Where is Your Compassion?

Compassion simply comes in the word, “no” more often than the word “yes”.

“Where is your compassion?” A phrase uttered by those people taking stances of incredulity whereby they feign shock over another person’s ability to either be insensitive or unflinching in the perceptions of the world over their own perception of an event.  They are immediately listed by any one of the common descriptors and placed into an ideological prison set to explain issues of nuance and complexity with one word monikers or one line backhanded labels.  At any rate, our need to take anything and everything we see, and categorize it expresses the need to keep things simple.  This need for simplicity is thwarted when we begin to utilize hypocrisy, standards with shades of gray and justifying measure, and when we simply don’t want to spend the time to find out the truth behind such perceptions.  This is further exacerbated, but not always knowingly, by the general public, when they are knowingly deceived by media outlets and/or manipulated by the very sources they depend upon to give them factual evidence.  I will always stand by a desire to have only the facts relayed to me, and allow me to form an opinion devoid of political and social influences.  At the end of the day though, our culture’s need to define and redefine what is believed to be compassionate without an objective base to compare it with will remain a constant problem.  Just like an inability for compatible moralities, so are expectations of compassion.

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When we think of compassion, I’m sure we have a roughhewn image of kindness, this is to say, an act of kindness for someone in need of our charitable behaviors.  However, since our lives aren’t written for us to examine and prepare for, we’re left at a loss to determine how much or when our charity/compassion is to be used.  Our “free-will” allows us to go as far or as little as we desire, with a hopeful expectation (linear in its thought progression) which inadvertently says, the more charitable we are with people the more we can expect in return.  This is to say, the better we’ll feel, or the more magnanimous our efforts are the more people might see the “good-works” we’ve done.  I would say, if this is any person’s goal, they are somewhat off course.  Though to say they’ve done good works at all, means someone who benefitted from their kindness is better off from this expression of love, although be it a misguided love.  In some instances, I see a compassion shown by one person to another, becomes an act of self-love due to an expectation of reciprocal love in action.  This is to say, and expectation of benefit by first giving as a form of manipulation.  All I’m saying is, person “A” gives to person “B” in the hopes person “B” will reciprocate by giving back or telling everyone about the generosity of person “A”.  The ego is fed by a reverse stream of adulation performed by the original intended target.  Compassion then becomes more of a photo op than an act of charity.  With this exposure, a game of sorts is created, the game where parties are more concerned about the actions expressed as meeting a minimum set of arbitrary requirements, set forth by culture, and subsequently moved when the culture has found little response in the manipulated response.

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Here is what I mean, when something bad happens, people will usually extend a message of “thoughts and prayers” this message is used to convey a simple compassion and let the person receiving the message a sense of community.  In return, society has deemed the appropriate response to such an expression would be something similar to “thank you” or “I appreciate your words”.  A compassion was shown, regardless of size, and the acceptance of the intended target has lovingly reciprocated.  However, just recently, we’ve seen ire being cast upon those who offer “thoughts and prayers”, not because they’ve done anything wrong per se, but because those who would find fault in the subjective world of compassion, see the perceived diminutive response as more an admonition of bad events rather than the simple words of compassion they were meant to be.  This is to say, the line of acceptance has moved once again, and people who are on the wrong side of the “correct” perception risk public ridicule and varying levels of ostracism.  This is of course until the offending party, remember the person attempting to show compassion, apologizes for their breech of etiquette and forms in with the rest of the cultural police.  How, dumb!

This got me to thinking about how we perceive compassion and how it translates to each and every one of us.  All I mean is, to have an understanding of compassion, there really should be a measure of compassion.  There really should be an objective standard, with which to measure our actions against and in turn know beyond a doubt we’ve been compassionate to those who are in need of compassion.  Ok, so in laymen’s terms what is this?  All I’m trying to say is, when we perform compassionate acts, there should be an allowable stopping point to conclude this act, but at the same time, there should be an objective reaction which agrees upon the conclusion of compassionate acts.  A good analogy would be, a person of wealth and means takes it upon themselves to feed a family starving.  The family agrees they need food to live and gladly accept the food of charity, but also expect the brief respite from their situation to be concluded at the end of the meal.  For them to have an expectation more should be given is a subjective expectation of want over need.  They want something and because the person can theoretically provide this want, the compassion which was originally showed has now become obligation by only one side of the compassion equation.

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Often times, I’ve seen people who do not wish to be involved, for whatever reason they may have, with the parties they wish to show compassion, but because they don’t act with the perfunctory social norms of society, their compassionate act is treated with vitriol and pushed into the realm of defunct ideologies.  This isn’t to say, they could have acted better or with more tenderness in their pursuit of compassion, but within the actions of their efforts they are without a doubt, not wrong.  As this is the case, those who seek a punitive action against perceived adversaries of compassion find themselves at odds with segments of the “new culture”.  It then becomes, by popular acceptance, a crime of sorts to push away from public opinion.  However, like any drug and the potential for addiction, those forces set to rewrite the objective standards of compassion seek all avenues of power to attain in order to make all aspects of culture fall in line with their perceptions.  We see people who have religious beliefs being forced to go against their wills, as a matter of course, regardless of the degradation it focuses on their lives and the lives of their families.  We see entire organizations, focused on the compassion of others, being told, because of perceived outdated beliefs, they no longer are considered compassionate, but instead they are outdated and evil to their core.  The Catholic Church is a prime example, a religion of over 1.2 billion Catholics is routinely told, regardless of the literature and words spoken daily, they are bigots and enemies of goodness, at least by popular media and media driven sources.  Events in the Church, which are deplorable and an affront to anyone who claims to be Christian and good, are exacerbated to an epidemic level challenging the very motives of compassion and good the Church is built upon.  However, just like anything with a subjective goal in mind, there is always something behind the curtain, and an argument of compassion is no less important to the debate over abortion.

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Abortion, a hot button topic in the world today, and especially a hot topic when the law and its continuation may be subject to change or at least be hotly contested is on the forefront of the minds of many people.  Just so we’re clear, abortion is wrong, and taking the life of anything is wrong, especially the life of an individual who cannot defend or answer for themselves.  If we want to talk about choice, where is the choice, the child in the womb, has and why aren’t they allowed to exercise it?  Some would say, giving the woman a choice to decide if she wants to keep the baby or not is compassion.  Though, I would say this isn’t even in the same world as compassion, in truth, a woman who exercises an option to end life acts more like a dictator purging what they don’t want rather than showing compassion to all.

The Christian Church is very specific about the life of a child, and in the processes of the compassion to see the beauty of life, choices must be made to keep this very reverence for life understood as an objective truth and not the opinions of those with an agenda.  Some, could argue, the Christian’s pursuit is a subjective approach to “their truth” and is no more relevant than those with a pro-choice agenda.  In some specific cases, I can find no argument with their point.  However, even when we can find those with a subjective agenda, it still doesn’t preclude the understanding of objective truth and life and the need to preserve life at all costs.  At its very core, compassion seeks to prolong what is good, by shielding those who are beset by what is evil/bad.

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I would even go so far as to say, when we can accept the objective moral truth finding compassion is relatively easy and to put into practice is a matter of time and acceptance.  When we find subjectivity in our compassion, we find issue in circumstance and derision in anything which doesn’t meet our specific standards of compassion.  If it isn’t what we’d do, or feel, then it is probably safe to assume the person intending compassion is wrong, and since there isn’t anyone around to punish them for their oversight, we must do so, so we can teach them where they are wrong.  Seems to be the standard action for anyone who doesn’t meet a set of standards.  Standards, which are neither written down, and can only be repeated, until they are no longer popular.

The act of compassion, isn’t just about hugs and kisses, although, those are good to have in certain disagreeable times, especially those instances of loss.  However, compassion should be, one’s desire to understand and proffer a solution meant to alleviate circumstances which might be necessary to help another person or persons.  Currently within many governments, we are inundated with social programs focused on the help of the society at large.  For instance, welfare programs intended to subsidize those who need financial or food needs, with a general belief the help will provide circumstances whereby the individual(s) will be capable of sourcing food and shelter on their own at some point.  At least, this was the original intended purpose, however this has changed over the years, and there appears to be more and more folks finding loopholes and system crutches to allow advantageous circumstances perpetuating and existence on the forced compassion of the people around them.  This isn’t to say all the programs are necessarily bad, but they should never be considered entitlements of life.  However, culturally they have been accepted as a cultural need, and anyone who disagrees with this perceived need, now becomes the cultural equivalent to a racist, bigoted, uncompassionate pariah.  So, now we reach the value of the question, “Where is your compassion?”  To which I would answer, “My compassion has always been here”, for me to continue giving sums of money unrequited, is nothing less than an inability to be compassionate and an ability to feel bad.  That’s right, seeing poverty and the conditions it creates should make us feel bad, but giving our time and money to an entity which has been shown, by its agents, to be woefully corrupt and inadequate, is an indicator of our misaligned need for compassion.

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Compassion simply comes in the word, “no” more often than the word “yes”.  I love my kids, and yet I find I tell them “no” so often, they assume this will be my answer anytime they ask for something.  I know there might be some out there, already forming an opinion of me, but keep reading, and hopefully you will recognize the compassion in my “no” to them.  A child is a needy set of circumstances, which culminates into a beautiful gift from God.  This is to say, their innocence and their goodness is one of the closest gifts of the ethereal we can touch and experience.  However, kids are also entitled and believe they should get what they ask for, sound similar to some adults you might know?  By giving them what they ask for, whenever they ask for it, I am showing no compassion, but instead I’m complicit in the degeneration of their development.  A functioning adult is one which can accept circumstances and yet still rise above to achieve their goals.  An adult’s ability to rise above their circumstances isn’t a matter of talent, but something which must be taught and learned over many frustrating years of development.  Likewise, this is a matter for the parents as well, I personally don’t enjoy causing consternation for my family.  I don’t find enjoyment in seeing the letdown on their faces as I inform them, they will not be going to the party because they are in trouble for failing to do their chores.  So, you’ve guessed it, I’m a mean dad, because I care enough to tell them “no”, so one day when they are much older, they will have an objective standard to base decisions on.  They will be able to accept the fact, they won’t receive everything they want, but this won’t make them unhappy, but instead it will give them perspective to understand needs and wants.

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Sometimes, being perceived as wrong, because we don’t follow the pack in their subjective standards of compassion, is right where we need to be.  This can be considered tough love, old school rules, or common sense, and whatever we choose to call it, we can be certain of a few things.  The first certainty is our comprehension of what we call compassion, find an objective source (The Bible and Teachings of the Church) and stick with them.  The second, compassion isn’t a feeling, but instead a moral choice to acknowledge right from wrong, and then show charity for our fellow man with no hope of reciprocal effort.  The third, no matter what another person says about the compassion we show, if we can find where our actions are objective (through self-reflection) then we can argue our point, and contrary to popular belief now; arguments are very much needed, they are the only preventative measure to all out chaos.  An argument is the only way to create a compassion through discourse.  Our compassion is our own, and although we feel the need to explain it from time-to-time, this is the effect of a hypersensitive culture, which needs our argument and your silent stance on your efforts to find compassion in those who are God’s creations.  May God bless you, and your family!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

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Is Morality Transferable?

Our need to find this shepherd becomes a search for anyone to give us the directions we so desperately look for.

Is morality a transferrable option, which is to say, can just anyone possess a sense of morality?  Well if we listen to some of the greatest minds (modern day or the recent past), there seems to be some who say “yes” and others who believe “no”.  The truth is, without a sense of objective truth, we are left to wonder just how objective we can be.  Reality is, we all stake even objective perceptions in a subjective reality where justifications abide.  This isn’t to say our subjective realities are always moving in a direction of sinful behavior, in some cases, we become more restrictive than is probably necessary (e.g. The Puritans).  However, actions intended to be moral, but without the source of an objective morality being in place, our hopes of being objectively “moral” turn out to be self-serving actions which in their intent may be good or bad, but nevertheless of our own making.  In a godless society, we’ve become, to take a point of modern atheists, our own gods.  We keep our own counsel, and we determine the rightness and wrongness of our actions (which in a selfish society seem to hardly ever be wrong), and the degree of wrongness to which others have acted when not in concert with our interpretations of truth.  That’s a mouthful, but in the end, within ourselves we become the judge, jury, executioners of modern civics up to and including social organizations which don’t meet our civic perceptions.

Ideas

This topic is loaded, so I will do my best to keep things brief and concise as possible.  The first part of this is to unload perceptions.  I often have conversations with my wife, about the perceptions of those, who are neither well read, nor experienced in many things (e.g. failure, desire, success, life), but yet they have an opinion about everything, and to disagree with their opinions is tantamount to heresy in the court of public opinion.  In truth, if the church of public opinion wants to cast me out, I’m good with civil fringe existence, this area of the cultural landscape is getting more populated by the day.  I will also confess, I am super opinionated, and I’ve been this way since I could remember.  Sometimes this can be good, but often times this must be taken with a “grain of salt” and be understood, although an opinion exists, we must not allow it to get in the way of actual truth.  We can’t be so bound to our opinions, because they make sense to us, and be unwilling to look at all sides of an argument.  This is where being well read and well versed in a particular topic stands to gain the most ground.  This isn’t to say a veritable novice wouldn’t have a good opinion or judgement of any matter their not an expert in, but it does recognize those who are well read or studied on a particular topic as having more exposure and thusly being exposed to more viewpoints creating a more well-rounded opinion.  This is usually the problem with opinions, we don’t know how narrow they are until exposed to further explanation and the creation or expansion of the original thought.  This is good when learning about topics, but this can also be negative when it comes to topics of morality.  Expansion is like the platitude of moderation, “anything in moderation is key to a balanced life”, this is true but too much exposure to one side or another on any topic, might create an unbalanced look at whatever topic is being considered.

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As morality goes, our culture suffers from a relativism which is an unbalance expansive point of view.  This is what I mean, western culture has been largely influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs, which is to say a moral foundation created and is the base for moral and societal determinative efforts for areas such as the law, societal acceptance, and workweek activities.  As a society has continued to age, the population naturally has increased considerably, but methods of exposure to morality has not.  This effect of expansion is the causation of a gulf between objective moral sourcing and perceived moral behavior.  Essentially, as the culture is aging and people are so busy, they are filling their time with activities which carry their attention more.  Like an ever-changing list, they are constantly moving items of interest in their list to “top five” designators and creating importance from this list.  Here is an example, if you were given two choices, go and listen to a speaker talk about the importance of financial planning or watch a movie you’ve anticipated for some time, which would you go to?  Truthfully, twenty years ago, I would have picked the movie, but now I would give some consideration to the financial planner, eventually resting on the movie.  My determinate behavior would be based on a few factors such as how much time I have to consider financial planning, maybe how much I’ve desired to see the movie, perhaps in just how bored I would be sitting in a hotel conference room listening to someone with more money than myself explain what I should do just in case I get some money.  If I boil everything down to its most simplistic terms, I would be bored in the room listening and not bored being entertained.  As you can see though, my perspective in life has caused me some pause to change my general outlook.  As something becomes important to me, it carries more weight than whether or not I should be entertained.

Which brings back into focus the subjectivity factor, this is to say, and we need to unpack what motivates us, and creates the subjective behaviors we all act on.  Now, as I was stating before the Judeo-Christian beliefs of kindness, love, compassion, and accountability are always there.  However, there are those who find going to church and listening to someone they hold in contempt, perhaps don’t agree with, or plain bored with because of an incomprehension to what is being said or done finding a deviation of these objective teachings as a matter of subjective thought.  So for instance, someone who doesn’t go to church nor do they believe in God, has all their life seen and heard the objective moral teachings of Christianity, and now they have molded the parts easiest or seemingly fair into a personal credo.  They then apply this credo as a matter of personal thought even placing a sense of originality to the thought as they apply it.  They thought it (at least this is what they tell themselves) and now they apply it and attain results.  Here is where the subjectivity will let them down, they own nothing to a negative result, other than to say it is a part of their understanding which will need to be reworked until a positive result ensues.  Their moral behavior has now become subjective, and their moral goals have now moved in one direction or another so as to achieve a result as they see fit.  The problem this moral subjectivity causes is, when millions of people are doing the exact same thing, thinking the exact same way, it creates confusion tantamount to chaos.  The chaotic whirlwind of secular morality is such as to create a relative point of view allowing for everything or nothing but all is good or all is bad.  Extreme?  Seems this way, but at the same time, if we don’t know there the line is, then who can we assume knows where this is at, and if we don’t know who knows then like lost lambs we await a shepherd to bring us into the proverbial fold.

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Photo by Alex Smith on Pexels.com

Our need to find this shepherd becomes a search for anyone to give us the directions we so desperately look for.  In an interview Jordan Peterson once made a point of the waves of men, especially young men, who flock to his presentations searching for anything which wets the appetite of their moral intellectual philosophies.  They are searching for directions, the relative pathway seems nice for a while, but the gift God gave us to search for the light of truth, persists within us to find truth and seek a shepherd within our lives.  The truth is a protection of sorts, it binds us to God, and creates within us a set of boundaries, a line as it were, and knowing where this line is creates a sense of calm within our restless souls.  Knowing where the path is at allows us to walk to the path instead of becoming agents of opinion and spending an entire life in search of the pathway needed to find joy, essentially finding God.

This becomes a figurehead to the question as to why, if there are objective points of direction, do people stay away from these points (i.e. the church, families)?  There are three basic reasons, as I can see, which would provide an answer to this question, but they may not be the only answers just the answers I’ve found to be of prominence.  The first would be what Peter Kreeft spoke about in some of his lectures as the boredom and complacent position of humans, we tend to stay away from those things which we determine to either be boring or those things which may cause us discomfort by removing our contented way of life and creating a perceived turmoil (once again we tend to utilize a subjective opinion pattern to determine future actions).  The second is a matter of familial subjectivity, take for instance my wife, she was not always Catholic, but when she converted, she was shunned by her side of the family, who were protestant and looked upon the Catholic Church as being an enemy to Christianity by some context.  My wife though, is a strong a woman as I have ever known, she held her ground and continued to move forward in her faith.  However, some people might have found this paradigm within their families to be absolutely debilitating and thusly cause them to stop.  The final and probably most significant to all people is the appearance we all face, by believing in something which may appear (based on any media driven outlet) the antiquated and perceived incorrectness of an institution which has existed for some over 4,000 years (Jewish) or for others 2,000 years (Christians).  Being bombarded daily by social media or reports from every news media possible about the inadequacy and perfunctory efforts of religion would create potential for anyone to rethink their position.

Not Interchangeable

Morality is not interchangeable.  Those who both claim to be moral and atheist or at least agnostic are a walking logical fallacy.  An oxymoron of sorts, to be without an objective moral authority means to have no moral line to which crossing would be considered verboten, which is to say a sin.  Instead, when there is no moral objective authority to counsel and direct us in our actions, then we make the decisions which will allow us (individually) the best outcome possible.  In other words, as long as we benefit from what is happening, then we are “morally” sound in our judgement.  However, the concept of morality, although it is based in a “rightness” or “wrongness” of decision, the principle of morality is a measure of sacrifice rather than selfish indulgence.  Here is what I mean, when I choose to treat others with self-less moral behavior, I sacrifice me in the process by giving of my time for the benefit of another.  Perhaps, I charitably give of my money to the benefit of anyone in need of it.  Whatever the result of my objective moral behaviors, sacrifice is at the root.  I must sacrifice what it is I want, in order to be supplied with what I need.  The need for God’s light, love, and presence in my life is the main objective of the Church, and its objective is a proper interpretation of God’s word either in action or written down for us to study and expound a reasoning.

I’ve heard, recently, people who exclaim they don’t like the complexity of our times and wish to have it simple and a simple understanding of Christ, much like the Apostles did in the first century.  Though, this leaves me somewhat perplexed, as a living body of the followers of Christ, we are set on a pathway of growth.  A pathway which given a boundary of morality we are to walk and learn as our life progresses, and we are to learn those which others have learned along the way.  This constant and hopefully consistent learning patter brings us form the proverbial mustard seed to a healthy growth determined to spread its branches as far as possible.  This cannot be achieved if we are constantly in turmoil about the parameters of morality.  The movement in morality is based on a person or person’s unreliable method of taking their own counsel in all matters.  As we “cry out in the desert” we must “prepare a way for the Lord, and make straight his paths” (Matt 3:3)

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To sum everything up, our morals are not up for change, and they are definitely not up for negotiation.  When we assume to take our own counsel and interpretation of God’s word, what we run in to is a subjective point of view which will not carry with it a proper introspective understanding at one point or another.  This is to say, if we only listen to the voice in our head, and claim it was the spirit, we might be more wrong more often than we care to comfortably admit.  This isn’t to conclude we won’t get things right on occasion which might turn to bolster our confidence in our perception of what we know, but is the pitfall the devil is counting on, our arrogance to put us down the path to sin.  Sin is a highway paved with good intentions as the saying goes.  We don’t read and hope to enter life in order to get things wrong, but we do, and this is a constant.  The need for an objective authority to point out and explain where the parameters of morality exist is the shepherd we are all looking for in life.  As a father, I realize I must accept this, if I ever hope to teach true love to my wife and kids by example.  The Catholic Church for me, meets this standard I’m looking for, and although there are problems with the inner workings of the Living Church, the bones of objective truth still exist and should be applied.

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In case I haven’t sufficiently made my point clear, morality is found in the words of Christ and the teachings of the church.  Nowhere else will you find the proper dissemination of truth in your life, but it’s up to you in what you do with this truth.  It will be uncomfortable at times, and at other times you might even become disheartened and mad.  These feelings you feel are the pain of tearing away the sin which has become infused with you in life.  This pain is the pain of growth and of substantive understanding, of self-reflective capability, and above all else, like someone who has lived in the darkness their whole life and then suddenly is thrust into the sunlight, it hurts.  If you’re not currently holding to a moral life, then be courageous and start, accept the pain which will follow, but start right now, I promise a life led in morality is one which will set your inner turmoil to rest.  I pray God blesses you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Are We Shooting to the Middle?

Love in its most pure form has one look, unselfish desire to wish the best for everyone regardless of station or action.

Let’s hurry up and wait, or “shooting to the middle” have always been phrases I’ve known to mean mediocrity as a goal.  An average of sorts, which argues a point of minimum.  This is to say, if the minimum weren’t enough it wouldn’t be the minimum.  However, the point which is also to be illustrated is the overall aspirations or goals in life are to be the best at whatever we attempt.  One thing I’ve found over the years is just how much patience, effort, and luck I need to have in order accomplish whatever goal or dream I have.  Often times I have a tremendous amount of energy at the beginning of any endeavor, but as time begins to sit upon my goals, and inevitably becomes heavier, I’ve found maintaining course becomes more difficult as the seconds tick.  I think this would be a similar experience for most people, which is another reason we marvel at those who’ve seemingly moved past those barriers which tempt us to move forward, but keep us mired in the middle.  Haven’t you ever wanted to be something like an athlete or author, someone who accomplishes the perceived impossible or very difficult?  I know for a period of time, I was always trying to do one thing or another, and as usual I got where I was either bored, indifferent, dejected, or plain frustrated with many things I attempted without a true understanding of expectations as results and time were key considerations.  Furthermore, those failures began to mount in my life and by themselves amounted to very little, but at as a lifetime of failure and mediocrity stacked up, I hesitated to look at because of its size and imposition in my life.  So everything I failed at or seemed to fail at, was cast aside and became my mountain of problems.

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I was clearly shooting to the middle, I was hurrying up to wait, rather than taking in the path life was giving me.  I confess, this is always still an issue with me, I have to tell myself to slow down, be patient, and not to expect unrealistic results.  Which is to say, I’m like everyone else, and my frustrations in life are usually a manifestation of poor planning, poor expectations, and generally poor results.  No matter what anyone of us does, we can usually never overcome poor planning.  I once had a colleague who would opine the phrase, “poor planning on your part, doesn’t make an emergency for me” and although he never used it towards me, be anecdotally would tell me about how I needed to be on top of my duties and yet maintain a proper pace.  The pace being of course to have the stamina to finish the race.  Nothing looks or feels worse than the bravado to begin a race, but not having the endurance to finish because we have all tried to bite off more than we could chew.  We were either completely unprepared, perhaps we were foolish in an attempt to cast something off as easy and is anything but easy.  All in all, we mostly reside in the middle, because our fantastical notions are what I refer to as the “theory of best intent”, this is to say, and when we think of things coming to fruition, very rarely do we see the most extreme negative.  We don’t look for the worst case scenario when planning, because somehow this seems to defeat our efforts even before we begin.  However, much like an unbalanced load, when we over-correct often times we are still a little over-balanced.  Failing to be balanced, will still create a stress because we fail to properly take in the full scope of whatever we are attempting to do.  So instead of realizing the pitfalls to any idea, we assume the bravado of green light and great outcomes, and this gives us wind in our sails, and the perceived energy to approach the task at hand.  For me, this usually means failing to think out the small details, and those are usually what kill my plans, or at least the details are what prevent me from moving forward.  Think of them like prerequisites for a class, you need those details to line up, in order to give you the best shot at success in your goals.

A proper balance in life, is what allows us to operate most efficiently.  If you visualize the word, “balance” you might come up with images like someone trying to walk a tight-rope, maybe the scales of justice, or even an experience in your life which flashes images of and improper balance causing you tremendous angst and frustration.  Which is where I’m headed with all of this, surprised?  Shooting to the middle, is a great indication of improper balance in our planning, execution, and delivery as it pertains to whatever we attempt to do.  Marriage is a wonderful example of two people needing the balance to withstand the storms which crash upon them like waves on a beach.  By balancing the relationship and paying attention to those details, they are better suited to tackle those challenges life hands to them.  For a couple to be unevenly yoked, it means, one will carry a heavier burden while the other doesn’t feel the strain of the increased weight.  When this happens, the one with most of the weight will eventually collapse under the pressure.  It’s not a matter of if, but when they will collapse and whatever they have on their shoulders at the time of the fall will determine the extent of the damage.  When this occurs, you can almost assuredly trace back behaviors and actions which laud the race to the middle.

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They raced to be in a relationship, sometimes not taking the time to figure out just what this meant to be committed to another person.  Then they raced to marriage, making a lifetime commitment to each other and hopefully to God, and yet still they didn’t grasp the relative weight which was set upon them.  Finally, they raced to the middle in hopes to begin a family still not comprehending the gravity of the weight which now lay upon them.  A relationship, a marriage, a family, all of which if are done by one, become a mountain seeking to drain us of energy and hope.  However, if we seek to move past the proverbial middle, we must share this load.  Essentially, the weight of family and responsibilities is tremendous, but with another by our side, we only carry half, but with the passion to carry it all.  If both proceed with this fervor towards their relationship, then over time, we find we can move up this mountain in lock step, and accomplish the most enormous goals.

In a relationship, when one or both members realize they no longer want the responsibility which they’ve chosen, because of their fear of hurt or because of their apathy, they inadvertently cause the other, who may have suspicions when they notice an unbalanced life, to deal with everything.  A lonely existence when you may be the only one who seems to care or want the relationship.  This becomes compounded when going through the motions takes on a gravity all by itself, and so being in the middle becomes a practice of apathy and unbalanced decisions.

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Look at all the relationships we see where divorce was a surprise or even and inevitability, I’m sure in some cases we can look and see the signs of the doomed relationship, well before its end.  They shot to the middle and burned out because they couldn’t sustain a never-ending battle.   No person takes on a goal, realistically, in the hopes it will never end.  They don’t look at a race and hope it is infinite in its distance so they never reach the finish line.  Well, relationships are a lot like this, we need goals, and we need to see these goals realized.  Either in growing the family, career pursuits, home creation, and faith practices. Whatever the goal is, it needs to be realized at one point or another, or we will just burn out.  If we are always in the middle, we never see it realized and we become dejected by failure.  Sometimes, the push to the middle is a matter of exceptional perspective, this is to say, having a realistic expectation of our reality is the most important step in attaining a realistic goal.  If I’m a farmer in Kansas, then being the director of the United Nations isn’t a realistic goal when it comes to making decisions about my life.  Likewise, being in a relationship should never consist of goals for the other person, but rather goals for ourselves to attain.  Perhaps it’s a matter of increasing our prayer life, maybe to put our spouse’s needs in front of our own, it could just be to call our significant other and let them know we’re thinking about them and hope they have a better day than the one before.  The point here is, when we create goals focused on someone else, it never turns out particularly good, it may even end up a matter of manipulation to make another do as we would like eventually creating a rift or distrust between spouses.  Personally, I like me, and I want my wife to like me.  She doesn’t always agree with me, and I don’t always agree with her, but at the end of the day, we are both trying to be better for our relationship and for each other and in our efforts, we stumble and fall a lot, but the spirit is there to carry the load together.  Knowing this about her gives me energy to move past the middle and see to goals I’m currently working on.  I’m impatient, loud, and sometimes angry, I don’t listen like I should, I have more faults than you have time to read, but the point is I know she is working on a similar list and as we work together, when detours threaten to take us off course we work together to remove the anxiety and deal with the issue.

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I can only imagine what single parents must feel on a daily basis, the loneliness is magnified, because there is no longer anyone to share the load of familial responsibility, and there is no balance.  The work is all on them to accomplish a task created for two.  That’s right!  God, created this task for man and woman, we complement each other.  Contrary to the media’s belief men and women are different, we have strengths and weaknesses which when we prepare properly can be used to the advantage of the family, and in doing so become the will of God in practice.  The family becomes greater than the sum of our parts, in business this has been referred to synergy by some, but in the family this should be referred to a love.  Love in its most pure form has one look, unselfish desire to wish the best for everyone regardless of station or action.  In our culture today, this pure form of God’s gift has been diluted to focus on the emotive side of an action as the confirmation of rightness.  Problem is, when we dilute love, we shoot to the middle.  We’ve created a society based on feelings, rather than truth.  This society of feelings or middle dwellers shames us for what is impermissible and yet everything is permissible.  The problem we all run into is when we don’t seek the objective truth, or rather when we choose to stay in the middle, we accept failure as the new currency of relationships.  Don’t get me wrong, we all fail, and we all find ways to mess everything up, but as a matter of course for learning what and what not to do so we can finally reach our goals.  Too often now, it’s stated we should all be winners, but it’s ok if you want to accept failure.  It’s not ok, it never has been ok.

For those of us who may have been divorced at one point or another, can we take a true look back at our actions and find where we may hold the blame in a relationship?  Did we have poor expectations, going into the relationship?  Did we expect too much from them without giving the same in return?  Were we mature enough to handle the relationship properly?  Did we allow our selfish nature to make decisions for us, and in turn destroy trust and the ability to be balanced?  These are questions I’ve asked myself in the past, and honestly, I was ashamed of my answers.  Truthfully, when I was honest with myself, I failed all of them.  I made my spouse carry the load and in doing so, created an environment where we could never stay on course because we veered from one thing to another.  She could only do so much, and I wanted her to do everything, I was a bastard to my everlasting shame.  I will report, we are the best we’ve ever been.  We recognized we needed to rethink everything, we needed to redo everything, to tear down the unbalanced structure of our lives’ and start over.  This was very hard, but not as hard as it would have been to do it all alone.  Don’t mistake my innocuous statement of hard as just a single word of single description.  It was so hard, we argued, we fought, we battled over everything.  We were two titans with an agenda, and we weren’t going to be denied.  Then like a body of water in turmoil, it was as if a cleansing oil of salvation calmed us down.  We found a true starting point.  God, was this point.  We, in our own ways began to come closer to the God who created us and we embraced this, we prayed together and this further began to bond us.  Our shared faith began to yoke us evenly and we found purpose, a goal of sorts, to work towards.  We found self-reflection as a matter of course and no longer were we focused on fixing the other person, but we found egotistical shrinkage of ourselves as we began to chip away at the façade of sin we surrounded ourselves with.  As of today, we are more focused on the love we need rather than the desires we want.  This doesn’t make us perfect in any way though.  My wife knows I’m stubborn and hard to deal with at times, and yet she still finds a way to love me, she finds a way to accept me, an emulation of Christ Himself.  Christ who loves me, and accepts me as who I am, but doesn’t accept my poor actions and selfish behavior.  Christ doesn’t accept the middle, the lukewarm behavior.  Hot or cold, but no middle.

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So, if you’ve read this far, know this, you must move past the middle in your life.  The devil looks for this complacency in our lives and wishes to capitalize on our willingness to embrace our dreadful results.  Don’t give him the opportunity, move past the middle, move past you.  Take the time to focus on what you’re doing, and don’t jump into something without having a clearer understanding of who you are and what you want.  Don’t waste the life of another, because you’re unwilling to move past the middle.  If you are at a point in your life where everything seemingly is falling around you, stop for a second, pray, and then regroup.  If you need to tear everything down to the foundation, then do so, but this time build it right, take your time, don’t race to the middle, but instead be patient with your spouse be willing to understand who they are and how you fit into their lives.  If they are the middle dweller, patiently bring them in the path and teach them love.  Love isn’t something we all can just do, it’s something we must learn at times, it is something we must accept, even when accepting it means we might just be on the short-list of unrealized expectations.  Move past the middle, be willing to accept we can’t change other people, but we can work on ourselves and be better spouses, fathers, brothers, friends, and faithful.  Through our examples we have a great chance of becoming the reflective light of Christ and influencing those whom we love the most!  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

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Is Marriage A Bygone Fashion?

Love and by extension marriage is an all or none prospect, not something we give a half-hearted percentage to, but something we give our very being to. 

Is marriage a perfunctory trend, like all trends, has become old and worn?  What do we owe a life of unabated selflessness?  Isn’t the need for a husband, wife, or two parents obsolete according to what we see and hear daily?  What’s the difference between having parents of both sexes as opposed to parents of the same sex?  I’m sure I could go on all day with questions we all ask ourselves at one point or another, some of us may have even acted upon these questions.  The one truth is, this is a truth, a truth we can rely upon and even hope in, but not a truth where the reality is bendable to subjective relativism.  There isn’t a truth which relies on the emotive explanation of a pop cultural aberration of love.  Love which is as disposable as any material item we can own, and which we dispose of so we can make room for more material items.  This most certainly isn’t love!  I have spent many years searching for what love actually is to each and every one of us, and although, I don’t have the best explanation, I do have an unwavering understanding.  Love and by extension marriage is an all or none prospect, not something we give a half-hearted percentage to, but something we give our very being to.  Marriage is the most outwardly courageous expression of our love, because we stand before the Triune God, and all of the world to express our desire for a covenant which binds us to our spouse and with time the creation of God’s gift, the family.  The family is never a throw-away, and the family is never something which should be moved aside to make room for more “things” in life, and above all else, the family is something sacred and should be treated as such.

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Today, we are constantly bombarded with a media’s interpretation of what subjective morals and subjective beliefs we should adopt, in order to be “happy”.  However, there isn’t anything about the desire for continuous joy, nothing about the need for a construct of continuation in life past our perception of current existence.  We’ve come to the realization, as a culture, if we can’t explain it, then it is a figment of imagination.  At least, this is what the broader scope of the forced interpretation we are fed daily by those with the most obvious platforms for influence.  Though, if we step back we find, this isn’t at all true, very little of what we hear in the “news” or in the general social media is in fact true.  Of course there are punctuations of truth here and there, otherwise we would never believe anything (e.g. CNN).  The truth is, in every word which is spoken to us there is a subjective lean, something which creates a masterful manipulation focused on our seemingly independent choice to agree.  A manipulative argument designed with subjectivity, emotion, and in some cases outright lies to sway us in our decision making processes.  This is never more prevalent than in the consumer market, a place where “dreams come true” and we are separated from those who can’t possibly have what we have.  Maybe it’s not a cognizant effort to distance ourselves from those who can’t afford our lifestyles, but when this chasm is brought to our attention daily on every media device about the inequality of outcomes, a pervasive and convincing cry develops and threatens to erode the foundation of our very culture.

The truth of the matter is, the poor will always exist, and the perception of the rich will be the foundational argument to the poor’s plight (the wealthy are keeping the poor from being not poor, a fallacy of argument to be sure).  This inequality of argument will continue with everything which appears incongruent with the narrative being sold to our culture.  This narrative of perfect opportunities and perfect outcomes is a lie, the human right to be treated with fairness and equality is a verified objective truth.  However, the outcome of this equality is a harsh reality of life.  Take for instance, it should be every human’s right to believe in God in which ever manner they have determined to be best, and this translates into a proper equality of opportunity.  In some areas of the world, when those who choose the wrong “god” have been located, they are put to death, which is the most powerful example of life’s harshest realities.  To say the victims of terrorism deserved better, belies the concept of life.  No one person deserves anything over another, based on their intentions or effort, instead, we recognize the “chance” afforded to all of us when pursuing our goals.  To be somehow prevented the chance, by reasons of racism, bigotry, or manipulations is a basis of evil.  This is where we are now, evil, true evil, has found its way into our society on every level, and instead of a revulsion we, as a culture, are embracing a false narrative of freedom.

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Our new found freedoms, allow us to go and do whatever we want as a matter of course in life, and when our goals aren’t realized, we can blame those who are in turn blameless.  The story of Joseph (Gen 37) is a prime example of unrequited circumstances working against his perception of life, molding him to become the man he needed to be and to forgive those who sold him into slavery.  What he wanted, was no what was best for him, and because he embraced God, he knew what was needed of him.

So, this is my long-winded set up to the questions posed earlier, has marriage become a throw-away effect of long ago beliefs? Do we perform marriage for the benefit of a party, and as a matter of tax and death benefits?  In short, yes, this is where our society seems to be leaning.  When we look at marriages, we often wonder if they are on their first or second.  Of course when we see a young couple, we automatically assume it’s their first marriage, without catching ourselves.  Instead of assuming this is their only marriage in life, we number them as a matter of course.  We’ve been formed by a society which doesn’t hold marriage to anything more than a living arrangement.  With enough money and desire to do so, we can trash a marriage in a matter of months, and even punish the person we no longer like with punitive means such as child-support, alimony, or even psychological efforts focused on the emotional destruction of an individual we once shared our lives with.  There’s a problem here folks!  How did we get so callous as a people and a culture?  Where has our compassion gone?

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There is good news.  There is hope!  It requires work, a life time in fact, and the results may never be realized in your lifetime.  Can you handle this?  Personally, I love my kids and wife so much, I would be willing to do anything to make a better more joyful world for them, even at the risk of never seeing my work come to fruition.  The key to assessing anything and working to make it better is to understand every aspect of the problem, and from this understanding we create an opportunity to fix what is broken.  Marriage isn’t something which can be reformed, it is what it was always meant to be, and combining of a man and a woman to create a bond in order to have children and raise these children.  This is the most basic explanation of family I can come up with.  There is one very important distinction which should be realized when tackling this topic.  Marriage, up until recently, has always been a social construct, a contract set in social circles to create families and to perpetuate a “way of life” which coincides with their social existence.  For instance, a Christian family will honor a Christian marriage and will desire for the family to raise their children in a Christian tradition creating a lineage of social awareness focused on the propagation of this way of life.  In some cultures marriage was utilized as a simple contract to keep peace or to unite like-minded groups, but it was never an agreement in practice to focus on those which could not add longevity to social practices or groups.  In effect, marriage was intended to compliment those natural actions which benefited the group.  If it was seen as unnatural it was considered as such, and wasn’t a focus by the vast majority of any social group.  This was never in true contention, until we decided as a culture, to allow a non-thinking committee of sorts to make our social decisions for us, yes, I’m referring to the government.  A body which is focused on the over-arching wants of the people, and if allowed has no more constraint of power than what the vast majority of the people are willing to fight against.  Like a behemoth with unrestrained powers, the government is neither graceful, compassionate, just seeking an animal seeking to satisfy its wants.  It doesn’t do anything efficiently, and when compared to other better options, its one equalizer is it has your money to do with as it desires, up to and including the destruction of what it deems as unnecessary.

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Marriage is a very foundational block, which I don’t need explained to me, nor do I need people who have no concept of my way of life determining the value of my life by decisions.  The attempted destruction of marriage is moving with such ferocity as to leave anything which opposes it in a wake of destruction and often times down a path of sinful pursuits.  Now, I’m not being puritanical here, but obeying the will of God isn’t something to be flippant with nor is it something to cast aside because we don’t agree.  Marriage is a gift of love from God, even though it seems like it’s a punishment at times, but anything worth doing requires efforts which at times seems likes punishment but is really growth.  This growth comes from a natural progression of life (i.e. kids and age), without both of these progressions, this is just a relationship, but never a marriage.  Although, a government entity can dictate what laws we should live by, they don’t have the ability to legislate morality. As a matter of course anything which denies the sanctity of the institution God created through natural law and life, is an enemy against it, bent on the destruction of God’s Will.

This is either people failing to grasp the gravity with the vows they take, by the introduction of same-sex unions, or the acceptance of society to go and do as we wish as long as the perception of a relative innocuousness is achieved.  “I’m ok, you’re ok” attitude isn’t heathy.  Why isn’t there a more concerted effort to determine why societies maintained a level of moral discipline and suddenly we’ve decided (in our arrogance or hubris) we don’t need the adherence of these moral disciplines?  The answer is the absence of God in our daily lives. Every year, more and more people claim to have no affiliation with Christianity whatsoever, and without a foundational representation by the vast majority of our culture, we find morals lacking and in distinct obscurity, all at the cost of us doing what we want to do.

The truth of the matter is, we are unwilling to sacrifice for what we truly say we believe.  This is to say, when it comes down to the crucial decisions, we are more willing to maintain a status quo rather than do without because we like our materiality.  If someone required us to live in a monastery or convent for the period of a year, and to live a Spartan lifestyle, most would run away as fast as their feet could carry them.  But, why?  What is it about living with no material possessions, except what we wear is so terrifying to us?  The answer is, we love our stuff, and to be asked to do without it, is something we’re unwilling to do.  This is why we won’t go against the grain of society, this is why we are unwilling to become a social outcast because we disagree with the direction our culture is going, and this is why when those hard decisions (e.g. abortion, same-sex marriage) we defer to someone else to make our decisions for us.  At least if someone makes our decisions for us, we can complain and defer the blame to someone else.  If this isn’t you, I’m sure with little effort you can point to a loved one who does exactly this, and if we can all do this, then there is the answer as to why our society seems to be teetering on the edge of a precipice bent on our doom.

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I know this seems like a lot of doom and gloom, but I never present a problem without showing the opportunity to make it better.  God is loving and time and again, we push away from God, but when we realize our errors God awaits us with open arms ready to forgive.  So the first steps to the pathway of God’s will is recognizing forgiveness awaits us, as we repent our sins.  Second, the foundation of our culture resides in the solid foundation of the family, something which isn’t designed or made by a government entity, but something which is consecrated by the very God of the faith we believe, a covenant between you, your spouse, and the Living God.  Nothing else should come between this, and a covenant is never disposable, it can be reaffirmed but not thrown away.  Sex is meant for the procreative and love affirming of a marriage, it is meant for nothing else, and if both are not ordered in this manner, then the disorder of the relationship is what constitutes the inadequacy on the cultural and social construct of our lives.  People who wish to have sex either homosexual or heterosexual without the foundation of a marriage behind them is why we are now consider marriage to be just a fashionable trend which is seemingly not needed anymore.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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We need the foundation of marriage to teach children the balance needed in life through the exercise of our faith.  Without both parents committed to one another, and to the children they created by God’s help, we embrace a society focused on sins rather than virtues.  We will go from one problem to the next until we are exhausted as a culture, we allow everything and the only thing we won’t permit is anyone or anything (yes, churches) to become counter to this embrace of the devil.  Make no mistake, we are in battle even now, it doesn’t require we stand up and shoot our way out.  No, it requires dedication to God, and to stand up for what is morally right and put down what is morally wrong.  Marriage isn’t throw away, and isn’t a fashion statement we can walk away from.  Marriage is deliberate, it is wonderful, and it is the hardest thing anyone will ever do, if they care at all.  Make good decisions in your marriage, it’s easier to do than you think.  Become good teachers with your spouse and teach your children the ways we should live by, based on God’s will for all of us.  Defy those who would wish to tear down God’s gift to all of us.  Find joy in your marriage, this is something which can’t be taken away, no matter what is going on.  Love your spouse and your kids with every ounce of energy you have, and leave nothing back.  Because, if you won’t give them everything you have, then what on earth are you holding it back for?  Be passionate about your family, second only to God in life, your loving awareness, may be the lesson your great grandchild teaches their grandchildren one day.  May God bless you and your family and extended family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

“When in Rome”

The words of the Divine Christ brought the walls of the greatest empire the world had ever known crumbling down like as if it were a child’s toy finally succumbing to the constant abuse of the child.

I’ve heard the expression, “When in Rome” all of my life, and of course this turn of phrase has been in existence for a couple of millennia (Rome was of course the most powerful empire for hundreds of years, and the center of existence, much like New York is now), and during this time it has been used to explain our outward metamorphosis of us human beings to adopt a similar way of dealing with life.  Some would even argue it is an “anything goes” way of life.  This is only to say, we justify our behaviors by applying a “mob” mentality and adopting a methodology of what’s best for the group behavior.  On the surface, this makes perfect sense, going against the larger population isn’t always what is needed.  When we constantly run into “walls” of opposition, we tend to change course and this becomes inefficient to our daily lives.  We’ve all known the one person, who with little to no effort, makes every situation difficult.  Guess what, just like the old joke goes, if you don’t know anyone who does this, then you might be the difficult someone.  Though, what are we rebelling against?  If my wife were talking to anyone, she might even say, I’m the difficult one, and from time-to-time, I cause a great deal of stress by my attempts to be an opposite of an “easy going” personality.  In my defense, I try to go with the flow more often, but I’m just no good at it, and unless I see a logical or even philosophical point to my actions, I usually refrain from doing anything which would detract.  I think though, the “When in Rome” mentality is being used to a detriment at every rate possible, and those of us who claim to me of the moral majority, are really nothing more than marionettes dancing on the string of a larger and yes evil force.

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There are many books devoted to the explanation of why Rome eventually fell, and most come to a similar conclusion.  What strikes me as interesting is, we can all conclude Rome fell, and we can all see distinct points in time when the façade began to crack and then fall to pieces.  The major event I’m speaking about is the introduction of Christianity, a movement started at just the right time for the spoken words of God to be carried across the oceans and to distant lands exposing a truth, never before realized.  A truth, so terrifying to some, they put those with the message to death.  A truth, which illuminated a darkness so replete with sadness, death, and evil the lords of this darkness attempted to stop the flood of the waters of life.  However, much like us trying to stop a leak in a dam, this was never going to be possible and so the deluge of the truth of Christ became apparent.  A wildfire of sorts seeking to burn down the old establishment was racing across the lips of those few who heard it’s truth, and as each person began to believe the “movement” picked up momentum.

What did these people have which Rome could not offer?  Truth, the justice every human being innately desires to be set in covenant.  Let me be clear, Rome was the best the world perceptibly had to offer at the time, so one can easily imagine a truth which risks to take the obtained power from the power source and give it to the beggar and the leper.  This would shake the most fervent politician to their core.  And so, this is what happened, the “When in Rome” mentality began to waver.  People began to turn from their hedonism and selfishness to an introspective and selfless manner.  So much were they willing to accept the truth, death no longer became a matter of consequence, other than to accept it as a doorway to the eternal life promised by Jesus as he hung from the tree at Calvary.

Destruction of Rome

Ok, so where must I be going?  I’m sure you’ve already surmised my point is relevant to today, because fifteen centuries have passed since Rome succumbed to a truth more powerful than the subjective and wayward litanies of sin which it was built upon.  The words of the Divine Christ brought the walls of the greatest empire the world had ever known crumbling down like as if it were a child’s toy finally succumbing to the constant abuse of the child.  It took time, truth, and love to bring down this empire.  It wasn’t about going along to get along.  It was never about accepting the behaviors which are as detrimental to a society as they are to our very souls, and embracing them because our neighbors do.  Accepting truth may mean we are going to go against the very adulterated nature of those individuals around us, but it may also mean we are the light which will illuminate a path which has been in utter darkness for them.  When their path has finally been lit, they will see the “brood of vipers” which awaits to strike at every step they take.

My purpose for pointing this out is to make relevant the issues we face today.  I believe the knowledge of history is paramount to understanding and comprehending our now and our tomorrow.  When we presume our answers are to be found in one location, we find more often than not, a disappointment and even a profound sadness at being unable to ever find the answers we seek.  We are left unsatisfied, the cup of everlasting drink is never full.

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In today’s climate, there are points of view which do anything but apply the mentality of “When in Rome”, but by failing to go along with the main stream, they inevitably become a mainstay topic and they’ve recalculated the equilibrium of our society and now they are Rome.  Take the example of marriage, before about 50 years ago, divorce was highly frowned upon and so couples would stay in a relationship either out of love or a fear of being culturally put down for being divorced.  Especially the women, men seemingly could move on, but as women were homemakers and without skills or a trade, finding a new spouse and one who would take on a potential nest of kids was very difficult to say the least.  However, our culture challenged this paradigm, and found people in a “bad relationship” should leave if for nothing more than their health and the health of those around them.  Like a pendulum which swings to keep the tempo of the music, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other now.  Now, our society lives in a paradigm where it is fully expected for most people to have been married at least twice.  As though the first marriage was a test run, and the second is a matter of work because they figured out how to play the game.  It has become the Roman rule to look at marriage as a disposable endeavor and one which we should walk away from, especially if the perceived spouse doesn’t capitulate to our wants.  A husband who wants to behave as he did when we was unmarried and with no more prospects than to engage in mindless activities with others to pass the time out of boredom.  Maybe the wife, who is so needy as to demand her spouse do as she wishes because this is the societal perception of what a loving spouse should do.  When these paradigms aren’t met, it’s time to give up and leave the confines of the stifling relationship.  Sound familiar to anyone out there?  Truth is, society has told us, it’s ok to be a flake, and I’m telling you, based on God’s Will, it is never ok to be a flake.  Being mindful, considerate, loving, and willing to accept an objective truth which doesn’t agree with our own subjective thoughts and behavior is a foundational understanding of life.  When we are the minority of thought, we must look at Rome and realize it begins with us.

Our behavior and the very nature of everything we do is a matter of God and how we fit into the narrative of everything since time began.  I would never presume to insult anyone and explain the unexplainable, but even to this point my faith makes sense of everything I know.  It fills in the gaps, so to speak, of all I’ve ever seen or knew.  Marriage, death, life, abortions, agreements, disagreements, abuses, the Catholic Church, and everything under the sun become relevant and no longer can I just go with the flow of the popular majority.  It also doesn’t mean creating a rule by force, it means the very slow and methodical processes of attaining an understanding and teaching those we are most influential of and by the ways of Christ.  We may never see the results of this, but God does, and this is why it matters.  We have the power through every little act of life to bring the equilibrium back into the objective truths we need in order to follow those pathways illuminated by God.

UofT Prof

As we traverse the slippery slopes of conversations with others, what matters the most, isn’t how we “destroyed” the other in a debate or how we “obliterated” them with a heady comeback on social media, but how we knew not to stray from the path and how we prayed for our detractors.  In many debates, when I was willing to love the other person as they spouted vitriol in my direction, I was unable to hate, I was willing to listen and it was as if my thoughts were clear and concise.  They could tell, I cared about what they had to say, even to the most vile commentators, they eventually broke down their defense and although they didn’t agree with me, we came to a common ground of kindness.  This is all God needs, a foot in the door, so to speak.  We can help to open the door and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.  The phrase “When in Rome” as an effect to the hardness of our hearts, we become swayed to doing those things which we thought weren’t possible and now have become the rule of the day, until they’re not.  This is the danger with following the subjective, it can turn on us like a dime, and when it does we could be in the wake of a very destructive wave of hate.  This is the devil’s plan and purpose all along, to get us away from the light and then reign down destruction in an effort to destroy our life and the lives of everyone around us.  The devil’s purpose is to destroy, to rip and tear apart.  Have you ever tried to put together something which has been ripped and torn apart, it’s very difficult and takes time and patience.  When in Rome is the force behind the gash which threatens to destroy us all.

When in Rome is a seemingly innocuous phrase utilized by the masses to explain away those things which we don’t desire to change or think about, but if we’re unwilling to question what is being presented to us, aren’t we as much to blame for the goings on as those we allowed to commit the behaviors?

In our cultures today, life is no longer held to be a sacred gift from God, and hate is a manner of behavior, and not something so repugnant as to risk staining one’s soul.  We march around talking about how we will destroy this and that and lifestyles which were once culturally and religiously disordered are now the normal accepted behavior, and anyone who doesn’t agree is sent to the desert until they capitulate to the “Roman Rule”.  These are wrong, without a doubt.  The Church and the Bible are our two sources to know what is right and what is wrong.  However, these sources aren’t a matter of telling us what not to do, but instead showing us the path to walk.  The path of truth is illuminated and we must have the strength to turn away from subjectivity as a matter of course and focus on an objective truth.  We must risk being sent to the desert, for who we desire to be.  I’ve been told, “Love the person not the sin” from my wife for years, and it is so completely true and has carried with it the benefits of wisdom for years.  I don’t have to agree with homosexuality to love the homosexual, and in doing so showing through my actions a considerable compassion.  I don’t have to accept a hedonistic lifestyle of those around me (a man slut who sleeps with every woman he can find is not ok), but I do want to love the individuals and pray I can be a good alternative to the life they are choosing to lead.

I’m not perfect by any measure, and I’m constantly looking for those examples in my life as well.  We are a collective of people searching, it is imprinted on our souls to search, we are looking for those who’ve found the way and can show us where to go.  When we follow blindly, by being the Roman, we’ve stopped looking and are now just desiring to take an easy path and covetous path, a pathway designed to be full of good intentions but very rarely a path which leads to something good.  Love is hard work, and it is a matter of the soul.  Why would I trust the decisions of my soul to those who neither have an interest nor even believe a soul exists?  Short answer, I won’t and I don’t.  I pray during these hard days, God blesses you and your family and gives you the much needed light to show you a path which is hard but the truth!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

We Must Own Our Behavior!!!

God’s gift of free will, gives us the chance to grow, without our ability to accept ownership and learning from our numerous mistakes, an expectation of growth becomes unrealistic.

We’ve just added a new layer of complexity to the already abhorrent scandal of abuse, which has plagued the Catholic Church for decades.  We’ve learned about abuses which have spanned over seven decades in Pennsylvania and carry a pain which cannot be realized for the victims of those predators, or even an understanding of the desire to cover up what was wrong.  In many publications, I’ve read, there is finger pointing from everyone going everywhere.  Our initial reaction is to right the wrongs which were perpetrated on the victims, and the quickest way we know to do this is to vilify that which we don’t fully understand.  This has bothered me greatly, it’s analogous to those arguments of absolutism which hope to grasp an all-encompassing ideology or at the very least turn of phrase for everything which is wrong.  For example, some people might say, “the Catholic Church is evil”, but as I would hope many people out there understand, lumping everything into such an ignorant statement is neither helpful nor truthful.  So, back to square one, how do we fix what is broken, and how do we make right what others have seemed to make so wrong?

I don’t know about anyone, but for me, nothing can really be said to allay the emotions and raw anger which is brought about by such evil inclinations.  So, I don’t attempt to say anything regarding the actions of others.  Instead, it is more a reflection of my own behaviors and by extension and understanding the behaviors of others in response to my decisions.  I would hope this applies to all when really reflecting upon ourselves and all those situations which require more than a simple explanation or the scapegoating we all desire as a kneejerk reaction.  Ok, to begin, McCarrick and those religious named in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, are in need of prayer.  They’ve allow those suggestions by the Devil, to take root in their behavior and by their wills have perpetrated evil acts upon the innocent.  If the capability and the evidence is shown for criminal behavior, then they must face the music, and serve a societal penance for their actions.  If they are no longer with us, then prayers must be said for them, that they repented of their behaviors before leaving this world, for even Cain was beloved by God.  “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen 4:9.

Cain was sent to the “Land of Nod” Nod meaning to wander, he was set to wander with a mark set upon him that no one was to do him harm.  Even knowing the awful acts which he perpetrated upon his own brother, God still loved Cain, and wanted to see no harm come to him.  In this we find the root of our understanding on multiple levels of our behavior as it relates to the scandals which have broken out, but more importantly on how we choose to understand ourselves and those who would wish to do us harm.

We are often given and impression of the Devil as being something of a literary myth used to describe in almost a philosophical sense of understanding, about an inability to explain what we know to be evil.  This of course has more to do with an inordinate amount of philosophers and psychologists looking beyond their interpretation of myth for a more scientific answer.  In doing so, they cast aside perceptions which can’t be explained in pursuit of what they perceive can be explained.  Let me be clear, to utilize an answer of, “the devil made me do it” might on some level be correct, but isn’t effective when it comes to our own souls or acceptance of fault.  When we search for a scapegoat, using the devil defense as your go to, is the mother of all cop-outs and should never, on the basis of legitimate repentance, be used as a decent explanation.  We are bound to the discipline needed to look within ourselves and accept, although we have nothing to do with what happened, is our indirect inaction to play a part in the events which unfold around us.  Take the scandal for instance, although the bishops and cardinals had nothing, in some cases, to do with the criminal behaviors, they still didn’t do anything to prevent more victims, and this is tantamount to pimping the violator out to another victim and being subject to the same moral culpability.  Evil, isn’t just a psychopath running around the woods in a leotard and knife, it is also the inability to do what is just when we know by our inactivity the unjust will act.

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The Devil is very real, very smart, and more powerful than we can imagine.  Although, the devil has no direct act upon us, an intelligent suggestion by means more cunning than we can fathom, has the potential to derail our every understanding.  We see this every day, families ripped apart by selfish actions, never intended to bring about the results finally realized, but in their maturation have done just this and burned every imaginable bridge.  The devil delights in this, and just knowing the root of the term “diabolic” which means to rip apart, we find, we are more weak and useless when we intend to do it alone.  When we intend to get out of just treatment in our behaviors, we leave others alone to face whatever emotive traps await them and the subjective environment can be most unpleasant.  I’m not saying, repentance and even a societal punishment should be pleasant, but one where we accept our behaviors and agree to the punishment is a society where ownership is taught from the earliest age.  A perception of evil, always trying to disrupt and destroy, is at the forefront of our minds, and we would rather behave in a manner of love and accountability than one of selfish indignation.

Here is where I’m at with everything, for too long, the Catholic Church sought to deride a just construct because they employed the “devil made me do it” mentality when it came to those who embraced evil.  This is and was unacceptable, failure to make the priest or bishop own their behavior did more to allow evil to flourish than any one thing imaginable.  The need for priests outweighed the need for justice, and what’s worse was those in charge failed to put their trust in the Lord, and in their own desire to be esteemed and honored, they became hypocrites set to do the work of the devil.  Time and again, when we see societies, unwilling to place blame in its proper place and context, we see evil spread like a wildfire, consuming anything in its path.  The citizens of Germany, during the 1930’s and early 1940’s were as culpable of the holocaust as were the perpetrators.  If we are unwilling, even to the punishment of death, to stand on the side of justice, then we are as guilty in one manner or another of the evils the devil pushes to perpetrate on all of us.

As a father of three and a husband, accepting my faults hasn’t been easy.  I could have been inclined to explain away poor behavior or bad circumstances with any number of vacillations or contextual realities (i.e. “when in Rome”), but this never assumes an ownership of behavior or result as matter of ownership.  Instead, this gives me a sense of superiority, allowing me to take credit for what I want to take credit for, and push off consequences I don’t see as being fair or at the very least what I want to deal with.  Pretty nice paradigm, right?  Always being the good guy, never dealing with negativity, unless it’s drama I seek, but even then I control the level the drama sits at.  I did this for a time, and it’s exhausting, I lost myself through deceit and embracing of my decision to sin.  I failed to own my behavior and I failed to own my decisions which would lead down a selfish path always ending in heartache.  I hated myself, and in the process, everyone else who represented the life I truly wanted, the life to be with God through my decision to own every action and thought I have.  It’s my free will of course, and where would any of us be if we didn’t own our own behavior, active or passive?  We wouldn’t have free will is the answer, and our lives would be infinitely more destructive and worse than we could imagine without the ability to exercise free will.

God’s gift of free will, gives us the chance to grow, without our ability to accept ownership and learning from our numerous mistakes, an expectation of growth becomes unrealistic.  This applies in everything.  The Catholic Church, in the moral ground with which it stands is still a matter of man’s pursuit towards the light of God.  In this pursuit, there will be shortfalls, evil, willful ignorance, and lack of ownership in the general behavior of the church.  However, this living body of Christ, is always doing the work of God, and is always led by the Holy Spirit, and in the process of failure is always learning as the world moves on, to correct its mistakes.  In other words, to own its poor behavior.

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If I had any recommendation for the Church, do like you would do with so many others, allow them to face the laws of the land (Rom 13:2), and at the same time, pray for their souls and they may have the strength to own their behaviors and right the wrong in every way possible.  There is also the prayers needed for the victims to forgive, to stop being victims and move forward in their lives, and to embrace life as this bridge to a more beautiful existence with God.  Pain is a circle we will continue to walk with our heads down, failing to see we continue to walk a path of pain constantly.  Only when we lift our heads do we realize we must stop walking in this circle of pain and begin to move forward in our lives.

Ownership for me, was the hardest, most liberating experience of my life.  It was tangible, and it was something I could finally work with, something where I could envision God handing me the tools and telling me “make something beautiful my son”.  Just like any work, it requires revision and rework, it demands others to look upon this work, and give their thoughts, and it needs our loving attention at all times.  Men, this is where we can shine the most, own everything you do, right or wrong.  People may not always be a fan of this, but it is never about them, it is about our search for the truth, our search for our path, the search for God and the reflective light which will expose the darkest corners of our soul and allow us the ability for compassion and love to everyone.  If there are those people in your life, who have wronged you in some way, look into yourself and search out how you may have wronged them, search for a common ground and be willing to stand there first and wait for them, forgive them, pray for them, love them.  If you’ve done no wrong, then you must remember, even though they’ve decided to walk an evil path, you must still choose to walk the path of the righteous.  This means everyone is precious in the eyes of God, so we must all remember if we want God’s compassion, even in time of our own strife we must be willing to give the compassion at the highest cost.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

 

 

Painting by: Thomas Blackshear

What Does Objectivity Have to Do With Me?

I am aware of this context and the outrage which could be elicited by telling people not to have sex, but no one has ever died from living a sexless existence, but millions have died because sex is treated like an afterthought.

Often today, we hear about subjective and objective points of view.  We are faced with subject matter presented to use, as a daily barrage, as matters of fact, when in truth supposition leads the day.  The person telling us how we should be, places their own personal subjectivity of a particular matter, and in the process attempts to sell us on what they believe.  This has become so popular a trend, we see every form of entertainment jumping in on the game.  So, not only are we bombarded with how we should be by the media, we are then castigated by the entertainment crowd, and next it will be by our elected officials (you know the people we vote for will lecture us).  To be clear, I am not above a good lecture from time-to-time, and assuredly I don’t handle those as good as I should.  However, I tend to turn a deaf ear to those people who openly lead a life, one which based on my faith is less than virtuous, and lecture me or others into what is good and moral.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I would also contend, a vast majority of people would disagree with being lectured, or at least told how they should think, unless they knew for sure it was a matter being dealt with as an extension of love.  Take for instance, I’m am against abortion, for the obvious, it destroys a life, which left undisturbed, has the potential to become like you or I.  It is intrinsically disordered to kill life, especially for the purposes of contraception.  If you don’t want the potential for having a kid, don’t have sex.  I am aware of this context and the outrage which could be elicited by telling people not to have sex, but no one has ever died from living a sexless existence, but millions have died because sex is treated like an afterthought.  So, here we are, the meat of the matter, the subjective personally selfish potential to do harm, or the objective acceptance to which we acknowledge, life is neither fair nor easy.  We are bound to one another through familial relationships, work relationships, friendly acquaintances, or our desire to achieve a faith which transcends our own existence.  To say anyone deserves anything is an assumption others don’t deserve their plight based on the most minuscule decisions based in selfishness or happenstance we know.  In other words, to assume someone is either deserving or undeserving of an event in their lives, assumes a comprehensive understanding of the narrative which God lovingly wrote.  Impossible.

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In subjectivity, we find an ever-moving line which deludes us all into thinking we can control this line to be subject to our personal perceptions.  The fallacy which threatens to destroy us all is, if there are a million people, all have their own subjective points of view, which can turn on anyone of us, at any time, and where we were once in the majority of thought and action, we are now in a minority of ridicule and public admonishment.  When did the line move?  Weren’t we in control just seconds before it turned on us?  Sure, but humans are fickle creatures willing to pivot easily, in order to avoid a negative consequence.  I know truly I have acted in just this manner, and I don’t find myself extraordinary in the least.  What we see, is everyone has their own perception of the same event, if you don’t believe me, read any five witness interpretations of the JFK assassination and see if you don’t agree.  This was a murder which occurred in front of thousands of witnesses and was caught on film, and yet we as a population cannot agree on how it happened or who did it.  People place their own subjectivity in front of facts or logical implementation of understanding to determine a truth.  Imagine playing the board game, Monopoly, and imagine your wife is constantly changing the rules to suit her needs.  At one point or another, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the board being flipped up, a fight ensuing, and feelings being rubbed raw until tempers cool down (we play to win in my house, and if I’m being fair, my wife accuses me of changing the rules).  So, since we don’t want people just making up rules as they go, the gaming company does us all a favor, and prints out an objective set of rules everyone can play the game by.  We aren’t bound by playing by the rules, but in a focus on fairness we do.  We play by the rules, because objectively this is the only way everyone will receive a fair shot at a potential outcome in their favor.  This same rule of objectivity must be applied to all aspects of life, or someone at some point or another will receive the proverbial short-straw and receive an unjust treatment.  We see, in life, this circumstance happen all the time when we hear about an innocent person being sent to prison because of an over-zealous prosecutor, or a witness who lied on the stand, maybe even with a prejudiced jury.  At any rate, their subjectivity to the situation, prevented them from making a just decision and instead created and unjust outcome.  Isn’t this a litmus test which should be applied to all situations?

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I know my topic is rudimentary at best, but truthfully, it seems as though our culture is in love with its ability to think and forgot the very foundation of thought and processes needed to create a comprehensive thought structure to build a just society.  Now, I’m not referring to our system of government or law; we represent the finest system of law, the world has ever seen, with an ability to put the rights of the person (due process) before the offended party.  This is why we say innocent until proven guilty, because in the end, we would desire an audience of objectivity to weigh the facts and rule in our favor if we truly were innocent.  The subjectivity is put into a most awful exposure, as people are no longer willing to be truthful because as our society embraces secular ideologies, there is nothing more than our subjective interpretation to hold us accountable.  This is until an objective authority is enacted and we are bound to adhere to their rules.

As we continue to move down our own pathways in life, are we really bound to anything other than what we want or how we perceive things?  In the end, we have true free will, we can either choose to live by rules or choose to ignore them.  From a civil point of view, within the context of the societies we live in, we live by the law, because otherwise we would go to prison.  In prison, we are given a more restrictive law and we must abide, or the restrictions will increase continuously.  There are segments of the population who embrace the renegade lifestyle by perpetrating crime and adhering to a different more subjective lifestyle which meets their needs and wants.  Unfortunately, as I described before, someone always will receive the unfair point of their subjective wants, this is to say where there is a perpetrator of lawlessness there is a victim too.  The criminal’s subjective point-of-view, has become the new line of majority (at least for them personally), and if either you or I exists on the wrong side of this majority, we might just be the next victim.

Ok, so where is the relief in all of this turmoil created by a subjective perception?  God!  Constantly, I hear people refer to the Bible as a set of rules to live by, and hardly ever do I hear an acknowledgement of what we read as a manner of purification needed to stand in the presence of God, of sheer and unadulterated love and goodness.  I mentioned it a few times before, but go be with anyone whom you acknowledge as being truly good, and you will feel an unworthiness and second-rate perception.  Not because they make you feel less, but because of the intrinsic reflection of yourself you are made aware of and completely unable to turn away from while in their presence.  Objectively, this truth is what it is.  Only a person who embraces subjectivity, as a means of worship for their personal beliefs, will be able to turn away from this goodness, but all of us have this within us to look at the good and objectively seek it.

Ok, so where are we when we can objectively see what should be done, and then we decide to interject our personal view (i.e. subjectivity), we are headed down a path which will go where we don’t want to go.  How does this apply to all the men and fathers out there?  Well, since you have been given the unique responsibility to help lead your family down the right path, you are one-half responsible for making sure you look at the whole picture and you accept, although things may not be what you want them to be, there is a truth and failing to follow it is derisive of love.  That’s right, when we fail to follow love, or objective truth, we embrace sin.  We embrace an existence where we vacillate on every topic, where we should have exceeded expectations, and instead are bound with the other people who put their material needs and wants ahead of the better more substantive truth.  I know, from personal experience, there was a time when I was making very poor decisions, and yet I still had the arrogance to say to myself, “you’re a fairly smart guy, why do you keep screwing up?”  At the end of the day, I failed to look at the objective truth, this is to say, I failed to look at those principles in my life which are used as beacons to help me and those who subsequently follow me down the proper path.

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This is where the path of the subjective and objective diverge.  A path of principle is the only foundation our lives have in order to make work of the existing and yet never feel a need to look behind us, because we can trust the principle and the solidarity it possess for each and every one of our lives’.   In case you were wondering, yes, those principles are the ones we all know, and the ones which are the hardest to live by.  Take a lie, for example, something which if you ask anyone, they will express to you a lie is not acceptable.  However, today, many people will add an admonishment to their prosaic position on lying.   Their truth allows them to lie, if by their own subjectivity, they’ve determined the lie to be livable or miniscule in their perception of life.  So, in other words, people might say something like, “I lied to him, because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings” or they might say “I was never going to tell her she looked awful in her dress, I don’t want to sleep on the couch”.  Though when we look at the bigger picture both examples give us, we see a person desperate to save face or maintain status quo with no effort whatsoever.  Selfishness rules the day, when we accept a path where lies are to be permissible.  The alternative to either example is one which we always have options, some more distinct and potentially brutal than others, but nevertheless keeps one clean of making the decision for the other.  This is what a lie comes down to, its essential subjectivity; we lie to another person, because of our arrogance or hubris in assuming we can make a decision for the other.  We can’t, even if what we say, may cut to the quick by exposing truth to the other person, we are bound to look at our actions or theirs which brought us to the point, whereby a truth is so painful.  Sometimes, delivering bad news is as painful as anything we can bear, but to take away the raw truth from another person, to prevent them from partaking of the gift of pain which is God’s way of growing us, we assume the role of God.  When we fail to follow the principles in life, we assume we are taking control of the helm, at the bridge on a massive vessel, but in truth, we are like kids playing with a toy.  A toy which if thrown or left in a path could cause problems to anyone in its path, but a toy which sits on the deck of the vessel to which God has always had full control.

So, what I’m saying is, your charge as a man and a father, just like mine is to maintain a principled life.  A life devoted to God, through the practice of principles, which in the exercise of these principles we help to purify and maintain a pure love for the objective truth.  Objectivity is the only thing which we can truly know, and realize within the context of our lives and application of principles, where we know we are reflective of the light of Christ.  To be principled, is to love deeply, not feel deeply, but to love, to will the good of the other because they are other.  To be charitable, and always giving, the principle of putting others before ourselves is truly a matter of life and death.  To always tell the truth, but to express the truth with a compassion and love for each and every person, we should be the walking truth, we should always feign the possibility of taking someone’s free will away from them by deciding for them in our selfish lie.

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Our efforts as fathers and husbands is sometimes hidden or at least shrouded by our duty as fathers and husbands.  Objectively, I know what I am doing is best for my marriage and my kids, when I get to a point of unsuredness about my actions, this is where my wife is the best.  She is willing to tell me the truth, even when I hate what she has to say.  Of course, the only reason I hate it, is because it is the truth and I must look within to acknowledge I was completely wrong and in my wrongness I feel like a fool.  However, she is right, she is true, and if I’m willing to be courageous enough to listen, then we have a real chance of moving forward.  This might be the final principle I would encourage all men to embrace.  We must be willing to look within, in order that we might grow, we must be willing to look into ourselves and see the awful truth, if we are ever to prevent the sin from growing in our lives, and truly love God.  God is our focus, and he requires all of us to search for the truth and accept our sins.  Look for the objective truth, push the subjectivity our culture is pushing on all of us, as far from yourself as you can.  Objectivity exists in the light, as does God, and when you embrace the objective truth, you will see your life changes from night to day, and it is quite dramatic.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!