Guideposts for a Catholic Moral Life

Guideposts for a Catholic Moral Life

The Person, Formation of Conscience, and Markers

            The impetus for this essay is an attempt to capture a lesson on living a Catholic moral life for the Rite of Christian Initiation program at the parish where I volunteer.  This was the summary lesson for our year.  I usually present from an outline that is saved with others from this year and preceding years as a resource for the program’s future presenters.  This year’s effort seemed more difficult and the presentation was made from notations I made during preparation.

            The subject matter here was preceded by a presentation on the concept of ‘being good’, reasoning why a person, any person, might consider working toward building such a character for oneself in an age where a relative approach to life’s philosophy is generally accepted.  A summary of this concept is the first part of this essay.  A discussion of the Ten Commandments of the Judeo-Christian heritage constitutes the middle of the content.  The third component presents the Beatitudes of Matthew’s recording of the Gospel.  Resources are listed in the bibliography at the end of the essay.

            The purpose of the overall presentation is as given in the title.  It is a summary of a year’s worth of instruction and conversation centered around the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The subject matter is likely to offend many in this third decade of the twenty-first century.  The Gospel of Christ is as controversial in this time as it was in the time of Jesus, when He came to fulfill the law and the prophets.

            RCIA leaders prayed with the presenter before the group gathered:

“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou of Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

            Opening prayer of the session with all gathered:

“Come, Holy Spirit.  Fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Thy love.  Send forth your spirit and we will be created, and You will renew the face of the earth.”

What is a human being?

            We are ‘embodied spirits’.  We are body, mind/conscience, and spirit, created by God for the purpose of relationship with God.  We are made of the ‘stuff’ of this world/universe, have life breathed into us by God, and given a free will to exercise our Conscience.  We are given to know the Creator God through the works of creation, nature’s laws, and an innate comprehension of ‘natural law’, a realization that there is more to our lives and our surroundings than what we can see.  There is a natural understanding that certain actions are ‘right’ actions and certain actions are ‘wrong’ actions and we are given to seek the differences between these actions while seeking the God who created us. 

            We seek out God with a free will in that we have the freedom given from God to choose to be in relation with God or choose not to be in that relationship.  This freedom of choice is exercised first in the mind where understanding is worked and developed as to whether any given action, we take upon a decision is a virtue (right) or a vice (wrong). Our purpose is to develop our choices of action to make habit of choosing virtue over vice, building our character in such a way so as to build the relationship with God.  The habit of making the ‘right choice’ leads to happiness, a sense of contentment of character the results ultimately in an eternal life in relationship with the Creator God.

            Concupiscence is the tendency of the human to choose against virtue and for vice.  It is a result of the body’s relationship to the material world and a desire to avoid pain and suffering.  It pulls the Conscience towards that which relieves the body of distress.  It can and often does override the ability to chose virtue when acting on virtue would result in and/or increase pain and distress even when the same is a consequential necessity for achieving the character desired.  The distress may be physical, mental, and/or emotional, any combination of the three.

            This making of free-will choices followed by physical actions with the body is the essence of ‘being’ for humans.  The life built in body and spirit defines our character and moves us on our journey from birth to natural death.  Our Creator God did not leave us to this on our own.  God’s part in being in relationship is to give us guidance for the formation of our Conscience, to give us markers to help know what we cannot discern for ourselves.  God gave us the divine law to shape our comprehension of nature’s law and enhance our understanding of natural law.  This divine law comes to us through revelation as Christians through the law and the prophets, and through the Incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth.

The Law – The Ten Commandments1

            Civil society in this beginning of the twenty-first century has presented the Judeo-Christian Law presented in the Ten Commandments as restrictive, removing a person’s freedom of choice and heavily regulating one’s life away from pleasure and happiness.  The methods of this are easily described in the practices of excesses that gathered into writings would fill books.  The truth of the Commandments’ value to humans more than three-thousand years after they were revealed and twenty-four-hundred years after being codified in writing is the background from which they come; a background ignored by present day philosophy.  The story of how the Commandments come to humans is chronicled in the Judeo-Christian scriptures of Genesis and Exodus.  A summary version follows here.

            The family of a man named Abraham lived in the hill country of what today is called Palestine/Israel.  The family subsisted as Bedouin still do today, on shepherding flocks and trade with those in their vicinities.  Abraham was befriended by the Creator and passed his relationship and comprehension of God to his family.  It was the time of his grandson, Jacob, that a famine took over the land and food needed to be procured to assist in the survival of the family and flocks.  Preceding the famine, the sons of Jacob became jealous of their brother Joseph because of their father’s love for Joseph.  They sold him off into slavery in Egypt, telling their father the boy was attacked and killed by a wild beast.

            Now it was to Egypt that these once boys, now men, traveled to seek the food and supplies they required for survival.  There were unaware that their brother Joseph was now the Vizir of Egypt, second in power only to the Pharaoh himself.  Joseph maneuvered his brothers, who did not recognize him, into bringing their father and his holdings to Egypt, where Joseph had prepared the kingdom for the extended famine.  Welcomed into Egypt by one of such great political power, Jacob’s family prospered and multiplied for generations.

            Decades passed and new Pharaoh’s forgot the lessons and power of Joseph and recognized only that a great body of people called the Israelites were prosperous in their midst.  Fearing a possible uprising, the kingdom enslaved Jacob’s family and held them so for several hundred years.  Their freedoms were stripped.  They were forbidden to worship in relationship to God.  They were forced to labor to build temples and cities to the Pharaoh’s and the Egyptian gods.  Among them rose a legend, a promise of one who would save them from the slavery.  The Pharaoh feared an uprising and had all the male children born in the past year killed.

            One was saved.  He was called Moses because the woman who saved him, Pharaoh’s daughter, drew him from the Nile river.  He was raised as an Egyptian, found out to be a Hebrew/Israelite in his maturity, was exiled, and became the leader who would bring God’s word to the new Pharaoh.  The Pharaoh released the Israelites after observing months of plagues and terrors visited on his people.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, after more than four-hundred years of slavery.

            But slaves don’t know how to care for themselves, rule themselves, form community among themselves.  They only know what the Egyptians told them.  They only knew the rituals of the Egyptian gods.  They only recognized the images of the Egyptian gods.  This was the Israelites way of understanding their world.  Though free of Egypt they were not free. 

            The Ten Commandments are a gift of freedom.  They are a foundation for forming community.  They are divine revelation, divine law, intended to free a people to worship God and give them guideposts for the formation of their Consciences.

The ‘DO s’

            These actions form trust in a community.  A pledge to divine law and to each other forms the foundation for a strong family, community, and nation.

  1. I AM the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.  You shall not have other gods beside me.  You shall not make …an idol or a likeness of anything…

You are free.  Work with me and nothing will enslave you; no one will bind you and keep you from me.  Let no thing, not food, libations, substances, or material command more attention from you than you give to me.  You are free.

  • You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.

I AM the Creator God.  You do not know my power.  You cannot wield it.  Respect this difference between us as we relate to each other, as a sign of love for each other.

  • Remember the sabbath day – keep it holy.  Six days you may labor and do all your work, bur the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God.

This is a day of rest and respite.  It is a day of renewal.  Join with others in renewing our community, our love relationship.  I give you this gift.  Give it to yourselves as well. 

  • Honor your father and mother.

In the Beginning you were commanded to be fruitful and multiply.  Your parents fulfilled this command and in love (however great or small) you were brought into the world to be with Me as well.  Honor them, for they honored Me.

The ‘DON’Ts’

            Action taken against the community breaks down the good will built in the first four commandments.  These change the fundamental relationship of love and trust and must be avoided.

  •  You shall not kill.

Killing another breaks down the community.  Killing a life takes something that is not yours to take.  All life belongs to Me.  Killing a person does not stop with the body.  Killing another’s spirit, taking their life by killing their mind, their free choice, their Conscience is the same as taking their body’s life.

  • You shall not commit adultery.

In the beginning, the woman was drawn from the side of the man, to be his partner.  Not from his feet, that she would bow before him, and not from his head that she may lord over him.  “…and the two shall become one…” each providing from their given talent that they may become greater than their parts.  Keep this dignity between you, as a covenant sign of the relationship you share with Me.

  • You shall not steal.

I give you what you need.  What I give to others is what they need.  Be satisfied, and if not satisfied, use the talents I give you to learn and grow and care.  Consider that I may withhold something from you that I give opportunity to another to care for you as part of the community.

The DON’T even THINK about it

            The conscious consideration of ideas contrary to community opens the mind to concupiscence and is to be avoided.

  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Telling the truth keeps community strong.  Telling a partial truth, or bending the truth, or refusing to share the truth, to deceive is to break apart the community. 

Lying kills community.

  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Man and Woman become one as a sign to the community of My love and relationship with the community.  It is adultery to even think of breaking up such a holy bond. (Mt 5:27)

  1. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

Focusing on wanting another’s talent or gifts is to spend time away from strengthening one’s own.  It is a cheat against the gifts awarded and the chance to increase those gifts for the benefit of oneself and the community.

Virtue – the Fruit and Seed of Moral Acts

            “Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfection of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith.  They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life.  The virtuous one is one who freely practices the good.”2

            The theological and cardinal virtues were posted between the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes during the presentation.  These were so for ready reference, visual consideration during the conversation, and for relating to both the Decalogue and the opening of Matthew’s record of the Sermon on the mount.  They are listed here for similar purpose.

Theological Virtues

Faith                Hope               Charity

Cardinal Virtues

Prudence                     Justice             Fortitude                     Temperance

            The virtues tie in the use of Greek philosophy by the Christian Fathers and Apostles to describe, explain, and expand on the Gospel concepts in a society where the civic and cultural foundation was laid by Alexander’s empire and subsisted into Roman times.  Where the Greeks taught of a human soul that was a shadow of something greater and outside of the body, the Hebrew scriptures told of the spirit of God and the spirit of Wisdom as living signs without which humans could not hope to find happiness.

The Beatitudes – the Opening of the Sermon on the Mount

            Father John Riccardo raises the concept of the Beatitudes being a list for losers according to the twenty-first century civil society.3 Concepts of ‘poor’, ‘mourning’, being ‘meek’ as though helpless, giving ‘mercy’ as a sign of weakness and so on are signs of humans unable to handle themselves in a Darwinian world of survival of the fittest.  No one in their sensible mind would want to emulate any of these Christian values.

            The Christian view, though, is that the Beatitudes may be viewed in a number of ways.  First and foremost, they present one portrait of Jesus.  Each characteristic may be seen in the Gospel through His words and His works.  The descriptions of character and virtue may also be viewed by the Christian of any age as a character to work toward in one’s own actions.  Standing in the practice of choosing to follow the Commandments, the virtues of the Beatitudes provide for the further formation of one’s Conscience, making decisions according to them until such decisions become reflected in the habitual practice.  The Christian lives first with Jesus inside of themselves, and through the subsequent practice of action brings Jesus to life for others.

            Also, the word ‘blessed’ may be translated from the Greek to mean ‘fortunate’ and ‘happy’.  Happiness was defined in the opening of this presentation as a sense of contentment of character the results ultimately in an eternal life in relationship with the Creator God.  Therefore, those working toward or emulating these virtues find themselves living a ‘happy’ life.

From Matthew chapter five, verses 3 – 12:

  1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

To emulate ‘poor in spirit’ is to practice the virtue of Prudence and Temperance.  It is knowing when one has ‘enough’ for what one needs.  It is to avoid excesses of the ‘things of this world’, to learn to pass through that wealth that one does not require and/or cannot redirect to the maintenance of the kingdom of God.

  • “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Comforted by God, by the divine laws and spirit of Love.  Mourning may include despair, depression, confusion, and hurt.  Learning and living these divine revelations provides a salve for these and raises one towards a life of happiness.

  • “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.”

Among the weaker synonyms of this virtue are found stronger, disciplined words intended for the Christian.  Subdued, forbearing, humble, orderly, patient, modest, and peaceful.  These all come from a disciplined conscience, a mind that holds the body’s action toward an ordered life, order bent toward the divine law in pursuit of happiness.

  • “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

Emphasize here ‘righteousness’ as with the virtue of Justice, where each has enough for what they need.  Following the divine law provides faith, hope, and means to discover and acquire that which is necessary for life’s journey.

  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Jesus teaches us to pray in Mt 5:9-13, the Lord’s Prayer.  “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…”  Mercy is at the heart of daily living.  Further, in Mt 22:35 summarizing the first four commandments, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the pastoral message of Pope Francis.

  • “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”

The heart was thought by the Greeks to be the center of life.  Since the heart does drive the body’s engine, here is where the energy of life was thought to reside.  The mind and Conscience have since been shown to be the nerve center, the thinking and control function for the body.  Here, in the Conscience, creating habitual choice for the good, the ‘heart’ is cleansed, and God can be found.

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Those who are so gifted to discern the hearts of others and can bring others to peaceful action, preserving the wholeness of community have found the means to evangelize the world.  They have great responsibility to bring together other people, whether within their own household, between household, or between nation states. 

  • “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Can one stand on the practice of virtues?  Can one weather the storm of argument, of bullying, of mental challenge and of physical violence as received by the world as a reward for practicing these virtues?  This one who can do so has found true happiness.

            There are traditionally eight Beatitudes.  Perhaps it is too much to bear, or too much to believe when looking at the last one, the ninth one recorded by Matthew.

  • “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you {falsely} because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Look at how they treated the Savior, the Son of God.  Those on the mountain that day in Galilee could not imagine what would become of the Lord.  We look back and can know it in all its horrors for the record of the Gospel and of the historians of the day.  Even Rome’s Senate eventually outlawed the use of crucifixion as punishment.  Yet, martyrs sacrificed themselves for hundreds of years afterward rather than deny their faith in Jesus and the Way of life He taught.

Summary

            The purpose of the presentation is to remind us of who and what we are, physical bodies with life breathed into us by God, giving us rational minds with which to make choices.  Those choices are discerned by a free Conscience to drive physical actions of the body.  We have nature’s laws of being as do the animals, and an innate desire to seek what is good.  At the same time, the nature of the body includes concupiscence that drives us to select what is pleasure and painless, beyond what we need and against what may be best for us.  The Spirit breathed into us allows us to recognize God’s divine law as we form our Conscience.  The habitual choice toward the good builds a stronger Conscience and drives actions that demonstrate the internal character of our minds and the intentions we select for our lives.

            The Ten Commandments are a gift of life for communal living.  Contrary to the perception of civic society, these laws were given to ‘us’ as our ancestors came out of four centuries of slavery.  Told what to do and when for every action by their overlords, the Israelite community under Moses’ leadership needed guidance for holding their very extended family together.  Freedom was given us under these circumstances, a freedom that comes from knowing the difference between a moral ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  It is through the understanding of these laws that we have the freedom to build extended communities without fear.

            The Beatitudes are a portrait of Jesus Christ, a means for us to understand our own progress on the journey of life and gage the quality of our Consciences.  Moving toward these virtues moves us toward strength in moral character to bring us happiness, and in the end of our days, to an eternal life with the Creator God, through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, and in unity with the Holy Spirit of God as we live.

Bibliography

  1. Exodus 20:2-17.  Catholic Study Bible, 3rd Edition.  Senior, Donald Gen Ed; Oxford UP. 2010.  Print.
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1804, Second Edition. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1997. Print.
  3. Riccardo, John. “Why Be Good”. Christ is the Answer program #753, Ave Maria Radio. 2013. Compact Disk recording.  Avemariaradio.net.

Don’t Wait for the Pot to Boil…

A Meme making the rounds on social media shows a picture of some ‘protesters’ inside the U. S. Capitol being confronted by the polices. The caption is “did they comply”, in reference to recent shootings of the same question being asked of (specifically) black men stopped and questioned by police officers on the streets.

The answer to the question is ‘yes’. Yes, the Capitol protesters did comply. The Capitol was cleared and the business of the People continued. The perpetrators were ‘hunted down’ using news footage, security tapes, cell phone videos, and the Internet footprints of the leaders was gathered. More than three-hundred now stand charged and are awaiting jurist action, while the leaders have been formally defined by law enforcement as domestic terrorists. There was no burning, little looting, and the immediate death was of a protesting Air Force veteran shot by security. Later, a security officer died of injuries. The latter’s funeral was given great pomp by the media. The former, only a bye-line mention.

Now, can we say this about the year-long riots in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Richmond, Chicago, NY, ….  who’s held accountable for the burning of the federal court houses, the ICE offices, the police stations;  How has the law been used to hold the ‘free’ press accountable for their ‘insurrection’ support by their misuse of language, cowering under the banner of the 1st Amendment while the nation burns?

Remind me… have those who violated their State Constitutions in taking executive action to change voting rights been held to account?  No….

Remind me…have those who failed election laws allowing signature verification of mail-in ballots been held to account?  No…

Remind me…have those who failed to hold States to account for their executive actions violating State Constitutions been held to account by the Supreme Court?   No…

We are currently in an historical ‘vortex’ of social and moral relativism, where those desiring and gaining power are abusing the Constitution by using it where they see fit and ignoring it where they seem fit, with the apparent compliance of State and Federal Courts, and with the complicity and use of corporate policy to drive change in an un-Constitutional direction. 

As recently as this week, (April 12th, 2021) the press refused to address looting, burning, and rioting in Brooklyn MN as such, and admonished the police chief for so stating at his press conference. Only the alternative ‘new media’, reporters on the Internet outlets gave this story to the public. For corporate (ABC/CBS/NBC/NPR…) it was not even mentioned.

My friends, to continue so is to lose that which defined our nation and allowed for it to grow to be the bastion of freedom that pulled the world out of war just seventy years ago.  THIS is the FASCISM we fought against.  THIS is the SOCIALISM we fought against.

WAKE UP!  I IMPLORE YOU!! 

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A Very Busy Day… for having just been executed…

Jesus has a busy day today. First, there the whole re-animation.

Talk about stress! Beaten, bled, broken, crucified, suffocating to death….then invigorated with the power of creation…wow!

Next, there’s meeting with Mary Magdelene and calming her down her hysteria about not finding his body…

OK, next, gotta go and see The Creator so he ‘can’ be touched by others…planning ahead, of course…

Next, walking out of the garden and meeting up with Cleophus and his wife and party to walk to Emmaus, about a six mile walk from Jerusalem, telling them the whole Salvation history, stopping for supper…offering the bread and wine, and disappearing….

Finally, appearing in the upper room with the ten (remember Thomas isn’t there) his mother and some others, hiding out in fear, distraught, and saying “Peace be with you” and convincing fishermen and a tax collector, a Zealot, and a religious student that he’s real flesh, not a ghost, a dream, a vision…

Jesus, God Almighty,….! …ah…er….

oh yea…it IS!!!

Happy Easter! Hallelujah!!

Courage or Cowardice: Leadership Makes the Difference

Vice President Harris points out the U.S. is and always has been racist. Blames President Trump: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/03/19/vp-kamala-harris-racism-is-real-in-america-and-it-has-always-been/

Racism and all other ‘isms’ are human nature, as ancient as the species. It will always be with us.


What set the U.S. apart was the Declaration that ‘ all men are created equal’ and set a new country on a path to create a better union. Celebrating the successes of that union allowed for freeing slaves, voting rights, and the Civil Rights laws that have provided a growing freedom for all and set such an example that post WWII spread to half the world. That conflicts remain are a sign that every generation must work for the Declaration and continued improvement.


We have elected an administration that choses to emphisise the divisions and hatred and blame someone specific for ‘misery’ as they have for decades. Victimhood is celebrated in place of brotherhood. It take little cowardice to tear down a people by blaming others.


It takes great courage to recognize and stand by faith and law to build a great nation.
80 million of you voted for cowardice to lead this nation. Too late you will see where it leads.

Vice President Harris points out the U.S. is and always has been racist. Blames President Trump: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/03/19/vp-kamala-harris-racism-is-real-in-america-and-it-has-always-been/

What a ‘RUSH’!!

Politics aside (for those who will allow) Rush Limbaugh had two inspirational ideas he emulated:

“Talent, on loan, from God.” – too often taken as a braggard’s bravado by casual listeners and opponents, those who listened often knew the efforts behind his work and grew to understand Rush’s growth in his Christian faith.  The intonations he used to express this changed over the years to one of humble appreciation and responsibility.  Would that all of us practice those ‘talents, on loan, from God’ we are given and share them with others in the same humility ‘til our own passages home are complete.

“School of Advanced Conservatism – there are no graduates” – his approach was that education of those principles of life is an on-going, never-ending study, where knowledge leads to practice, leads to lessons, leads to study, and the cycle continues.  Politics is the study and management of how we are to live together, how we organize ourselves into cohesive communities to advance our civilizations.  To this goal he gave 38 years of his life.  Would that all of us were so dedicated.

Godspeed, Mr. Limbaugh…and thank you for your example.

https://www.breitbart.com/the-media/2021/02/17/talk-radio-legend-rush-limbaugh-dies-of-cancer-at-70/

Of Kingdoms and Empires, Rise and Fall

Hebrew and Christian scriptures recall the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Israel in the books of Exodus, Judges, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles (3 & 4 Kings).  A sizable family of Israelites flees oppression of the world power of Egypt and spends forty-years forming and solidifying its faith and principles in wilderness country.  Conquest and settlement give twelve branches of the family sway over the commerce and spiritual ritual living in the hills and mountains of the eastern Mediterranean coastline.  They manage quite well for several decades.

Businessmen, elders of the nation of Israel look about their lands and ask the Prophet Samuel for a king, to manage trade and consolidate the power of the twelve tribes under a single banner.  It is against the concept of family and the religion to do so, and a warning is relayed from God through Samuel to these tribal elders.  This effort will add to the burden of the people through additional taxing of time and wealth to support a central system.  Still, the elders insist and Saul, the Benjamite, is chosen to lead these Peoples.

David consolidates the power of the tribes after Saul’s demise in battle (and by his unfaithfulness to spiritual principles).  David creates a kingdom that the scriptures describe as a great power and archaeology tells is a small, independent fiefdom amid the greater powers of Assyria and Egypt.  Still, it holds together, and leadership passes to David’s younger son Solomon.  The kingdom is said to continue to grow in size and reputation through 1Kings chapter 10, with Solomon’s wisdom guided by the Queen Mother Bathsheba.  Then, another Queen enters the picture.

The Queen of Sheba arrives to see this great wise King of Israel and it seems fortunes change.  1Kings chapter 11 tells a story of Solomon drifting from the wisdom he prayed for, deviating from his duties to lead the people of Israel in their God-given principles of living.  He began practicing other rituals of his foreign wives.  He pressed his tribal leaders to continue to pay tribute and taxes for his continued spending on entertainment and supplication of his foreign relations.  Finally, 1Kings11:26 begins the story of Solomon’s demise, and subsequently the division of the kingdom; Judah and Benjamin for the southern kingdom loyal to the king and Simon along with the remaining northern tribes follow Jeroboam.  It is eighteen-hundred years before Israel will be a ‘kingdom’ for all of Abraham’s, Isaac’s, and Jacob’s descendants again.

It is a micro-story of the rise and fall of nations.  Prosperity brings a desire to ‘play’ in a larger venue, to gain broader influence, to gain more wealth and power.  Continued reading of these scriptures presents the intertwining of these Israelites with the powers of the world; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome.  The sizes of the governing power grows and grows until one nation has a world-wide dominance for several hundred years.  England becomes Great Britain and creates its Commonwealth.  Britain’s rule births the United States of America from its management (or mismanagement) of its thirteen colonies on the North American continent.

So goes the United States. Businessmen dissatisfied with their treatment and the limitations of their influence in trade and taxation gather in a Continental Congress and form a new nation.  The Constitution of that nation is based on the study of the empires come before it.  The Greek Plato’s ‘Republic’ teaches the lessons of democracy.  Rome presents to these men the concept of the Senate as a deliberative body guarding against the corruption of the Caesars’ executive powers.  Judges deliberate between the people and their businesses.  The Magna Carta of England lends the concept of the Peoples participation.  The Judeo-Christian scriptures give common principle to formation of the laws under the Constitution, so much so that these authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence pledge their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor’ by Divine Providence.

The history of these United States demonstrates these concepts are continuously challenged.  Aaron Burr, one of these founding Fathers, attempts repeatedly to form a more British system, with the wealthy controlling the country rather than the People.  Slavery continues despite the words of the ideal that “all men are created equal”.  Another war must be fought to end its practice, and another hundred years of struggle before the ideas of that practice are attempted to be quashed by Constitutional amendments.  Others see these attempts and try to rid the country of other ‘isms’, formulating laws and amendments to protect their own interests.

All the while, the misreading and the misunderstandings of the Judeo-Christian principles continues, and these fall away as other, more seemingly ‘modern’ concepts creep into the Peoples’ minds.  The principles brought over by immigrants and carried across the land by pioneers, the foundations of common beliefs, becomes diluted and eventually dissipated.

Now comes the new Founders reviving old concepts of broader influence and more integrated wealth management and consolidation.  Now comes Zuckerburg and Soros, Gates and Bezos, the new media moguls, the international businesses now outgrown of the freedoms afforded, tested, and exported by the United States.  Now comes Amazon, Target, Facebook, Twitter, international airlines, and a world economy.  Now comes the Trilateral Commission and its affiliated non-government organizations, and the world will once again be changed as another ‘empire’ comes to its own demise by its own principles and the purposeful miseducation of them.  Now come the new Tories. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/

We have watched the loss of a consolidated faith in the Judeo-Christian principles of scripture to the philosophy of ‘Relativism.  Our laws are based rather on the desires of individuals and the slavery to creditors (personal and the government).  We have watched the demise of the rule of law, the flouting of the Constitutional rule by multiple States and National bodies of the United States.  Scripture records “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mt 12:25; Mk 3:25; Lk 11:17) and the sixteenth President of this empire quoted it to inspire the People.  One-hundred fifty years after that attempt, we are divided by more than a single issue. Rule of law vs judicial activism, environmental activism vs manipulation of the environment, population control via abortion vs respecting life from conception, exploitation of racism, exploitation of immigrants, exploitation of and misinformation of wealth management, and the ‘Rebels’ defending the Declaration and Constitution are publicly declared unfit, requiring ‘retraining’ or ‘extermination’, are a few of the issues. Many today want to reconcile the differences of the People without recognizing the reasons and purposeful practices that created the divisions. The ‘Tories’ listed above are but a few and visible ones, yet they are the ones who brought about this demise purposefully.

What remains is for any still faithful to the spiritual scriptures and to the concepts of the Constitution to return to the practices of the original values providing us freedom, living those principles we hold so dear, knowing the trials and tribulations of the ancestors that did, and bracing for the persecutions to come. 

Is this ‘Valley Forge’, or is this the great divide? How well those principles are lived as example to and sway others will determine the answer.

Eighteen hundred years is an awful long time.

Erasing National Political Boundaries?

Feb 9th, ’21 NPR’s Market Place Morning Report gives Bitcoin closing at $46K on Feb 8th. Pretty good price for a nontangible idea. Does this new Emperor have any clothes? Will it become the new world standard as international banks begin to share these ‘credits and charitable organizations begin ‘accepting’ it into their books as ‘real money’? It appears to be so. Seems its not really much different then using a piece of plastic to trade numbers in a bank account for merchandise. Last thought…. if its banks that ‘back’ the Bitcoin, what’s the point of sovereign national borders any more?

Protest/Riot/Insurrection – Why is Main Street Different from Wall Street? A Call to ‘ACTION’

This weekend and coming week we will hear and see more and more in the media about an impeachment trial of a former President of the United States. One word is used in the Articles in order to justify and amplify the political argument against this President. The use of that word demonstrates the real division within our country, a division between Main Street and Wall Street.

That word is ‘insurrection’.

It’s been used by politicians and media to characterize the events in Washington D.C. on January 6th, 2021. More than a hundred protestors vandalized their way into the U.S. Capitol, disrupted the business of Congress, and fatally injured two Capitol security officers. The ‘appearance’ of instability of the federal government could not be tolerated and more than 25,000 troops were called up to occupy the federal capitol city. 5,000 of those troops remain.

However, the word was not widely used for the riotous behavior of the masses across the nation in the summer of 2020.

Cities across the nation erupted into violence for months and that violence continued through January. Tens of thousands of vandals attacked federal buildings, burned police stations, injured and killed police officers. Mayors and Governors declined to allow federal troop assistance to quell the riots. Prominent political figures, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandra Ocasio-Ortiz, and the current Vice President Kamala Harris called for the violence to continue as a protest against institutionalized racism in the United States.

247WallSt.com reports as of August 2020 $1 – $2 billion dollars damage has been done. This number exceeds the amount of the third covid-19 aid package currently moving through Congress. Four months of rioting, with five more to be accounted for.

But these did not constitute ‘insurrection’. These were ‘peaceful’ protests against social injustice. These actions took place on Main Street, in and around our homes, diminished our safety when the politicians took away funding for our local police forces and did not allow for State and National authority to weigh in to help citizens.

When the politicians were threatened and the ‘appearance’ of the federal systems’ stability was challenged, $500 million was expended in less than a week’s notice to bring armed troops into Washington DC.

The divide is illustrated. Political factions have benefited. Corporate and Finance has been stabilized. Main Street is still fighting for recovery.

The call to action is simple and should be accepted across the land at the grass roots level, for it is the grass roots, the citizen and immigrant alike that are being trampled for the sake of the elite and global commerce over those that actually drive the use of that commerce.

Tweet/post/write/copy&paste for the remainder of February about the misappropriation of the ‘I’ word to any and every editor, media, and sponsor. The effect is expected to do little except remind the ‘elite’ that the grass roots pays for their prosperity. This effort is one place where we can unite as citizens, as Americans, particularly if the combined efforts top the 150 million combined number of our votes for either ‘side’ last November.

God speed, and God Bless these United States.

Black and White. We Need a Different Path.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” MLK Jr. Aug 28, 1963.

And yet, still today, Jan18 2021, our ‘diversity’ laws and programs focus on the color of skin rather than the content of character. Diversity of race rather than of ideas drives hiring, access to education, selection of diversity managers and directors, and the rhetoric of public discourse in the quota requirements legislated. Prominently, ‘blackness’ is pitted against ‘white superiority’ in our media, while the mestizo, Latino, Indian, Native American, Chinese coolie, and others fade to the background. By law, the distribution of federal funding required by the 1964 Civil Rights Act has institutionalized the racism it was intended to mitigate. Congress chose to continue the racist arguments.

On this day, let the events of our recent months of social turmoil turn us turn to programs focused on content of character, comparing and contrasting virtues of character instead of color of skin, and bring Reverend King’s dream closer to a reality. Let us require in our primary, secondary, and universities the teaching of virtue and vice, of moral codes and simply ‘right and wrong’. Let corporate diversity programs redirect their efforts towards behaviors based on the virtues of cultures rather than the race that generated a given culture.

This CAN be accomplished (with no apologies for the use of capital letters). We’ve watched corporate American and World businesses change society from homogenous to heterogenous in under two decades where gender ideology is concerned. The LGBTQ community based the gender arguments upon this civil rights legislation. Business ought lead the way to a world where racism is an historical academic subject rather than an ongoing social argument. If it does not, then like the ‘euphoric’ days where the 1964 laws were first believed a success, racism will continue to plague our society and the social gains of other programs modeled after it will likely fail as well.

If you’ve read this far, let me state plainly I do not think this is possible in our current social construct, or ever. Arguments of race and gender are matters of internal formation of conscience and humans have collectively lived in a relative moral coexistence. The driving force of discord is the difference in moral development and moral choice for a given society. These choices ebb and flow over generations. Only when a society is steeped in a common moral code is it cohesive enough to banish from ‘public’ view those actions deemed unacceptable, while the private ‘conscience’ may hold the contrary beliefs. Probably the most evident example is the continuing war between Islam and the Western culture, where the oral tradition of the Q’ran is taught throughout the Islamic world and the West has an ever growing diversity of thought, lacking its former common commitment to Christianity and the Bible.

Main Street is Burning. Wall Street Must Come to Its Aid (but it did not)

This article first published on LinkedIN as a commentary for why major corporations should take action on the riots of the summer of 2020. It was edited and updated as indicated below. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/main-street-burning-wall-must-come-its-aid-john-zoll/?published=t&trackingId=rtPlrc8jLbTfBHTADsWBYQ%3D%3D

Edit January 13, 2021: But Wall Street did not come to the aid of Main Street. Not until the Trump political rally on January 6th, 2021 did Wall Street and major corporations begin to take action. Some of the rally’s participants pressed into the Capitol building during the certification process and disrupted the actions of Congress. Five people’s lives were lost in the event. While this pales in comparison to the riotous activity across the nation in the summer of 2020, only this threat to the perception of instability and the U.S. currency motivated major corporations to take action. Political donations are halted to those who support the President. Social media corporations silenced the President’s social media accounts and throttled traffic to conservative websites. One new social media company was shutdown by the AmazonWebServices. Congress moved to a second impeachment process with only days left in the President’s term of office.

Businesses across the country on Mainstreet have been shut down, boarded up, and some burned out by those who do not believe in the philosophy of government this Pledge (of Allegiance) represents. The purpose of this LinkedIN site is to promote business relationships. This will not be successful when the governmental philosophy under which business is conducted is undermined. ‘Powering through’ without addressing the erosion of the foundation is a fatal decision.

‘Philosophers’, of which I am one as a theologian, do not necessarily earn much money. Business leaders, from the small business owner to the company and boardroom CEO’s do, and they make money for those of us who invest, whether directly or through our retirement 401Ks. Preserving the foundation of business operations requires the preservation of the method of government under which we all currently work.

Philosophy is not something commonly discussed. Rather, terms of ‘strategic planning’, ‘tactical advantage’, and ‘financial stability’ are the normal watchwords and guiding principles of business. What happens when these are impacted by a shift in the conduct of government?

What happens has been demonstrated over the past four months in the streets of our cities where a lack of support by government for law enforcement results in the damage on Mainstreet. What happens is demonstrated when the cable and airwaves call this damage ‘protest’ instead of ‘riot’. What happens is demonstrated when the businesses of sport suffer market ratings drops of 30% and 40% over the same cable and airwaves transmissions.

The ‘attack’ on our government, and the Pledge in particular, started decades ago. School children were not required to stand and say the words nor taught the need to understand the words. We had ‘international’ students who needed to not deny their own heritage, we were told. The requirement was an ‘infringement’ of students’ free speech rights. Parallel to this, the Stars-and-Bars were taken down at public schools and replaced with other national ensigns. Only a hundred years ago, during great European migrations, making this pledge was considered essential.

Instead of a ‘melting pot’ society, where all nationalities blended and yearned for the freedoms of the United States and the ‘American Dream’, the segregated society was encouraged. 

Business requires labor to conform to business policy for the promotion of successful operations. Labor conforms or finds other business to join with for successful ventures. The struggle has been in the boardrooms for decades as well, and the boardrooms have followed ‘politically correct’ policies… to the current environment. Business is more culpable than government for the current situation.

It is up to business leaders in the board rooms to make the changes, to recognize the failed social policies of those promoting ‘politically correct’ and to make the changes necessary to support the freedoms of the Constitution over the desires of the socially diverse. Is it more important to set up divisive policy within, or require conformity for unity of purpose?

Main Street is burning. Wall Street must come to its aid.