Saturday, March 29, 2008

"It would be worthy of the age to print together the collected Sciptures
or Sacred Writings of the several nations, the Chinese, the Hindoos, the
Persians, the Hebrews, and others, as the Scripture of mankind. The New
Testament is still, perhaps, too much on the lips and in the hearts of men
to be called a Scripture in this sense. Such a juxtapostion and comparison
might help to liberalize the faith of men. This is a work which Time will
surely edit, reserved to crown the labors of the printing press. This would
be the Bible, or Book of Books, which let the missionaries carry to the
uttermost parts of the earth."
-Henery David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

I was surprised to find this jewel among his writings along the river.
Wonder what he would think about the World Wide Web?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One of the difficulties in the language is that all our words from loose using have lost their edge. --Ernest Hemingway

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meanwhile, if you haven't already picked up a copy of Forrest Church's lively history of the separation of church and state, this would be a great time to do it. The chapters on John Adams are among my favorites. An abridged section in UU World introduces Adams this way:
John Adams is the most vivid American founder. Everything Adams touched bore the imprint of his nature: petty, querulous, and vain; yet also candid, playful, and curious. Adams elevated self-scrutiny into an art. His diary drips with Puritan angst, yet Adams fell several tenets short of the basic requirements of Christian orthodoxy. For starters, he rejected original sin and the doctrine of predestination; the Atonement — "Christ died for our sins" — fit nowhere in his theology. He didn't think like a true believer, but he felt like a true believer. A lifelong churchgoing animal like his fathers and mothers before him, to Adams the Bible was the best book in the world and Christianity the one indispensable guarantor of public morality.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.

-- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

This week at uuworld.org:
Today is the anniversary of the death of James Reeb, the Unitarian minister who was murdered in Selma, Alabama, during the 1965 civil rights campaign. Back in 2000, the UUA and UU World tracked down a recording of Martin Luther King Jr's eulogy for Reeb, and the magazine published it for the first time in 2001. Read King's eulogy and the other stories about Unitarian Universalist engagement with the Selma campaign.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Of course it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods, if they do not carry us thither.
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily,
without getting there in spirit.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Religion & suffering

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those
who have too much, It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
-President Theodore Roosevelt, 2nd Inaugural Address

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"You see, the religious people -- most of them -- really think this planet is an experiment. That's what their beliefs come down to. Some god or other is always fixing and poking, messing around with tradesmen's wives, giving tablets on mountains, commanding you to mutilate your children, telling people what words they can say and what words they can't say, making people feel guilty about enjoying themselves, and like that. Why can't the gods leave well enough alone? All this intervention speaks of incompetence. If God didn't want Lot's wife to look back, why didn't he make her obedient, so she'd do what her husband told her? Or if he hadn't made Lot such a shithead, maybe she would've listened to him more. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He's not good at design, he's not good at execution. He'd be out of business if there was any competition.
- [Sol Hadden in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985), p. 285.]

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
-Gilbert Chesterton(1874-1936)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Democritus & the eagle

A bald headed man was walking one day when suddenly he was struck on his head by a large turtle and was killed. An Eagle was seen nearby and the people quickly determined that somehow the gods were displeased and had caused the eagle to hurl the turtle down onto the head of the man to show their displeasure.

However, Democritus, having observed the same event as everyone else, gave it a more naturalistic reason for having happened. He had taken note of the fact that the eagle had developed a liking for the meat of the turtle but found it difficult to extract it from its shell. It learned to carry the turtle high above the ground and drop it onto a rock causing the turtle to break apart and release its meat. The eagle that had been sighted by the crowd had mistaken the man's shiny bald head for a rock and had dropped the turtle directly upon it in order to attain its meat.


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