Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Power and Influence of Young Women

I was reading in a book called Portraits and Principles, an anthology of essays by successful people and how they got that way, when I read this one addressed to young women. I have one fourteen year old granddaughter, and others growing up quickly, that I want to pass this on to.
When I finished it I thought there may be others that would like it for the same purpose.

The following piece is a paraphrase from an essay titled-
The Influence of Young Women by Lady Henry Somerset – She was the President of a British women’s Temperance union in the late 1800s.
I might rename it The Power and Influence of Young Women because as I read it I became aware of power women have. She begins with what seems as a unrelated issue, stating that mankind can develop nature but not improve upon it.
“All the present deliciousness of fruits or flowers was contained in the original seeds out of which they were developed. Men have added nothing to nature.”
Her point being that fruits and flowers are and can be improved upon, and then she likens this to the family of man, and that through the home it can be improved as well. “ Without one’s family, what were all else of life?
Without them would life be worth the living? How could there be love, and hope and ambition, without the family? There might be lust of appetite, or gaining things, of conquest, for mere existence, but how could holy love exist without the family relation? And love is life. In the Bible the words are almost interchangeable in meaning.”

She makes this general statement, although made over a hundred years ago I think it is as true today as then. “Now men are ruled by their appetites, and women by their affections, until education has taught them the proper uses of both.”
Now she goes on and this is where it gets interesting to me; she begins to encourage young women on how to pick out a man and in doing so exert her power over all of society.
“The young women of today will be the matrons of tomorrow, and while they never can make over the young men whom their mothers have made years ago,
(She mentions earlier that as a rule the first seven years of life determine the future of the child and so of the man.) they can almost wholly determine the character of the next generation, by wisely using their influence with the present one. What kind of associates, what kind of companions, will you choose among men? Fate will not fix it for you, but you must determine it.
There are serious vices among men, foul blots on humanity that impair its energies, that bar all upward progress of the race, that are steadily dragging it downward to that of a beast and actions of the devil – vices that breed crimes, natural and unnatural, preternatural ( unlike ordinary natural occurrences ), by which and from which woman has been and is the silent, and greatest sufferer.
Shall these be continued? On its answer hangs the destiny of the ages. Shall the vice of the father be fastened on your innocent child through you?
That is the problem you are to solve.
Over against the world’s misery stand the young women of the day with the power not merely to lessen it but to blot it out. Will they do it? Do you ask how?

By resolutely refusing to be the medium for its perpetuation.

Demand purity of thought, purity of purpose, purity of deed that is unyielding, with the young men with whom you accompany.
How long would the vice of drink, the use of drugs, the delirium of gambling, the leper-seeking of lust with all of its perversions, dwell in the world, if the young women in it were to refuse to accompany any young man tainted by them?
Not a generation.”

She goes on to give countless example of how young women take as friends for themselves young men who have habits that inevitably end up hurting themselves, because the young man is cute or clever, rich or has position.

The main point of the essay is to point out the power young women have.
They can by right choices for themselves, not only help themselves, but, when married and if children come, bless the children by their choice, and all of society.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Poor but content

This is another good story custom made for parents to use as a training tool for their children.

“ In a time of famine a rich man sent for the poorest children of the town, and said to them;
“There is a basket full of bread; you may come every day and take a loaf until it pleases God to send better times.”
The children attacked the basket, and disputed as to which should have the largest loaf, and then went away without thanking their benefactor.
Only Frances, a very poor but cleanly girl, modestly remained behind, and had the smallest loaf which was left in the basket. She gratefully returned thanks and went home quietly. One day the children behaved very badly indeed, and poor Frances received a loaf very much smaller than the rest; but when she took it home, and her mother cut it open, a number of pieces of silver fell on the floor.
The poor woman was astonished and said:
“Go and return this money immediately, it must have been a mistake.”
Frances went directly with it to the gentleman, who said:
“My dear child, it was no mistake. I had the money put into that loaf to reward you. Remain always as peaceable and contented. Those who are satisfied with a little always bring blessing upon themselves and family, and will pass happily through the world. Do not thank me, but thank God, who put into your heart the treasure of a contented and grateful spirit, and who has given me the will and opportunity to be useful to those who are in need of assistance.”

Purpose and Direction

The thing, which an active mind most needs, is a purpose and direction worthy of its activity. The dread that we have that precious hopes will never be realized is more than half of the burden that we have to bear. Better fail a thousand times and in everything else, than attempt to shape for yourself a life without God, without hope in Christ, and without an interest in heaven. But those who have a high, pure aim in life, some noble end to be accomplished for the benefit of our fellow creatures, and the advancement of the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom, if such an object is labored and striven for, in the strength of the Lord, something precious and beautiful in the sight of God and the angels will be formed, a full and completely rounded life, answering the end for which it was created. Well Springs of Truth

Patience and Forbearance

The horse of a pious man in Massachusetts happened to stray into the road. A neighbor of the man who owned the horse, caught him and put him in the pound.
Meeting the owner soon after, he told him what he had done, and added,
“If ever I catch him in the road hereafter, I’ll do just so again.”
“Neighbor” replied the other, “Not long since, I looked out of my window in the night, and saw your cattle in my mowing-ground; and I drove them out, and shut them in your stable;
and I’ll do it again.”
Struck with the reply, the man liberated the horse from the pound, and paid the charges himself.
Well Springs of Truth 1883

Tingling nerves

What is the true test of piety? Plain matter-of-fact, un-ecstatic obedience as of a child to a father; that is the test. The only true joy is born of such obedience. Ecstasies that come from any other source do not belong to the legitimate family circle of heavenly joys. They are the result of that which it does not take heaven to explain. They can be produced at any time and on any occasion by a combination of earthly forces. Singing can produce them. A sympathetic voice can charge the mystic thrill along the nerves till they tingle. Eloquence can produce them. How often under the orators power men and women weep, groan and shout in loud acclaim! The mesmeric influence which hovers over marsh land during a summer heat can communicate by subtle and untraceable potency its deceptive and transitory excitement, so that the vast multitude shall be charged full of the current whose expression might deceive the very elect.
Many suppose that this kind of feeling is legitimate, spiritual, and represents the real power of God. Yea, many gauge their piety by the presence or absence of these feelings; which are feelings that reach no farther than the muscles, and have their home in nothing more divine than the nervous tissues. The piety of Jesus consisted in obedience. His great aim was to do the will of God. He loved God perfectly, and loved man perfectly, and so perfectly fulfilled the law; and so had perfect happiness. Obedience to God lies in natural duties as truly as what are known as technically spiritual. The perfect life stands parent to the perfect joy. Well Springs of Truth

My experience as a Christian was birthed in emotion. When I came to Christ I was raptured away with such a sense of divine presence and heavenly encouragement that I was compelled to go on and follow this Jesus and his gift of peace. Throughout my Christian walk there have been times of great emotion, and heavenly euphoria. So, as I read this piece I first leaned towards disagreement. But after further consideration I agree more than disagree. I have witnessed many over the years that find a consolation in emotion and pursue meetings that bring them into this state of pleasure without much change. So I think this piece is good to urge us to balance, and to test our own spirit by obedience. What other measuring rod is there?

Be it small or great.

“My sister, a woman of your ability and culture might grace earth’s highest salons, and your beauty properly arrayed would adorn a palace. But God has put you in a humble home, and given you a needle for your equipment. Do not, therefore, stitch a complaint and a story of former wealth into every seam. Show your ability by the excellence of your work.
If we are not superior in little things, we would not be superior in the great things of which we dream ourselves capable. In nothing is true ability – not a mere sham pretense of talent – shown more clearly than in doing thoroughly whatever comes to hand, be it small or great.”

Well Springs of Truth 1883

Loyalty to Duty

There are dogs of Herculaneum which display faithful loyalty to duty. One such dogs cast was taken from the ash cavity in which he was discovered. He died of suffocation and agony. But, like the sentinel, he never left his post. The Herculaneum dog Delta has left behind him a wonderful record of valor. In the disinterment of the buried city, his skeleton was found stretched over that of a boy of about twelve years old, most probably clasping his charge to prevent his being suffocated or burned. The boy perished as well as the faithful Delta, but a collar remains to tell of the noble courage of the dog. It relates that he had three times saved the life of his master—from the sea, from robbers, and from wolves.”
If there is such a spirit of loyalty to duty to be found in poor brutes, how much more ought human beings to cultivate this quality?. Well Springs of Truth 1883

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Learn to condense

Matt, you're going to love this post!

Southey says, “If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.” Long visits, long stories, long exhortations and long prayers seldom profit those who have to do with them. Life is short. Time is short. Moments are precious. Learn to condense, abridge and intensify. We can endure many an ache and ill if it is soon over, while even pleasures grown insipid and pain intolerable if they are protracted beyond the limits of reason and convenience.” Learn to be brief. Lop off branches; stick to the main facts in your case. If you pray ask for what you would receive, and get through; if you speak tell your message, and hold your peace; boil down two words into one, and three into two.” Well Springs of Truth 1883

Heart answers to heart

“How it strengthens our love for our fellow-man to know that in every land and in every clime, minds and hearts are so much alike that they respond in unison to the master touch of genius! How it thrills us in reading, to find our own thoughts suddenly brought before us by some great writer clothed in words as we could never utter! But we know that we are akin to him, for does not heart answer to heart, and mind to mind, as we see before us a transcript of our own thoughts?—thoughts which may have been so vague and fleeting as to elude farther search for them--- but here they are; we have found them at last, clothed in enduring beauty, and made palpable by the genius of another.” Well Springs of Truth 1883
”If the chain which binds a man, when wound about him in its full strength, is so great, what shall be said of those who thoughtlessly forge the first links? Are you forging any?”
Well Springs of Truth 1883

Honor old age

A Russian princess of great beauty, in company with her father and a young French marquis, visited a celebrated Swiss doctor of the eighteenth century, Michael Scuppack, when the French marquis began to pass one of his jokes upon the long white beard of one of the doctor’s neighbors who was present.
He offered to bet twelve gold pieces that no lady present would dare to kiss the dirty old fellow. The Russian princess ordered her attendant to bring a plate, and she deposited twelve gold pieces and sent it to the French marquis, who was too polite to decline his bet. The fair Russian then approached the old peasant, saying,
“Permit me, venerable father, to salute you after the manner of my country,”and embracing him, gave him a kiss. She then presented him the gold, which was on the plate, saying, “ Take this as a remembrance of me, and as a sign that the Russian girls think it their duty to honor old age.” Well Springs of Truth" 1883

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The music of humans

With my recent trip to Ensenada still fresh on my mind, the title of this article caught my eye.
Though locations were different she captures the spirit of Latin America, and other poor cultures I have visited, so well. I think you will enjoy this whether you have travelled or not.

Lessons From South of the Border

“I just see some things differently now.” I was explaining to a friend after my recent trip to Guatemala and Nicaragua. Things here in the US just seem so orderly, rich, quiet, and…sterile.

In the month spent south of the border, I became accustomed to daily walks among throngs of Latin Americans who live their lives on busy streets buying and selling from each other, running for buses, walking to jobs, schools, pulling their pigs to market, carrying huge loads on their backs and heads leaving trickles of sweat on dusty streets.

From the early dawn wakeup calls of roosters and church bells to the late evening, throbbing is heard throughout the darkened city streets, I felt connected to the rhythms of daily life in a way that I miss here in the US.
My senses were awash each day with the sights, sounds, smells, and whirling vibrant activity of human interaction.
Horns beeping, bus attendants yelling out destinations, children laughing and kicking balls down crowded streets, women gesturing wildly to get a point across as they bargain in street markets, shoe-shine boys clamoring for business, sizzling onions and meat cooking at a street stall.
Then to add to the chaos, a car drives by with a blaring message from its enormous attached speakers announcing a dance that evening in the central park.
I sat in buses packed far past capacity with people being pushed along a sea of humanity toward their destinations. After a respite from the lively street scene, I’d jump off a barely stopped bus and rejoin the cacophony of sounds, the music of humans, living in all its confusion, joy, hardship, inter-dependence, and struggle.
I was as wide-eyed with amazement as the babies bouncing along on their mother’s backs.

“But isn’t it really poor and sad their?” a friend asks.
I think for a minute trying to understand my own mixed feelings. Why did it seem so rich, so vibrant, so alive when indeed the people have so very little?
The people of Latin America appear to enjoy the rich simplicity of life in a way that we don’t here. They don’t expect life to be easy and truly enjoy the times when things work out. They live in all its messy, disorderly, uncontrolled beauty seeming to understand their limits and their reliance on each other.
People here live behind closed doors in protection of their wealth, comfort, and things. Many don’t have to rub up against neighbors, depend on them, sit and talk until the wee hours about troubles, run for buses and sit next to them as we struggle to eke out a living.

We don’t wake to the same sounds as each other and go to sleep at night with opened windows and night air filled with laughter, crying and passion.
But the price we pay for our privacy, comfort, ease, and order is a sense of disconnection and loneliness. It’s possible to live out our days having little or no contact with neighbors, only impersonal contact with merchants, alone in our homes, isolated, and dependent on our cars, driving to jobs where we sit in cubicles, alone at computers, or home with young children away from the comforts of other mothers raising their children.

Lives like that can seem comfortable but there’s a trade off, one that leaves many Americans depressed and confused about where they belong in relation to others.
Here in America, we have to work hard to increase our sense of connection and community with each other (given our current culture and lifestyle) as people in other parts of the world have to work to put food on the table.
It is a goal worth pursuing.

Charlotte Finn

They did not make a voyage, though long at sea.

This piece comes from a chapter called “Reason and Discretion” by Jeremy Taylor.
He paints an all to common picture of the young man that has rejected religion and unwilling to surrender his heart to Christ. He presents a series of behaviors and actions that are typical to the person closing their ears to Christ.

“ And now let us consider what that thing is which we call years of discretion.
The young man is past his tutors, and arrived at the bondage of a caitiff (despicable, vile, cowardly) spirit; he is run from discipline, and is let loose to passion; the man by this time hath wit enough to choose his vice, to act his lust, to court his mistress, to talk confidently and ignorantly and perpetually, to despise his betters, to deny nothing to his appetite, to do things that, when he is indeed a man, he must forever be ashamed of.
For this is all the discretion that most men show in the first stage of manhood; they can discern good from evil; and they prove their skill by leaving all that is good, and wallowing in the evils of folly and an unbridled appetite.

And by this time the young man hath contracted vicious habits, and is a beast in manners, and therefore it will not be fitting to reckon the beginning of his life; he is a fool in his understanding, and that is a sad death; and he is dead in trespasses and sins, and that is a sadder: so that he hath no life but a natural, the life of a beast or a tree; in all other capacities he is dead; he neither hath the intellectual nor the spiritual life, neither the life of a man nor of a Christian; and this sad truth lasts too long.
For old age seizes upon most men while they still retain the minds of boys and vicious youth, doing actions from principles of great folly and a mighty ignorance, admiring things useless and hurtful, and filling up all the dimensions of their abode with businesses of empty affairs, being at leisure to attend no virtue.
They cannot pray, because they are busy and because they are passionate; they cannot communicate, because they have quarrels and intrigues of perplexed causes, complicated hostilities, and things of the world; and therefore they cannot attend to the things of God, little considering that they must find a time to die in; when death comes, they must be at leisure for that.
Such men are like sailors loosing from a port, and tost immediately with a perpetual tempest lasting till their cordage crack, and either they sink or return back again to the same place; they did not make a voyage, though they were long at sea.”

Sunday, April 02, 2006

In conversation with my niece the other day regarding thoughts given in confidence, I ran across this quote as a sober reminder--
"Never over-rate the friendship of any audience before which you may stand." Joseph Cook

Simple tears?

I learned from the radio the other day that there are three kinds of tears.
Yes, the chemical make-up of our tears are all different.

First, we have tears that lubricate the eyes and in addition they contain a low level antibacterial agent to cleanse.

Second, and different in chemical make-up from our lubricating tears, are our tears of sorrow.

And thirdly, and also chemically distinct from the others, are our tears of joy.

"Great are the works of the Lord." Ps. 111:2

I found that worth pondering, in light of our Great God, and also wondered where a Darwinist would put that in the chain of evolution.