Charlie's Blog: June 2018

6.24.2018

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 66


I tell you, with my doctor, I don’t get no respect. I told him, “I’ve swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.” He told me to have a few drinks and get some rest.
RODNEY DANGERFIELD

1. IMMIGRATION

It is said that when you want to beat a dog that any stick will do. Right now, Donald Trump is the dog, and immigration is the stick. Somehow, Trump is a big meanie for busting up families who come to the USA illegally. Nevermind that this was the policy of the previous administration.

Here's the problem. Mexico is a crappy country. If it wasn't, so many illegals wouldn't be trying so hard to get into the USA and stay in the USA. How many Canadians do you see swarming our northern border? And those Canucks have to contend with snow and ice for much of the year. Yet, Mexicans come here for a better life. I get it. Life is better in the United States. This is why I stay here and don't jump the border and invade Mexico.

The problem with the Mexicans is that they don't want to be Americans. They want to work here. They want to live here. They want our welfare benefits. Hell, they even want to vote in our elections, and the Democrats try and make this possible. But they don't want to become legal citizens. They make no effort to try and become legal. And the penalty for this crime? They get sent back home. Is this really so bad? Is sending someone to Mexico a human rights violation?

The problem here is that you have Democrats who want to rig the vote in their favor, and you have Republicans who want cheap labor for their donors who run businesses. The result is that Democrats want Mexicans on the welfare rolls while Republicans want them picking fruit and cutting grass but not voting.

The remedy for the situation is obvious. Illegals should receive no welfare benefits. We need a wall. Businesses should be punished for employing illegal immigrants. And illegal immigrants need to get legal. This means becoming an American. Ironically, this is the one thing that Democrats, Republicans, or Mexicans are not interested in seeing happen. The result is a permanent class of invaders who get to vote, mooch off the system, and be exploited for cheap labor.

No country on earth is as open to immigrants as America. We just ask one thing from immigrants. Become an American. I am for making that process easier for immigrants. I know immigrants from Mexico, and I want good things for them. The best thing you can want for them is to become American citizens.

2. FRANCIS

Pope Francis is up to his wacky hijinks again. Apparently, he doesn't read his mail even when it is hand delivered to his residence. But he does read the newspapers. Or, maybe he is just a liar.

Meanwhile, the German bishops got the greenlight for intercommunion with Protestants so long as they do it in an underhanded and deceitful way. They just can't make it official. The veneer of Catholicism must be maintained as the structure is allowed to mildew and rot underneath. And why is this? Because this has been an effective strategy for decades. Say one thing and do the other.

Pope Francis is a wicked man. I pray for all faithful Catholics that we will have the grace to patiently endure this calamitous pontificate.

3. Q & A

Q: Are you a workaholic?

A: That's laughable. No, I am not a workaholic. But I wish I was.

Workaholism seems to be the only vice people would like to have. In contrast, I don't know of anyone who aspires to alcoholism or drug addiction. The reality is that no one is really a workaholic until their work comes into conflict with someone else's play. Then, there are those ridiculous calls for "balance."

Here is the third commandment as a refresher for your memory:
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work."
Everyone knows about resting on the seventh day. But we gloss over the "six days you shall labor" part. Do we really do this? I know I don't. I work five days and loaf for two.

Here is Saint Josemaria Escriva on leisure:
'It seems' — so you say — 'as if every imaginable sin were awaiting the first idle moment. Why, idleness itself must be a sin!'
He who pledges himself to work for Christ should never have a free moment, because to rest is not to do nothing: it is to relax in activities which demand less effort.
The true disciple is never idle. He is always doing even on the Day of Rest. On Sunday, we should spend that time at Mass, in prayer, and reading the Bible and the saints.

I struggle with laziness which is idleness. Never be idle. This includes the Sabbath. I believe we sanctify the Lord's Day by refraining from our normal weekly activities to spend time in worship and reflection. The worst thing you can do on Sunday is turn on a football game. That is a waste of life.

Monday through Friday is a busy time for me. Saturday is the killer for me. That is the day when I am supposed to tend to household chores. Needless to say, I rarely get anything done on that day. It gets treated as a sort of "second Sabbath" which is actually a violation of the commandment. You need to work six days and not five.

You become a workaholic when you work seven days a week. Some people do this. This is not good. This deprives God of the time and worship that He is owed. It will also be a detriment to you. Do not do this.

4. ODDS AND ENDS

--I think it is disgraceful but not surprising that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service in a restaurant. Christian bakers have to bake cakes for sodomites, but conservatives should eat at home. The bottom line is that leftists want a civil war. For now, they have to be passive-aggressive.

--I have gone out of my way to not vote for Henry McMaster. I will probably end up voting for him in November, but I don't think he is the best person for the job. But he is friends with Trump, so he gets the assist from DC. The result is that true conservatism is being thwarted by Trumpism. Sometimes winning is losing.

--Chris Pratt believes in God. But he could have spared me the advice on pooping at a party.

5. LINKS OF INTEREST




6.23.2018

Sixth Anniversary Reflections


Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
PROVERBS 30:31 DOUAY-RHEIMS

I have been married for six years now. That decision still stands as the best thing I ever did in my life. That one thing brought joy back to my life. It gave me back my faith in God new and improved. God has blessed me through the best wife I think a man can have. I was in a bad place when I met her, and meeting her was better than winning the lottery. My wife changed my life. I would do it all over again without hesitation. I love her very much.

Our wedding was nothing to write home about. I was an atheist at the time, and we were poor. We are still poor, but our poverty is voluntary now. Back then, it wasn't so voluntary. Basically, we signed some paper at the notary public's house and went to Starbucks. The "DMV wedding" as my wife calls it would be convalidated in the Catholic Church a year later. I think that a wedding like this is scandalous now. Everyone should be married by a priest in front of the altar in a Catholic Church. But I was an atheist when I made that commitment. Like I said, I was in a bad place then.

I had spent about two decades dodging marriage. I didn't believe in it. I had seen too many divorces and infidelities. I dated various women, and I knew that I was never going to marry any of them. I don't regret not marrying any of them because none of them were worth marrying. Some had the baggage and wreckage from previous failed marriages. Others were without virtue. But in the end, I had to admit that I wasn't worth marrying either. Marrying me was not a good idea. The acid of atheism had eaten into my soul and corroded it.


When I met my wife, everything changed. We met through this blog when she wrote me an email to disagree with something I wrote. That would begin a whirlwind of events that still amazes me to this day. She lived two states away, and I would scheme and drive all night just to see her. It was hardship. But I did it. I had to be with this woman. She was the pearl of great price. I was willing to do anything and sacrifice whatever it took to be with her. I was probably a bit insane then, but I am glad I was. God wanted me to suffer for this blessing.

People ask me if I believe in love. My answer to that is no. Love is nothing in itself. It is the people that matter. Love does not transform people like in some romance novel. This is why you see such wreckage and divorce today. Two bad people in love are merely two people who are going to fall out of love and hate each other down the line. They are fooling themselves.

My wife was different because she had a spark of goodness in her. She was not perfect at the time. If she was, she would have never married a scumbag atheist like me. But she reeked of pure decency. She had virtue, and I realized that all of the women I had dated had none. Love is easy, but trust is hard. My wife was the one woman that I trusted. As someone who has been stung many times by betrayal, this was huge to me.

My wife says I was a decent guy at the time, but I beg to differ. The residue of my Christian baptism still clung to me, and I had some kind of conscience in me. I just didn't have God. I was lost in the darkness, and that darkness was eating me alive. I belonged to the Devil. I know me, and I am horrified at the person I used to be. The only thing that preserved me was God's grace.

It is vitally important for parents to baptize their children. The grace of my baptism was what keep me from going over the edge of the cliff. I always felt like something was holding me back. The good my wife saw in me was that faint spark of grace God gave me in my baptism. I am not good. Only God is good. God always held onto me even when I refused to hold on to Him.

With my wife, the decision was fairly simple for me. When couples meet, they ask themselves a question. Can I live with this person? That is the wrong question to ask. If you are asking this question, do not marry this person. When I met my wife, I asked the right question. Can I live without this person? For me, the answer was no. If I had let her get away, the rest of my life would be filled with grief and regret now.


The DMV wedding was nothing to brag about. I would not do it that way now. But it was a big deal for me. It was a small step in the right direction, but it took everything in me to do it. I was placing the pieces of a battered and blackened heart into the lock box of this woman's love. If it went bad, I would be left in a place from where I could never return. You can only take so much hurt in life. I was going to let this woman hurt me. And she didn't. She healed me instead.

I love my wife very much. I try hard not to show it, but I know people can see that I have it very bad for her. My love for her overwhelms my insides that I feel like I will burst. That is what a real marriage is. You put your heart inside another human being. When they suffer, you suffer. When they are joyful, you are joyful. Your whole being is in their being.

When my DMV wedding was convalidated and made legit, I felt exactly what the act represented. Our union was elevated. God came into the union. That made a huge difference. I didn't feel like a scumbag anymore after that. And that, Gentle Reader, is a vital lesson. A marriage is a trinity. You have to have God. With the DMV wedding, I became a husband. With the convalidation, I became a good husband.

Because I am Catholic now, I know that I will burn in Hell if I ever do wrong by my wife. I love God which makes me love my wife even more. It was because of my wife that God came back into my life. God is good. If I ever forget this, I only have to look at her beautiful face to be reminded again.

The last six years have been some of the most frustrating and hardest of my life. Yet, they have been the happiest years of my life. My wife is easy to love. She is awesome in so many ways. She is not the source of frustration and hardship. The world is the source of my frustration and hardship. My wife is my refuge from that world. You know you have a good wife when you always look forward to being at home with her.

I thank God every day for my wife. I don't deserve her. But I strive to be worthy of that blessing. She is worth her weight in gold and more. If I lost everything except her, I would be fine. If I gained everything but lost her, I would be in a state from which I would never recover. My heart is in her. I could withstand an amputation easier than the loss of her.

I don't know what the future holds for us, and I trust that God has big plans for us. I love God, and I love my wife. I don't want any other life than the life I have right now with her. 

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
PROVERBS 31:10-12 NASB

6.16.2018

SOC 34


Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

It is Sunday morning. When 4 a.m. comes, I find it difficult to sleep. I am a six hour man. Eight hours is too much though I could go back for two more hours after writing this. Four hours is too little for me. I hear people like Sean Hannity claim to only sleep four hours a night, but I don't buy it. I've done the four hour thing, and I get loopy after two days. I like eight hours, but I wake up at 6 hours unable to sleep. So, I get up and write for a bit which helps me go back for the last two hours. But this is on the weekends. During the work week, I just lay there until the clock goes off. Sometimes, I get another 20 minutes.

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. If I sleep too much, I feel awful. This would be 12 hours of sleep. I wake up, and my body hurts all over. I feel that way after eight. I am sleeping on a brand new mattress, but it doesn't change anything. I feel this way even after sleeping on those plush beds in the hotels. It isn't the surface I sleep on. It is the longevity of the sleep. Being inert makes you hurt. This becomes more apparent the older you get.

I like sleeping on the floor. That may seem weird, but I get great sleep in sub-optimal conditions. When I wake up after sleeping on the floor, I have a horrible pain between my shoulder blades. This fades after thirty minutes of being awake. The rest of me feels great. It sounds nutty, but I am not the only one to discover this. Basically, sleeping on the floor makes you roll over and change positions. When you sleep too long in one position, your body gets stiff. Too much comfort brings pain. By embracing pain, you experience comfort.


This weird counterintuitive experience is what I call the "syzygy phenomenon." Pain and pleasure are always linked. If you seek comfort, you end up with pain. If you embrace pain, you find comfort. Most people follow the conventional wisdom of aiming for comfort and can't understand why they end up in so much pain.

I like to make jokes about making a friend out of pain, but I am not a masochist. I have learned by accident the simple lesson that the body thrives under hardship and breaks down under comfort. Your body was born to suffer. If you embrace this, you will suffer less. If you fight this, you will suffer more. If you doubt this, compare a fit athlete with a sedentary person who is obese. Who suffers more?


Comfort is your enemy. It pretends to be your friend but betrays you later. Pain is your real friend. Pain puts you in the place of suffering but makes the relief sweeter when it comes. It is the relationship between the different ends of a two headed beast. They can never be separated. They are joined forever.

You should not pamper or indulge the body. You should punish it. Saints, philosophers, warriors, and athletes know this. As such, you should endeavor to create hardship for yourself. The alternative is to let God do it for you.



It's not Sunday anymore. It is Saturday now. I am frustrated with my Casio watch. This is the F-91W that I developed a fetish for some time ago. It is a simple and cheap watch but better than expected. In ordinary circumstances, I would be happy with the watch. The problem is that I was a Timex guy before I was a Casio guy. In short, I am going through Indiglo withdrawal. I miss that feature in the fiercest way. It is the only thing I don't like about my cheap watch. It is difficult to see the time in the dark. Being a deep thinker type, this has lead to existential crisis. Yes, I really am this pathetic.

There should be a word for that feeling you get when you switch products you normally use, but you miss something from the old brand. For instance, I ditched my Mr. Coffee for a Chemex some years ago. The coffee tastes much better, but it now requires more time to make. The Chemex is not an automatic coffeemaker. You actually have to do some work. I got used to it in a short time.

I went through the same thing again when I tossed my Gerber pocket knife in the drawer and switched to the Opinel. The upside is that I got a wicked sharp knife. The downside is that it doesn't have a pocket clip or thumb post or serrated edge for sawing through stuff. Those features on the Gerber were nice but couldn't make up for the fact that I have owned butter knives with sharper edges. That Gerber knife is pathetic.


I keep quoting Thomas Sowell all the time. "There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." That line cuts to the core of my problems and frustrations. I loved my Timex Ironman watch. It told the time. It had Indiglo. But it was pricey for a plastic watch and was a gunk and crud magnet. When one of the buttons become stuck such that I had to whittle it away with a knife to make it work, I became dissatisfied with the thing, and my eye began to wander in search of horological adultery. I settled on the F-91W because it was good value relative to its price. I have no complaints about the watch until it gets dark. Then, I hate the thing.

Indiglo will ruin you. Even the Rolex doesn't have Indiglo. Casio has Illuminator watches, but the ones at Walmart are only slightly less pathetic than the F-91W. If you want the real thing, you have to go down the G-Shock path which means a $40 watch on the cheap end up to $90 on the higher end. And you better like fat, chunky watches. I don't.


The Timex Ironman is the midpoint for me. It isn't the cheapest, and it isn't the best. But it keeps good time, is fairly durable, and you can always tell the time in the dark. There is a reason I have stuck with that watch for three decades. Why did I stray? I didn't think Indiglo was that big of a deal. Now, when it gets dark, I just want to go to Walmart and get a watch with Indiglo.

I never get upset with my Chemex or with my Opinel. I don't think about their inconveniences. Likewise, I love my cheap Casio watch in the daylight. It's like my flip phone. Sure, a smartphone does way more stuff except survive a drop on the floor. But if I can call someone or text someone, I am a happy guy. I am a flip phone guy. But that may be the key to an answer to my dilemma.

Before I was a flip phone user, I used the candy bar phones like everyone else. The phones worked great except for one nagging issue--the BUTT DIAL. Whenever I put these things in my pocket, it would dial a number. I tried a holster, and it was the same thing. It was a great phone, and I would prefer a candybar phone to a smartphone. But the thing that hooked me forever was when they put a hinge on the thing. From that moment on, I was a flipper and have remained that way. That ability to flip is a primary reason I resist the smartphone.

My cheap Casio is the candybar phone of watches. It is great for a lot of reasons, but it is also annoying. And that cuts to the crux of my existential issues. I can live without features and luxuries. But I can't live with the annoyances. And that epiphany settles a lot of issues for me.

I bought a used exercise bike, but I end up hauling it off to Goodwill because it felt like I was riding a torture instrument jammed in my crotch. I switched saddles. I adjusted my position. But in the end, I felt like I was ripping something in my reproductive area. It felt liberating to haul that junk off.

My wife had a nice bath mat, but it stank of mildew and rot because it was thick and wouldn't dry. We washed it with everything until we trashed it. It just stunk. Now, we use a hand towel for a bath mat. It's not plush, but it dries quickly. We sacrificed a feature to dispose of a pain.

This same dynamic is what drove me to switch to a Chemex. Mr. Coffee makes coffee easy, but it tastes like crap. The Chemex makes it tastes good. Likewise, my Gerber had features, but it couldn't cut anything. I switched to the Opinel because I was fed up with having to hack at things instead of cutting them. I experience no dissatisfaction with either solution despite their lack of features.

The most important thing is not to pursue satisfaction but to escape dissatisfaction. I became dissatisfied with my Timex Ironman only because it stopped doing what it normally does. Basically, I needed a new Ironman watch. My expectation is to keep a watch until the battery dies. But the batteries outlast the watches now. I had the thing for five years. Why did I complain?

Pain is the deciding factor in consumer purchases. For instance, I bought a pair of Wolverine work boots, but it tore up the back of my heel. Those boots were pricey, but I tossed them after I tried to surgically alter them to remedy the problem. I should have kept the receipt and returned them. Either way, I was done with those boots. I stick with Georgia Giants. They don't hurt my feet.

This really settles a frustration of mine that has bothered me for awhile now. I tend to like things that are plain with fewer features. It just has to be free of aggravation and displeasure like butt dialing phones. I even have a motto for what I like--PLAIN WITHOUT PAIN. It has a nice rhyme to it.

This plain without pain thing also explains why I nuked my Internet Apostolate blog. I was trying to make a very plain blog, but I had to stop with it because of the pain of it not loading properly. I have tinkered with it numerous times since then, but it just doesn't work the way I like. I keep coming back to the fact that my old Twitter account was simply the best way for me to share links of interest and help boost the signal for people and causes. The problem is that I don't have a Twitter account anymore. And this is another frustration of mine.

I like blogging. But it is like having a store full of things, but you don't have a sign out front. You might as well be closed. Virtually every blogger and website I follow has a social media presence. Even Matt Drudge who blasts social media has a Twitter account. It is a speck of hypocrisy on his part.

I love Twitter except for the censorship and time suck. I have no similar affinity for Facebook or Instagram. As for Gab, it is Twitter without the censorship. But I have been social media free for two months now. I don't have withdrawal pains anymore. I just have the frustration of feeling cut off from the wider world. Basically, I'm not a store but a warehouse. I am filling a blog with things that someone might read one day. But they won't be reading it today.


"There's a war on for your mind!" That is the tagline at the Infowars website. Alex Jones is a bit nutty, but he gets one thing right. It is an information war. Basically, I champion three basic things--Catholicism, conservatism, and capitalism. To a lesser extent, I encourage people to become vegan, live a simple lifestyle, and all that. But those life improvement things are not part of the information war. Nobody's going to the mattresses over tofu. But they are definitely going all out over Trump or abortion. Being off social media feels like being AWOL in this information war. On the other hand, being on social media feels like being AWOL from your life.

I think if you are wasting time posting cat pictures and Tide Pod videos on social media then you should get off of social media. But if you are posting pro-life messages then it changes things a bit. That is important stuff. Plus, it is way more convenient than camping out in front of an abortion clinic with a sign.

My internal conflict is between being an information warrior or being a digital pacifist. When I was a libertarian, I was basically a pacifist in my outlook. I believed that people would leave you alone if you left them alone. As a conservative, I am too in touch with reality to embrace a silly notion as that. Weakness is provocation, and pacifism is a form of weakness.

6.09.2018

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 65


I don’t have an agenda, but I do have a point of view, and it might change from minute to minute.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN

1. BOURDAIN

I am saddened by the news of the apparent suicide of Anthony Bourdain. I really enjoyed that man's television work. His shows are an absolute joy to watch. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man in person, but I felt that he was the type of guy you couldn't fail to like. It was that personality that made him seem to fit in with virtually any group of people he encountered in his globetrotting travels.

Bourdain's suicide reminds me of the suicide of Robin Williams. Both were celebrities. They were rich and beloved. They had it all. Yet, they chose to end their own lives. Whatever temporary problems they had, they couldn't be worse than dying. But I understand why they did it. They did not have God.

Bourdain did not strike me as a religious person. He was raised without religion, and I suspect that he was an atheist. He is listed here as a celebrity atheist. I will not presume on Bourdain's eternal fate. That is between him and the Almighty. But I can say from experience that life without God is not worth living. It doesn't matter if you have all of the other good things in life. If you don't have God, you have nothing.

Bourdain was a restless spirit in search of something. That something was God except Bourdain never got it. As someone who gets it after a similar search, I have something to say to anyone contemplating an exit like Bourdain's. God loves you. Love Him back.

2. ROSEANNE

Roseanne's Twitter account has ended her ABC show that seemed to be doing well. Now, a lot of people are going to be out of work. Thanks, Roseanne. Remember, folks, that Twitter is a Weapon of Career Destruction. I just wish it would destroy Bill Maher's career. But Maher shows that you can say and do virtually anything as long as you bash Donald Trump. Roseanne was a Trumper, so they wanted to pull the trigger on her. They just needed Roseanne to load the gun first. And she did!

I don't defend Roseanne's tweet referencing Planet of the Apes. I think it was in poor taste not so much for racial insensitivity but because it is a pet peeve of mine when people mock the looks or bodies of other people. I am not down with body shaming. You can mock a person's fashion or hairstyle. You can even cringe at their plastic surgery disasters, bad tattoos and sex change operations. These are things they chose. But everything else comes from God.

Here's an idea. Let's stop making fun of how people look. That is classy and cool. Roseanne deserves what happened to her. I just feel bad for all the people who were working on her show who didn't deserve what is happening to them.

3. DURIANRIDER

You can't watch vegan videos on YouTube without encountering clickbait vids from Harley Johnstone aka Durianrider. His advice on veganism, diet, and fitness is sound. His advice on life, women, and virtually everything else is garbage. Plus, his channel could pass for softcore pornography. Throw in the endless trolling and fighting with other YouTubers, and you are left with more soap opera than sagacity. As such, his channel has become unwatchable because of the non-vegan crap. I recommend watching Happy Healthy Vegan as the sane alternative. It has much of the same good advice but with none of the drama and pornography.

4. Q & A

Q: Why did Ireland vote to legalize abortion?

A: I am reading many articles trying to explain the defeat for the pro-life cause in Catholic Ireland, and the vast majority of them just don't get it. These are from Catholic and conservative sources. They just can't grasp it. But I can.

Ireland isn't Catholic. It used to be Catholic, but it isn't anymore. Ireland is atheist. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but there it is. Most Irish would dispute the atheism, but they are lying to themselves and to the world. The bottom line is that they no longer believe in God. If they did believe in God, they would have never damned themselves by voting to legalize baby killing.

What caused this turn to atheism? You may as well ask why the Israelites worshiped that golden calf after their miraculous escape from Egypt. People are wicked. This is their default setting, and we know it as original sin.

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--Charles Krauthammer is dying. This would be news except we are all dying. Krauthammer just has a better idea when he will meet mortality. Unfortunately, Krauthammer expresses having no regrets about life while saying nothing concerning the afterlife. That, Gentle Reader, is a stupid way to die.

--Mueller wants Manafort to be a perjurer for him to bring down Trump. This is sick on so many levels. Used to be, they investigated crimes and found people. Now, they just investigate people and try to find crimes. This is not liberty or justice.

--Google used to believe in "Don't be evil." The problem is that they don't know the difference between good and evil. But they must be getting a clue because they dropped that slogan. Google is evil. And, yes, they are the owners of this blog's platform. When they are done destroying YouTube, I expect the C-Blog to face a similar fate.

--I watch Alex Jones more for entertainment purposes than for news. Sometimes, I forget this until I was reminded of this recently as Jones tried to spin conspiracy theories about Anthony Bourdain's death. Was he murdered? I don't think so. Jones should put his tinfoil hat back on because the CIA death rays are taking their toll on his gray matter.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST

The Rules for a Long and Happy Life

IRELAND AND THE END OF CULTURAL CATHOLICISM

Why a $10 Casio Keeps Better Time Than a $10,000 Rolex

Nobody Needs a Watch Any Fancier Than a Casio Digital

Ireland Chooses Death

6.02.2018

Permanent Darkness


The truth, even when horrifically ugly, is always authentically attractive.
ANN BARNHARDT

When I was growing up in the eighties, it was a relatively prosperous time in United States history. Yet, I would encounter old people who grew up during the Great Depression which was an experience that left a perpetual scar on the psyche of these people. My grandmother was a sort of food hoarder keeping a chest freezer filled with fruits and vegetables she had grown, picked, or bought. There was enough food in there to carry her for a year or more. An elderly couple who were literally millionaires were so frugal that you would never guess that they were rich because they lived so modestly. He drove the same old pickup truck for decades until it broke down, and he bought a brand new one. People were amazed that he did that, but he would drive that new truck for another two decades. Despite being rich, the couple never lived lavishly, worked incredibly hard, and never retired. This was a consequence of those years spent enduring the Great Depression.

All of these depression survivors shared a common trait. They did not indulge in the comforts of youth and prosperity that we know as optimism. For them, the wolf was always at the door. The good times can and will end at any time. Misery and hardship are the default settings of life. Suffering and death are the only things guaranteed in this world. These Depression babies knew this, and their scars became their strength.

People upbraid me constantly for being so dark and pessimistic about life. But this darkness has been earned as a consequence of bad times in my life. I am scarred, and I cannot erase these scars. This mindset I possess I call "permanent darkness." My greatest fear in life are not the bad times that will come but that I will forget that the bad times always come. I cling to bitter truths because they console me in a world of pleasant lies.

SCHOPENHAUER: A total party pooper.
There is comfort in harsh truths. I discovered this while reading Schopenhauer as an atheist. Schop as I called him was a man who always lived in permanent darkness. His pessimistic writings are like acid dissolving away all delusions about existence. Schop was an atheist who definitely did not believe in the power of positive thinking. Reading this man is no pleasant day in the park, but you will find yourself drawn back to him again and again. Why is this? The answer is simple. The truth is always a consolation even if it is dark and unpleasant.

Schopenhauer didn't get it all right. The man was an atheist after all. But he was unflinchingly honest. I would see this same quality in the saints like St. John the Baptist and in our Lord Jesus Christ as I read the gospels with my new Catholic eyes. When Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit are truly blessed, I interpret Him to mean people who have lost hope in the false comforts and sham consolations of this empty world. Lies can never suffice. The cross is a brutal truth. Taking up that cross is a choice to embrace harsh truths that lead to life than to be satisfied with comforting lies that lead to death.

What are these harsh truths? Here is a list.



1. Everything dies including you.

Most people live under the delusion that death happens to other people. That is an amazing trick of denial, yet we have all done it at some time or another. We see people with terminal illnesses, and we feel sorry for them as if we will somehow not ever experience the same thing. But we will. At some point in your existence, your body will suffer catastrophic failure, and your immortal soul will separate itself from your mortal corpse. You should remind yourself of this reality daily in the practice known as the memento mori. Keep a skull on your desk. Contemplate your own mortality each time you pass a tomb or cemetery. Embrace with certainty that your time here will end.



2. The human race is corrupted by concupiscence and original sin.

All human beings after the Fall except two have been conceived in original sin. This means that all human beings are born inclined to evil. As children grow and mature, this evil manifests itself as the lovable child you adore becomes despicably wicked. Children and adults can be delivered from original sin through the sacrament of baptism, but the weakness of original sin remains in the form of concupiscence. The bottom line is that people are going to let you down, and you are always going to have to lock your doors at night.



3. There is no happiness in this life.

Life is misery, and all human beings are miserable. Even those who are wealthy and fortunate or those who indulge in pleasure find it all emptiness and meaningless such that even the lucky rich will choose suicide in the mistaken belief that it will end their misery. Schopenhauer nailed it when he wrote,
What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
What Schopenhauer failed to acknowledge was that this erroneous notion is eradicated from the minds of the young when they are catechized in church. Life is emptiness and vanity. The rich man in his splendor is little better than the poor man in his suffering. Or, as I like to put it, excrement smells no better by being placed in a golden bowl. If we are to know happiness, it must come from a place beyond this world. Don't ever think you missed out on the good things in this life because there are no good things.



4. Most people go to Hell.

This is the most bitter truth I know. If you doubt this truth, I recommend reading St. Leonard on the matter. If people actually knew what Hell was, they would do anything and everything to not go there. Yet, most people are going to end up there for eternity, and it will be by their own volition. As such, it should not ever surprise us or disturb us when people spurn the opportunity and means to avoid this terrible fate. People are damned because they refuse to love God. God loves them, but they do not love Him back. Because of this, this world resembles Hell already because of the wickedness of these people.



5. There is a Heaven, but you will go through hell to get there.

Heaven exists, and Jesus has provided the way for us to get there. But this is no easy path as we see from the lives of saints and martyrs who endured a great deal of suffering to arrive in the abode of eternal happiness. The alternative is to endure Purgatory which is no picnic either. In fact, Purgatory is worse than being fed to the lions or crucified in this life. Either way you slice it, the price of Heaven is suffering.

JAMES DEAN: He died young, but it was not a good looking corpse. It never is.

6. The good times never last.

In this world, there are times that are better than others. It may be a period of prosperity, peace, health, cultural and spiritual renewal, and on and on. They always end. When you are at the party, remember to keep some cash in reserve for the cab ride home because the party will end inevitably. Feasts are followed by famines. Drunkenness is followed by hangovers. Prosperity gives way to poverty. Birth leads to death. People want to forget that good times end because there is momentary bliss in ignorance. Conversely, wisdom makes suffering more acute such that all good times empty themselves for the wise. They build an immunity to the good times and remain sour faced at the party.

The best view of life is the bleak one. This is because it is the honest view of life. With the sobriety that comes from pessimism, we can see more clearly that happiness and joy can only be found in God. Schopenhauer refused to acknowledge this one pleasant truth. As a former atheist, I can attest that there is a rebellion in failing to acknowledge the ugliest truth. This is the truth that things didn't have to be this way. Permanent darkness is to be committed to never being beguiled by the vanities of this life. But permanent darkness is not perpetual darkness. This would be life apart from God. As bleak as life can be, it is not hopeless. As such, we must be pessimists in the short term of this life, but we can be optimists in the long run of eternity. The darkness only becomes perpetual when we close our eyes to the light forever.