Feb 18, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Personally speaking, when I used to focus on the “news” I noticed it was far worse than a distraction. It was a turning away from God in that I could not be focused on both God and worldly distractions. I could not flip from this piece of news to that on the internet or with an tv and maintain the tension needed for a prayerful life. Almost always, when I put the iPad down and went to pray the iPad things of the day rushed into the prayer. I started asking myself, “if I can’t focus on God here, what am I focusing on?” The answer to that is explained in almost all of the Church Fathers. I have a friend who is very much involved in the church, yet every conversation is about the news of the day. I asked him once why he was so focused on what the devil was doing while God was waiting for him. I’m certainly not suggesting I’ve succeeded in completely turning it off, but the more these kinds of questions come to me, the easier it becomes to continue on the “no mas” trajectory. This is a big question for me lately: At the end of the day we’re struggling for salvation. What do we think that will consist of? News, fancy cars, careers, fat 401k balances, steak dinners out? No, likely not. Then why do we spend so much time on these things now instead of spending all of our time here trying to achieve a small piece of what heaven will truly be if we truly want to spend eternity doing that? God is here every second of our lives waiting for us to make the turn…

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Feb 18, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Dear, in Christ, Jack…and others:

I wrote the following tract over 20 years ago, and is a bit long to qualify as a comment; forgive me. I post it because it occurs to me that it may point to the problem. Not the particular catastrophe that you address in this essay, but the more basic one that is its cause, and that you speak of in your other work. It also suggests the only ‘solution’ that in my 75 yrs I have found that makes any sense. It is certainly not new, let alone ‘original;’ it has been around since the Desert: The only way ‘Out’ is the way ‘In.’ May we all find it…in a hurry…I’m afraid time is not on our side.

Love in XC,

Dcn Dionysi

St. Benedict Orthodox Church (Western Rite)

Wichita Falls, Texas

A Case of Mistaken Identity… or,

We don’t know who we really are…

“… ascetics found that metanoia represented not the loss of ... freedom, but the exploitation of its highest promise. Far from repression of the personality, remembrance of God precipitated its transcendent refinement, as freedom from fear replaced subservience to sin.”

What is the precise relationship between fear and sin? Fear is the natural state of the self/I, understood as the autonomous self. I is a wanting thing; it wants forever because it is forever insufficient. This insufficiency is held for the most part, unconsciously, so is not often recognized as the crippling deficit it is. It does, however, carry with it an explicit experience: a species of fear – a general disposition of unease and discontentment…experienced along a continuum from vague to acute - for it intuitively recognizes that it is not up to the task of satisfying the want that echoes within.

It fears because it is essentially empty. In that sense it could be said to be vain, the root meaning of vanity being emptiness; it can generate nothing from within itself. It necessarily must direct its attention outward, to the world around it…an attention consciously experienced as want…to yield the outcome it desires. In the sense that it must take what it needs from something external to itself, it is parasitic. The fear that is already a fundamental aspect of the autonomous self is exacerbated by the uncertainty of the world upon which it must place its demand: “Will it come through?” “Can I find what I need?” “Do I have what it takes to get it?” Such considerations constantly plague the insufficient self and fuel the intensity of the search.

To say that the autonomous self is empty, while true enough, does not do justice to the perniciousness of the condition. Empty implies the possibility of being filled. Self cannot be filled because it is ultimately not anything that has a limit that can be reached. It cannot even properly be called it, for the word itself implies an eventual boundary. The emptiness of self is infinite, its anti-existence total, which is why it is experienced as insatiable by the one trying to fill it by the wants it demands. It is the emptiness of a lie and has no more reality. The autonomous self is, in fact, THE LIE (Genesis 3:4-5…’…ye shall not surly die…ye shall be as gods…’) that gives birth to all other lies; therein is its direct relationship to evil.

Of all the words associated or synonymous with Empty (vain; futile; worthless; vacant; valueless, etc.) all of which shed some light on it, perhaps the most powerful description is more colloquial in nature, as when we say empty to mean hungry. In such a sense, it then becomes more of what the actual experience of it suggests: that it is beyond simply a neutral, passive emptiness waiting to be filled. Experienced as hunger, it takes on an organic and active quality, parasitic and bestial in nature, that demands vitality from its host. Unless it is interrupted…the case of mistaken identity uncovered and cast off, and true identity recovered … it will lead to eventual and inevitable spiritual death. A recurring line from the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete speaks to it:

“… may I not become the food and possession of the enemy.” (Song 4: 23,25,26,27)

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Feb 18, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Once everything has become lies, it leaves nowhere to go but an axis flip for a desperate humanity seeking where truth might be found. That’s where hope is. Darkest before a dawn and all that. If truth exists, we will have to dig. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

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Feb 19, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

I have lived just over an hour away from East Palestine for a year now. I do not know the place myself but a longtime friend’s parents live in the county. They were told to evacuate like everyone else and did for about 5 days before returning home. They are blue collar people like most around that area from what I have been told. And the fear of longterm harm is just not something concerning to them at their age. Wendell Berry would call them “Stickers”.

Truth be told I didn’t really know much about the disaster for almost a week. I only started reading up on it after my friend told me about her parents. I don’t have any social media so the news I was getting came from the old staples. But, a few days ago I started getting texts and phone calls from friends down South asking if it was true people were dying in the streets. And everyone one of them said the same thing “I saw on Facebook”. “I read on Facebook”

And it hit me. We’ve outsourced ourselves. We’ve diminished the presence of our bodies, of our towns, the capacity of our minds, and replaced their value with what’s National, International, and Virtual. It’s never been this way historically till this last half century. Never this dominant. And maybe that’s one of the causes of our anxiety and distrust. We are not evolved spiritually, mentally, or physically to contain the dramas of the world. It’s is skull crushing. It is suicidal.

We have an entire generation or more that have grown up or are growing up in a world where the Local v National hierarchy has been flipped.

I think what I’m trying to lean towards is we have to regain ground at home with real people. We have to humble the expectations of our existence. We are so small. And that’s a blessing. The meek shall inherit the earth.

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Feb 19, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

When I first saw the story about this train wreck I was in the middle of reading a book called 'The Independent Farmstead' by a couple who have made a beautiful homestead in Eastern Ohio. I wondered how near to their place this event may be. As I read about how they took a piece of rocky, steep, bramble filled land and made it over years and with their children into a place of abundant good health and food production, it felt all the more horrific that some unforeseeable industrial blunder could just poison such a precious piece of land. I have also read extensively about the PFAS and PFOS ("forever chemical") pollution on Maine farmland. That was the first time I had that gut-wrenching realization that in spite of all the rhetoric and research, no one has any idea what to do about this and there is no way it will be resolved or that farmers will ever be compensated. And like you say, it is only one of many, many, intractable problems that are emerging. Yes, for sure the authorities, regulators, and those who report to us are putting up a front of competence.

The work of this couple in Ohio is really inspiring. It is helping me to imagine how my family might make a stab at something similar. They are catholic and farm in partnership with a nearby monastery -- which made me think of you Jack. Their blog is called The One Cow Revolution, a spoof from Fukuoka. I loved this post describing how they made it work: https://onecowrevolution.wordpress.com/2023/02/09/5563/


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Feb 18, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

We decided it was ok to live by some lies. It was ok to allow public health lies. It was ok to live by BLM lies. It was ok to live by DEI lies. It was ok to live by gov't and corp censorship lies. We let the truth die. We were warned. https://www.solzhenitsyncenter.org/live-not-by-lies

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I guess it's only a matter of time before people cop on that they reliving in a fantasy political world called democracy. Then the game is up. Run for the hills.

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I have come to the conclusion that we no longer live in democracies. I see no political agenda which addresses the needs of people, no matter whether there be a toxic spill or people just dying homeless in the streets. The so-called government no longer rules. It does what it is told, by the real purveyors of power. The impossibly wealthy and powerful corporates who pick the leaders that will run for election. They are all of a type. Greedy, corrupt, psychopathic narcissists. They do their masters' bidding while lying through their teeth about everything, to us - the hapless vast unwashed. We live in a new feudal system where the lie continues about democracy.

Just watch how nothing is done. For example the president that encouraged insurrection where lives were lost. All there is, is a prolonged 'investigation'. Did he break the law or not?

Or the Prime minister who lied about Brexit being the best thing for the British people getting their sovereignty back. The prosperity that would be generated. All they did was cut taxes for the rich and gave carte blanche to rampant capitalism. People now can either eat or warm their homes, if they have one. They are advised to ride around in a bus all day, wearing a beanie. Seriously?

Just look at the wealth being sucked up by the corporates. The Energy Industry's profits up 50%. And more people than ever going to food banks. And they are working. But nothing is said. There is no outrage. The media stays mum. What will happen when the labouring poor is replaced by AI robots ? It is a nightmare on the horizon. Who will have work? But no discussion. Progress, all of it is good, if it increases the profits of the Western Oligarchs who use their large pockets to buy policy and run politicians . And countries.

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Feb 19, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Everything that emerges is a manifestation of what underlies everything. So the metaphorical ecological train wreck must manifest itself at the literal limit case of the metaphor, or what’s a meta-for? (With apologies :) )

The devil is as we always have known in the detail. The devil has always been a liar and increased complexity leads to more hiding places, more lies. The move to computerisation, tools few of us know how to work, and far fewer know how they work is fairly obviously the cause. We hammer the humans making bad judgements but we have given reality over to the computers. The human element is essential to our Existence, it is of the Essence of Creation. But people are expensive. Creating complex systems which no one really understands is cheap and easy. People are costly and difficult because we’re less virtual.

To take a perhaps odd example but much simpler, my brother published a study showing that in his field, dairy cattle, more employees improved overall productivity, yield, milk quality. Why? His suggestion was that more eyes meant more care of the livestock.

Computers neither care nor can be taught to. Our concerns about AI are in a sense concerns for a horse out of the stable and way off in the next county.

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“It’s difficult to discern in an environment such as this where blunt incompetence ends and deliberately malevolent indifference begins.”

Well said. Beyond the shock of the decision, one is left bewildered at what people were thinking.

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Feb 19, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

I have nothing to contribute but this part of a poem which I believe beautifully expresses our task:

"So, flee the burning city, bid

Creusas's soul to sleep

Thyself of every anchor rid

Which holds thee from the reef

Beyond which shines

The brimming wine

Spilt from a dripping Sun

Back to its vine

For which souls pine

With fevered eye and tongue


Thine anchors shed!

Thy sail be spread

Cleave not to land or wife

Nor turn thy head

To mourn the dead

And lose my Paradise."

Carl Hildebrand

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I've pretty much abandoned all news. Some say, "but how will you stay informed?!". For me at least, it became increasingly clear that whatever was gained simply didn't outweigh the downsides (anger, fear, anxiety, deeper division, temptation to judge/hate etc.) The news creates this artificial reality wherein we are made aware of every crisis, every tragedy, every act of human depravity, war, abuse and scandal on a 24 hour cycle. I just can't believe we were created with the capacity to take all of this in, to carry the weight of it all. It creates this illusion that we have to care about it all, have opinions on it all. No thank you.

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