Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Charity, Justice and Purgatory …

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

Harvest Time 2018

Harvest Time 2018

Days finally starting to turn cool, got down to about 5 degrees last night. Welcome relief from the 30 to 40 degree days of a couple of weeks ago. Harvest is getting into full swing around this part of the Shire. No complaints yet from anyone about a “bad year”. We can always hope, right?

Thanking God today, for time, for life, for insight, more opportunities for repentance, remorse and regret, atonement and perhaps an efficacious do-over with each new day, and in the end, absent complete reparation at the time of death, thanking God for merciful Purgatory and eternity of reparation, in hope, to look forward to. Ad Aeternitatum …

Sincerely hoping the prayers of others might have some transferable benefit in this economy of prayer and suffering. Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you. Pray for your enemies and those who make your life miserable. Forgive, forgive, forgive, I have read somewhere that sins forgiven in this life are not held to one’s account in the particular and in the final judgement. Sincerely hoping that this memory is not simply the wishful thinking of a lost soul.

That is what one would do, should do,  as a charitable effort towards saving the souls of our neighbors, especially the ones we don’t really like. That is the effort of making one’s actions fit the idea of “fraternal charity”. Hoping that a rising tide of prayer lifts all souls, not only the praying, but the prayed for as well, in this great economy of prayer and suffering.

Love your enemies

What benefit is there to me of treating well those who treat me well? Of what spiritual utility is reciprocity of self love and self regard?

As Christ says, you have already had your reward for that. Everyone does that, there is nothing special or particularly meritorious about returning good will for good will.

But, the rubber hits the road when we start to put into practice the idea of loving our neighbor, even our neighbor who is our enemy. By demonstrating it in the reality of our daily conduct, the logical application of the moral idea, we live Truth as we find it in the Gospels..

I can’t speak well to history but in this day and age it appears that there are two paths. The first is the difficult path on which our actions follow on from and derive from our ideas, no matter how distasteful or difficult that may be. That path is known as the path of principal, that path which Albert J. Knock referred to in his paper on the “remnant” and the “masses”..

Ideology on the nature preserve. ideology needs protection to survive.

The other way is the more common or easy way in that we choose our ideas, our friends, our activities, and so on to cast ourselves in the best possible light and we espouse those ideas and beliefs which best make our actions out to be reasonable. Virtue signalling as a national Mantra …

This choice is embracing ideology instead of reality and truth, instead of the provable facts of daily existence. While the generally accepted rule of social conduct today is “all right minded people know this to be true” there is still the other path, the hard path, and it will not be denied no matter how loud the opposition gets.

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

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Fulton Sheen said: What a blood transfusion is to the body, reparation for the sins of another is to the spirit. Instead of separating when there are difficulties and trials, the Christian solution is to bear the other as a cross for the sake of his sanctification. The wife can redeem the husband, and the husband the wife. This transferability of sanctification from a good wife to a bad husband, or from a good husband to a bad wife, follows from the fact that they are two in one flesh.

As skin can be grafted from the back to the face, so merit can be applied from spouse to spouse. This spiritual communication may not have the romantic satisfaction in it that carnal communication has, but its returns are eternal. Many a husband and wife after infidelities and excesses will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful partner never ceased to pour out prayers for his or her salvation.”

Fulton J. Sheen,  “Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity” (pp. 167). Ignatius Press.

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Praying Together

Praying Together

As I have remarked previously, real food for deep thought here, food to nourish consideration of love of neighbor as a real, active, concrete, pursuit rather than merely sterile words as part of some ritual.

As between two people in a marriage, between spouses, so also between siblings, and between children and parents, and even between friends and acquaintances, and neighbors, after infidelities, and excesses, after strife and turmoil and betrayal, and oceans of pain, the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful never ceased to pour out prayers on their behalf for their salvation.

Even the prodigal son upon his return can storm heaven’s gates on behalf of the lost sheep of his or her family and friends and neighbors, and in so doing perhaps atone and make reparation for the multitude of sins of his and their past. So how does this apply to “Loving One’s Neighbor”, “Loving One’s Neighbor as One Loves Oneself”?

Working Together

Our self love, that love with which we regard ourselves and all our actions and thoughts is a very concrete love. It includes all our peculiarities, needs, tastes, feelings, beliefs and habits.

We are geniuses at rationalizing our own way of thinking, and in making excuses for our many faults and failings. We each have a vast sea of sympathy and understanding for our self in all these areas. And we should flood the sins of our neighbor with that vast sea of sympathy and patience and understanding.

This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13, 34 – 15, 12).

But we seem to continue, mired in our self love to the exclusion of all else, and that self love expresses itself in outrage about the conduct and sayings of others, our neighbors.

Reflecting on the writings of Robert Cardinal Sarah, it is easy to see that our modern polite media society drifts from moral rebellion to sentimental rebellion and back to moral rebellion, virtue signalling like a bitter wind on a winter afternoon, striving, like Sisyphus, desperately, ceaselessly, climbing the mountain, always pushing the rock of their discontent and outrage.

Our media, Facebook, Twitter culture demands its rebellion, its hatred, in the moment, of whatever it  self-centeredly defines as unjust and unfair today.

This is the howler jungle, the parrot jungle, screeching its outrage, proud of its correct opinions, which are, in reality, the most pretentious pompous ideas we could ever find, baseless and founded in emotion and self love.

Cynical and shameless, it despicably revels in its dislikes. “I don’t care about the facts, Joe, I just want to have a pleasant hate with my friends”. Our modern polite existence is a propped-up life built entirely on noise, artificiality, and the tragic rejection of Truth.

What is Truth? Well, it depends … From revolutions to conquests, from ideologies to political battles, from our frantic crusade for “equality” to our pathological fixation on “progress”, silence is impossible.

The more noise, the more we “run in circles, scream and shout”, the less the likelyhood that we or especially others will notice what is wrong with us, our failings, our sins, our deviance.

And even worse, our “transparent” societies are all in hot pursuit of anonymity in noise, with an implacable hatred of silence, which we regard as contemptible, a backward primitive defeat, “What have you got to say to that?” “What do you think of that?” “There! that will shut up your jabber!” Let the bright light of noise shine on everything, just as long as it doesn’t shine on my own darkness, my own crimes, my own sins.

Waiting On The Night To Fall”, by “Casting Crowns”, from the album “Thrive” (2014)

Charles Pierre Baudelaire,  April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867 was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, a book of lyric poetry titled Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century.

Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and art’s responsibility to capture that experience.

During Baudelaire’s day there was then perhaps even more scandal and turmoil in the Catholic Church than we now see. Starting with the French Revolution and it’s bloody trail of excess, the massacre of the Vendee, and up to Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors,” which was often held up to ridicule as an absurd statement of the church’s stand against the modern world and progress. The Syllabus is certainly comprehensible against the reality of these threats from modernity. In hindsight doesn’t theSyllabus of Errors seem prophetic in the light of secular modernism realized in our society of today.

My dear departed mother often remarked of my Atheist sister that she was “deeply spiritual”, also in commenting on her own sister, my Wiccan Priestess Auntie, that she was a “wonderful spiritual person, so good”. Baudelaire, in one of his most famous aphorisms says: “Everyone believes in God but no one loves Him, no one believes in Satan, but his smell is everywhere“.

My mother, in her short 92 years on this earth, went from devout Christian to total non-belief … dragged down by Vatican II, Church Scandal and personal tragedy … refused the counsel of a priest and extreme unction, the last rites on her deathbed. And her prodigal son storms heaven’s gates daily on behalf of the lost sheep of his family, in hope against hope that the sinners will find themselves saved on Judgment Day, as the faithful never ceased to pour out prayers on their behalf for their salvation.

This is the tenor of our times; evil, evil everywhere and ne’er a drop of good … love of self, love of our plan, our way, begetting a never ending, ever strengthening, downward spiral of deviance and rationalization of ever greater excesses, no escape from the mirror of our self regard without the grace of the Divine Will and the Word..

Why, when I am so conscious of my own misery and sins, my utter failure to be the creature God willed and wills me to be, without Whom and without Whose gratuitous gifts I am all misery do I have so much room left over in my soul to look with cynicism and censure upon the sins and failings of my fellow man, my neighbor who God wills me to love as myself?

There is a confusion in our day … modernity has conflated poverty and misery as if these two states are one and the same. They are not … misery seems to be the most common state of those who are the least afflicted with poverty. Attachment and ownership and the failure to find satisfaction in these seem to be at the root of misery

From Robert Cardinal Sarah, his commentary regarding noise … “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise”

327. Unless we seek to suppress all the superficial aspects of our lives, we will never be united to God. By detaching ourselves from everything superfluous, we enter little by little into a form of silence. Throughout her life, Mother Teresa sought to live in great poverty so as to find God better in silence. Seeking God in her heart was the only wealth she had. She could spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament without uttering a single word. The nun drew her poverty from the humility of God. The Father possesses nothing, and Mother Teresa wanted to imitate him. She asked that her sisters be absolutely and sincerely detached from all material goods.

Sarah, Robert Cardinal. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Para 327). Ignatius Press.

To paraphrase a famous hymn … “My life flows on in endless noise about earth’s lamentation, I catch the faint, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.”  Yes, the far off hymn … that hails a new creation … the undiscovered country … beyond my self love and attachment to all the “stuff” to which I am so enamored … to leave the self behind and all the misery of stuff … to embrace the poverty and silence of God, impossible without His gift of grace … Aye, there’s the rub.

Maybe this blog is just part of all the noise? I have to consider that thought some more … what am I trying to achieve with this scribbling. I have changed quite a bit from when I started this work back in 2014.

Back then I was consumed with what was wrong with everything and everyone else, and how it all could be fixed, if only … pick my bright idea of the moment … Wow, watch me string all these disconnected events together … looking at them from the “right” perspective, look at what they reveal about motives and intent of the faceless ones … so in love with my cleverness …

so much self love … so little “fraternal charity” …

Cheers

Joe

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The Inner Struggle

Duty … Virtue … Suffering (part two)

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

Personification of virtue

Personification of virtue (Greek Ἀρετή) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey By Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17885872

What about virtue? Virtue (Latin: “virtus”) is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness.

“Virtue”, then, is the sum of the traits and qualities through which we are enabled to perform our duty. The opposite of virtue is vice. This is the state of life when we do not practice the virtues and do not “do our duty” to the best of our ability.

For clarity, I think that there is “Virtue”, a virtuous life as it were, as a state of being, and there are virtues which are traits of personality or training which, when efficaciously employed, lead to a “state of virtuous existence”. I don’t know if that is true, or even linguistically correct, but it is how I see things.

Book of Job, "Naked Came I..."

Book of Job, “Naked Came I…”

The four classic cardinal virtues (from antiquity) are temperance, prudence, courage, and justice. Christianity adds the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love (charity) from 1 Corinthians or more accurately from God through scripture and revelation. Together these make up the seven virtues of Christianity.

Buddhism’s four brahmavihara (“Divine States”) could be regarded as virtues in the classical European sense. The Japanese Bushidō code is characterized by up to ten virtues, including rectitude, courage, and benevolence.

So we progress through the execution of duty by exercise of virtue and onward to the discovery that this exercise of virtue in our doing of our daily duty engenders suffering in both our own spiritual life (controlling our vices or self discipline) and in our relations with others (who do not espouse the same goals, morality and virtues).

So what of suffering? Even though man knows and is close to the physical sufferings of the animal world, we also use the word “suffering” to express the sense of mental or spiritual suffering which seems to be essential, and unique to the man’s nature.

This mental and spiritual suffering is as deep as man himself, because it manifests in its own way that depth which is proper to man. Suffering seems to belong to man’s transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense “destined” to go beyond himself.

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

I think it might be said that man transcends himself, that is, becomes part of something greater than himself, when suffering enters his life. This happens at different moments in life, and takes place in different ways. Suffering assumes different dimensions, different manifestations, but whatever the form suffering seems to be inseparable from man’s earthly existence. It might not be too much of a stretch to think that man exists to suffer.

Saint John Paul II

Saint John Paul II

Assuming that throughout life man walks on the long path of suffering, it is in this suffering that we meet man (mankind) in a special way on the path of his suffering.

It is probably no surprise that as our Progressive culture moves further and further away from the divine experience of God and more and more towards the worship of self that we more and more reject the experience of suffering and the necessity of suffering.

We, in our Progressive society, exist in the midst of a fantasy that “no one should have to suffer”, or at least we give lip service to the idea while trying our individual best to avoid any personal suffering.

The suffering of others seems to be less important as long as we don’t have to do any suffering ourselves. So, to relieve suffering we turn to antidotes to suffering: drugs, medicines, rituals, sensual pleasures and gratification of appetites, counseling and camaraderie, pursuit of desired “goods”.

Medicine, in our culture, is the science and the art of relieving suffering by “healing”, and presents the best known area of the human struggle to answer the universal condition of suffering, the area identified with precision and counterbalanced by methods of “reaction” to suffering, that is to say therapy.

Unfortunately, this is only one area, the concern with physical suffering. The analysis of symptoms (diagnosis) is less than precise, and, outside of setting bones and sewing up of wounds, the offered treatments or therapies are even less precise, offering in most cases only small percentages of improvement and countless side effects.

In our societal fantasy about not suffering, and in our “Modern Medicine” we completely miss the mark. We seem to be not even conscious of the necessity of suffering and what we lose in chasing a suffering-free existence. For the mass of man the field of human suffering is much wider, more varied, and multi-dimensional.

Man suffers in different ways, ways not always considered by modern medicine, even in its most advanced specializations. Suffering is more than sickness, more complex than injury and deeply rooted in humanity itself. A sense of what we are thinking of here comes from the distinction between physical suffering and moral suffering.

This distinction is based upon the double dimension of the physical and the spiritual nature of the human being, of the body nature and of the soul nature and points to the bodily (physical) and spiritual (soul) aspects as the immediate subject of suffering.

Insofar as the words “suffering” and “pain”, can, up to a certain degree, be used as synonyms, physical suffering is present when “the body is hurting” in some way, whereas moral suffering is “pain of the soul”.

Saint Theresa of Calcutta

Saint Theresa of Calcutta

Pain of a spiritual nature, not only the “psychological” dimension of pain is a part of both moral and physical suffering.

The vastness and the many forms of moral suffering are probably greater than the forms of physical suffering, and at the same time, seem to be less identified and less reachable by any recognized therapy.

Let us, for just a moment, look into Sacred Scripture for some universal examples of situations which bear the mark of suffering, especially moral suffering. This story of suffering exists in every sacred tradition, on every continent, in every culture in history, from ancient times right up to the present.

It is significant that the physical aspect of suffering is simply assumed and unremarked in Sacred Tradition. What gets the lions share of the focus is the aspect of moral suffering.

Moral sufferings, the danger of death, the death of one’s own children and, especially, the death of the firstborn and only son; the lack of offspring, nostalgia for the homeland, persecution and hostility of the environment, mockery and scorn of the one who suffers, loneliness and abandonment; the remorse of conscience, the difficulty of understanding why the wicked prosper and the just suffer, the unfaithfulness and ingratitude of friends and neighbours; and the misfortunes of one’s own nation.

In treating the human person as a psychological and physical “whole”, Sacred Scripture often links “moral” sufferings with the pain of specific parts of the body: the bones, kidneys, liver, viscera, heart, and so on. In fact one cannot deny that moral sufferings have a “physical” or somatic element, and that they are often reflected in the state of the entire organism. As we see from these examples, we find in Sacred Scripture an extensive list of variously painful situations for man.

This varied list does not exhaust all that has been said and repeated on the theme of suffering in the “book of suffering” of the history of man (this is an “unwritten book”), as read through the history of every human individual, in every time and place. It can be said that man suffers whenever he experiences any kind of evil.

In the vocabulary of Sacred Scripture, suffering and evil are identified with each other. In fact, that vocabulary did not have a specific word to indicate “suffering”. Thus it defined as ” evil” everything that was suffering. Only the Greek language, and together with it the New Testament (and the Greek translations of the Old Testament), use the verb “I am affected by …. I experience a feeling, I suffer”

Thanks to this verb, suffering is no longer directly identifiable with objective evil, but expresses a situation in which man experiences evil and in doing so becomes the subject of suffering. Suffering has indeed both a subjective and a passive character. Even when man brings suffering on himself, when he is its own cause, this suffering remains something passive.

This does not mean, however, that suffering in the psychological sense is not marked by  “activity”. There are, in fact, multiple and subjectively differentiated “activities” of pain, sadness, disappointment, discouragement or even despair, according to the intensity of the suffering subject and his or her specific sensitivity. In the midst of what constitutes the psychological form of suffering there is always an experience of evil, which causes the individual to suffer.

Parts of the portion of this post on suffering are paraphrased from: APOSTOLIC LETTER, “SALVIFICI DOLORIS“, OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF, JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS, TO THE PRIESTS, TO THE RELIGIOUS FAMILIES AND TO THE FAITHFUL OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE CHRISTIAN MEANING OF HUMAN SUFFERING, 1984.

More thinking and more to follow I think but enough for now …

Cheers

Joe

 

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The Inner Struggle

Duty … Virtue … and especially Suffering …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

Marcus Aurelius – was Roman emperor from AD161 to AD180,

When searching for answers about “what constitutes right living?”, and “how does one know when one is following the right path?” one is really asking oneself “How do I know with certainty what is the will of God?”  Understanding the perfection of love, that is “love of another besides myself” consists in striving towards the perfect conformity of my will with the divine will.

I think it is sitting right in front of our face and residing in our soul of we are honest with ourselves. It is expressed  simply in a concrete and detailed way in the duties of my state and the various circumstances of my life. The “duties of my state” determine particularly how I must act on a daily basis so as to be always in conformity with the divine will.

Those duties are expressed in the commandments of God, known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, in rules and customs, commands of superiors, and tasks imposed by obedience, my duties are those required by my family life, my profession or occupation, my social activities, and by good citizenship.

And so, as is known in “natural law” to all men, in all times, Marcus Aurelius reflects on Duty: Our duty is to Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

On Virtue: But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him,

On Suffering, : For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.” going forward in duty by virtue regardless of the consequences and violence we might suffer whenever the all too human tendency to refuse co-operation, to insist on doing things our own way, to work against each other and to experience the suffering inherent in human relations whenever the reality of selfishness and self worship impact the smooth exchanges of daily relations.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.

We understand, from reading the “ancients”, from reading the “classics”,  that “natural law” is knowable and known, to all men, in all times, since man began. And God’s will, as discerned in natural law, is also marked out for me by the circumstances of my life, whether it is important or not, down to the very smallest detail, in health or sickness, wealth or poverty, interior joy or aridity and emptiness, success or failure, struggles, misfortunes and losses.

From time to time I am presented with tasks – special tasks – of patience, generous activity, love, or renouncement, detachment, submission, and sacrifice. These tasks may come to me through the actions of my superiors, governing bodies, professional organizations, family members, or some combination of the actions and consequent fallout of such actions involving some or all of the above groups.

But everything is permitted by God, “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom 8, 28), so it remains to me to discover what the divine will may  be in each task with which I am presented. Sanctity does not consist in doing extraordinary things … sanctity is reduced to simply the fulfillment of duty … therefore it is most definitely possible for me to attain to sanctity regardless of how insignificant I may view my role in the tapestry of life.

Therefore I must be persevering and punctual in the fulfillment of my duties, diligent, being careful in my actions, accustoming myself to see the expression of God’s will in every one of my duties, no matter how trivial. I must fulfill my duties not only when I feel great fervor but also when I am sad, tired, frustrated, or in a state of spiritual aridity. I must express constancy with generosity.

It may feel small and insignificant but it takes uncommon virtue to fulfill all one’s duties without carelessness, negligence, or laziness, to avoid the pitfall of giving everything a “lick and a promise” or just going through the motions in order to “get it done”. It takes uncommon virtue to put the effort into attention, piety, and spiritual fervor, to pay attention to the details, for the whole combination of ordinary duties which make up my daily life. The details matter.

I must not be discouraged by failure, either resulting from outside forces or from my own failure of attention or lack of competence – my mistakes and forgetfulness and so on and so forth. Always acknowledge faults and failures, take ownership of them and begin again with renewed commitment.

What else is there to say about “duty”? It seems something of a truism that in our great self-regard we find it easier and more attractive to identify the duties of others than our own, and inversely, there will always be a plenitude of folks more than willing to tell us what our duty may be should we find ourselves momentarily unfocused and apparently idle.

Well, I suppose that might just be enough for one post – I will continue next post with thoughts a about virtue and how one employs virtue to carry out one’s duty and perhaps then into how this persevering way of life, constantly doing one’s duty by exercising virtue results in suffering …

Hmmm

Cheers

Joe

 

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Justice … part 1

“Think Of Me”, Andrew Lloyd Webber, from the “Phantom Of The Opera” soundtrack album, (2004)

I was focused on “Sincerity” yesterday, and the reality that, to be sincere, our words and actions must correspond to our thoughts. To be convinced of one thing, but to affirm something else, for the sake of expediency or to avoid hurting the “feelings” of another person is contrary to truth. Bluntly, it is a lie.

And bluntly, the foundation of our modern culture is a lie. We are totally preoccupied with our status in our FaceBooked, Love Me Wall, our Chat Group. Totally focused on the deadly competition to be the most liked, or the most admired, or the most beautiful, most successful, most well traveled, or at least the friend of the most beautiful or the most successful, or the most (fill in your most envied character trait or material desire here).

So what about Justice? The problem with this foundational lie of our society, the lack of sincerity, is that the lie precludes and prevents the existence of Justice. Justice for all or justice for anyone necessitates honesty and sincerity. Without honesty and sincerity there is NO justice.

We moderns have rejected any external standard that overtly or implicitly criticizes our self proclaimed goodness and questions our vices or appetites, our sins of choice, in pursuit of our envied idols, the goals assigned to us by the society in which we exist and which we willingly accept. We find all our self justification within our self worship, our “I’m OK, Your OK” philosophy of gratification.

… unless of course,  you have the arrogance to disagree with me, THEN you really are not very OK at all and we will vilify you and shun you because you are shining a light on our much beloved darkness. This rejection of rejection is the very essence of “Injustice”. There is no justice possible in a universe where no one is wrong and no one dare identify bad behaviour.

It seems an accurate assessment, then,  to name our modern society “Secular Humanist Progressivism”.  It’s secular because it rejects all religion and religious values as well as the very existence of God.

It’s humanist because it holds man to be the apex of existence, the sole arbiter of “right”.

And it’s especially progressive because it implies some natural righteousness to “progress” as the discarding all the values of previous generations of mankind, to the extent that we no longer even teach values to our offspring.

But where is Justice if there is no right and no wrong?

A “Progressive” (individual) is a self referential existence of appetites and vanities pursuing an ever tightening spiral of gratification, self aggrandizement and the once frowned upon character trait of narcissism. This egocentric view of reality, this solipsistic approach to what is and what is not, leads to an eventual and inevitable denial of any truth whatsoever.

How can there be justice if there is no truth?

This ends in endemic moral relativism. Moral relativism is the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint (for instance, that of a culture or a historical period) and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others, that there is no absolute evil and no absolute wrong.

If moral judgments are invalid then how can there be Justice? How can there be Justice when moral relativism holds that there is no injustice?

Calvin & Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes

So, what is Justice? Jesus famously said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God, the things that are God’s”.  This clearly and precisely gives us the essence of Justice, to give to everyone what is his due. Justice is the will to give to everyone that which is due to him.

And what is our due? Respect, rights, obligations, duty, responsibility and the fulfilling with great exactness all the duties and responsibilities towards our neighbor even at the cost of sacrifice. In reality, respect for the rights of others not infrequently requires sacrifice on our part. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness necessitates respect, rights, obligations, duty, responsibility … towards others.

We cannot close our eyes to the rights of others whenever they interfere with our own personal interests. This is really a matter of life and death. Justice is absolutely essential to a life of virtue and its duties are so compelling that no motive can exempt us from fulfilling them.

For example, this view underlies all military virtues, those virtues extolled in our military, our police, and our first responders everywhere. In these “service” occupations, one might be called upon to go in harms way or even to die in carrying out ones duties for the service or protection of others who we might perhaps not even know personally.  As we used to say back in the 70’s “Doing the impossible for the ungrateful”.

But, if moral judgments are invalid then how can there be rights and obligations and duty? As G.K. Chesterton famously wrote: “A man who won’t believe in God will believe in anything” or “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything”.

More to follow …

Cheers

Joe

What a drag … swimming upstream always sucks …

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

Sincerity …

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

Lately I’ve been thinking about Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity. We are observably running a serious deficit in these important virtues in our polite, politically correct, Canadian society.

I recently finished a decent little book by an author named Mark Manson. His book is all about the delusions we suffer under through caring too much about too many things and having values which are disconnected from our reality, which disconnect Steven Covey used to call our “circle of concern” versus our circle of influence.

In his book, Mark Manson makes a reference to the differences between Russian culture and Western Anglo culture. I think it is on or about page 166 and 170 or thereabouts. Anyway, here is an (longish) excerpt which perfectly encapsulates my observation about our progressive, politically correct, Canadian society:

*****

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

In 2011, I traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia. The food sucked. The weather sucked. (Snow in May? Are you f**king kidding me?) My apartment sucked. Nothing worked. Everything was overpriced. The people were rude and smelled funny. Nobody smiled and everyone drank too much. Yet, I loved it. It was one of my favorite trips. There’s a bluntness to Russian culture that generally rubs Westerners the wrong way. Gone are the fake niceties and verbal webs of politeness. You don’t smile at strangers or pretend to like anything you don’t.

In Russia, if something is stupid, you say it’s stupid. If someone is being an asshole, you tell him he’s being an asshole. If you really like someone and are having a great time, you tell her that you like her and are having a great time. It doesn’t matter if this person is your friend, a stranger, or someone you met five minutes ago on the street.

The first week I found all of this really uncomfortable. I went on a coffee date with a Russian girl, and within three minutes of sitting down she looked at me funny and told me that what I’d just said was stupid. I nearly choked on my drink. There was nothing combative about the way she said it; it was spoken as if it were some mundane fact—like the quality of the weather that day, or her shoe size—but I was still shocked. After all, in the West such outspokenness is seen as highly offensive, especially from someone you just met. But it went on like this with everyone. Everyone came across as rude all the time, and as a result, my Western-coddled mind felt attacked on all sides.

Nagging insecurities began to surface in situations where they hadn’t existed in years. But as the weeks wore on, I got used to the Russian frankness, much as I did the midnight sunsets and the vodka that went down like ice water. And then I started appreciating it for what it really was: unadulterated expression. Honesty in the truest sense of the word. Communication with no conditions, no strings attached, no ulterior motive, no sales job, no desperate attempt to be liked.

Somehow, after years of travel, it was in perhaps the most un-American of places where I first experienced a particular flavor of freedom: the ability to say whatever I thought or felt, without fear of repercussion. It was a strange form of liberation through accepting rejection. And as someone who had been starved of this kind of blunt expression most of his life—first by an emotionally repressed family life, then later by a meticulously constructed false display of confidence—I got drunk on it like, well, like it was the finest damn vodka I’d ever had.

Canals of Saint Petersburg

Canals of Saint Petersburg

The month I spent in Saint Petersburg went by in a blur, and by the end I didn’t want to leave. 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. In this case, Russia had me reexamining the bullshitty, fake-nice communication that is so common in Anglo culture, and asking myself if this wasn’t somehow making us more insecure around each other and worse at intimacy.

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

I remember discussing this dynamic with my Russian teacher one day, and he had an interesting theory. Having lived under communism for so many generations, with little to no economic opportunity and caged by a culture of fear, Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology. People’s displays of unpleasant honesty were rewarded for the simple fact that they were necessary for survival—you had to know whom you could rely on and whom you couldn’t, and you needed to know quickly.

But, in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely.

Shopping in the West ...

Shopping in the West …

This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even when you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with. This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception.

The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to. Sometimes this is the case even among good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.

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.

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Hamabe No Uta (Narita), Jean-Pierre Rampal, from the album “Rampal: Japanese Folk Melodies”, (1978)

So, if you got this far then we can get to daily life here in the Anglo west. How do we deal with Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity? Well, it seems that mostly we don’t. Oh, we talk a lot about it, especially Justice, but when it comes right down to it we shy away from the reality of these virtues, preferring to dodge in favor of some direction that either makes us look better, or feel better about ourselves, or influences the other in a direction beneficial to ourselves. Distinctly the opposite of Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity.

It seems, on consideration, that we, as a nation, are just more comfortable lieing about reality – or as I have written before: “Joe, I don’t care about your damned facts, and your damned truth, I just want to have a pleasant conversation with my friends”. I think the foundation of these three virtues is really Sincerity. And it seems that the only thing which invokes sincerity these days is the destruction and discrediting of anyone who disagrees with us.  C.S. Lewis said it well in his little essay about Bulverism a (shortish) excerpt of which appears below from one of my previous posts here:

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Until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs. Each side snatches it early as a weapon against the other; but between the two reason itself is discredited. And why should reason not be discredited? It would be easy, in answer, to point to the present state of the world, but the real answer is even more immediate.

The forces discrediting reason, themselves depend of reasoning. You must reason even to Bulverize. You are trying to prove that all proofs are invalid. If you fail, you fail. If you succeed, then you fail even more – for the proof that all proofs are invalid must be invalid itself.

The alternative then is either sheer self-contradicting idiocy or else some tenacious belief in our power of reasoning, held in the teeth of all the evidence that Bulverists can bring for a “taint” in this or that human reasoner.

I am ready to admit, if you like, that this tenacious belief has something transcendental or mystical about it. What then? Would you rather be a lunatic than a mystic?

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And so we now see that virtually every “debate” extent today in all venues and all media is simply some variant of “Bulverism” which we are now calling “Social Media” and “Fake News”. For the powers of reason have been abrogated by the legions of  the thoughtless – Truly Truly I say to you – a Zombie Apocalypse. So what about Justice, Gratitude, and Sincerity, especially Sincerity?

Why is Sincerity the foundation of the other two, the foundation of Justice, and Gratitude? Well, lets take a stab and see if I can get it out. What I say here is informed by a fervent belief in God and the absolute Goodness, that is, the absolute Truth of God. To grow to adulthood we must continually search to possess truth in our hearts, in the core of our being.

We have to know ourselves as we really are, we have to know the absolute truth about ourselves, without any trace of disguise and artificiality. This means that we have to know and accept not only the truths about ourselves which please us, but also all those truths which are painful and wound our pride and self worship by exposing our faults and evil tendencies.

A Sincere adult never avoids or dodges these painful truths, but rather treasures them because the humiliation of these painful truths is worth more than illusion, which flatters our pride and builds up our self worship and keeps us steadfastly on the broad road to perdition.  Even our society’s denial of the broad road is just another illusion to which we cling because we would rather take the easy path regardless of the long term cost. People would literally rather die than change their behaviour. People seem to spend all their precious time searching for the quick fix which will permit them to keep on indulging their fantasies and gratifying their appetites and egos.

Daily we encounter contradiction in the course of going about whatever makes up our lives, and as often as not that contradiction gives rise to anger, rebellion, selfishness, and continuous pressure to indulge our fantasies, palliate our flaws and faults and to continue to cling to our illusions about ourselves and the world we live in.

Any growth requires the courage to acknowledge our faults, accept our faults and the effort of will to change our behaviors and beliefs to conform with empirical reality. If instead we blame circumstances, or other people, or the economy or the politics of the day then we perpetuate the fantasies which are crippling us and preventing the existence of Justice, Gratitude and Sincerity. But it all starts with a sincere appraisal of the truths of our inner self, the inner self to which we are so attached and which we worship.

To be sincere our words and actions must correspond to our thoughts. To be convinced of one thing but to affirm something else for the sake of expediency or to avoid hurting the “feelings” of another person is contrary to truth. Shorn of all make-up it is “living a lie”,  for the sake of gaining an advantage over another. That said, sincerity does not require that we reveal all that we think and know to everyone, this is contrary to prudence (another virtue). Sincerity does, however, demand that everything we do reveal by word or action or even by silence, corresponds to truth.

Cheers

Joe

Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

We Can’t Handle The Truth …

Oboe Concerto in D Minor”, Adagio, from “The Ultimate baroque Album”, (2004)

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911

What’s on my mind these days is the spectacle of the greatest civilization the world has ever seen essentially committing mass suicide by drowning itself. Drowning itself in the pool of self worship, drowning itself in a colossal spasm of self delusion about reality and the consequences of its actions and inaction.

At the local level we demand recognition of self worth by virtue of breathing, but at the international level we meekly kiss the dirt and confess our guilt every time some new mouthpiece accuses us of some mythical crime.

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Islamic Celebration of Terror Attacks

We embrace this motif domestically in our espousal of “Human Rights Tribunals” and “Hate Crimes”, and political correctness.  We accept being the victim of these atrocities because our chestless leadership, both in the secular and in the spiritual world have taught us that this is the deserved result of our own iniquities.

We, as a culture, are found guilty of “cultural genocide” by the “Star Chamber” of the progressive secularists and must pay for our sins. We are NOT being raped, tortured, abused and killed by Islam, this is a deserved punishment,  and we are told in every venue that we deserve it because of the way we acted and the values we embraced, those values of “dead white males”… and our leaders and media accept it and agree?

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hate, hate, hate, hate

How did we get here, what poison have we been drinking that justice and truth should be so turned on it’s head that we accept this evil as our just due?

I finished off the last post with acid comments regarding religious denominations as socials clubs, no more, no less. I might have added an allusion to factions as in “fractious parties” within a common  tradition.

afp-afp-hz9r9

Is this courage or cowardice?

The foundational beliefs of which factions, a “cornerstone” so to speak, is that ALL other factions, and clubs, are illegitimate because we and only we hold the one truth. My morality is my morality and no one else can legitimately criticize me without being guilty of a hate crime. Where did brotherly love go? Who is my neighbor Lord?

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My “Precious” opinion

Unless I want to criticize someone else in which case it is just OK because after all I am a victim of hate because of your criticism and targeted and rationalized retaliation is NOT hate but rather some variation of retribution and restitution. What happened to standing up for Truth, for protecting the weak and unfortunate, for consoling the lost and loving the unloveable?

A necessary corollary to this “one truth” platform is that we must, at all costs, discredit and/or destroy all other points of view, lest some courageous loudmouth ask why the emperor has no clothes.

ESPECIALLY, in the domain of religious clubs, the original one holy catholic and apostolic church, MUST be discredited in order to ensure that our new “self” worship club and it’s beliefs are never called into question historically.

orcs

Everyone Knows It!

Everybody Knows It!  From this wellspring of charity spring such “factual’ gems as: “Well, everyone knows that:  “Nuns (Catholic religious) punish unwed mothers and do abortions in their “nunneries”and cover them up” and the Pope is the Anti-Christ”.

What does one do when one is handed this wonderful little scrap of bigotry and malice,  courtesy of a close Baptist relative who is a general all purpose “bigot and hater”, but especially of what she thinks of as “Catholics” (being merely the common self serving protestant or baptist caricature of Catholics).

ISIS atrocities 3

But we are basically good persons

Of course, when handed this offal we are expected socially to nod and smile and politely “pretend” to go along, because of social niceties. Of course the statement is so egregiously outrageous and provocative  (as intended) that we cannot hold back our response, our questioning after specifics, our feigned consternation, our distress as we ask pointedly which network that was reported on. That reaction makes us the bad guy, the A-hole in the room.

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St. Peter’s, Rome

So we all descend into this moral pit of hatred and lies, calumnies and retaliation, and the all purpose immorality founded on “I am basically a good person“. Given the utter lack of “goodwill” as in “men and women of goodwill”, or “people of goodwill” within our own society, communities, and families is it any wonder to see the state of the world.

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Which side Are We On?

If we can do this to “the least of these, our brothers” how much more easy is it to continue to commit these ever increasing atrocities against anonymous others who we barely consider human. Kill them before they vote, kill them when they get to expensive to look after. And everyone pretends not to notice that whenever bad behaviour and “ill will” are tolerated you inevitably get more of it, expanding exponentially from the local to the global.

Looking at the consternation and panic and mawkish grief reported in the media and associated with current “terrorist” attacks, we have to understand, even the blindest of us, that at some level all the “good behaviours” that we verbally associate in an offhand way with “western civilization” are, in fact, a facade, a sham and a lie. If good behaviour is “in” us as part of our nature then nothing evil is our fault, is it?

We are NOT guilty! Of anything. Institutional evil has given us a false sense of being guiltless and free of sin, following mutually acknowledged rules of behaviour we can go through life sleep walking under the assumption that the rule of law, good order, and good government are naturally human and stem from human qualities of “goodness”. In reality, this folly leads inevitably to desolation and destruction. We are NOT worthy! Our natural proclivities, our concupiscence, incline us towards evil thinking, evil beliefs, and evil behavior. Our culture is steadily marching in lockstep down a path to acceptance of abominations and immoralities the practice of which would have been anathema and worthy of imprisonment and death even a couple of generations ago.

Your Dying Heart”, Adrian von Ziegler, from the album “Requiem”, (2011)

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Hacksaw Ridge

The efforts of our fathers, the “Greatest Generation”, was perhaps the very last outpouring of Western Christian Civilization, demonstrating a willingness to stand against what was recognized as evil; identified as evil; and dealt with as evil; whatever the cost. The term “The Greatest Generation” is the title of Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book profiling members of this generation, stemming from his attendance at the D-day 40th anniversary celebrations. In the book, Brokaw wrote, “it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”[1]

Today, we are knowingly, willingly returning to a pre-Christian civilization where it was perfectly OK for Rome, in 70 AD, to send half a dozen legions to Palestine to slaughter over a million folks because of “civil unrest”.  But Rome wasn’t just the big bad guy some folks like to portray, handing out punishment in isolation and solely responsible for the atrocities.

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Destruction of The Temple 70 AD

Because the Jewish nation brought down the retribution of Rome on itself because of the way the leaders and people were acting long before the Roman boot crushed the lawlessness.

Just for a bit go over and check out the account of Flavius Josephus here, and here, regarding the destruction of Jerusalem.

Pay close attention to the actions of the protagonists. It is worth the time in order to understand the parallels between then and what we are witnessing in the world right now.

The parallels are chilling in their similarities to the conduct of the leaders and the people of nations in this day, and the media just can’t get enough of it, reporting every atrocity which supports their narrative while ignoring thousands of others which don’t make the grade. Are you one of the true believers in the fantasy that it can’t happen now?

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Delacroix, Eugène, 1798-1863. Christ and the Disciples on a Raging Sea

We have spent the best part of the last 400 years steadily divorcing ourselves from the vital Christian roots of our civilization, the roots that fed us the understanding of what good behaviour actually was.

We are steadily morphing into a graceless, de-sacramentalized, self centered dog eat dog world, a world which Jesus Christ and his teaching came to move us away from by way of the church and the grace of the sacraments.

The source of all goodness came to us in the likeness of ourselves and spent his life teaching us how to behave, how to live together, how to care for our brothers, how to live in God’s love.

He created a lifeboat to survive the stormy seas of human existence and we reject that lifeboat, believing our own narrative in preference and climb out of the lifeboat. We try to swim away on our own power, continuously trying  to do this thing on our own and with our own values and agendas, utterly blind to the spiritual and physical carnage around us.

We just keep swimming while ignoring the lifeline continually being offered to us.  The Sharks are having a field day!  Wake up people!

Cheers

Joe

03-pool-of-worship Self worship is the root of all evil, not money.

 

 

 

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