There is a modern mania about purity in foods, an obsession with weight, cholesterol,sodium, vitamins, exercise – all of them legitimate issues, to be sure. But while there is high energy spent on what goes into our mouths, where is the concern for what goes into our eyes and ears, for what feeds the spirit? There is so much that is lovely to see, hear, read, behold: why are we so often indifferent to the violence and ugliness that assault and diminish us, often in the name of news or entertainment? In the name of freedom, perhaps something of our humanity is chipped away when we claim so proudly that nothing offends us. A very great deal ought to.
- Donald Spoto, from “The Hidden Jesus: A New Life” (St. Martin’s Press, 1998)
Category Archives: Quotations
He watched out at the stars in a kind of trance. Soon it would be the summer again, when he could sleep on the battlements and watch these stars hovering as close as moths above his face – and, in the Milky Way at least, with something of the mothy pollen. They would be at the same time so distant that unutterable thoughts of space and eternity would baffle themselves in his sighing breast, and he would imagine to himself how he was falling upward higher and higher among them, never reaching, never-ending, leaving and losing everything in the tranquil speed of space.
T.H. White, from “The Once & Future King”
I’m about two-thirds of the way through this wonderful book. As you can see from the quote above, this author knows how to write. This is only one of many beautiful strings of words he puts together in this novel. I can’t believe I never read this before. I’m sure I’ll be reading it again. And, yes, I will review it when finished.
Just following my New Year’s resolution to tell myself better stories!
there is a “widespread assumption that ever since the rise of the modern Western world we are acting out a story of ‘progress.’ This is the so-called Whig view of history writ large: history is the story of movements of progressive freedom, and we must go forward and make the next one happen, and the next one after that. Despite all the tyrannies of the last century, people today still believe this myth of progress . . . “
N.T. Wright, from “Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters,” (HarperCollins, 2011)
Most Americans, I fear, do not know or appreciate the fact that citizenship is the primary political office under a constitutional government. In a republic, the citizens are the ruling class. . .
I am sorry to say that most Americans think of themselves as the subjects of government and regard the administrators in public office as their rulers, instead of thinking of themselves as the ruling class and public officials as their servants – the instrumentalities for carrying out their will.
- Mortimer J. Adler, from “We Hold These Truths,” (Collier Books, 1987)
Organized welfare work is, of course, necessary; but the gaps in it must be filled by personal service, performed with loving kindness.
We cannot abdicate our conscience to an organization, nor to a government. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Most certainly I am! I cannot escape my responsibility by saying the State will do all that is necessary. It is a tragedy that nowadays so many think and feel otherwise.
Albert Schweitzer, as quoted in “The Moral Compass” edited by William J. Bennett
I read an interesting article this weekend in The Wall Street Journal by Frans de Waal, primatologist at Emory
University in Atlanta. Titled “The Brains of the Animal Kingdom,” it offered many interesting examples of the intelligence of such animals as chimps, elephants and octopuses, some of them pretty amazing. The point? Nothing new really. As de Waal puts it, “science keeps chipping away at the wall that separates us from the other animals.” The implication being that humans are nothing special, just another animal.
This just gets so tiring, but it offers an example of why it is good to read books and not just the newspapers. I take you back to 1967 and a book written by the late, great Mortimer J. Adler. “The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes” (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) explores the many areas in which humans are not “just another animal.” Adler even quotes evolutionists such as George Gaylord Simpson, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Julian Huxley as referring to man’s uniqueness. As Dobzhansky put it, ” Human intellectual abilities seem to be not only quantitatively but also qualitatively different from those of animals other than men.”
In one of his Frankenstein novels, author Dean Koontz has a character state that “to fight bad ideas is a life’s work.” Well, the idea that humans are nothing but animals needs a good butt-kicking.
. . . we sometimes ascribe . . . intolerant behavior to religious prejudice – as though
there had been a clean break, with scientists all arrayed under the white banner of truth while the forces of obscurantism parade under the black flag of prejudice.
The truth is better, if less appealing. Like other members of the human race, scientists are capable of prejudice. They have occasionally persecuted other scientists, and they have not always been able to see that an old theory, given a hairsbreadth twist, might open an entirely new vista to the human reason.
Loren Eiseley, from “The Firmament of Time” (Atheneum Publishers, 1962)