Category Archives: Philosophy
Personal beliefs, attitudes and value system.
Searching for answers is rarely easy and the most frequent mistake people make is looking outward and focusing on the external environment. To really get to the bottom of meaningful questions and problems, the Secret is to look within yourself, your core values and your relationships.
- Forget Webster’s, for words are but vehicles
- Forget Funk and Wagnalls, for it is but an interpretation
- Forget Google, Yahoo and Bing, for they exist only on a screen
Instead, step back and away from the world, eliminate all distractions, and examine your heart. Call it intent, purpose, commitment or conscience, the answer to every question we have in our life resides in our heart.
And the reason that is true is because there is no one else like you. You were created as a result of the sheer Will of God. Many people confuse biological birth with the true meaning of life. Indeed, we focus on the mechanics of things and largely ignore the why, the role, the significance, and the vision.
Christianity is very much the same. We are inundated with rules, protocol, history and obligation, yet the essence of Christianity is being aware of, and consciously deciding, what is in our heart. Christianity is a feeling.
Indeed, Religion vs Christianity is much like the difference between the Reference Manual for an airplane as opposed to actually flying it in the air! The Word of God is a Living, Breathing, Conscious Way of Life, not a book, a building or a regularly scheduled worship. And that’s How I’ll Always Be…
“Church is a moment and expression of reflection, prayer, repentance, forgiveness; a belief in and a feeling of love in your heart…. THAT; is Church. Just as God’s existence is not bounded by space, time or matter; our ability to communicate, worship and express our love for and with Him is likewise limitless and without confine.”
This video will be the BEST two minutes of your day!
When you consider Civilization and all its impacts (society, culture, interdependence, communication, growth, maturity, sophistication, survival, etc.), what are the “rules” that any civilization lives by? More importantly, what are the rules based upon? I believe that rules or the laws of civilization are based upon (initially) survival, and re-population. In essence, the needs of the individual take precedence.
Then, once a civilization matures and basic needs are provided, it moves up the hierarchy of needs, much like Abraham Maslow created in 1943, when he published “A Theory of Human Motivation“. And as any civilization climbs the ladder of development, focus shifts from the individual to one or more larger groups, i.e., neighborhood, community, state, country.
One thing is certain, and especially for groups, is the need for law and order, protection, authority, penal systems, etc. And again I ask, what are the rules of any civilization based upon?
The word that hopefully pops into your mind is morality. And without question, morality that rules an entire civilization, cannot come from man himself, because morality implies a perfect standard to achieve and there are no perfect people in this world. Thus, morality must come from an external source, a perfect source, and that source is God.
“One would surmise that Laws based upon morality from God could produce no evil in the world, yet, today, we have drifted so far away from God as a civilization, that we can no longer hear His Word, guidance, much less, direction. Bad has become Good, Wrong has become Right, Evil has become Worthy.
Collectively, the singular solution to our problems within ourselves, relationships, family, neighborhood, community, state, nation and society… is God.”
All Laws of behavior are based upon Morality, and all Morality originates with God. Therefore, all Laws originate with God. Be well.
(So, you think you know who Charles Darwin is?)
(Below: Pay Special Attention to Profound Words at the 7:35 mark.)
In today’s world, we are bombarded with information; sounds of music, flashes of light and color, fluid motion, visions of warm tropical places, imagery of goals worth achieving, memories of childhoods past, scenarios of futures awaiting, temporal aspects of life, emotions and frame of mind, outcomes of poor decisions, rewards for a humble life. Indeed, all these sensical stimuli invigorate our thoughts, sway our judgment and populate our mind. Critically, they feed our soul.
And at our core, that which supports all the processing and analysis of this information is what I prefer to call, “The Voice that Matters“. This voice is silent, yet dominates and influences our actions via our thoughts. This voice formulates our opinions, guides our lives and determines our future.
But just what is this voice, where did it come from and why does it speak in silence? At the foundation of our being, we are creatures of free will; possessing the ability to think, reason, make judgments, form opinions, reach decisions and implement actions. The image of the proverbial angel and devil on our shoulders is so apropos.
Still, others identify this voice as our conscience. And it can manifest itself in our minds as darkness, solitude, light, echoes, angels, demons, perhaps parents, a friend or a person from our past. Regardless of form, this force of energy materializes whenever we are presented with multiple paths for decision or action.
And truly, this voice does matter, as our lives are impacted as a result of our thoughts and actions. Rest assured, we are never alone, yet at times, the world certainly can make us feel that way.
“To the degree we acknowledge, trust, leverage and listen to the voice that matters, our lives can be enriched and stretched or constrained and limited. Even more paradoxical is the revelation that it is our own doing that ultimately directs or creates our future. We are not soulless victims, but rather, energized gladiators. Life is not a matter of chance, but of choice”.
Morality, norms, spirituality, integrity and intuition, all feed our internal voice like an engine of sorts, powering our thoughts, guiding our actions and monitoring our behaviors, setting our path forward. Each of us has multiple futures, determined by the choices we make in life.
The quality of our being is in large part, determined by our resilience in resisting temptation, our resolve to reach and implement moral behaviors, our commitment to authenticity and our willingness to embrace and acknowledge God in our lives.
The real question is which words will you talk… Which path will you walk? Can you hear the sound of silence?
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence
As the seasons echo changes in our physical world, so too, does age mimic the passing of time. In an eerrily similar fashion, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter parallel our human life’s transformation of Child, Adolescent, Adult and Elder.
Without question, both transformations represent distinct, yet related stages or phases of growth, in the physical sense, and yes, also in the metaphysical sense. A cursory glance of each cycle could easily end purely on the visisble and tactile plane, yet, when examined at a more subterranean level, multiple layers of context bubble up to the surface. Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual and Cognitive strata collectively define our being as individuals.
And as surely as the seasons elicit deep understanding, wonder, amazement and respect, so should life… So MUST life.
As we (individuals) progress through life, knowledge is learned, experience is gained, values are formed and reinforced, behavior is exhibited, relationships are made and developed, and most importantly, wisdom is attained as a collective result. Truly, wisdom is underrated in life.
Indeed, as your children grow as children of God, they are as sponges in the ocean to your lead and example as parents and responsible adults. Your words and actions, your compassion, your discipline, your teaching, your Love…. blend a message your children directly and subliminally receive and absorb.
“Yet, inasmuch as this environment contributes to our development as human beings, it is unmistakably guided by each person’s free will, choices and decisions. Our life plays out at the intersection of responsibility and accountability. Indeed, actions have consequences”.
And then… physical maturity catches us from behind and prevents us from returning to our youth. Many perceive this “fact of life” to be madddening, frightening, horrifying and just downright abhorable. Yet, the other side of the coin has a redeeming merit; for it represents the shadows, profile and characteristics of everything we desire to share with others… and that is Wisdom.
So, parents and seasoned humans skilled in the profession of “life”, take stock in the beauty that is wisdom; Adolescent and Adult sons and daughters, take value in the beauty of your parents and elders, for they are a rich and robust source of wisdom. As they age and their physical acuity begins to fade, never forget the tremendous insight they have about life. Their life experiences may not even be known to you, yet assuredly, they suffered, they rejoiced, they learned valuable life lessons and they simply want to share this wisdom with you because they Love you. Moreover, they possess the unique ability to package, customize and deliver that wisdom about many facets of life to you; if only you allow yourself to be open, receptive and appreciative of it.
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my old man was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around; but by the time I became twenty one, I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years.”
– Mark Twain
If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that even though my relationship with my dad was rocky at times, I learned a tremendous amount about life and living from him in a relatively short period of time; about self-respect, compassion, focus, humility, and excellence, along with a few things not to do. And from my mom, I learned the gentleness, tolerance, caring and duty to family that is required to achieve spiritual maturity.
Photo Credit: A.F. Bradley in his Studio
Above all, however, I would give my right arm, yes, even more, to be able to see my parents again and be able to sit down and talk with them about many things; and to thank them for loving me in their own way, for working hard to raise me and my family, for demonstrating by their actions, the reality, truth and grace of God, and to tell them that I love them deeply… For my soul is Saved in large part because of their love for me.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
– Robert Fulghum
Yet there comes a time in each of our lives when we reach a plateau of sorts that represents a plane of existence, comprising our ideals, core values, fervent beliefs and yes, religious and political advocacy. You may reach the plateau at any age, however, typically, and more often than not, it will be some time after you’re out of the K-12 school system.
“Truly, it is completely normal and entirely expected that we will (and should) be challenged about our beliefs, for it is in these “Moments of Truth” when we learn more about who are; as sons and daughters, as husbands and wives, as mothers and fathers… most importantly, as spiritual beings. For if our beliefs are never or seldom challenged, we lose focus, motivation, self-awareness and yes, direction in our lives.”
And without question, my childhood was no exception. Born and raised a Catholic, I regularly attended church, was educated for five years in a Parochial elementary school, served as an Altar Boy, learned the Mass in Latin, and of course, was instructed in the constructs, requirements, expectations and directives of living as a Catholic.
I began to seriously question, for lack of a better word, the validity of Catholicism as contrasted to other “alternatives” within the Grand scheme of the world, even universe. Keeping in mind this is MY personal journey; upon inquiry, discussion, research and comparison, the Catholic Religion emphasized an inordinately large amount on finances/”dues”, spent an equally small amount of time on the Bible, and ubiquitously created the mental hierarchy of Church, Priest, Catholicism and lastly, Jesus Christ (in that order). Needless to say, this troubled me in a deep and huge way.
And then, I began to read the Bible on my own. I began to personally experience Jesus Christ in the most wholesome, reverent and meaningful way, like I had never envisioned before. It was as if I had just discovered that Santa Claus (Catholic Church) was not the real deal. It caused me to feel betrayed, angered, frightened and anxious about my future. In short, it challenged my core values to the point of nearly destroying my sense of self, value and being.
I have always been, and am, however, a Survivor. Throughout my life, I’ve trusted my instincts and my gut, to analyze, make decisions and move forward in my mortal journey. Truthfully, my transformation from Catholicism to Christianity occurred well into my 30’s, as it simply took my faith that long to mature. And I remain confident in my path, who I am, who is Jesus Christ, what our relationship has become, and what my expectations are of myself to effectively and successfully live life as a Christian and Child of God.
Am I perfect? HARDLY. I struggle, like everyone else, with the sins of humanity. Yet, that realization does not hinder nor prevent me from striving with every breath I take, to live my life in His image. Do I have guilt as a father for not having done a better “job” raising my children as Christians? EVERY DAY. Yet, that reality, when examined, yields the conclusion and belief that every human being has a Free Will and uses it to form their own thoughts, make their own decisions, create their own behaviors, future and certainly, their personal accountability for their life.
As a father, I provided the toolbox and attempted to teach my children (and myself) how to use the tools of life; compassion, integrity, accountability, motivation, enthusiasm, reverence, humility and forgiveness. Now, it is their choice which tools to use and how to use them; or whether to use them.
Does the Catholic Church serve a purpose? Absolutely, as a resource about Jesus Christ, history, self-discipline and community. My most trusted reference, however, is the Bible, for it represents the unequivocal “Word of God” and when viewed holistically, is the ultimate Book of Life.
I am a Christian and I live to become exclusively like Jesus Christ. There is no other. I humbly ask that you pray for me as a Christian to continue down the righteous path. God Bless You all in finding yourself; in finding Peace, Love, Joy; in finding your Savior and Salvation. There is definitely something in the water. Be well.
We’ve all heard about and perhaps have even read books about the grand nature of life, e.g., “The Purpose Driven Life“, by Rick Warren; “Chicken Soup for the Soul“, by Jack Canfield; “Heaven is for Real“, by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, and “The Last Lecture“, by Randy Pausch.
Books like these, present us with an opportunity to change or better comprehend our perspectives about the significance of (our) life, perhaps a deeper meaning or connection with our spirit and overwhelmingly, insight into our human nature. They are, without question, all great reads.
What if I told you, however, that how we die is more important than how we live? Would you immediately disagree? How could this be true? Isn’t death an ending? Why focus on the negative?
Certainly, these are all relevant and valid questions or thoughts about something we know precious little about, yes? Yet, if one views life as an accumulation of knowledge, experience, wisdom and dare I say, faith; well, now you know the purpose of this discussion.
“Have you ever uttered that age-old phrase, “If I had known then what I know now…”? Trust me , you’re not alone. The essence of that quip, is that living life yields much insight into ourselves, our situation, our environment, and the world, as it relates to people and relationships.”
Many factors intertwine to make us who we are today. Among them, our childhood, the location(s) we’ve resided, family, friends, education, information about the world, events, and especially our faith.
I’ve assembled a punch list of 10 factors that influence just how prepared we will be when we die. Prepared, you might ask? For what? Well, prepared for what follows our death, of course. The following net outcomes at the time of our death largely determine our path forward:
- Have we truly accepted Christ as King?
- Have we “Chosen Wisely” using our Free Will?
- How did we utilize our Time on earth?
- Were we motivated in moving toward life or Running Away?
- Did we present ourselves to others in an Authentic fashion?
- Have we developed a sense of Inner Peace?
- How effective were we at dealing with Change?
- Were we in a faithful Mental State?
- Did we consider the Bigger Picture as we made decisions?
- How effectively did we demonstrate Compassion and Love for others?
As evidenced above, when we die is truly irrelevant in the Grand Scheme of our Eternal Existence. The things we accumulated during our lives are likewise meaningless as they remain behind in their entirety.
What matters, when our physical life is distilled, is how prepared were we to die all along the way. Collectively, our priorities, values, mindset and intent represent the bellwether of how we are to be judged, held accountable and projected forward into eternity.
Admittedly, the vast majority of our life is unavoidably spent focusing inwardly, as we plan, perform, procrastinate and hopefully, pray. Reflection, however, can be an amazingly powerful and insightful activity to spur personal growth, if revisited on a frequent and regular basis; and if conducted in an authentic and candid fashion. It provides that “out of body” experience which enables us to see ourselves in the 3rd person, from the outside looking in.
“Just as you utilize and reference a map during a long trip; first, to plan your way and then, to monitor your travels toward your destination of choice, the “art” of reflection can serve as a life echo, if you will, a sounding board, which will, when attended, reveal much about who you are at this instant, as well as who you were yesterday, last year, as a child… and most importantly, who you are becoming and will be tomorrow, next year and ultimately, when your horizon meets the sky.”
To be sure, reflection has the potential to be painful, yet equally, it can be breathtaking, refreshing, satisfying and revealing; if we have the courage to send out that call and then, wait for the echoes of our life to speak to us and reveal who we truly are; at the spiritual level.
Reflection is a pervasive thing in our world. We keep track of the score in sports, our bank account, the gas in our vehicles, the clothes in our closets, the color of our hair. We are obsessed with constantly working to improve our (physical/mortal) self, while primarily paying lip service to our spiritual life and soul. Even more ironic, is the realization that our soul is eternal, whereas our human lives are temporary. One would think our priorities should be reversed, yes?
And this is precisely where reflection can aid us in correctly setting those priorities. Just keep in mind, it won’t always be pleasant because we are imperfect beings. However, we are immortal souls and reality founded in faith is the medicine we need to survive post-death. Yes, forever is a long, long, long time. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated it best, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”.
Take the time to plan for reflection in your life. It may seem unnecessary, perhaps even a bit dry, however, if it is, then so is your life. The benefits far outweigh the time spent. Your spiritual self will thank you; anxiety, worry and stress will flee your mind like leaves blowing in a strong fall wind. You will love yourself more, respect others more, know yourself better. Great medicine, if we will only be brave enough to take it.
Remember, Without Winter, there can be no Spring. Be well.
Although each of us is born of DNA, snippets of our parent’s tendencies and that red liquid coursing through our veins, we also create our environment with our thoughts, ideas and reactions that collectively comprise our experiences, personality and the essence of our individuality and being. Hidden in the depths of our sub-conscious, lie our fears, joys, loves and regrets, along with the complete set of our core values and beliefs.
Many of these “tucked away” emotions and navigational guideposts steer us on a day to day basis, yet we remain somewhat unaware of their subconscious influence upon our lives. And so it is with food, dress, relationships; and faith. And although the strongest of these morally magnetic influences is faith, as humans, we overwhelmingly have the most difficult time expressing, even sharing our museum of faith that is ordered and stored in our minds much like books in a library.
Yes, the magic of life itself remains hidden within our minds, along with everything that defines who we are, what we believe and why we behave, think and make decisions the way we do. Many times it is safety and security that convinces us to refrain from sharing our selves with others, while at other times it can be ego, pride and self-expression that pushes us to let others know equally defining aspects of ourselves.
“As music is encrypted upon a CD or stored on the hard drive within our computer, it is conspicuously silent and unknown unless played and shared with others. In essence, it does not exist unless it is shared. And in a parallel fashion, our faith, beliefs and Christianity remain largely unknown and non-existent, unless we make a concerted and deliberate effort to communicate and share them with others; through our words, through our Actions, and as witnessed by our lives”.
It is human nature to judge others by their looks, words, body language and behaviors, along with how they interact and relate to others. This tendency to judge is a largely, mutually occurring phenomenon, i.e., it is happening all the time and all around, and to us. It is as breathing; an involuntary response to ensure our survival.
And so it seems, in this day and age of global strife, we are being coerced into “survival mode” by external forces. Accordingly, we are being awakened to a degree by that little voice inside us that is screaming to protect ourselves, to protect others and to raise the veil of our faith, exposing it for the world to see, by our actions.
And make no mistake, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity” (Albert Einstein). Indeed, it is incumbent upon each of us to not only acknowledge our values, beliefs and faith, but moreover, to have the courage and character to defend them when under scrutiny or worse, attack. Take the risk, remain focused and Play the Tune, people, albeit at times a bittersweet symphony, lest we wither away into non-existence.
I’ve wondered many times when I was a child, what life would be like when I was an adult; a husband; a father. My imagination would conjure up visions of a burly man, physically fit, yet understanding, compassionate and loving. I would shudder at the thought of the tremendous responsibility of marriage, and even more, of fatherhood. The mere thought of this “serious” future that awaited me would quickly bring me back to reality; the reality of an eight-year-old boy at the precipice of manhood, or so I thought.
My journey was far from over, yet I have always been able to visualize it, almost touch it. Growing up in a small town afforded much of the quality of life that people today cherish and search for when raising a family. Surely, it lacked in cultural variety and experience, yet it grounded me in a forged way that would serve me well in my life ahead.
“Like most other boys growing up in the 60’s, there was beer, a bit of cursing, plenty of outdoor sports, bikes to ride, movies to see and girls to gawk. And these things were indeed memorable, yet in my family, one thing trumped them all and that was Church on Sunday.”
At the time, even being an altar boy, I missed much of the essence of what having faith is all about. Perhaps it was mired in the overtures of the Catholic Church financial bulletins, where your family name was used as a club by disclosing your contributions. Perhaps it was overshadowed by the procedure, rigidity and absence of emotion by the clergy. Perhaps it was a victim of an emphasis on Catholicism and not of Jesus Christ and the Bible. But it was there to be discovered, experienced and revered, nonetheless.
I’ve always been one to pray, heavily in times of “need”, but also in times of blessing, bounty and benefit. And even though every child, adult and Catholic saw the same crucifix and Jesus, my Jesus was special because He spoke and listened to me.
In all my years, I’ve yet to be disappointed, angered or spiteful by my Jesus Christ. For even though my prayers weren’t always answered in MY timeframe, I accepted whatever response I received from my Jesus Christ, because I knew he was Almighty, Omnipotent and Kind. That faith, attitude or core value system has saved my life many times; from preventing me from making mistakes, to my physical safety to being the recipient of good things happening to me as a result of my “choices”.
You see, each of us must find our own path, one bridled in our own sense of morality, and bounded by God’s grace. A path only limited by our imagination. I simply can’t imagine living a worthwhile life without the guidance, feedback and love of God. I know not everyone shares that same belief, and that is ok, for the essence of our being is that of choice. To a degree, we create our own future by the choices we make. And for me, what better resource could one have, than Jesus Christ as your mentor, friend, Master and Creator?
As it was for me and as it will continue, when in doubt, I’ll follow the Son. It’s a highly personal matter and it will remain that way. Be well and choose wisely. God Bless you.
Over the past several years, there has been an increasingly vocal “voice” across the web and in the media regarding the importance of the United States Constitution, specifically, the Second Amendment. For those unfamiliar with the Constitution, the Second Amendment represents the Right of American citizens to “Keep and Bear Arms” and likewise, protect your physical body from injury and/or violence.
“In much the same fashion, and in light of similar attacks upon Christianity, I offer that there is also a Second Amendment of the Soul, which acknowledges that every human being has the Right to ‘Keep and Bear Faith’ in an unencumbered fashion, and to protect their Spiritual Body against a Tyrannical Government, Society and Evil forces.”
Throughout time, Christianity has been persecuted by others, out of hate, jealousy, contempt or fear. People are largely uncomfortable addressing subjects and issues they can not touch, directly see or explain. Faith is a very personal subject and indeed, many do not even possess a complete awareness of their own beliefs about it.
Yet, as difficult as it is to contemplate faith, eternal life, and an omnipotent God, it is likewise critically important for all of us to come to grips with it at a personal level. Self-awareness refines and strengthens our core values and beliefs and subsequently, reflects in our thoughts, actions and behaviors with and toward others.
Some of us prefer to deal with faith in a “concealed carry” fashion, holding it ever so closely within our hearts and resisting, even avoiding discussion or dialogue about it with others. And for many others, we willfully choose to “open carry” our faith for all to see.
Regardless, however, of the method we manage our faith, one thing is certain; each of us has the God-given right to believe and practice whatever faith we choose/commit our lives to witness, so long as doing that does not harm others or adversely impact the world around us.
Protection of our faith, at all costs, is an unalienable right, and must be treated as such. Faith defines much more than the book we read, the worship location we attend and the behaviors we choose to exhibit. Faith encompasses our very reason for existence, our foundational values as human beings and our being into the future; as in eternal life.
Personally, both the (physical) constitutional Second Amendment and the (spiritual) Second Amendment of the Soul represent my most empirical philosophy of life and accordingly, receive my utmost attention regarding my life and how I choose to live it in this world.
As Alexander Hamilton so succinctly stated, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”. I prefer to stand and determine my own future in this world, guided by God, while preparing for the next life, following my faith as a Christian.
Bottom line, Government and Faith are Inextricably Intertwined… And logic dictates that the basis of Law must be Morality… and the basis of Morality is Faith in God’s Law.