Wednesday, June 30, 2004

When I was a boy I heard them tell of an old farmer in Vermont. He was dying. The minister was at his bed-side -- asked him if he was a Christian -- if he was prepared to die. The old man answered that he had made no preparation, that he was not a Christian -- that he had never done anything but work. The preacher said that he could give him no hope unless he had faith in Christ, and that if he had no faith his soul would certainly be lost.

The old man was not frightened. He was perfectly calm. In a weak and broken voice he said: "Mr. Preacher, I suppose you noticed my farm. My wife and I came here more than fifty years ago. We were just married. It was a forest then and the land was covered with stones. I cut down the trees, burned the logs, picked up the stones and laid the walls. My wife spun and wove and worked every moment. We raised and educated our children -- denied ourselves. During all these years my wife never had a good dress, or a decent bonnet. I never had a good suit of clothes. We lived on the plainest food. Our hands, our bodies are deformed by toil. We never had a vacation. We loved each other and the children. That is the only luxury we ever had. Now I am about to die and you ask me if I am prepared. Mr. Preacher, I have no fear of the future, no terror of any other world. There may be such a place as hell -- but if there is, you never can make me believe that it's any worse than old Vermont."
Robert Ingersoll Why I Am An Agnostic

The doctrine of eternal punishment is in perfect harmony with the savagery of the men who made the orthodox creeds. It is in harmony with torture, with flaying alive and with burnings. The men who burned their fellow-men for a moment, believed that God would burn his enemies forever.

No civilized men ever believed in this dogma. The belief in eternal punishment has driven millions from the church. It was easy enough for people to imagine that the children of others had gone to hell; that foreigners had been doomed to eternal pain; but when it was brought home -- when fathers and mothers bent above their dead who had died in their sins -- when wives shed their tears on the faces of husbands who had been born but once -- love suggested doubts and love fought the dogma of eternal revenge.

Robert Ingersoll Crumbling Creeds. 1890

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Any great truth can -- and eventually will -- be expressed as a cliche
-- a cliche is a sure and certain way to dilute an idea. For instance,
my grandmother used to say, 'The black cat is always the last one off
the fence.' I have no idea what she meant, but at one time, it was
undoubtedly true.
-- Solomon Short

Sunday, June 20, 2004

WHERE could I find a father that...
learned as a youth to care deeply about his family.
supported his mother, respected a new dad and
helped raise his little brother.

A father not afraid to launch out, work hard and
move when necessary to provide for his family.

A father who teaches lessons even while playing
baseball- like saying "Sorry" when he hit the ball
in the weeds.

A father who raised one of the most productive and
lush gardens and allowed me to help.

A father who set an example in service to others and
and faith in God.

A father willing to help and share when things were
tough for others.

A father not afraid to dream and to work to see them
come true.

A father who would continue to share all he had in many
different ways for his family.

A father who loves and cares even while his life is slowing


Warren Otis Thompson

Friday, June 18, 2004

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Plato: "There is nothing worse than self-deception--
when the deceiver is always at home and always with you." (Cratylus 428d)

I. Kant: “Self-deception is the root of hypocrisy.” (1791)

L. Cohen: "There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"To criticize is not to reject. This point must be emphasized, for it is
the dividing line between the free mind and fanaticism. It is the
to a universal religion that rigorously seeks the truth, and yet is
inclusive and welcoming to all." Kenneth L. Patton

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry
a tune.
-- Woody Allen

Monday, June 14, 2004

Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them. Let us observe with the celebrated Lord Bolingbroke, that "theology is the box of Pandora; and if it is impossible to shut it, it is at least useful to inform men, that this fatal box is open."
Good Sense - d'Holbach

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Renounce your vague hopes; disengage yourself from overwhelming fears...do not attempt to plunge your views into an impenetrable future... ...Only think then, of making yourself happy in that existence which is known to you; if you would preserve yourself, be temperate, moderate, and reasonable; if you seek to render your existence durable, do not be prodigal of pleasure; abstain from everything that can be harmful to yourself or others. [System of Nature, 162; cf. Spinoza's Ethics IVP42C2S]
An intemperate, voluptuous atheist, is not more dangerous to society than a superstitions bigot, who knows how to connect licentiousness, punic faith, ingratitude, libertinism, corruption of morals, with his theological notions.- System of Nature

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Poet's Corner of The Messenger was edited by Walter Everette Hawkins. One of his poems was published in the November 1917 issue of The Messenger. It is reproduced below:

Here and Hereafter

Now you preach a lot of Heaven,
And you talk a lot of Hell,
But the future never troubles me —
Tis plain as tongue can tell;
And it's a mighty poor religion
That won't keep a man from fear,
For the next place must be Heaven,
Since 'tis Hell I'm having here.

Buddha [Siddhartha Gautama] (?563-?483 B.C.E.) Indian
mystic and founder of Buddhism:

“Doubt everything. Find your own light.”

His final words according to the Theravada tradition,
quoted from Robert Anton Wilson, Natural Law

“Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you
have been told it ... or because it is traditional, or
because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not
believe what your teacher tells you merely out of
respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due
examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to
the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings --
that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as
your guide.” (attributed: source unknown)

Friday, June 11, 2004

“Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”
Ronald Wilson Reagan

Saturday, June 05, 2004

To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
-- Albert Camus

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is
always wrong
-- H. L. Mencken, Mencken's Metalaw

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone
else's can shorten it.
-- Cullen Hightower

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