The Year Will Not End

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.  (Ecc 5, ESV) I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: (Ps. 39, ESV) Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,and a bribe corrupts the heart. Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. (Ecc 7, ESV) What I wrote back in March has now seen the maturation of those patterns.  New experience and information has been acquired.  More than ever COVID19 resembles that class of infection we are well acquainted with, and which we call the Flu.  And more than ever we react to it as though it were small pox. Outrage follows outrage.  The Lie is the way of the

New Year, New World

My motivation to speak had diminished to near-zero, though I believe a more accurate description might rather say that the number of things needing to be said had gone.  If I had something to say I'd have said it, because it helps to have a "thing" in mind when describing it in writing. Well, I must have something now, and it has come through the last 3 weeks of sudden upheaval caused by the reaction to COVID-19, which has reached into my most personal space, my religion.  On March 10th I was content to consider the major reporting outlets as doing what they do best, stoking a wave of panic, and then riding it to the thrill of self-importance.  I could escape that panic because this disease is not a guaranteed death sentence, and seems to resemble the Flu, which we all hate, but put up with year after year (data so far have not killed this hypothesis).  I was content, I say, until the Archbishops modified liturgical behaviors, and then canceled shared meals, and then ca

The Will to Live

In 1868, in Russia, Dostoyevski published Crime and Punishment , and later in 1880 published The Brothers Karamazov , not long before his death.   In the 1870’s, a continent away in Europe, Nietzsche was developing himself and his philosophy, and it wasn’t until after Dostoyevski’s death that Nietzsche published Thus Spoke Zarathustra , and Beyond Good and Evil .    My experience of these authors, however, was the opposite order.   I first read Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the early 1990’s, and a few years later Crime and Punishment .   There could hardly have been a better parry to “God is Dead” than Dostoyevski’s “If there is no God, everything is permitted,”   and that ended the “debate” for me, for the time.   These many years later I found that both Dostoyevski and Nietzsche were responding to similar philosophies, Dostoyevski to Russian nihilists, Nietzsche to German skeptics.   If you don’t believe in an Evil One who works to deceive the human race, I can sympathize.   But e

Silence Thunders

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.   Prov. 25:11 NKJV As a golden apple in a small necklace of sardius stone, thus it is to speak a wise word.   Prov. 25:13 SAAS (LXX) I have made a lifelong observational study on what it is to say the right thing at the right time, in the right way.   "A word fitly spoken" has been something of a snipe hunt.   How this became such a quest seems largely the result of contradictions.   From the womb I received, on the one hand, a sensitive nature with which, involuntarily, I readily notice when a self-possessed wise man (or woman) moves through life as though untouched, dispensing golden apples of peace, or of timely goading, or of a blessed aloofness that admonishes without a word.   And on the other hand, I was cursed (also from the womb) with an inability to bring to mind appropriate words in the moment of need.   For it seems that the time required for me to observe and understand a situation ex

A Way of Life

Actions not speeches declare the content of a soul.   My actions, my way of life has followed a template, on balance, of the decent civilized man.   This is not to say that I am decent in any deep and moral sense.   Rather it means that I can check some boxes on a list of things associated with being civilized and decent.   I have worked in a respectable career—as our society counts respect; have earned money, by which to house my family; raised (or supported my wife’s raising of) civil children; funded some people in charitable work.   I think I’ve tried, and know I’ve fallen short, to do what Jesus and the Apostles taught.   But in the end, I see myself as having a basic civilized decency.   I have tried to repent of my secret sins and weaknesses; tried not to be a slave to my appetites, but with weak, inconsistent effort.   What, in short, is this way of life? If I have accomplished anything, about the best I can say is, I’ve fulfilled my father’s way, which is to live and let l

Ecumenism and Church

The modern use of “ecumenism” pertains to a narrow problem in a wide swath of differing Christians.   And within that context it’s regarded ambiguously, either with hope or suspicion.    Between these poles sits a taught unspoken proposition that the Church is divided.   Since Christians know that the Church can’t be truly divided, the proposition finds no voice.   Instead ecumenism proposes to solve dividedness.   While it may have some impact on unity as a qualitative experience, ecumenism has offered little with regard to the universality of the unified Church. The very notion of dividedness is ambiguous; just consider the grammar.   “Dividedness” as a noun seems concrete, but its verb root (to divide) already has a standard noun form as “division,” which is the concrete result of dividing a whole.   “Dividedness,” on the other hand, begins with something that has already been divided, abstracts the quality of that division, and then treats this quality as the issue of concern

The Foolishness of God

Brilliant minds chew on the great human questions: how should we find meaning? How should we order our lives together? What are the essential and real qualities of being human, and what does that imply for what we do?   And, although answers vary, one dominant, modern idea informs most of the modern answers: Human beings emerged through time on a continuum with everything else, from non-life to life, from non-consciousness to consciousness, from practical survival behaviors to morality, from awareness to self-awareness, from awe to religion, from irrational to rational.   In short, to say that man evolved from the lower animals is to say something mundane, like saying the earth is round. This now commonplace theory of origins has found renewed energy in the teachings of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, whose essential message is that of acquiring virtue.   Unlike traditional treatments—ancient wisdom, religious teaching and practice—Peterson’s is grounded in a remarkably broad and comprehen