The War Against Becoming Yourself

For years the phrase “You are not who you think you are,” has rattled around my brain.  I think I read of it in one of Tolle’s books.  If this phrase is true then who the hell am I? How do I begin to find out and understand the import of this small phrase?  Are there other who could lend a hand and some wisdom concerning this journey of finding out who I am?

I have learned that most of us care little about this  train of thought or little about any train of thought.  As long as they have beer, NFL, movies or some type of entertainment they seem to be content. I AM SURE AS HELL NOT!

In 1787, when the Constitution was drafted, a woman asked Ben Franklin what the founders had given the American people. ” A republic,” he shot back, “if you can keep it.” More than  two centuries later …………..how are we doing?????

Political Illusion

Has never been what it is advertised to be

Has never been what we were told in our youth

The Dark Nature of Man (and Women) creeping into our sacred public forum

Truth is on a holiday

Ethics has left the building

Care for one another is a painted on smile until the lights are turned off

The Age of Reason has abandoned us

The fly over people are screwed, only the coasts matter

Principles are attacked as narrow thinking

Tolerance is one-sided.

Dialogue is DEAD

Differing Opinions have been buried in the earth’s cold embrace

History is subjective, facts now do not matter

Are we doomed

Are we at Civilizations End

Who Will Write the History of The Good

Surely not the POLITICAL CLASS!

The Narrative Illusion

*What is your “narrative?”  If I hear this word one more time I believe my head will explode!  Everyone and everything must have a “narrative” today. Education, politics, Celebrity, Sports, Movies, the list is exhausting.

An image based culture communicates through narratives, pictures,  and pseudo drama.  Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, untimely death, train wrecks…these events play well on the computer screen and television.  International diplomacy, labor union negotiations, and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting  personal narratives or stimulating images.  A governor who frequents call girls becomes a huge new story. A politician who proposes serious regulatory reform or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens, and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects.  Today cinematic, political, and journalistic celebrities  distract us with their personal problems and sports have become, as they were in Nero;s time interchangeable.  In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality.  Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.  We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes, and inspirational messages that tell us  we can be whatever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious  and prosperous, either because of our own attributes or our national character or because we are blessed by God.

In this world, all that matters is the consistency of our belief systems.  The ability to amplify lies, to repeat the and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives lies and mythical narratives the aura of uncontested truth.  We become trapped in the linguistic prison of incessant repetition.  We are fed words and phrases like war on terror or pro-life or change, and within these narrow parameters, all complex thought, ambiguity, and self-criticism vanish!

*Chris Hedges

Illusion of The Good News

In a few years we will celebrate the second millennium of the Christian Era.  But perhaps the question is:  “Will there be anything to celebrate?”  Daily we hear voices wanting to know if we can survive our own destructive nature.

As we see increasing poverty, hunger, the rapid escalation if violence and hatred in many countries including our own, we slowly realize that the world has begun a suicidal path.

It seems that the darkness is thicker then ever, that the powers of evil are more blatantly visible then ever…so what is the “‘Good News” in all of this?

During the last few years I have been wondering what it means to be a minister in such dire circumstances, were few see the Gospel as anything good or offering hope.  What is required of men and women who want to bring light into darkness…”to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty ti captives and to the blind new sight, to set those oppressed free?”  What is required  of a man or woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times in which we live and speak a word of truth?

In the coming days I will elaborate on this topic.  We will consider Solitude, Silence and The Furnace of Transformation!

The Illusion of Our Greatness

Recently I walked the early morning myst shrouded battlefield of Gettysburg. Silence, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier hushed the few of us striving to catch a glimpse of the past and a wisp of the future.  The grass was heavy with dew but our hearts were even heavier and broken for the loss this sacred battlefield inspired.

In the distance one could almost hear. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all mean are created equal.

Now we are engaged in great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure…………….

OUR GREATNESS LIES NOT

SO MUCH IN BEING ABLE

TO REMAKE THE WORLD,

AS IN BEING ABLE TOO

         REMAKE OURSELVES.-Gandhi

Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq,?????

Can we remake ourselves and long endure?

Walk in Silence

I am finding that I have little to say or add to the conversations that engulf me daily!  I keep my own counsel, having little to add to the dialogue that would enhance or further it.  Most of it is does not need responding to anyway….

I do not need to respond to the thoughts about current entertainment figures, who add little or no value to our culture or who will survive which staged dramatic show.  But ask me how we as a people should learn from one another, why do we not learn from our failures, or why we ignore our failures, then we can share a glass and a meaningful thought or two.

Is there meaning to our brief time together on this planet?  If so how do we make the most of it? Questions like this use to spur people to think, oh damn, there is that word….THINK, the thing that our homes, schools, universities, employment and life was suppose to challenge us to do….IT HAS BECOME A LONELY WORLD FOR ONE TO BE REFLECTIVE AND TAKE THE TIME TO THINK, TO ACT  AND NOT FOLLOW THE BEATEN PATH TRODDEN BY THE MANY BEFORE THEM…

IT SEEMS THE TIME IS QUICKLY COMING THE THERE IS TO BE A PRICE TO PAY……

Illusions of Technology

Technology has become the structure of our inner most thoughts and feelings.  Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication and relationships. However the constant never ending connections leads us to a new type of solitude.  As technology controls more of our lives, our emotional lives are less vivid and fulfilling. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle is a result of years of research and study exploring lives on the digital world.  It describes new unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and the new instabilities in how we understand privacy, community, intimacy and solitude.

This was brought home to me in a conversation with a friend of mine.  While traveling, he related a story concerning his grandson and his “girlfriend.”  The phone rings and the young man looks to see who the caller is, seeing that it is his girl friend, the young man hangs up and precedes to text her.  My friend is bewildered by this behavior and asks his grandson why he did not just talk with her. His response was, that he did not want deal with all the “drama.”

Do we expect more from technology and less from on another?

Illusions of Social Justice

  1. justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
    “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

What exactly is the difference between Justice and social justice?  One appears to adhere to the Rule of Law and the other seems to be dictated by the whatever a group of people think for feel is just.

A good example is the growing minority of students who believe that they have the right to be free from being offended or criticized.  They need to wear some type of protective gear in case they bump into someone with an opposing view. That type of think in unworthy of someone going to college or claiming to be an adult.

YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO UNOFFENDED.  It is the price you and I pay for living in a free society.  If you do not understand this unique American concept, you are confused and dangerous, or graduated from one of the many great high school across this vast country.  You failed if were taught to grasp the basics of  civics if it was offered at your school.  It take a lot of hard work and thinking to arrive at the conclusion that the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional.

Social Justice Warriors- wow, someone who think he or she is right to take what you have worked for and give it to others just because they think it is not fair…OMG. I believe in helping my fellow man, charity, giving to others in need…that being the key “in need.”  But the path that we are headed down in not sustainable.

“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
                                                               ~Abraham Lincoln

The TYranny of Being Nice

“Truth has a way of dividing”
I was having a conversation recently with a good friend, on the way to a nearby town to retrieve my pick-up that was being worked on.  During the trip we were discussing  many topics but one stood out.  Change and why we are not transformed in a real way by our beliefs. A thought that had been toying with me suddenly coalesced. We are exposed to many concepts of change, however few of us spend time “reflecting” on the concepts! By reflection I mean for example a particular scripture that might have an impact on you.  Do we mine it meaning on my life, my actions, how I see my fellow man, realizing how “fallen” my nature is? What do I need to change in my words, and actions to make that transformation real in my life?  Often in our conversation with one another we speak with a Christainese vocabulary, we know all the right words and we know all the correct phrases that demonstrate how “Spiritual” we are! It feels good, and sometimes is encouraging, however often it is something we do, with little result in our lives or those around us.WE OFTEN SUCCUMB TO THE TYRANNY OF BEING NICE. I hope that the writing of Mr. Rice has an impact on each of us, as we Reflect on his thoughts.  Be Well….

     I found the following article written by Rick Rice  Catholic Thought, “Courage, Culture, Justice, Moral Equivalence

I succumbed to the tyranny of nice, a rare thing for me admittedly.
Which makes this piece by Msgr. Charles Pope, titled “The Real Jesus Wants To Know Where You Stand” all the more relevant, timely and instructional:
There is a false, unbiblical notion of Jesus that emphasizes and isolates some of his teachings and traits, while excluding others. Hence there are many who reduce Jesus’ moral teaching to a vague notion that we should be nice and try to get along. This not only simplifies Jesus — it trivializes him.
Jesus, in describing his own ministry and why he was hated so irrationally that even Pontius Pilate had to marvel, said to Pilate: The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me (Jn 18:37). Pilate scoffed, of course, and like a 21st century secular or libertine, said, “Truth! What is that?”
But there is something funny about the truth. The opposite of the truth is not just less meaningful, or just another opinion. The opposite of true, is false. Truth has a way of dividing. It will not abide competitors. That Jesus is Lord, is true. Anything different from this is not just less meaningful or someone else’s view — it is false.
Jesus says, “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6). As such he cannot be reduced to a harmless hippie going about speaking of love and inclusion. Did he speak of these things? Surely. But he also summoned us to a choice for him or against him. To choose for him was to be saved; to choose against him was to be condemned. The same Jesus who said, “Love one another” (Jn 13:34) also said, Unless you come to believe that I AM, you will die in your sins (Jn 8:24).
In times like these we are going to have to recover a healthy sense that Jesus not only unites many in his truth, but he also divides and distinguishes by that same truth. Myopic and wistful notions that Jesus want us to be nice and get along cannot supersede his command that we love him and put faith in his truth, even if it means our own family disowns us or is “offended” by us.
In this sense Jesus did not come to “unite” in some merely sociological sense. He came to distinguish his true followers from those who actually follow the world or Satan.

Once the Truth comes into the world, what is false must be rejected. Once the Light has come into the world, the darkness must be called by its proper names: confusion and obscurity. Once the Way has come into this world all other paths are excluded and lead only to Hell. Fr. Robert Barron says well and artfully: “Jesus compels a choice.” We are free to choose, but we must choose. Tertium non datur (no third way is given)!
Yes, in times like these we are going to have to recover notions that Jesus will divide, even as he seeks to unite us in the truth. We cannot go on clinging to a “Hallmark card theology” of pleasantries about getting along and being “nice.” Jesus did not end up before Pilate and nailed to cross by soft-pedaling the truth.
The Truth divides. And some of the divisions are very uncomfortable, reaching right into our families. There are going to be “weddings” we should not attend, gatherings we must refuse, affiliations that must end, affirmations we should not give, confrontations we must make, and silence that is no longer tolerable (if it ever was tolerable).
Indeed, we have gone on too long remaining silent — even approving — while sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends cohabitated, stopped attending Mass, got divorced and remarried and engaged in any number of other immoral and questionable practices.
We thought being quiet would bring peace. It did not. Compromises with the world and the devil do not bring peace but only demands for further concessions and compromises. At the end of the process we are silent, dead in our sins, and the world and the devil just have more victims. This mess we are in today happened on our watch. We who should be prophets are left shaking our heads and wondering how it got so bad. No real mystery here: silent pulpits, silent dinner tables, and suing for a false “peace in our times.”
Somewhere we bought into a notion of a fake Jesus, a harmless hippie who just wanted us to be nice and get along. But that Jesus would never have ended up before the Sanhedrin, or Pilate, or on a cross. The fake Jesus would not have had enemies at all. The fake Jesus would never have many who left him and would no longer follow him because of his teaching on the Eucharist (John 6) or marriage (Matthew 19), or his own divinity (John 8). The fake Jesus is loved by the world because the fake Jesus’ is of this world.
But the true Jesus stood accused before Pilate, and was condemned to die by a world that hated him because he was not of the world.
Boom.
Seriously. Boom.
That is hard, dare I say brutal, honesty and well worth reading in its entirety.
I should have the courage of taking Msgr. Pope’s piece and passing it along to the person with the silent Christian friend.
I really should. God grant me the opportunity… and the courage.
Carry on.

The Examimed LIfe

Thinking about life is more like mulling it over, and the more complete understanding this brings does not feel like crossing a finishing line while still managing to hold onto the baton,it feel like growing up more. Philosophical  meditations about life present a portrait, not a theory. The portrait may be made of theoretical pieces, questions, distinctions, explanations.

Why isn’t happiness the only thing that matters?  Are Eastern doctrines of enlightenment valid? Why am I so much like my father, can I change? What is wrong when a person cares mainly about personal wealth and power? What is wisdom and why do philosophers love it so?  Am I on a path to Truth? Are some existing things more real than others, and can we ourselves also become more real?  All these bits of theory constitute a portrait.

The understanding gained in examining a life itself comes to permeate the life and direct its course. To live an examined life is to make a self-portrait.  When additional and distinctive component such as reflection is added to our skills it is like adding new data to be fit to a curve, a new overall pattern than results.  The old components too then get seen and understood differently, just as previous scientific data points are now seen a fitting a new curve or equation.

The author’s voice is never our own, exactly the author’s life is never our own.  Still we can gain from their insights, wondering and pondering in their light. Thoreau’s Walden and Nietzsche’s writings, for example invite  or urge us to think along with them, branching in our own directions.  We are not identical with the books we read, but neither would we be the same without them!

Socrates stated the unexamined life if not worth living, this seems a bit harsh. But when we guide our live by our own pondered thoughts, if then is our life that we are living, not someone else’s. An examination of life utilizes whatever you can bring to bear and shapes you fully.

The philosophical traditions since Plat has sought to establish ethics by showing that our own well-being is served or enhanced by behaving ethically.  We do not want to get committed to any one particular understanding and get locked into it. This danger looms large for in the public’s mind or in our own they can easily become identified with a particular “position.”  Once having pigeonholed people and figured out what they are saying, we don not welcome new information that would require us to re-understand and reclassify them, and we resent  their forcing us to devote fresh energy to this when we have expended  more than enough in their direction already.

In our culture at this time in history, we are so prone to look on the outward appearance of other and do exactly at mentioned above – pigeonhole people, places and things without a second thought. And unfortunately if we just take but a moment and reflect we just might discover a richness that we had so quickly  looked  over.

Once upon a time, philosophy promised more than simply contents of thought. “Citizens of Athens,” Socrates asked, ‘aren’t you ashamed to care so much more about making all the money you can and advancing your reputation and prestige, while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your souls you have no thought or care?”  He spoke of the state of their souls , and he showed us the state of his own!

The Examined Life

by: Robert Nozick