeliever” makes a “Christmas” vacation visit to the private island of the absolute ruler of one of the larger divisions of Islam. Cognitive Dissonance Anyone?

Anyway, Justin’s most recent visit from the Aga Khan was in May 2016. The most recent grant from the Federal Government to the Foundation was a five-year, $55-million project to improve health services in Afghanistan that was announced in December 2015 under the Trudeau government.

In fact, The Prince Karim Aga Khan IV’s  Foundation has been a significant recipient of Canadian foreign aid (taxpayer’s dollars, eh?), receiving $310 million for 16 projects since 2004.  that’s about 26 million a year on average. Let’s see … $310 million as Jizya … Hmmm …. are Canadians “Dhimmi”?  Not yet, obviously, and is it even possible for a government to pay the taxes for their population? And would this be even close to a reasonable tax rate, being way less than the federal income tax rate. Silly idea, right?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Aga Khan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In May 2015 Justin had a visit from the Aga.Kahn.   Hmmm … May 2015 visit – December 2015 –  55 million dollars of taxpayer money for the Aga Kahn.  May 2016 visit – still looking and digging but I am optimistic that some sort of monetary transaction to some “independent” organization will pop up.  And this is all part of Canada’s foreign aide and development budget, right? Meanwhile, the Federal Government is cutting health care spending to the provinces, perhaps to put pressure on them about joining the Liberal Global Warming program?

The Ottawa-based Aga Khan Foundation, which supports development projects in Africa and Asia, has received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government.  The foundation is a registered government lobbyist and the Canadian Government also provided $30 million of taxpayer’s money for the group’s headquarters in Ottawa. There is nothing out of the ordinary in this, just business as usual in Ottawa.

justin-trudeau11So, now we have a wonderful scene to envision.  Justin was accused in the media of running a Pay-To-Play scheme for folks with a little spare change to buy some face time and present their needs and ideas.  So how much did the Aga Khan pay for his visit, or is he just an old family friend who can drop in anytime and ask for a grant?

001-a-photos-l-r-prime-minister-dr-the-honourable-timothy-harris-prime-minister-the-right-honourable

Boy Justin and some of his chums. From left to right; Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Mark Brantley. (St Kitts and Nevis Observer)

The PMO was initially extremely secretive about the whereabouts of Justin, until the National Post broke the story and then and only then did  the the PMO confirm that Trudeau, his family and a few friends and employees were invited to join the Aga Khan on Bell Island for the holidays. “As you are aware, his Highness and the Prime Minister have been close family friends for many years,” a statement sent to media said, while noting Trudeau would repay the cost of flights to and from Nassau for himself and his family.

However, The flight manifest for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “Christmas”  vacation to the Caribbean, released to the Conservatives through an access to information request, was redacted to leave off the names of family members and a nanny who traveled on the government-owned Challenger jet.  What’s to hide if everything is on the up-n-up?

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Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, is the grandson and was the heir of Mowlana Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah. As the direct descendant and inheritor of the Aga Khan III can we assume that Aga Khan IV believes as his grandfather did?

But let’s get back to Justin’s friend and mentor, the Aga Khan. Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, KBE, CC (Persian: شاه کریم حسینی، آقاخان چهارم‎‎; Aga Khan is also transliterated as Aqa Khan and Agha Khan;[1] born 13 December 1936) is the 49th and current Imam of Nizari Ismailism, a denomination of Isma’ilism within Shia Islam consisting of an estimated 25 million adherents (about 20% of the world’s Shia Muslim population).[2][3][4][5]

The Aga Khan is a British[6] business magnate,[2][7][8][9] racehorse owner and breeder.[7][10] He has held this position of Imam, under the title of Aga Khan IV, since 11 July 1957,[11] when, at the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III

Now, the very private and secretive Prince Karim Aga Khan IV is on record as saying:

*****

it is my deep conviction that a singular step should be taken, a magnificent relationship developed on which so much could be built if the West will cease to look at the Islamic architectural heritage simply as a matter of scholastic interest and admiration. On the contrary, give to it recognition of a different dimension, a dimension of the future. Enhance it, enrich it and enliven it, put at its disposal your talents, your knowledge and your creativity.

I do not wish to imply that the West is solely responsible for what is happening to Islamic environments. I am saying that you could do much more, as you are already doing for your own architectural heritage, to help revive the culture of Islam. Creativity knows no frontiers: it is not of the East nor the West, of the North nor the South, but it sometimes needs awakening, to be set alight, to be shown a purpose. I believe such a time is now.”

*****

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A Koran manuscript is displayed at the University of Birmingham on July 24, 2015 in Birmingham, England. The two leaves of parchment have recently been carbon dated at a laboratory at the University of Oxford and are thought to date back to the early seventh century, close to the time of the Prophet Muhammed.

So Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, as well as being the Imam of 20 million Muslims (? some sources say as many as 25 million which is almost as many as there are Canadians, eh?) , is also “a close family friend” of Boy Justin. I suppose that friendship would include more than a little back-scratching in “reviving the culture of Islam“.

The Aga Khan IV is that person who believes “… there is no one greater than MYSELF. If you think of God, then it is MYSELF. If you think of Pir, Then too it is ME. If you think about Imam, then too it is ME. And your beloved Master is also ME. There is no one except MYSELF“. I can’t see how a faithful Muslim of any status including an Imam could see themselves as God. I just don’t buy it.

But I  (who am not Muslim but rather a Christian) look around the world at all the trouble spots and wars, and violence, and in almost every single instance these “hot spots” and “conflicts” involve Islam. Curious thing that.

Again, I wonder if Pierre, or Justin ever encountered the concept of  al-Taqiyya: deception; the Islamic word for concealing or disguising one’s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies. 

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New Islamic State

True, the Sunnis (ISIS or ISIL) are in a bitter war of extermination against the Shia Muslims.  It was in another time — more than 1,300 years ago — in a land known as the Islamic State that, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, a succession crisis divided Muslims; and the widening schism continues to play out today as ISIS or ISIL carves its bloody notion of a new Islamic State on the same soil these feuds were first fought, lashing out at targets both within the Muslim world and in the West. Again, we see clearly that these folks are serious about their beliefs. The seem quite willing to die for them or because of them.

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Iraqi Shiite fighters from a Popular Mobilization militia fire their weapons as they advance near the town of Tall Abtah, south of Tall Afar, on Nov. 30, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP/Getty Images)

Succession can be a tough adjustment for any group, but is especially emotional when a departing leader of a nascent religion is particularly strong, effective or loved.

A dispute over how to replace Muhammad as the leader of the Muslim world after his death in 632 — and increasingly after the deaths of subsequent leaders — led to competing iterations of the Islamic faith, diverting followers into two major branches — the Sunni and the Shia. and they have been fighting this bitter war of succession for 1300 years.

While doctrinal distinctions created the schism, evolving geopolitical notions make it an important matter for world attention.  The split began in the early history of Islam, but is now continued in the bitter war in the Middle East.

Does Justin want to bring that war here? Rhetorical question to be sure but that is the reality which Justin and his father before him have been playing with for two generations.  Here’s just a little bit of “History” for folks who might think the world was created by dad … (Justin?).

The most significant return to history for the Ismailis was in the mid-nineteenth century. The Khojas, a Muslim sect of mainly traders around Bombay, had refused in 1827 to make their customary payments to the head of their sect, Hasan Ali Shah, the son of the Persian Shah, Fath-Ali Shah Qajar.

The Shah had appointed Hasan Ali as governor of Mahallat and Qom in 1818, giving him the title of Aga Khan. The Aga Khan dispatched emissaries to Bombay and most secessionists relented. This post is worth a read – yes it is long – but it presents very necessary background to the current “friend and mentor” of our prime minister.

*****

Having led an unsuccessful revolt against the Shah and then offered some help to the British in the closing stages of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1841-2), the Aga Khan went to Bombay and set himself up as the effective head of the Khoja community.

In April 1866, a group of secessionists filed suit in the High Court of Bombay asking that the Aga Khan have an injunction levied against him to stop him “interfering in the management of the trust property and affairs of the Khoja community.”

Judgment was rendered in November 1866: the Khojas were Ismailis, who had been converted four-hundred years previously by a Persian missionary, and were “still bound by ties of spiritual allegiance to the hereditary Imams of the Ismailis,” descended from the Lords of Alamut, the Fatimid Caliphs, and ultimately the Prophet Muhammad.

This led to the discovery of other Ismaili populations in southern Arabia, Russia, and Afghanistan.”

*****

So, what significance is there for Canadians that their Prime Minister is using Canadian Taxpayer’s dollars to fund and support the works of the leader of the 25 million strong Nizari Ismailis branch of the Islamic Caliphate, the Dar al-Islam, who have been at war for 1400 non-stop years with Dar al-Harb the  “Realm of the Heathens”  (that would be us I would guess)?

What is right or wrong with being a Muslim believer? What is right or wrong with being a Christian believer? What is right or wrong with being a Secular Humanist Progressive?  I suppose one might posit that: Only a believer can truly understand or appreciate another believer, and that my experience of Muslims is that they take their faith much more seriously than much of the nominally “Christian” West. I find much to admire about Nizari Ismailism,  less so regarding Justin and the Liberals, and also things I question about both.  But God is God and he wants only the good for us, so I will pray on it.

Cheers

Joe

coptic-desert

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