World Order

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and paralysis of the United Nations is evidence that we do not have any established international norms.

Fiction is presented as truth. Lives are taken without worry. War crimes committed with purpose.

The alarming nuance for most is this is happening between two developed countries, one with a nuclear Arsenal. The world has been used to third world or underdeveloped nations internal wars. Not that this is acceptable either.

No one is safe. No one.

How much further will we go down this path of military and economic warfare? Will we have any choice?

Ukrainian citizens do not have any choice today. We may not have any choice tomorrow.

We are already paying inconvenience dues as a result of inflation and the cost supporting Ukraine. We may not recognize it now, but our long term security and freedoms are also at risk.

A deeper struggle, lost in the business and drama of life, is the defamation of our humanity, of our collective souls. Indifference, numbness, helplessness, victim-blaming, denial, accusations, and other human reactions create a fog over the human suffering and deaths of thousands in Ukraine.

God, I have no power to stop the war. No influence over western or eastern ideological war mongers, no ability to stop war profiteering, no voice for those afflicted.

I ask the question from afar in the safety of my home – what can we do? Others, from refuge camps, Ukrainian cities, or ditches in the war zones are asking the same of us, and of God.

I look for hope and their are many heroes out there today. Thank you to each one of you who has acted courageously or compassionately in response to this war.

Ethiopian misery

An angry citizen of the world commented on one post here regarding Ukraine. Unfortunately, I did not approve the post based solely on excessive profanity. Silly really on my end given that his concerns and rage are valid and what authority would I have anyway to label them invalid anyway.

His basic argument and attack at my post and anyone supporting Ukraine is that we are racist for standing up now while ignoring Ethiopian poverty and war crisis. I will not refute this point. Refuges are not created equally. The circumstances, geography, national resources, alliances, and multiple other factors determine the world’s response, including implicit or explicit bias. If your curious about your own bias, check out the Harvard Implicit Bias Assessment test. It may illuminate bias that you were unaware of or chose to ignore.

There are so many geopolitical differences between Ethiopia and Ukraine aside from the race of the people suffering. Race, however, probably does play an outsized role on how the media portrays the different conflicts and how the world responds.

His argument though is one of false equivalence. An individual or group of people being anti-Putin and anti-war does not make them racist even if they never raised a concern about Ethiopia currently or in the past, or of other African nations.

Putting this aside as well, the main salient point is that western nations are doing more now then has ever been done for Ethiopia. He is right. And regardless of the reasons, the victims of Ethiopian civil war are still suffering, starving, or being killed as the country is largely cut off from world aid and intervention.

Suffering is suffering. I could post 10 causes everyday for the rest of the year and still alienate people that are not mentioned. The homeless in my own community, the incarcerated, the victims of racism or other forms of isms are all around me.

I have no answer for the magnitude of world suffering. Right now Ukraine is in the spotlight due to the power of the aggressor and the potential impact on world order. Next year this time people will not be thinking about Ukraine’s that were thrust into poverty and never recovered. The spotlight will be someplace else witnessing mans inhumanity to man.

Here is a recent article on Ethiopia. Hear his cry and give it a read. Be aware and help if you can. People are numb now to Ethiopia and other African countries. Some are already numb to the Ukraine crisis. As long as one person is oppressed and living in poverty – we should not be silent.

www.nytimes.com/article/ethiopia-tigray-conflict-explained.html

Your Life is Not About You

St Maximilian Kolbe | Westminster Abbey

I have a sweatshirt with this quote, not so much as to insult everyone else, but as to remind myself of when I am most at peace within my own skin. I am most at peace when I am unconditionally serving others. By service, I do not mean anything grand.

Service comes in many shapes and sizes. When I intentionally am looking out for the greater good of others, without expectation of reciprocal return, my life tends to be happier. It is easy to do this when things are going well. Harder when life’s misfortunes are at my doorstep. However, that is when I need this strength and spirit the most. Caving into any misery or misfortune by falling into the trap of “what about me” and the thousand versions of martyrdom that may accompany my anger, disappointment, and other feelings that accompany when life does not meet my expectations, is only selfish consolation, good for a momentary breath of acknowledging my sense of entitlement.

Most of the time, the situation and consequences are not about me. We often are victims of collateral damage by the actions of others in this world. It may feel personal and direct at the time, but often is just a byproduct of multiple interactions and complex dynamics creating an unfortunate outcome for us personally. It is insulting to our ego that it is not about us at all when these things happen: Health care crisis like COVID, MVCs resulting in life loss (motor vehicle accidents), job loss by organizational restructuring, or like the Ukraine people are experiencing now, War.

Maximillian Kolbe experienced this personally. He was eventually given sainthood for his faith and sacrifice at the hands of Nazi Germany. He was also made the patron saint for people suffering from and living with addiction.

The latter at first was confusing to me. He received this honor as the Nazi persecutors killed him with a lethal drug. However, on deeper dive, his teachings speak often to our attachments being given undue influence. His life was not an easy one, nor his death.

image-13

I am thinking of and praying today for the Saints living and fighting in Ukraine today. Many are giving their all knowing only death awaits. They know today better then we all know that life is not about them. Putin, NATO, and other international influences are not putting the Ukraine people first. Mothers, fathers, and Children are needlessly being killed today.

Maximillian would not flee Ukraine today. Nor would he lift a rifle. He would however bear witness to the evil, serve the suffering, and sacrifice himself for his brother.

I must read more about him. His story reminds me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also killed by the Germans. War brings out the worst in us, but also the bravest souls.

This article, “Be a Man: St. Maximillian’s Rule of Life” capture some teachings we could learn from today.  The Sober Catholic also has a piece on him.

War Part 4: Lazarus

Lazarus of Bethany: John 11:1-44: Lazarus

The biblical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a prominent source of teaching regarding faith and hope in Christianity.    Christians believe this miracle happened, as did Jesus rising from the dead (the resurrection).   As the centuries pass, there is a reductionist tendency to focus on Christ’s moral teachings rather than the miracles performed.   

From my point of view, there are two legitimate reasons for this tendency, including pragmaticism and utility. There is also grave danger. 

Pragmaticism:

When it comes to miracles, the theological debate on early Christian writings and the origins and style of the writers often have conflictual interpretations regarding if an account was a “literal” representation of history or a “figurative” used as a literary device for teaching.    

The figurative camp would probably do a deep dive into what we know about Death today through science. The biblical story accounts for concerns regarding the “stench” of Death as Lazarus had already been dead four days when Jesus commanded the stone be removed from the cave that held Lazarus’s body. We know scientifically today that Lazurus’s body would already have experienced rigor mortis through Autolysis and entered into the bloating stage caused by the gases that would have caused the Stench that Martha mentioned in this gospel.    We do not get any information on this from the biblical account other than Lazurs rose and Jesus commanded people to unbind him from the stips of cloth that covered his face and body.   

The literal camp would discount this objection pointing to lack of detail. The original authors did not see the importance of going into Christ’s ability to restore Lazarus whole and undue the damage done by the natural process of a human body decaying. 

Religious leaders and scholars have come to recognize that the mysteries in the bible and the theological debates and interpretations required do not neatly fit into 45-minute sermons on Sunday.   Pragmatically speaking, it is just easier to preach what Christ wanted us to learn from this account.

Utility:

Hopefully, Scripture and religion teach humanity to live holy lives aligned with God’s intentions. For Christianity, that teaching includes for all Christians to try to imitate the life of Christ in all they do. This biblical Scripture does not encourage me to try to imitate Christ and go out and raise the dead. I have not meant anyone who can raise the dead – irreversible cessation of all brain functions, no heartbeat, no bodily functions, and in the ground for four days. There have to be other valuable teachings coming from this Scripture for it to be included in Scripture and hold such a prominent place.

Grave Danger:

In my experience, this is a significant flaw in most organized religions. There is an over-reliance on the institutions of religion and “recipe” spirituality.   When this happens, churches risk becoming mausoleums of dead faith and hypocrisy. 

There is a danger to using Pragtamism and Utility unless the audience understands pragmaticism and utilitarianism implied in the teachings. The audience is expected to be aware of the more profound theological mysticism and unknowns underlying the teaching.   Any Sunday teachings are a starting point for contemplation, evaluation, discernment, and action.

If you have ever messed up putting together an Ikea purchase by intuition rather than by reading the instruction manual, you know what I mean.   Almost all manuals start with verifying you have everything you need to start the project. How many of us start building anyway, assuming all the parts are included?  And some manuals are just mystifying!

We have greater individual accountability to the God of our understanding and to each other individually than we do to our chosen church.   The same applies to our political affiliations as well. We have to be intellectually and spiritually mature to be of any use during times of great suffering and misery. That requires tools, experience, wisdom, and knowledge. All too often we enter into a crisis without all the tools needed to be part of the solution.

Believers leaving the sermons with a bit of knowledge and a genuine religious fervor ignited by well-meaning priests can be set up for a great fall from grace. Pause, breathe, think, discern…before you speak or act.

Returning to Lazarus:

Is Jesus Christ teaching me here about dealing with Death now while I am alive or teaching about life after Death? You can ask this question of almost any teaching in the Christian bible and come up with different answers each time. It is like the vase optical illusion; do you see a vase of two faces?     

It depends on where you are and what you are looking for in the picture! Today, I am looking at Death and destruction in Ukraine. Tomorrow I may be facing Death closer to my home or my eternal dirt bed. 

Ukraine and Russia:

Roughly 200 have died and over 1000 wounded in the bloody conflict between Ukraine and Russia.   I believe this must be an undercount. The story of Lazurus teaches me a few things about Death, suffering, and supporting those experiencing it:   

  • Sorrowful: Jesus did not rush in and fix things. He took time to weep with the family on arrival. He experienced loss as they experienced loss (35: Jesus began to weep). The passages describe Jesus as greatly disturbed. He was sorrowful with them. Jesus had what they did not have, a divine understanding of something greater than our human lives, but he was able to put himself in the griever’s shoes and knew such confidence was not possible for Mary, Martha, and other grievers. He was with them in real-time. He also set a message for eternal time here that Death has been conquered in him. Through Lazarus’s raising and his eventual resurrection, he gives us hope that Death is not the final chapter. We do not have the power to give this promise with certainty to freshly grieving someone. In time, we may give hope in eternal life, but right now, we are in real-time dealing with pain, suffering, and Death. I am sorrowful for the people in harm’s way in Ukraine today. These foreign people may not share my faith and belief. Even if they did – the reality of war may evoke a spiritual crisis. Now is the time for healing and support, not evangelization. 
  • Hope:  Both Mary and Martha attacked Jesus for not coming sooner. He understood their anger and frustration.    Lacking Jesus’ ability to raise the dead, I must understand and help when I can, burden the weight of rage and anger caused by great misery and suffering. If we were Jesus, we would be looking for the opportunity to bring peace and healing, hope and consolation. We may or may not have any responsibility for the war in Ukraine.    Hope is a Christian virtue. We hope and pray for better outcomes in Ukraine. We must also act as well to make that a reality. Shy of raising the dead as Jesus did, what can I do from the other side of the world?   I can pray, write, and give financial support. This hope is here and now, present day.
  • Faith:  My faith nourishes me to make sense of the impossible, to have hope in the future, and to serve others. I have only a few resources and glimpses of certainty in my God that propels me to live a holier life. This humbleness protects me from the grave dangers I mentioned above while still nudging me forward to try and be a beacon of light and hope for others. 

Today, I pray with great sorrows in my heart for the people of Ukraine and Russia living through war and loss of life. I pray for and support relief and hope now for a greater future for all those that survive and for eternal life for those whose lives have been prematurely ended.   

I know my prayers and financial contribution are but a whisper in the sounds of eternal time. I might whisper countless others to alter the course of history toward a more peaceful and harmonious planet.   Shy of miraculous and heroic capabilities I am left to pragmatic and utilitarian actions! The mystery of eternity and after-life can wait another day for me or many, many days if it is God’s will.

Charity of the day: Catholic Relief Services

Remember Ukraine in your prayers today.

War

www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/world/europe/putin-speech-russia-ukraine.html

It is roughly 4:30 a.m. in Russia, a country whose people I appreciate for their rich culture, brilliant writers, and stoic chess players. The authors though, stand out. Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev and so many others.

My soul has a Russian influence from these writers. These authors often went to extreme depths searching for God and the meaning of life. I don’t think it was driven by the long winters. They capture the suffering of the Russian people caused by war, poverty of the peasant class, the long scourge of Stalin’s rule, and war. It is in their genetic DNA to be driven to nationalism extremes and seemingly always immersed in class warfare.

Ukraine has only been independent of the Soviet Union since 1991. It shares borders, people, and a long history with the Russian people. Today, this morning, actions are being taken to reacquire portions of Ukraine or all of it. I fear for the people on the ground that will pay the price for this newest clash of nations.

Internationally, other nations are voicing opposition and threats of economic sanctions or complete silence.

It is unreal. This belongs in the history books or Hollywood. But it is real. Death, economic unrest, war traumas, and global distress are taking place now. Prices will rise and the poor will suffer. The wealthy will capitalize on the opportunities created in wars wake.

Right now American politicians are hedging bets, looking for away to come out the other end of this as a better candidate.

American people are disinterested and disillusioned. We do not hold the spirit and strength demonstrated by our grandparents to stand up for freedom and international order. Part of this attitude may even be healthy – not assuming we hold the answers and the moral high ground. I am not naive enough to believe things were simpler then, they were not.

We have the advantage now of a few decades more knowledge and instant communications. And we still don’t know how to have international order.

Where is God and our faith today? Putin is a cold blooded killer. He has no moral or theological limitations. Prayers and faith will not alter his course. He is not the heart and soul of the Russian people. Their government system and centralized power in the hands of the few make this aggression and other atrocities possible.

Whatever is happening on the ground now is man’s doing – not Gods. We collectively are failing humanity. More authors of human toil and suffering may be born today or tomorrow.

Four a.m. is for some God’s time. A time of solitude and prayer in the deep quiet of night. The Ukraine is about 4880 miles away from me, by crows fly distance. My prayer goes to them – I have nothing else to offer but that and a single voice of opposition to nation to nation aggression and war.

Update: war commenced at 5:50 a.m.

There are no coincidences? 

Last week I pondered the lack of certainty that is embedded both in the Bible and by the priest and theologians that dedicate their lives to sharing the Bible throughout the ages:  

When we turn to the Priestly caste, by whatever title we bestow on them, in times of suffering or when our mortality is near its end, we don’t want uncertainty or insincerity. We want hope, consolation, and support. Sometimes we may want answers that cannot be answered by the best spiritual leaders in our community. Many priests fail here, not out of lack of trying, but out of over trying to help. They simply do not want to not deliver their faith in a manner that can bolster your faith when your tank is running on empty.

On Friday, two days after that post, I had 30 minutes to kill why in town before picking up my wife

from work. I had just recently bought three fiction books via Amazon and had no reason to go to the public library but went in anyway. Two books were in the new arrivals section display caught my eye. The Pastor, by Hanne Orstavik translated by Martin Aitkin and Birds of North America by the Audubon society.    Hanne Orstavik book was translated from Norweigen. 

The book itself looked tiny and is a work of fiction. When I picked it up, I did not read or delve into the background, which led to one funny revelation. I was many pages in before it was revealed that the Pastor was a woman. I had assumed the Pastor was a man. On revelation, the irony of my error perfectly matched some of the conflicts that the main character endured in the book.    

I have just finished the book. As described in Amazon today, the book is “A thought-provoking, existential novel – as Liv searches for meaning and identity in her own life, she must find the words to connect, comfort, and lead others.” I would have known that the main character was a woman and that the book would cover some serious spiritual questions if I had taken a moment to reach the prologue. I did not, as I was rushed and had other books to read anyway. But for some reason, I picked up The Pastor that night. This was backup. About halfway through, I ran into this passage on page 193 by the main character Liv. Liv had a visceral reaction to a conference speaker describing how he was increasing church membership and outreach by, in essence, “dumbing down” the message and delivering it in terms that young believers could grasp and believe with assured certainty. Liv, having recently come face to face with untimely deaths caused by suicide, was shocked at the speaker’s cockiness and self-assuredness.     She fled the conference in the confines of her room said these words:   

“Stay with me. Tears trickled down my cheeks. There I sat, the Pastor weeping. With no way of comforting myself, unable to save me. The man who’d been giving the talk, going on like that about blessing, how certain he’d been. “I speak from the Spirit of God.” How could he be so certain? I didn’t have it in me to say anything of which I was certain. I couldn’t, I wasn’t capable. But they could, just how unfathomable to me. My job, which I’d accepted by joining the clergy, was it to be able to point and say that somewhere certainty exists? Something solid and true? Something that won’t ever fail?”

And a little further on down the page, Liv reaches the following conclusion: 

“But trying to get rid of contradiction and ambiguity couldn’t help, the fall would still be bottomless, for the Bible couldn’t ever be as tightly woven as that. And what kind of certainty would it give, if not a single question were left?” 

Two powerful statements answer a question I had reflectively posted the day before about the quandary priest face when consoling the bereaved, especially the bereaved for unexpected and untimely deaths. In the fictional character named “Liv,” the humbleness required to be a devout follower of Jesus Christ and the complex mystery of the Bible are clarified in the art of a fictional character living a complicated Pastors life in a foreign land. 

Finding this book was completely random and unexpected. Finding the passage above resonated with the spiritual question of the day regarding uncertainty (of laypeople or priests) and sincerely supporting the bereaved was timely. I would say more about these two statements – but I think they speak for themselves better than me muddying them with my interpretation. 

Many would say mere coincidence.    Bernard B. Beltman M.D. wrote an article in Psychology Today

entitled “There Are No Coincidences,” where he points out the contradiction on that phrase and summarizes the challenge here:     

“Coincidences exist. Coincidences are real. Saying that there are no coincidences stops inquiry. Challenging the statement forces us to make sense of its ambiguity and explore our potential involvement. You can choose the random perspective and with a wave of a mental hand, dismiss most coincidences as not worth further attention. Or, you can seek out their possible personal implications and make life into an adventure of discovery both about yourself and the world around you. As you explore, you may uncover the latent abilities hidden within you.”

Subjectively I believe in Coincidences.  Of that I am certain! Too many have occurred to me that have knocked me off my center of objective stoicism and non-belief in such events.  They are unexplainable.  The above example is only a trifle and easily explainable as a consumer of vast amounts of literature is bound to find countless crossover connections between materials.   I do not intend to convert stoics or non-believers of coincidence – they have a faith of sorts all their own, defended by a different set of principles or philosophers.  As Beltman suggests, rather than fight over the unknown, let’s just delve into the mystery of the potential meaning of coincidences when they arise with discernment and dialogue – open to whatever may come. 

I don’t know if I recommend Hanne Orstavik’s book.  I found the writer intriguing and the storytelling good.  The subject matter dancing around suicide and deep theological challenges spun in a time-warping manner.  However, if you expect existential answers and certainty – you may be left wanting more.   Perhaps the Audobon Bird book can provide more certainty! 

Perhaps this quote from the internet web of images captures the mystery of coincidences.

Post-note: The hardest tragedy is the loss of a child. The following resource is scored 100 out of 100 by Charity Navigator. If you are interested in giving consider the Sudc Foundation: https://sudc.org/grief-resources/#

If you have lost a child recently or ever – my heart, compassion, and prayers have you in mind today. No discussion of coincidences, theology, mystery, causation, or other abstractions can change the reality of the loss of your loved one. I found this message particularly powerful.

What if you finally meet God, and God looks like your worst enemy? | America Magazine

Even more astounding, Aquinas speaks of the beatific vision as something utterly satisfying yet inexhaustible. Come life’s end, we will see God, but we will still not comprehend God. We will not “take God in,” as we say. It will not be like Toto, pulling back a curtain to reveal the Wizard of Oz pulling levers. Such a comprehensible God could be reduced to a mental concept. Remember St. Augustine: “If you can understand it, it is not God.” That applies in the afterlife as well.
— Read on www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/02/16/homily-seventh-sunday-catholic-love-enemy-242413

Speak this way about Christianity or Catholicism in shallow waters and you maybe deemed a heretic. We like certainty and authoritative declarations. Uncertainty is to destabilizing for some believers and definitely for certain religious denominations or preachers.

When we turn to the Priestly caste, by whatever title we bestow on them, in times of suffering or when our mortality is near its end, we don’t want uncertainty or insincerity. We want hope, consolation, and support. Sometimes we may want answers that cannot be answered by the best spiritual leaders in our community. Many priest fail here, not out of lack of trying, but out of over trying to help. They simply do not want to not deliver their faith in a manner which can bolster your faith when your tank is running on empty.

This is where you may enter that Dark night referenced by St. John of the Cross. Being alone with God or with an emptiness that is unbearable and seemingly timeless can be terrifying. Think of it as a spiritual crisis or spiritual reckoning disorienting you beyond intellectual and emotive imagination, just totally transcending your religious training, your philosophical reasoning, your human experiences to date.

No, we don’t all have to experience dark nights. Some believers can seemingly always live in the comfort of unshaken belief. Others have to journey into the dark and wrestle with the existential. And yet another group rides through life without a second thought of their origin or their eventual end.

The article drives home a humorous satire…getting to the holy gates expecting a creator defined by your upbringing and imagination…and being confronted by your enemy is God.

Defining and refining your spiritual beliefs is uniquely human as far as we know. I secretly believe elephants and dolphins may know somethings we don’t, but let’s assume we own the market on seeking living a spiritual life. All we truly have is how we treat each other now, with our brief life here on earth.

Thought for the day

Do so soberly, calmly, creatively.

On the idea of praying for my enemies – Jesus was an example as he invited us to pray for those who persecute us. A paradigm shift transcended – who sees me as their enemy, whether accurate or simply based on how they perceive me? Are they praying for me? And if so, what would they want for me and my soul?

Am I hated based on my social status (white, male, authority figure of sorts), for my political ideology, my Catholic faith, or even perhaps for just being American and privileged? How well off are you financially: Global Comparison Calculator.

Whether I am a capitalist or not, I am certainly benefitting from American Capitalism and am represented, for better or worse, by American geopolitics and military action. As such, in many places in the world right now I am despised by people who have never met me or my neighbors. This is humbling and very sad.

Inside the U.S. we have a great divide as well over many division points. Do Republicans hate my political ideology and me? Are they praying for me genuinely? What would they ask for to change? Am I praying for people with opposing political views who I think are perpetuating persecution in our society and globally?

No matter where you stand – you will find trouble if you stand up. But stand up you must, not based on ignorance, but as Jesuit Tetlow said when describing fearing God he said to do so “soberly calmly, and creatively.” The same can be applied to standing up for human dignity worldwide.

Henry M. Terry | a flautist; a monk with a glass of wine | MutualArt

MutualArt
Henry M. Terry |

No we don’t mean soberly in terms of not being under the influence of alcohol – but that would probably help too when serious things are being discussed or done!

Imagine if we all acted and spoke “soberly, calmly, and creatively” when confronted with our own flaws, our neighbors flaws, or our larger societal conflicts. What fun would there be in that – an authentic and humane conversation well thought out and stripped away of falsehoods and misdirections – and sober to boot.

Regardless, we must try and we will pay a price for doing so. Do you happen to know who Marty Babcock is? I don’t. He is credited with saying the following:

Jesus promised his followers three things: They would be entirely fearless, absurdly happy, and always in trouble!

Starting with the premise that we are all sinners – it is reasonable to conclude that our personal sin or collective sin is responsible in some small or grand way for the persecution of others.

God be merciful to me and may those who we have offended or presecuted forgive me, forgive us.

In the meantime, perhaps we all can make amends for the harm we have done to others and try, with the knowledge that we are imperfect, to avoid adding more offenses by actions or words. This will mean standing up within our sphere of influence to change the wrongs being done in our name, one word, one issue, one action at a time…leaving the results to that unknown future that we cannot control individually.

O greatly Merciful God,... - Pray The Holy Rosary Daily | Facebook

Yom-kippur guide to A.A. Step 9?

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 9 begins with “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” If your a Jewish Alcoholic working the steps – Step 9 might not be that unfamiliar to you.

Although lifetime prevalence among Jews for alcoholism is lower than those with a Christian background, it still affects 11.1% of Jewish men and 3.4% of Jewish women with some studies hinting these numbers are on the rise for Jewish youth.

Yom-kippur is in short a day of atonement. However, a simple description of its spiritual importance and the days of repentance before this day cannot be described or defined by me here. Simply put, it is a big deal, akin to Christmas or Easter for Christians. The below article captures some elements of this religious tradition for non-Jewish readers, certainly not the rich history and theological basis.

Many see Alcoholics Anonymous as having Christian roots, but it’s written form and current practice steers clear of religiosity and practices a spiritual program without religious affiliation. One could easily adopt the principles of Yom-Kippur to A.A.s step 9.

www.nytimes.com/2021/09/12/opinion/yom-kippur-forgiveness.html

Forgiveness and seeking atonement is present in some form or another in must religious text. Psychologically and spiritually we recognize the value of atonement and forgiveness. In practice, however, this deeply moving and healing process often takes a back seat to our secular priorities and perhaps overheated political/economic conditions of our society. The latter should encourage us to seek out the former, not once per year, but daily.

Spirituality cannot be compartmentalized to within the synagogue, behind the Cathedral walls, or in a basement A.A. meeting. It is designed to be within every moment, every breath, every action – inside and outside of places of worship or self-help organizations with a spiritual emphasis.

Yom-Kippur is like an annual 9th step for everyone – you don’t have to be Jewish, Catholic, or an Alcoholic working the 9th step to practice seeking atonement and practicing forgiveness (safely).

A tradition worth exploring if you are unfamiliar. Almost attracts me to Judaism.

The Biden Communion debate shows the exhaustion of the U.S. church | America Magazine

Our brains have become re-wired by years of futile conflict, and there is no obvious way out. We are simply habituated to react, and it would take tremendous energy and time to change, both of which we lack.
— Read on www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/06/21/bishop-us-church-communion-wars-240902

Too tired to write…and this article explains why. Catholicism sees a member of the faith become president and chooses, rather than focus on his faith, to hold him to a different standard and create theology specifically for a sitting president.

I withdraw to prayer and solitude. My voice and my thoughts, not the brightest nor the least important, painfully have little influence on the American landscape.

I must tend to my interior garden, sure up by exterior love for those around me, and leave the rest for God and perhaps, people possessing the strength and wisdom to alter Catholicism’s course, and with it perhaps, the fate and faith of many.

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