Commitment, Continuity, and Conversation

The particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context. The Riders strive to promote a conversational culture, proclaiming Christ crucified, authentically Christian and Catholic, in the midst of a world largely lacking culture of any sort.  Our vows of commitment, continuity, and conversation do not necessarily mean that we have any natural inclination or talent in these areas. We intentionally participate in groups that cross religious and political boundaries while focusing on fundamental matters, with a willingness to listen to one another. My own investigations center around the apparent paradox of Christologies seeming to be close together when their related Ecclesiologies are far apart. My booklist (each Rider, during their novitiate, settles on at most 24 books of primary importance), finalized in 2016 is:

  • Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, unabridged
  • The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
  • Commentary on Job; St Thomas Aquinas
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Sixteen Plays;  by William Shakespeare
  • Defense of the Constitutions; J. Adams
  • Men and Women; by Robert Browning
  • Collected Poems & Prose; Robert Frost
  • Dylan’s Visions of Sin; Christopher Ricks
  • Pride and Prejudice; by Jane Austen
  • Brideshead Revisited; Evelyn Waugh
  • Jesus & the Last Supper; Brant Pitre
  • Catholic Church History; Hitchcock
  • Veritatis Splendor; Saint John Paul II
  • Exodus; Thomas Joseph White, OP
  • Genesis commentary; R. R. Reno
  • Jesus of Nazareth; Pope Benedict XVI
  • Compendium of the Catholic Catechism

My booklist starts with Scripture, centered in the Psalms, and continues its intertwining of history, poetic literature, and philosophy broadly considered up to contemporary times. Essential to the culture of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is participation in daily Mass at our particular parishes (7am Mass at St Ambrose in Salt Lake City  in my case) and our encouragement of increasing use of the Liturgy of the Hours and of serious Bible study in various settings while remembering that the ‘particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context’.

wasatch

Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar

Christian Perspectives

The foundation of everything is Christ Jesus, and him crucified. However, beyond the personal aspects of that, what are the implications for our social relationships?

I want to commend the Catholic perspective to you. Of course, that raises several questions:

  • Is it reasonable to speak of THE Catholic perspective?
  • Is my characterization of this perspective warranted?
  • Can one also speak of THE Protestant perspective, especially given the range of protestant ecclesial bodies?

I propose that the protestant perspective is that the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the individual or, at most, the congregation. On the other hand, I commend the Catholic perspective: the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the universal Church, extended in spacetime and militantly subsisting in the Catholic Church whose chief steward is the bishop of Rome. After addressing those preliminary questions, I intend to commend the Catholic perspective in three aspects:

  • better able to cope with adversity
  • more resources for spiritual formation
  • closer alignment with the scriptural canon

All these points are controversial; however, I intend not to argue for them but rather to chew on them.  The difference between a primarily individual perspective and a primarily ecclesial perspective also has a significant political component since the State desires no competitor to its hegemony (see, for example, Alan Jacobs biography of The Book of Common Prayer which documents how this worked out in England) and hence is inclined to favor an individual perspective which it can divide and conquer.

I’m also assuming that the more alive an entity, the more applicable the principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, whenever possible I’d like to phrase matters sociologically rather than ecclesiologically. A major advantage of a perspective more social than individual is that one can “check one’s answers”– the boredom of, for example, discussion about end-time scenarios or sectarian doctrine being that one can not check one’s theory in one’s day to day life and interactions with others as one can, on the other hand, regarding ethics and how to live in community.

On a personal level, I think the core of the Protestant error centers on the attempt to place faith above love (see Luther’s commentary on Galatians) contra Saint Paul and the Catholic tradition.

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John 3:16-18

John 3:16-18

Revised Standard Version
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

New Jerusalem Bible
16 For this is how God loved the world:
      he gave his only Son,
      so that everyone who believes in
            him may not perish
      but have eternal life
17 For God sent his Son into the world
     not to judge the world,
     but so that through him the world
             might be saved.
18 No one who believes in him will be judged;
      but whoever does not believe is
             judged already,
      because that person does not believe
      in the Name of God’s only Son.

New American Bible
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
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Silence

Silence is a beautiful movie. As with all good art, it presents truth that can not be summarized in a few propositional statements. Seemed to me to move quickly though it is almost 3 hours long as one is prompted to think about: Christ, and him crucified; the relation of the sacramental to faith; the work of God’s mercy and nature of the Church.

 Some related links:
And here is a secular review:
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O Come

O antiphons and then Adeste Fidelis

O Sapientia

Latin:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.[8]

English:

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

 

O Adonai

Latin:

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

English:

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

O Radix Jesse

Latin:

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

English:

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

O Clavis David

Latin:

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O Oriens

Latin:

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O Rex Gentium

Latin:

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

English:

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

O Emmanuel

Latin:

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

English:

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

 

O Come All Ye Faithful

Adeste fideles læti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte
Regem angelorum:
Venite adoremus (3×)
Dominum.

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine
Gestant puellæ viscera
Deum verum, genitum non factum.
Venite adoremus (3×)
Dominum.

Cantet nunc io, chorus angelorum;
Cantet nunc aula cælestium,
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo,
Venite adoremus (3×)
Dominum.

Ergo qui natus die hodierna.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris æterni Verbum caro factum.
Venite adoremus (3×)
Dominum.

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

God of God, light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, begotten, not created:
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God, glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

 

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Trumpism

Newt Gingrich’s talk at the Heritage Foundation, 13 Dec 2016:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4637292/newt-gingrich-heritage-foundation

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Ben Carson: His Own Words

A few Carson comments

We the people—not government—should take care of indigent:

Q: How do you reconcile the traditional Christian value of “caring for the least of these,” and the GOP stance against welfare?
CARSON: My stance is that, we the people have the responsibility to take care of the indigent in our society. It’s not the government’s job. You can read the constitution all you want, it never says that it is the government’s job and I think where we’ve gotten confused. In the old days of America, if it was harvest time and the farmer fell down and broke his leg, everybody pitched in and harvested his crops for him. We have a history a taking care of each other. Starting in the 1920’s, the government started getting involved in everything. It kept growing, metastasizing. By the time we got to the 1960s, LBJ was saying, “we, the government, are going to eliminate poverty.” $19 trillion later, 10 times more people on food stamps, more poverty, more welfare, broken homes. Everything is much worse. And that’s because it’s not their job. It’s our job.
Source: 2016 CNN GOP Town Hall in South Carolina , Feb 17, 2016

Give poor people opportunity to not be poor people:

I do care about the poor people. And in the system that we’re putting together, there will be a rebate for people at the poverty level. But I also want to emphasize the fact that as we get the economy moving, and I hope I get a question about how do we get the economy moving, there will be a lot more opportunities for poor people not to be poor people because this is America. This is the land of dreams. And our policies should be aimed at allowing people to realize that dream.
Source: Fox Business/WSJ Second Tier debate , Nov 10, 2015

Get rid of dependency; that’s true compassion:

Tea Party favorite Dr. Ben Carson kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference, telling an attentive audience that the next President must “get rid of dependency” that some Americans might have on the U.S. government.
“We need to understand what true compassion is to reach out to individuals who think that being dependent is reasonable as long as they feel safe,” said Carson, the first speaker to address this year’s annual keynote conservative conference. “It’s not compassion to pat them on the head and say, ‘There, there, I’m going to take care of all your needs, your health care, your food.’ That’s the opposite of compassion.
“I’m not interested in getting rid of a safety net, I’m interested in getting rid of dependency,” Carson said, prompting one in a series of raucous rounds of applause.
Source: N. Y. Daily News: 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Feb 26, 2015

Charities better at providing for needy than the government:

He railed against the government’s lack of forethought to deal with the national debt. “We’re not planning for the future,” Carson said. “If we continue to spend ourselves into oblivion, we are going to destroy this nation.” He also said the government is treating corporations “as enemies” and that corporate taxes should be lowered to encourage growth. “Corporations are not in business to be social-welfare organizations; they are there to make money,” Carson said.
Charities, he added, are better at providing for the needy than the government. “Nobody is starving on the streets. We’ve always taken care of them,” Carson said. “We take care of our own; we always have. It is not the government’s responsibility.”
Source: 2013 Conservative Political Action Conf. in Baltimore Sun , Mar 17, 2013

Those who don’t want to work? They are on their own:

The issue of how to handle able-bodied individuals who simply do not want to work has three practical solutions:
1 Tell those who don’t work that they are on their own.
2 Take from those who have something and redistribute it to the individuals who aren’t working.
3 Borrow from a 3rd party in order to take care of the nonworking individuals and leave the debt to future generations.
Logically, with solution 1, the individual who isn’t working clearly either starves or finds a job. What about solution 2? In this case, those who are forcibly constrained to support the individuals who aren’t working eventually lose interest in working themselves, since the fruits of their labors are being confiscated. This, in turn, leads to even more individuals who aren’t working. What about solution 3? These investors are unlikely to extend credit indefinitely. Thus solution 1 is the only one that stands the test of logic and is the one upon which we should concentrate.
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p. 88-89 , Jan 24, 2012

Government entitlements compete with private-sector charity:

It is very difficult to travel to any community in our nation and not find charitable organizations specifically created to aid the indigent citizens of that community.
Our government used to fully understand the role of private-sector charitable organizations in ameliorating the plight of the poor. This is why the government offered tax deductions and exemptions for churches and other charitable organizations. Today the government actually competes with many of these private-sector charities while still offering them tax deductions. How does this wasteful duplication benefit government or us, its citizens? Certainly by creating huge government entitlement programs, the size and power of the government increases dramatically. Before long, people generally depend on government for everything from health care and education, to a comfortable retirement, instead of looking to government for the basic protection of life and property, as well as providing public roads and public safety.
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p. 91 , Jan 24, 2012

Eradicate poverty by providing education and requiring work:

The Bible makes it clear that we have a responsibility to be kind to the poor among us. [But] America did not become a great nation by encouraging people to feel sorry for themselves and seek handouts from others
If we really want to eradicate poverty, we should allocate significant resources and personnel toward providing education and opportunity for the poor. And if we are to provide assistance to our able-bodied citizens, it should be attached to a requirement for work or acquisition of education and/or skills.
If they have to work anyway, many people will put real effort into finding the kind of job they want as opposed to collecting unemployment benefits and being assigned to work they consider undesirable. Some conservatives would say that we should leave such people on their own to sink or swim because we cannot afford to keep supporting them, while some liberals would say that these people already have enough problems and that it would be unfair to require anything of them. I reject both
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.176 , Jan 24, 2012

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Too Busy to Read

[Dear, “Bill”]

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

With [Task Force] 58, I had w/ me Slim’s book, books about the Russian and British experiences in [Afghanistan], and a couple others. Going into Iraq, “The Siege” (about the Brits’ defeat at Al Kut in WW I) was req’d reading for field grade officers. I also had Slim’s book; reviewed T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”; a good book about the life of Gertrude Bell (the Brit archaeologist who virtually founded the modern Iraq state in the aftermath of WW I and the fall of the Ottoman empire); and “From Beirut to Jerusalem”. I also went deeply into Liddell Hart’s book on Sherman, and Fuller’s book on Alexander the Great got a lot of my attention (although I never imagined that my HQ would end up only 500 meters from where he lay in state in Babylon).

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

We have been fighting on this planet for 5000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession. As commanders and staff officers, we are coaches and sentries for our units: how can we coach anything if we don’t know a hell of a lot more than just the [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures]? What happens when you’re on a dynamic battlefield and things are changing faster than higher [Headquarters] can stay abreast? Do you not adapt because you cannot conceptualize faster than the enemy’s adaptation? (Darwin has a pretty good theory about the outcome for those who cannot adapt to changing circumstance — in the information age things can change rather abruptly and at warp speed, especially the moral high ground which our regimented thinkers cede far too quickly in our recent fights.) And how can you be a sentinel and not have your unit caught flat-footed if you don’t know what the warning signs are — that your unit’s preps are not sufficient for the specifics of a tasking that you have not anticipated?

Perhaps if you are in support functions waiting on the warfighters to spell out the specifics of what you are to do, you can avoid the consequences of not reading. Those who must adapt to overcoming an independent enemy’s will are not allowed that luxury.

This is not new to the USMC approach to warfighting — Going into Kuwait 12 years ago, I read (and reread) Rommel’s Papers (remember “Kampstaffel”?), Montgomery’s book (“Eyes Officers”…), “Grant Takes Command” (need for commanders to get along, “commanders’ relationships” being more important than “command relationships”), and some others.

As a result, the enemy has paid when I had the opportunity to go against them, and I believe that many of my young guys lived because I didn’t waste their lives because I didn’t have the vision in my mind of how to destroy the enemy at least cost to our guys and to the innocents on the battlefields.

Hope this answers your question…. I will cc my ADC in the event he can add to this. He is the only officer I know who has read more than I.

Semper Fi, [James] Mattis

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How to Raise a Puppy

Part of being a benevolent leader is learning the characteristics of good training: patience, fairness, consistency, attentiveness, and intelligence.  good trainers might occasionally feel impatience with a dog, but they always do their best to avoid showing it.  They take a long view of the training process and don’t try to do too much too quickly, building methodically one step at a time.  They keep their anger in check when things aren’t going as planned and realize that a calm and quiet approach vis-a-vis their pup is more helpful.  With that sort of self-possession a trainer can be flexible, responding to what the dog needs rather than reacting to mistakes.

Let us be clear here: this doesn’t mean being lax.  In training, letting the dog ignore known commands or get away with unacceptable behavior is always a formula for future problems. Take the time necessary to be fair and consistent.  If you give a command, make sure to enforce it, and use only commands that you know the dog understands and that you can impose.  For example, don’t try recalling a puppy without some sort of light leash or tether to guide the pup’s response. A pup who learns that she doesn’t have to come every time you call will return only when she feels like it, which will lead to much frustration and consternation.

You can do this, but first you must be aware of how dogs do and do not learn, how they communicate, and which of your own attitudes draw out the best qualities in your dog.

We remember one client who came to us for advice regarding his four-month-old rottweiler puppy, who was starting to grown at strangers. When we went to meet the client ahd his dog, they were sitting on a bench in our front yard.  As we approached, the pup started to growl in a low, threatening ton, and the owner quickly tried to rassure him with a soothing voice, saying, “It’s ok, boy, it’s oookay. Goood boy, goooood boy, eeeasy.” gently rubbing him on his side as he did so. Naturally, the growling only grew worse, and the man looked up helplessly, wondering what to do.  Fortunately, we were able to settle the puppy down by taking a short walk with him, and after several minutes he became very accepting and friendly.  The owner then complained, “I don’t understand it.  He’s such a good pup, and yet he has this thing about growling.”  We explained to the baffled owner that the pup was merely doing what he was told.  Reviewing with him his reactions during the incident, we showed him that he was unintentionally rewarding the puppy’s growling by his soft praise and petting.  The only message the puppy was receiving was “This is the way to act.”

We cannot say that this pup was “disobedient.”  Instead, we can see that the owner misunderstood what he was communicating and was ignorant of how to show his true intent in a clear, authoritative way.

To Obey is to Hear

In dog training, most people understand obedience as something the dog does in response to his handler: the dog is the one who is obedient or not.  This is only half true.  Obedience comes from the Latin word oboedire, which in turn is cognate to obaudire, meaning “to listen, to hear” — by extension, this implies acting on what is heard.  Contrary to popular thought, obedience is as much your responsibility as it is your dog’s — even more so, since you are accountable for shaping your pup’s behavior to fit your living circumstances.  the problem with many owners is that they fail to listen and to respond to the real needs of their dogs; unknowingly, the owners are disobedient.

To be a good companion to your dog, you must be obedient – that is, fully alert and focused on your pup, flexible enough to adapt your approach instantly to his needs.  As odd as it may sound, your dog does not know what is best for him; you do, but only by being truly obedient to him.

Brother thomas, who was the driving force behind the training program here at New Skete until he died in a tragic automobile accident in 1973, had this insight into obedience:

Learning the value of silence is learning to listen to, instead of screaming at, reality: opening your mind enough to find what the end of someone else’s sentence sounds like, or listening to a dog until you discover what is needed instead of imposing yourself in the name of training.

This kind of obedience comes only with time, patience, and study, by learning different techniques and methods of training and using them in different circumstances and, if possible, with different types of dogs.  Because dogs are individuals, not all respond in the same way to particular training methods, Remember Anka’s litter: were we to train Yola in the same way as Sunny, we would probably only compound her submissive, shy personality.  In education, teachers discover from working with different children that they must be flexible adapting a variety of teaching methods to individual students.  A rigorous, highly structured program that is effective with one child may be disastrous with another.  The same is true in dog training.  Part of training means that you become a student of your dog and employ an approach that brings out the best in him.

In discussing training, we will not present you with one absolute method of teaching your pup.  We will try instead to point out some general principles that are important cornerstones for all good training and then show you how there can be applied to different dogs.  This will help you understand and deal with the particular requirements of your own puppy.  Working with dogs of all sizes breeds, temperaments, and personalities, we have learned that limiting yourself to a singular method of training is a serious mistake.  Trainers who insist that only one kind of training works (their own) betray their own ignorance and pride, and close themselves off from a real understanding of dogs.

-The Art of Raising a Puppy, pp166-168. by the Monks of New Skete, copyright 2011

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