Monday, January 30, 2006

Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue,
a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence,
confidence, justice.
- Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, January 29, 2006

James Baldwin wrote in The Price of the Ticket:
"Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them
because we are the only witness they have. The sea rises, the light fails,
lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we
cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the
sea engulfs us and the light goes out."

"Samuel Johnson's saying that patriotism is the last refuge of
scoundrels has some truth in it,
but not nearly enough. Patriotism, in truth, is the great nursery of
scoundrels, and its annual
output is probably greater than that of even religion. Its chief
glories are the demagogue, the
military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history. Its
philosophy rests firmly on the
doctrine that the end justifies the means - that any blow, whether
above or below the belt, is
fair against dissenters from its wholesale denial of plain facts."
~H.L. Mencken

To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes
perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul,
sincerity, earnestness and kindness. -Confucius, philosopher and
- 551-478 BCE

Saturday, January 28, 2006

THERE ARE SEVEN SINS: Wealth without work, Pleasure without
conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, And politics
without principle."
- Mahatma Gandhi

We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were
for what they are, the signs of our ideas, and not for things
-John Locke, philosopher -1632-1704

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of
pain, to share brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish. Compassion
challanges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those
who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us
to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable and
powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the
condition of being human." Henri Nouwen Compassion Pg 4

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains it original dimension."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

In the time when people felt the weight of religion,

wallowing upon the ground and—a ghastly spectacle—

heaven scowled down upon them and showed no mercy,

a Greek man was the first to raise his eyes,

daring to make a stand against it.

He took no notice at all of the thunder and lightning,

religious recitations merely incited him;

He said he would expose the secrets of nature

and so, by force of intelligence, and no other,

he pierced beyond the flaming walls of the world,

paraded up and down the whole immensity

and returned victoriously with explanations for everything

—what could happen, what not, and what were the limits,

all fixed and measured, of every nature and thing.

And so he had religion under his feet.

He won, and as a result we have no superiors.


Jefferson on Epicurus

"I wish I could subjoin [to the Philosophy of Jesus (i.e., The Jefferson Bible)] a translation of Gosindi's Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics and caricature of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagances of his rival sects."
--Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thompson, 1816.

In Praise of Epicurus-Fragment 19, text:
"...we ought to make statues
of the gods genial and
smiling, so that we may
smile back at them rather
than be afraid of them".


The oak in autumn is bared against a sky
as grey as that old overcoat of yours.
It seems a melancholy, lonely thing
yet underneath your shambling stride
each crackling leaf lies a memory
of promising spring
and summer's soft caress.
And those acorns!
The one that does not fatten squirrels
may yet take root
and stand, shade by shade
by this old champion.
in the barking wind
of some future day.

--Patrick Murfin

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stop Complaining by Garrison Keillor
Author and host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion

When you hit 50, you have to stop complaining about getting old, the strangeness of it, the fascination, the horror, etc., etc. That was okay in your 30s and 40s, but now that you're old, it's time to shut up on the subject. You shouldn't complain about aging for the simple reason that nobody gives a hoot. If you were to pay people to care, they might care a little bit for an hour or two, but you didn't and they don't. So learn to be cheerful about it. When people ask you how you are, tell them, "Absolutely great. Never better."

By 50, everyone can stand to lose 20 pounds, so do it. The simplest way is to adopt a new philosophy of eating, which is revolutionary in America but which is essential for an older person: Eat to satisfy hunger; if you're not hungry, don't eat. Stop eating when your hunger is satisfied. Except on Sunday or whichever day is your feast day. As you get older, your metabolism changes, and now you can sustain yourself quite well on one meal per day and two snacks. So that's what you do.

Fifty is the time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Especially for the aging bohemian. A young person is allowed to dress up as Desperado, Punk Princess, Noir Poet or Frontiersman, but by the age of 50 you've wised up. You've seen how ratty those old ponytails can look. What was revolutionary at 21 can be rather stringy and pitiful at 50. What works for Willie Nelson doesn't necessarily work for you.

Put the past behind you. This is even easier to do at my age (63), but you can get a start at 50. Make a pile of your regrets and put a match to them and let them blow away—the lost loves, the estranged friends, the botched education, the unwritten novel, the neglected guitar, the ruinous investments, the dear friend who committed suicide, the opportunities that sailed away without you. Put that knapsack full of rocks on the ground and walk away and find something in the here-and-now that absorbs you and take up with that—a garden, a grandchild, a choir, yoga, knitting, amassing a collection of porcelain pigs, political agitation, learning the drop-thumb style of banjo.

Start telling the truth. Do it in small doses at first and then gradually build up to one out of three, a decent batting average. When you're young, you're scared; you're trying to wend your way through the trees and not get shot at; you're trying to stay on the warm side of the various big cheeses in your life; you're wanting to be the good guy who everybody loves, not the jerk with the big mouth. But when you hit 50, you're entering a new passage of life in which you can say what you really think.

You can also dare to express simple preference. Do you want to go over to the Swansons' for dinner? No, I don't. Why not? I thought you liked them. They complain constantly about aging, and I'm tired of looking at his hair. Oh. Okay. What would you rather do? Lie on a bed with you and talk and drink a little wine and listen to Frank Sinatra with the lights out. Oh. Okay.

Fifty is an excellent age for reform of all sorts. You have enough experience and good judgment to know something about yourself, and you can see the end of your life from here, and so, gauging your desires and your strength, you adjust and straighten and balance and alter what needs altering and press on. It's a time of marvels on every hand, great richness, emotional clarity, and great sweetness. Sixty is even better, but don't hurry.

Friday, January 20, 2006

"The test of every religious, political, or educational system, is the
man which it forms. If a system injures the intelligence it is bad. If
it injures the character it is vicious. If it injures the conscience it
is criminal."
-- Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
--Abraham Lincoln

"That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained,molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief: but that all men shall be freeto profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
-- Thomas Jefferson, The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, enacted on January 16, 1786

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder.
Through violence you may murder a liar,but you can't establish truth.
Through violence you may murder a hater,but you can't murder hate.
Darkness cannot put out darkness.Only light can do that…"

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill."

-Albert Camus: The Plague

Monday, January 09, 2006

“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.” —Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus

Human beings cannot endure emptiness and desolation; they will fill the vacuum by creating a new focus of meaning. The idols of fundamentalism are not good substitutes for God; if we are to create a vibrant new faith for the twenty-first century, we should, perhaps, ponder the history of God for some lessons and warnings - Karen Armstrong, History of God

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Admirer Virgil, who felt able to write of him in his Georgics, a didactic poem heavily in Lucretius' debt, the celebrated lines (2.490-2) ‘Happy he who was able to know the causes of things (felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas), and who trampled beneath his feet all fears, inexorable fate, and the roar of devouring hell’.

Poem by Mary Oliver:Wild Geese

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

The Reckoning
My life dates from the day of my father's death
When I lay weeping and it was not for him.
Now I am to continue the degenerescence
Until I enter his dream.
There is nothing a drink cannot settle at forty Or money at fifty,
the cure of all is death.
But all lovers can remember a moment When they were not alone.

C.H.Sisson"In the Trojan Ditch" Collected Poems and Selected Translations
Carcanet Press 1974.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen."
-- Roy E. Moody

Friday, January 06, 2006

"The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without
relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope,
without illusions, and without resignation either. He stares at death
with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He
experiences the "divine irresponsibility" of the condemned man."

Sartre analysis of Mersault, in Literary and Philosophical Essays,

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."-- - Ernest Hemmingway

"How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?"
-John Kerry

Monday, January 02, 2006

"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. "
- Max Ehrmann

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"A Chosen Faith" by John Bruhens-

"Prophetic and challenging words and deeds are not the sole possession of one exemplar long ago, or even of the more famous recent heroes and heroines of humankind. If that were so, there would be little hope for the rest of us, though we do not presume to be great prophets or aspire to heroics."

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
Leonardo da Vinci

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.
Leonardo da Vinci

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