Great Film on the Meaning of Life

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http://www.hulu.com/embed/cTTnLuLawJplF1KxGC-NOQ/21/5638/i816

I found this movie to be very enjoyable and provocative. Enjoy a journey through the minds and spirit of others and learn to strengthen your Faith. A strong 9 out of 10. But for the palpable bias toward relativism and Eastern religion, a nearly perfect excursion.

Prayer for a New Generation

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Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Lord, I come unto Thee in all of my imperfections,
in a world that does not see You as perfect;
Unto Thee do I offer my shortcomings and weakness.

Lord, I come unto Thee with a certain unwillingness,
from a world that sees all too many choices;
Unto Thee do I offer my freedom of the human will.

Lord, I come unto Thee from the world You created,
though I am told that the world itself has all to offer;
Unto Thee do I offer my greed of worldly things.

Invite me into Your Holy Temple, for I seek You alone.
Though the world might give me mansions,
I seek only the shelter of your tent.

Lord, I come unto Thee with what little I possess,
although the world might tempt me with everything;
Unto Thee do I offer all of my wealth and prosperity.

Lord, I come unto Thee with the soiled clothing of sin,
with the hope of Thy provision of snow white garments;
Unto Thee do I offer even my temptations and faults.

Lord, I come unto Thee, my God, my Master, Abba.
Beam through me that I might commit my spirit unto You.
Unto Thee do I offer my sanctity as gifted by You alone.

Invite me into Your Holy Temple, for I seek You alone.
Though the world might give me mansions,
I seek only the shelter of Your tent.

Lord, I come unto Thee, with a deep sense of abandonment,
though I know the world offers no reception for my return.
Unto Thee I offer my want of coming back prodigal to You.

Lord, I come unto Thee, with fear of loneliness and despair,
though I know that the material world offers no peace to me.
Unto Thee I offer my family and its generations.

Lord, I come unto Thee often with my hatred of the self,
for I know the world does not see me as the image You know.
Unto Thee I offer my unique human identity.

Invite me into Your Holy Temple, for I seek You alone.
Though the world might give me mansions,
I seek only the shelter of Your tent.

Lord, I come unto Thee with a sanctity challenged by deeds,
but I know that I find my deepest soul in Your Sacred Temple.
Unto Thee I offer even my dark lusts and desires.

My God, why do I feel as though you have abandoned me?
I know that You do not allow me to be lost, even in the world.
Unto Thee I offer my confusion and hopelessness.

My God, why do I come unto You with my war and rebellion?
I know that You only seek to protect me in Thy loving arms.
Unto Thee I offer my weapons, aggression and hatred.

Invite me into Your Holy Temple, for I seek You alone.
Though the world might give me mansions,
I seek only the shelter of Your tent.

Wherever I find You, I know that I enter Your Temple.
The Light of the World is found in Your Temple alone.

I come upon Your Most Holy Staff, my Shepherd,
seeking only to be led to quiet pastures and streams.

Raise up again the mist from which You created me, My God.
Put me to sleep, that I might always awaken to my Bride.
For You Alone are the Most High – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1/23/2011

The Prophet’s Curse: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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The Curse of the Prophets: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Richard D. Ackerman (2010-2011, 2d.Ed.)
Riverside County Bar Magazine Article

When first asked to write this article, I didn’t quite know what to think or how to approach the issues.  Naturally, one would inquire as to why they had been chosen to write an article on the idea that ‘no good deed goes unpunished.’  Perhaps it’s just because I truly believe in a uniform justice system that cannot be destroyed or weakened by the whims of political correctness, unjustified entitlements to power, or discrimination.  Maybe it’s the fact that I have lost on so many unpalatable positions, that I am perceived as being the consistent bearer of the losing position.

Perhaps the characteristics of being hopeful, tenacious and committed are necessarily defined by commitment to suffering humiliation.  For all I know, it may just be my fearless stupidity.

A model justice system is ruled by reason, equity, and a sense that one is entitled to rely on equal application of uniform law.  With this in mind, it also must be remembered that today’s dissent may very well be basis for tomorrow’s justice.  We know this, yet so often fear being the voice of dissent or a counterbalance to excess power.

Fortunately, the otherwise controlling fear of change can be defeated. The recent decision by Judge Virginia Phillips on the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy aptly demonstrates the power of commitment to principle.  While I did not agree with the decision for reasons of the separation of constitutional powers, I bear the deepest respect for her courage to take on the entire military system in the pursuit of equality.  Indeed, the very essence of dissent is what makes for human progress and development of the unique democratic experience bestowed upon us.

One might want to say that this has nothing to do with being punished per se’ for good deeds.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For its power to be felt, prophecy nearly requires persecution. For the known history of humankind, we have seen one prophet after another being condemned for simply taking a stand and pronouncing the truth.

The essential form of what it means to be a prophet is historically seen in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Buddha, even the unimposing Dharma Bum, or just about any other perceived revolutionary.

By the way, don’t let your sensibilities about religion get in the way of a good thought about what it means to be human.  Don’t let my biases as to Biblical prophets interfere with the definition of yours (i.e., perhaps the Buddha or others).  Prophecy has never been a form of proselytization nor evangelism.  The latter require the ability to sell or enforce an idea or belief.  Prophecy is most defined by its initial lack of luster and desirability (i.e., because of its demand of human introspection).

I must also mention that I believe that prophets are neither nuts nor fortune-tellers.  To be a prophet means to be a representative of something higher than yourself.  It doesn’t mean you are a great person.  It certainly does not mean that you have any more power than anyone else.  You bear the calling of a messenger.  You get to bear complete responsibility for whatever you say and may even bear the risk of death itself.

Theoretically, each of us in the law ought to be a prophet on behalf of the Constitution and of the Judicial Branch in all of its noble purposes.

Of course, however, there must be a price for one’s desire to profess the law as it is, and the reason which provides the lifeblood of the law.  The price for your message may very well be disdain, frustration, mockery, lack of understanding, and intolerance.  As was recently pointed out by Jack Clarke, one of my most respected colleagues, if it was not for Dr. Martin Luther King, and so many others, we would not know the concept equality as we now know it to be.  What was the price Dr. King paid?  His very life.  Yet, his prophecy and vision lead to the conclusion that we all ought to be equally able to seek the highest that humanity has to offer.  This principle seemingly should never have been the barter for death.  His humiliation became a call for human dignity.

What is the sacrifice you would be willing to make in order to be a seeker of truth?  I don’t know if we would all deny representation of a well-paying client with a bad cause.  It doesn’t seem respectable that one should disagree with the mainstream.  Would you challenge a judge openly on a matter or law, or hide behind the veil of secrecy provided by ‘papering the judge’?  Will you and your house follow the law? Will you abide in the law and all of its travails?  Would you be willing to die to feed the life of another perceived to be of no value?

Often, respect for the law means that one will get to unpalatable conclusions.  Being truthful carries the risk of scorn.  This also means that one might as well plan on losing some arguments since reason, consistency, and justice require a stern heart and a desire to be magnanimous regardless of opposition.  Is strength and character found in accepting the status quo?  Or would it be better to define the status quo ante bellum, even if someone else may have to carry the torch after your embattled demise?

In the case of a being a lawyer, your representation of the law, as a higher cause, may simply mean that you have to be willing to respect the authority of the Court, but yet advocate for a position you know to be inconsistent with the realities of the times.  Humility in purpose has oft been the hallmark of a strong prophet.  Simply staying in the ring, without a complete knock-out, becomes the monument to one’s identity.

As of late, it seems that just about everybody needs to somehow be politically, religiously, or spiritually neutral.  This sickly complacency starves the human condition of its vitality.  Only an honorable judge needs to bear the responsibility of being completely neutral until the time of ultimate judgment under the law of our time.

Indeed, at the time of judgment under the law, not even a judge must remain wholly neutral.  Judgment ultimately entails the adoption of a steadfast position.  Our judges bear the message of a reliable system of law.  While rendering judgment does not necessitate the moral judgment of another, it certainly does require a willingness to rely on a foundation of truth.  Where the truth becomes elusive, fear of change causes manifest injustice.  If one cannot move from neutrality to judgment, one should not bear the position of being the arbiter of any dispute.  If one wants to find power in being wholly neutral from beginning to end, take up mediation or marital counseling.

Neither the parties nor their attorneys should be expected to maintain complete neutrality in their positions.  Not only is this psychologically impossible, it is unreasonable and a disservice to the calling of the profession.  Neutrality can be downright dishonorable.  The omission to act can amount to complicity in evil.  While it is true that one must be objective, it does not follow that one must simply concede to the most politically acceptable position.  The acceptability of particular political positions changes over time.  The failure to act in the face of intellectual tyranny has proven itself, time and again, to be consistently destructive.

Some would say that this is an over-dramatization of what it means to be a lawyer.  I think not. Indeed, I think it is a categorical imperative that we not be governed by reference to what our fellow attorneys might think.  Worse yet is the situation where we run from the law for fear of those who have not been blessed with the same gifts of knowledge we bear.  We don’t define our conduct by the conduct of others.  Neither hope nor faith would have a home in a static moral environment.

It is not sufficient that we simply do what is necessary to get by and achieve a result that just makes everybody happy.  Were it left to the happiness or perceived satisfaction of a given society in time, slavery would be but just one more accepted condition of being part of a human power structure.  Or, perhaps, the perceived right to be free of the crime of seditious libel against the government would be just a fleeting glimpse of true human freedom.  Perhaps the call of secularism would be the death of a hope in ultimate justice, regardless of what happens by mistake, evil, or just happenchance in this life.

The job requirements of being an advocate may very well mean that one is required to represent the higher principle of maintaining a system that can be relied upon by all regardless of the one’s perceived sins committed against society and its powers.

For, as has been said in other contexts, we wrestle not against the flesh but principalities.  Indeed, we become free by our very adherence to the strictures of the Constitution.  Paradoxically, we can find complete solace in a result we neither wanted nor one that could not have been foretold.

The fear of humiliation shouldn’t be confused with the humility which may be exactly what is required in a given situation. The unintended indignity of being told to sit at the back of a bus becomes the clarion call for the desire to stand up for the sacred privilege of defining the essence of human dignity for future generations.  Perhaps being called to the stench and squalor of a foreign place might lead to the conclusion that we justly be called blessed.  Don’t be afraid to accept punishment for your good deeds.

Be not afraid.  For the Good Judge shall bring down his judgment on all of us in the end.

December’s Scream (2010)

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R.D. Ackerman (2010)

My Thoughts Over a Year of Growth and Reproval

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These are some of the philosophical observations I’ve made over the last year and a half.  The last year has been one of deep thought, reassessment, challenges, hopes, and finding God in what I thought were dark places.  Hope you enjoy some of them. Philosophy is truly the art of learning to live.

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First, it’s temporary.  Then, it’s eternal.  Live well.

Trading compassion for power has never proven worthy of an ability to progress.

Today and always, you contain everything in you for what you will be tomorrow. Live well. Fulfill who you are. Prepare for eternal life.

God doesn’t expect us to “earn” his love: He just expects to do what we promised to do when we agreed to believe in Him.

Though a single voice may not be so much as an unheard whisper in the Universe, your voice has the capacity to bring about eternal change in one to whom you speak in compassion and love.

It is good to believe what you say, and even better to do what you believe.

While it may very well be that all that we are nothing but a cosmic soup of atomic matter, it certainly does seem that humanity has the unique ability to stir the pot.

Tomorrow, today will be a yesterday. { Thomas Ackerman }.

Are we supposed to leave Church wondering what God can do for me? Or, should we be wondering about what can I do for others? Do I simply receive the fruit of the vine, or do I produce it for others so that my Maker might be honored?

Do you think in a language? What if we had to change the language of our thoughts to those of a true Christian? What a great dialectic that would be.

No Christian should be caught dead in failing to serve others.

May it be that I leave peace in my wake.

Lest our Faith become nothing more than a Platonic shadow, we must throw ourselves into the Light of Christ. We must become the Form of our Faith.

People always say that, “You have to believe in yourself.” This is not true. You have to believe in something higher than yourself so that you have something to strive for. When you only think of yourself, that’s about all you get.

Comment on the historical church: Building on a rock is good for foundations and buildings: Casting seed upon the rock is not good.

Relativism is a subtle form of anarchy.

Truth has no place in the confusion of violence.

Better to suffer in this life than the next. Justice requires no less.

Eternal faith in the absence of Earthly justice.

The difference between Man and animal is that Man’s evolution is self-directed, but not self-created.

We can’t change our circumstances. We can only change our attitude toward them. Oddly enough, when our attitudes change, so do our circumstances.

Better to suffer in this life than the next.

Lamentations

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Lamentations should not be perceived as the loss of a soul. Rather, Lamentations reflect the deeper search for the light of the soul. Be not afraid in your pleas for understanding, mercy, and love. You cannot feel the hand of God until you walk in complete darkness and realize what you have walked into.

The Purpose of Suffering

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1990-91The purpose of my Faith is not to avoid suffering, but to learn from it and to become better through it. {Psalm 38}.

It’s one thing to accept personal suffering as a time to be tried in the fire, but it is entirely a different thing to rejoice in the suffering and loss of another. Joy in the suffering of others is pure evil; the acceptance of what God gives us is the beginning of Renewal. If another is want of food, and you have it, feed him or her and do not mock them. If you are unable to feed your neighbor, offer encouragement, and pray for someone to come into that person’s life who can feed them. {TheImpossibleProposition}.

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