From the BlogMeet Ron



“We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.”
1976 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 68
“Understand that Truth alone will never betray you. Ever been tricked
and hurt by evil people? Maybe you can still hear them laughing at how
they fooled you. You were betrayed because you trusted human weakness
instead of spiritual strength. That is like trusting a flock of vicious
vultures to behave like innocent doves. _Insight into human cruelty is
the same as help from God_. Never forget this. Watch how it helps. It
places you in command of yourself, after which you command conditions.”
50 Ways To Get Help From God, # 24
We might next ask ourselves what we mean when we say that we have “harmed” other people. What kinds of “harm” do people do one another, anyway? To define the word “harm” in a practical way, we might call it the result of instincts in collision, which cause physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual damage to people.
I had been to Eighth Step meetings, always thinking, “I really haven’t harmed many people, mostly myself.” But the time came when I wrote my list out and it was not as short as I thought it would be. I either liked you, disliked you, or needed something from you—it was that simple. People hadn’t done what I wanted them to do and intimate relationships were out of hand because of my partners’ unreasonable demands. Were these “sins of omission”? Because of my drinking, I had “dropped out”—never sending cards, returning calls, being there for other people, or taking part in their lives. What a grace it has been to look at these relationships, to make my inventories in quiet, alone with the God of my understanding, and to go forth daily, with a willingness to be honest and forthright in my relationships.
From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
“There is one power in the Universe and we can all use it.” 
― Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind
I come from a religious dysfunctional family. 

Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment-or unlearning- of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.
–Marianne Williamson

Stop Being So Religious
What Do sad people have in
It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past
And often go there
And do a strange wail and
What is the beginning of
It is to stop being
So religious
Like That.
(“The Gift” – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

ACIM Workbook Lesson 228 Insights
“God has condemned me not. No more do I.”
Any time I perceive myself as vulnerable or limited in any way, I am condemning myself. I have judged myself as less than God created me. And since I am the creation of my Creator, I must also be judging my Creator. Either my Creator is limited and vulnerable like me or my Creator takes sadistic satisfaction in creating an offspring subject to pain and limited, unlike Itself.
This could not be the reality of God. But it is the ego’s view of what God is. That is why to the ego, God is the enemy, not to be trusted and to be defended against, at all costs. The ego’s perception of God is simply a projection of what it believes it is. No wonder God is portrayed as angry, judgmental, capable of a wrath that produces punishment that lasts for eternity. Yet this is the ego’s wish, not God’s Will.
God, being perfect Love, does not condemn. His love for us remains unwavering and total. He sees nothing in us to condemn, for He sees only Himself in us. Should we believe the ego’s twisted, distorted, limited and fearful view of us? Or shall we believe God’s Knowledge of us that knows we are exactly like Him, perfect Love and nothing else?
The ego has raised many religions that sing its songs of condemnation and guilt. They glorify the ego, not God. If we would give glory to God, we need only accept His knowledge of us as holy, innocent and sharing all that He is. We need to forgive ourselves for believing in false images of ourselves. In that forgiveness, we welcome the truth of our one Self as our Identity. And in this way we remember our Creator, our Source, our Love. I am grateful for the Course, which teaches me how to open my mind to the recognition of What I am.
In the Text Jesus asks us to deny the denial of the truth. The ego thought system is the denial of the truth. We remain as God created us, as He gave all of Himself to us. We cannot change from how we were created. The ego denies this. The ego professes that we truly did split off from God and made God cease to exist.
The ego thought system carries with it an innate guilt for having attacked God’s Oneness. This guilt and sense of sinfulness pervades all the stories the ego writes. Unworthiness, vulnerability and lack are at the core of its thought system.
In today’s lesson, Jesus reinforces the truth and returns us to the awareness that what the ego professes has happened has never happened in truth. We are still one in God. We have dreamed dreams of separation, but they are not true.
The process of waking up involves learning to deny the ego’s denial of the truth. Jesus encourages us to receive God’s Word for What we are.
All our behavior stems from the answer to the question, “What am I?” As we learn to accept God’s answer to that question, all our actions will reflect that answer and we will share God’s answer with all our brothers and remember we are one. We are eternally one with God. There is nothing else to see or be. And we give thanks that only this is true.
© 2003, Pathways of Light.
You may freely share copies of this with your friends,
provided this copyright notice and website address are included.
Always face your faults with gratitude, 
for only by facing them can you work on them and change them.
From the works of Paramhansa Yogananda 
and Swami Kriyananda

The University of Chicago does not support so-called trigger warnings. At least, that is what the dean of students informed first-years last fall. At the time, I welcomed the dean’s letter; yet, this spring, on the first day of my seminar on the history of European secularization, I trigger-warned. The course’s final reading was Michel Houellebecq’s Submission. The novel imagines a near future in which a Muslim Brotherhood candidate narrowly wins the French presidency and begins to Islamize Europe. Houellebecq narrates these massive social changes through the life of a lecherous, amoral, middle-aged literature professor. So, in the service of Christian values—Warning: graphic fornication. I can provide page numbers if you want to skip those scenes.
Unsurprisingly, no one wanted to skip those scenes. Indeed, one newly married student loved the book so much that he convinced his wife to read it. That must have been an awkward conversation. My wife barely let me teach it.
Actually, I worried less about the sex scenes than about how undergraduates would respond to Houellebecq’s depiction of Islam. No young professor can afford to seem Islamophobic, even by association. I should not have worried. My students enjoyed the novel and argued about it for three hours, as I watched and barely intervened at all. The nine students were diverse, including Americans and internationals, from various religious and secular backgrounds. They held a range of perspectives on Submission, some rather curious. One European student, for instance, contended that Houellebecq’s novel demonstrates why medical professionals must reintegrate religion into the treatment of depression and mental illness. Despite their differences, none of the undergraduates seemed interested in challenging, supporting, or even mentioning Houellebecq’s characterization of Islam as fundamentally discordant with French culture. Instead, I discovered, to my shock, that in 2017, University of Chicago students did not read Submission as being about Islam. They read it as being about Trump.
Trump’s name was never spoken. Yet he haunted the classroom, lurking behind pregnant looks and awkward laughter. “Centrists are pathetic,” said one student, explaining why the novel’s mainstream French politicians lose to the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Front. “All the energy today is in radicalism.” Another pupil disagreed. The Muslim president Ben Abbas, she noted, is an outsider but not an extremist. Indeed, Houellebecq repeatedly stresses common ground between the Brotherhood and the mainstream parties and depicts his main Muslim characters—Ben Abbas and his secretary of universities Robert Rediger—as voices of reason, moderation, economic centrism, and European integration: Emmanuel Macron with headscarves.
The class expressed similar opinions when discussing why François, the novel’s protagonist, converts to Islam at the end. There is nothing Augustinian in François’s transformation. No sweeping emotions or existential angst. Instead, François seeks an arranged marriage to his wives and his god alike. My students called the conversion “rational,” “non-religious,” and “pragmatic,” driven by a desire for career advancement and a happy family life. François’s conversion counteracts his “atomization”—there are no children in the book, nor friendships, nor sexually vibrant marriages—and addresses “the lack of meaning” inherent “in his classically liberal life.” Reasonableness, not zealotry, typifies Houellebecq’s Muslims.
Several of the students noted that François is an arch-consumer. Throughout the book, François consumes cigarettes, alcohol, pop music, prostitutes, nineteenth-century novels, pornography, news media, and churches. He spends his time walking around malls, dining at ethnic restaurants, and surfing the internet. François likes frozen cuisine because its “colorful, happy packaging represented real progress . . . [a] sense of participating in a collective experience, disappointing but egalitarian.” This is a character who does not bother to vote, but calls the election night special “my favorite TV show, after the World Cup finals.” Democracy is a microwave dinner.
As we laughed over the election scene, I noticed students glancing toward me awkwardly. I had taught a number of them in earlier quarters—including Fall 2016. One of these students, for instance, had shown up in class two days after the election still crying and hung-over from a long late Tuesday. Another pupil had joked with me about how much we both enjoyed watching the Republican debates—until we realized Trump was a real candidate. A Catholic student remarked that he could not imagine anyone at the University of Chicago—or at his old Jesuit high school—uttering many of the positions that we discussed. But then, as students noted, Houellebecq sets the novel at a university because universities are out of touch. After a year of campus protests, none of us in the seminar—except perhaps the international students—could avoid guilt when someone quoted François’s statement that “it may well be impossible for people who have lived and prospered under a given social system to imagine the point of view of those who feel it offers them nothing and who can contemplate its destruction without any particular dismay.” Or, as a student of Middle Eastern descent put it toward the end of the discussion, “this book is only dystopic if you already believe that Old Christian Europe was something worth preserving. Otherwise, there really is ‘nothing to mourn’”—the novel’s last words.
The novel’s publication coincided with the Charlie Hebdo shooting, so perhaps circumstances misled me to fixate on Houellebecq’s portrait of Islam. But now, when I compare Submission to the other Houellebecq books I have read—his novel on transhumanism, The Elementary Particles; and his critical work on the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft—I realize that Ben Abbas and his supporters are just there to supply a plot. Houellebecq must always have his characters live through some radical world transformation. They must watch passively as transhumanism drives mankind to extinction, or Islamists de-secularize France, or the great god Cthulhu shatters their sanity. For Houellebecq’s real dread is that none of these things will ever happen—that contemporary Europe is indeed the end of history—that our hearts “hardened and smoked dry by dissipation” can nevermore convert.
Nathan Ristuccia teaches Latin at Rockbridge Academy in Maryland, and is the author of Christianization and Commonwealth in Early Medieval Europe (forthcoming)
Ron Richey
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