Sunday, August 31, 2008

When I saw this home, about as meager as a home can be, I thought it was a great example of God's grace and love; though the house meets but the bare necessities, God lavished the back door in unmatchable beauty.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Life is thick sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.-Voltaire

"Remember that life is neither pain nor pleasure; it is serious business, to be entered upon with courage and in a spirit of self-sacrifice." - De Tocqueville.

Photo by Israel Fichman

The following quote is about Revenge, and during the time, dueling was common, this is directed to that specifically, but it relates to revenge in general. I especially like his vivid illustrations that have such strong word pictures. Very masculine in his approach, something I find lacking in today's pulpits, and no wonder he is called the Shakespheare of the preachers.

"....... For what man is so barbarous as to recover his leprosy by sucking the life-blood from dying infants? a good man would rather endure ten leprosies then one such remedy. Such a thing is revenge; it pretends to cure a wound but does it with an intolerable remedy. It was the song of the Cyclops to his sheep: 'feed you upon the tender herbs, I mean to feed upon the flesh and drink the blood of the Greeks'; this is a violence not only to our laws and manners, but even to the very nature of men.

Lions and tigers do, with a strange curiosity, eye and observe him that struck them, and they fight with him above all other hunters; to strike again is the return of beasts; but to pardon him that smote me, is the bravest amends and the noblest way of doing right unto our selves; whilest in the ways of a man and by the methods of God, we have conquered our enemy into a friend. But revenge is the disease of honor, and is as contrary to the wisdom and bravery of men as dwelling in rivers and wallowing in fires is to their natural manner of living, and he who out of pretence of valor pursues revenge is like him, who because fire is a glorious thing, is willing to have a St. Anthonies fire in his face."

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by James Pan

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"A capacity for self-recollection - for withdrawal from the outward to the inward - is in fact the condition of all noble and useful activity. If the sailor did not carry with him his own temperature he could not go from the pole to the equator, and remain himself in spite of all. The man who has no refuge in himself, who lives, so to speak, in his front rooms, in the outer whirlwind of things and opinions, is not properly a personality at all. He is one of a crowd, a taxpayer, an elector, an anonymity, but not a man.

He who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no ideal, no convictions -- such a man is a mere article of the world's furniture - a thing moved, instead of a living and moving being - an echo, not a voice. The man who has no inner life, is the slave of his surroundings, as the barometer is the obedient servant of the air at rest, and the weathercock the humble servant of the air in motion."

Henri Frederic Amiel, a Swiss scholar and writer, pulls no punches in this stinging exhortation. But how soon we abandon our inner life at the meeting of odds.

Photo by Gundega Dege

"Trials for the brave."

When I awoke this morning I was somewhat like the woman in the picture; distressed about a dead canary. The following quote properly adjusted my attitude.
"Let any man go into silence: strip himself of all pretence, and selfishness, and sensuality, and sluggishness of soul; lift off thought after thought, passion after passion, till he reaches the inmost depth of all; like how short a time it was that he was not; and again, how short it will be and he will not be here; so open the window and look upon the night, how still its breath, how solemn its march, how deep its perspective; and think how little he knows except the perpetuity of God, and the mysteriousness of life:-- and it will be strange if he does not feel the Eternal Presence as close upon his soul as the breeze upon his brow; if he does not say, "O Lord, art thou ever near as this, and have I not known thee?" -- if the true proportions and the genuine spirit of life do not open on his heart with infinite clearness and show him the littleness of his temptations and the grandeur of his trust. He is ashamed to have found weariness in toil so light, and tears where there was no trial to the brave. He discovers with astonishment how small the dust that has blinded him, and from the height of a quiet and holy love looks down with incredulous sorrow on the jealousies and fears and irritations that have vexed his life.
A mighty wind of resolution sets in strong upon him and freshens the whole atmosphere of his soul, sweeping down before it the light flakes of difficulty, till they vanish like snow upon the sea......"
"Tears where there was no trial to the brave." As I reflect on the many posts on my blog, the poor souls who endure great trials, oppression, hunger, and suffering; true trials for the brave, I was ashamed of my cry baby attitude, and clutched tighter to the hands of Jesus and 'cowboy up'd'.
James Martineau - British teacher of religion, 1805-1900 - Painting by Alma Tadema

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The following quote is by Plato, he is referring to the art displayed in the city, but the application for today extends much further.
"We would not have our guardians (children), grow up amid images of moral deformity, as in some noxious pasture, and there browse and feed upon many a baneful herb and flower day by day, little by little, until they silently gather a festering mass of corruption in their own soul. Let our artists rather be those who are gifted to discern the true nature of the beautiful and graceful; then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from earliest years into likeness, and sympathy with the beauty of reason."
I especially like the last line that the child's soul will insensibly be drawn into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason. I think children that are taught to appreciate the good influences of music, art, movies, as well as good and Godly counsel, will grow to naturally repel the corrupt, and have a far greater advantage in resisting soul corrupting influences. Parenting is a pro-active vocation. Bedtime stories, conversation, watching inspiring movies, exposing them to beauty in all its forms are simple investments into our children that will earn them great interest.
Photo by Paula Grenside

Monday, August 25, 2008

"The only way for a rich man to be healthy is by exercise and abstinence, to live as if he was poor; which are esteemed the worst parts of poverty." Sir W. Temple

Ha! that's ironic.

This picture of Scarlett Johannson imitating Kiera Knightley was done by 'Danger Mouse'. So sad.

People Watch

This unusual man was photographed by Manuel Libres Librodo Jr. He is a world class photographer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Truth and Liberty

"Truth is compared in scripture to a streaming fountain: if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.
We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness. The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge.
To be still searching what we know not, by what we know, still closing up truth as we find it, this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the best harmony in church; not the forced and outward union of cold and natural and inwardly divided minds.
Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
The Temple of Janus with his two controversial faces might now not unsignificantly be set open. Let truth and falsehood grapple: who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing."

John Milton, English Puritan Poet, author of Paradise Lost, 1608-1674 - Photo from the Vatican

I noticed my Neo-Counter hit 100 countries today. I have been waiting for that, nice round number and it represents a lot of different thoughts. Many of the visits are people that just happen across my blog and have different interests and don't return. But there are others of you from countries around the globe that visit regularly and I just want to invite you to leave a simple comment if you enjoy a post. We all hesitate to comment: something weird about it; but just let me know if you find a particular post inspiring. I think all bloggers appreciate that, and we are all in this thing together.
Photo by Banhup Teh, Day Dreaming.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In training our children and grandchildren, one way I present morality is as though it is a riddle and it is their task to interpret. They may discuss with one another and then, like a game show, offer their answer. Going through Proverbs or like the following post , are good challenges when age appropriate.

"Read not books alone, but men, and amongst them chiefly thy self: if thou find any thing questionable there, use the commentary of a severe friend rather than the gloss of a sweetlipt flatter; there is more profit in a distasteful truth than deceitful sweetness.

If thou art rich, strive to command thy money, lest she command thee: if thou know how to use her, she is thy servant; if not, thou art her slave.

Be not censorious, for thou know'st not when thou judgest; it is a more dextrous error to speak well of an evil man than ill of a good man.

Hath any wronged thee? be bravely reveng'd: sleight it, and the work's begun; forgive it, and 'tis finished: he is below himself that is not above an injury.

Give not thy tongue too great a liberty, lest it take thee prisoner. A word unspoken is, like the sword in thy scabberd, thine; if vented, thy sword is in another's hand: if thou desire to be held wise, be so wise as to hold thy tongue.

Francis Quarles 1592-1644 Photo by Polixeni Papapetrou - Riddles

Demean thy self more warily in thy study than in the street. If thy public actions have a hundred witnesses, thy private actions have a thousand. The multitude looks but upon the actions: thy conscience looks into them."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Beloved, the best, the wisest, the holiest, and the most mortified Christians on earth, do carry about with them a body of sin and death. Ro.7:22,23; they have in them a fountain of original corruption, and from this fountain sin will still be arising, bubbling and a-boiling up as the scum in a pot over fire. But mark, as in wine, or honey, or water, though scum and filth may arise, yet the wine, the honey, the water, will be still a-purging and purifying itself, and a working and casting it out; so though sin, though corruption, though spiritual filth may, and too often doth, arise in a gracious heart, yet there is a spring of grace, a spring of living water in him, there is a holy cleansing and purifying disposition in a regenerate person, that will still be a working and casting it out.
But now mark, in men of impure hearts and lives, the scum doth not only arise, but it seethes and boils in. Ezek. 24:12, 'She wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her;' notwithstanding all the threatenings of God, and all the judgments of God upon her, yet her scum and filthiness boiled in. Though God boiled Jerusalem in the pot of his judgments, yet her scum and filth stuck to every side of her. Wicked men's scum and filth doth not only arise, but it also seethes and boils in, and mingles together with their spirits; but so doth not the scum and filth that rises in a gracious heart. A sheep may fall into the mire, but a swine delights to wallow in the mire."
Thomas Brooks -Photo by William Kok

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This is a little excerpt from “The Pilgrims Progress”, if you have never read it this will give you a taste of this great classic. Which was, by the way, required reading in public schools until the fifties.

“Now there was, not far from where they (Christian and Hopeful) lay, a castle, called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in his grounds they were now sleeping; wherefore he, getting up in the morning early and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then with a grim and surly voice he bid them awake and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him they were pilgrims and that they had lost their way.
Then said the giant, “You have this night trespassed on me by trampling and lying on my grounds, and therefore you must go along with me.”
So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They had also but little to say, for they knew themselves in a fault. The giant, therefore, drove them before him, and put them into his castle, into a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking to the spirits of these two men. Here then they lay from Wednesday morning until Saturday night, with out one bit of bread or drop of drink, or light.
Well, on Saturday, about midnight, they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost the break of day. Now, a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out into this passionate speech: “What a fool,” quoth he, “am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise that will I am persuaded open any lock in Doubting Castle.”
Then said Hopeful, “That is good news: good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.”
Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom and began to try at the dungeon door, whose bolt as he turned the key gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the castle yard, and with his key opened that door also. After that he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened two; but that lock went desperately hard, yet the key did open it. They then thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking that it waked Giant Despair, who hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail; for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the King’s highway.”
John Bunyan -- Photo by arjun das - Ray of Hope.

"The essence of all education is self-discovery and self-control. When education helps an individual to discover his own powers and limitations and shows him how to get out of his heredity its largest and best possibilities, it will fulfil its real function; when children are taught not merely to know things but particularly to know themselves, not merely how to do things, but especially how to compel themselves to do things, they may be said to be really educated. For this sort of education there is demanded rigorous discipline of the powers of observation, of the reason, and especially of the will." -- Edwin Grant Conklin 1863

I thought this was interesting but it left me hungering to know more of his ideas. Any insights, ideas and experiences are greedily accepted.

You may have seen this picture before, if you back up Einsteins face changes to Marylin Monroe's.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The following piece from the 1600's is quite a shift from today's thinking. His bias is a bit harsh, but in principle I think there is much to be gained. Now, my intentions are not to mock a mother's love, and this picture illustrates the loving care and concern of a loving mom. But the following provides balance, and hopefully historical context will allow you to read it mercifully.
“Fathers and mothers handle their children differently; mothers soften them with kisses and imperfect noises, with the pap and breast milk of soft endearments, they rescue them from Tutors, and snatch them from discipline, they desire to keep them fat and warm and their feet dry and their bellies full; and then the children govern, and cry, and prove fools, and troublesome, so long as the feminine republic does endure. But fathers, because they design to have their children wise and valiant, apt for counsel, or for arms, send them to severe governments, and tie them to study, to hard labor, and afflictive contingencies.
They rejoice when the bold boy strikes a lion with his hunting spear, and shrinks not when the beast comes to affright his early courage. Softness is for slaves and beasts, for minstrels and useless persons, for such who cannot ascend higher then the state of a fair ox, or a servant entertained for vainer offices: But the man that designs his son for noble employments, to honors, and to triumphs, to consular dignities and presidences of counsels, loves to see him pale with study or panting with labor, hardened with sufferance or eminent by dangers: and so God dresses us for heaven. He loves to see us struggling with a disease, and resisting the devil, and contesting against the weaknesses of nature, and against hope to believe in hope, resigning our selves to God’s will, praying him to choose for us, and dying in all things but faith and its blessed consequences.”
Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Judith Quinones

"Chastity is either abstinence or continence. Abstinence is that of Virgins or Widows: Continence of married persons. Chaste marriages are honorable and pleasing to God: Widowhood is pitiable in its solitariness and loss, but amiable and comely when it is adorned with gravity and purity, and not sullied with remembrances of the passed license, nor with present desires of returning to a second bed.

But Virginity is a life of Angels, the enamel of the soul, the huge advantage of religion, the great opportunity for the retirements of devotion: and being empty of cares, it is full of prayers: being unmingled with the world, it is apt to converse with God: and by not feeling the warmth of a too forward and indulgent nature, flames out with holy fires, till it be burning like the Cherubim and the most ecstasied order of holy and unpolluted Spirits."

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Manuel Libres Librodo Jr.

War Dance

I watched 'War Dance' last night. I loved it. From the DVD jacket it says - "Set in war-ravaged N. Uganda,the Oscar nominated War Dance will touch your heart with a real-life story about a group of children whose love of music brings joy, excitement and hope back into their poverty stricken lives." This would be a gross understatement.
I highly recommend this film.
As I was at church this morning considering the children in the film, praying for them and horrified by what they suffered, and confused why the wicked prosper, the thought drifted into my mind "I am there." And He is. Not a religious movie, but where great sorrow is, there is Faith in God, and their faith couldn't be edited out, it is too much a part of their life. One day this will all be over and there will be no more tears........ I'm looking for that day.
Thank "ThinkFilms" for their noble use of film.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier was an American poet, devoted Quaker, fierce abolitionist, and reformer. I posted the following poem because in it he, ever so tactfully, and humbly, dissents from some of the unnamed beliefs of his time. The second and third stanzas stood out to me the most. I relate to this cautious feeling of dissension on many fronts in today's Christendom. I am not so bold when it comes to the condition of the lost, those that have never heard the name of Christ, or the eternal state of unbelievers. I, of course, interpret his meaning in regard to these issues.

The Eternal Goodness

O friends, with whom my feet have trod
the quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.

I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.

But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds:
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.

I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within:
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by strom and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!

I know not what the future hath
of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.

And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.

He who exhibits no faults is a fool or a hypocrite whom we should distrust. - Joubert
“Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others; for thou hast many faults and imperfections of thine own that require forbearance.
If thou art not able to make thyself that which thou wishest, how canst thou expect to mold another in conformity to thy will?”

Thomas A. Kempis - Photo by Katja Faith

John Robinson, 1575-1625
(From an address to his congregation just before the Pilgrims, who were members, sailed to America, July 21, 1620.)

“We are now ere long to part asunder, and the Lord knoweth whether I shall live to see your faces again. But whether the Lord hath appointed it or not, I charge you before God and his blessed angels to follow me no further than I have followed Christ; and if God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth by my ministry; for I am very confident the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth out of his Holy Word.
I bewail the condition of the reformed churches who are come to a period in religion and will go no further than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; for whatever part of God’s will has been imparted and revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it. And the Calvinists, as you see, stick where Calvin left them. This is a misery much to be lamented; for though Luther and Calvin were precious shining lights in the times, yet God did not reveal his whole will to them; and were they living now they would be as ready and willing to embrace further light as that that they had received. I beseech you to remember your church covenant, at least the part of it whereby you promise and covenant with God and one with another to receive whatsoever light or truth shall be made known to you from the written Word of God.”
Photo by Airi Pung

Friday, August 15, 2008

“Presently it came to pass that the Religion of the despised Jesus did infinitely prevail; a Religion that taught men to be meek and humble, apt to receive injuries, but unapt to do any; a Religion that gave countenance to the poor and pitiful, in a time when riches were adored, and ambition and pleasure had possessed the heart of all mankind; a religion that would change the face of things, and the hearts of men, and break vile habits into gentleness and counsel; that such a Religion, in such a time, by the Sermons and conduct of fishermen, men of mean breeding and illiberal Arts, should so speedily triumph over the philosophy of the world, and the arguments of the subtle, and the Sermons of the Eloquent; the power of Princes and the interests of States, the inclinations of nature and the blindness of zeal, the force of custom and the solicitation of passions, the pleasures of sin and the busy arts of the devil; that is, against wit and power, superstition and willfulness, fame and money, nature and Empire, which are all the causes in this world that can make a thing impossible; this, this is to be ascribed to the power of God, and is the great demonstrations of the Resurrection of Jesus.”

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Vic Moss

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The joy of life is living it, or so it seems to me;
In finding shackles on your wrists, then struggling till you’re free;
In seeing wrongs and righting them, in dreaming splendid dreams,
Then toiling till the visions is as real as moving streams.
The happiest mortal on the earth is he who ends his day
By leaving better than he found to bloom along the way.

Were all things perfect here there would be naught for man to do;
If what is old were good enough we’d never need the new.
The only happy time of rest is that which follows strife
And sees some contribution made unto the joy of life.

And he who has oppression felt and conquered it is he
Who really knows the happiness and peace of being free.

The miseries of earth are here and with them all must cope.
Who seeks for joy, through hedges thick of care and pain must grope.
Through disappointment man must go to value pleasure’s thrill;
To really know the joy of health a man must first be ill.
The wrongs are here for man to right, and happiness is had
By striving to supplant with good the evil and the bad.

The joy of life is living it and doing things of worth,
In making bright and fruitful all the barren spots of earth.
In facing odds and mastering them and rising from defeat,
And making true what once was false, and what was bitter, sweet.
For only he knows perfect joy whose little bit of soil
Is richer ground than what it was when he began to toil.

Edgar A. Guest - Photo by Shawn Shawhan

“But I am afraid the real reason why young men are not more given to saving, is not that they are afraid of being misers, but that they are averse to the practice of that self-denial which the habit of saving necessitates. He who would save money is compelled to deny himself constantly. If we start out in life by gratifying every passing fancy and purchasing whatsoever we may desire, we shall undoubtedly remain poor to the end of our days. But if we learn to sacrifice the whim of the moment to the interests of a lifetime, we shall be in a fair way toward making accumulations.
The fact that saving involves self-denial, gives a high ethical ground from which the habit may be inculcated. John Sterling says somewhere, “The worst education which teaches self-denial is better than the best which teaches everything else and not that.”
Charles H. Keays

Monday, August 11, 2008

Time to reflect

"Seek a proper time to retire into thyself, and often think over the benefits of God.
Let alone curious questions; read such matters as may rather move thee to compunction than give thee occupation.
If thou wilt withdraw thyself from superfluous talk and idle visits, as also from giving ear to news and reports, thou wilt find time sufficient and proper to employ thyself in good meditations.
The greatest of saints avoided the company of men as much as they could, and rather chose to live to God in secret.
As often as I have been amongst men, said one, I have returned less a man; this we often experience when we talk long.
It is easier to be altogether silent than not to speak a word too much.
It is easier to keep retired at home than to be able to be sufficiently upon our guard abroad.
Whosoever, therefore, strives to attain to inward and spiritual things, must, with Jesus, go aside from the crowd.
No man safely goes abroad but he who willingly lies hid at home.
No man speaks safely but he who loves to hold his peace.
No man safely commands but he who has learned well to obey.
No man safely rejoices unless he have within him the testimony of a good conscience."
Thomas A. Kempis - Photo by Anna Pagnacco

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The following three posts describe the nature, struggles, and weaknesses of mankind. It paints a meager picture of our natures, but after 61 years of living, I believe it is about as accurate a description of all the people I have know as I could describe, myself included. There are those that have less of the negatives, and certainly those who have even more than are listed. I find it sobering, somewhat humorous in places, but by in large if we look at our selves in an unbiased way, I think we will see all of the characteristics to one degree or another. I post this, not to discourage, but to show how foolish we are to think any of us deserves praise or notoriety. "We all stumble in many ways", says the Apostle, and no doubt you will see much of yourself in this. Sorry if it is a bit tedious and difficult to read, but when you are in a self-examining mood, take the time to weigh yourself.


“It is very requisite (needful) that we should understand the state of our own infirmity, the weakness of the flesh, the temptations and diversions of the spirit, that by understanding our present state we may prevent the evils of carelessness and security. Our evils are the imperfections and sorrows inherent in, or appendant (attached) to our bodies, our souls, our spirits.
In our bodies we find weakness, and imperfection, sometimes crookedness, sometimes monstrosity; filthiness, and weariness, infinite numbers of diseases, and an uncertain cure, great pain, and restless night, hunger and thirst, daily necessities, ridiculous gestures, madness from passions, distempers and disorders, great labor to provide meat and drink, and oftentimes a loathing when we have them; if we use them they breed sicknesses, if we use them not, we die; and if we eat like beasts only of one thing, our souls are quickly weary; if we eat a variety, we are sick, and intemperate; and our bodies are inlets to sin, and a stage of temptation. If we cherish them, they undo us; if we do not cherish them, they die: we suffer illusion in our dreams, and absurd fancies when we are waking; our life is soon done, and yet very tedious; it is too long, and too short; darkness and light are both troublesome; and those things which are pleasant, are often unwholesome. Sweet smells make the head ache, and those smells which are medicinal in some diseases, are intolerable to the sense. The pleasures of our body are bigger in expectation, then in the possession; and yet while they are expected, they torment us with the delay, and when they are enjoyed, they are as if they were not, they abuse us with their vanity, and vex us with their volatile and fugitive nature.

We live a precarious life, begging help of every thing, and needing the repairs of every day, and being beholding to beasts and birds, to plants and trees, to dirt and stones, to the very excrements of beasts, and that which dogs and horses throw forth. Our motion is slow and dull, heavy and uneasy; we cannot move but we are quickly tired, and for every days labor, we need a whole night to recruit our lost strengths; we live like a lamp, unless new materials be perpetually poured in, we live no longer than a fly; and unless we be in the shadow of death for six or eight hours every night, we shall be scarce in the shadows of life for the other sixteen. Heat and cold are both our enemies; and yet the one always dwells within, and the other dwells round about us. The chances and contingencies that trouble us are no more to be numbered then the minutes of eternity. The Devil often hurts us, and men hurt each other oftener, and we are perpetually doing mischief to ourselves.

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Edgar Thissen


Neither is it better in the soul of man, where ignorance dwells and passion rules. After the fall there entered also a swarm of passions. And the will obeys everything but God. Our judgment is often abused in matters of sense, and one faculty guesses at truth by confuting another; Our fancy is often abused, and yet creates things of its self, by trying desperate things together, that can cohere no more then music and a cable, then meat and syllogisms: and yet this alone does many times make credibility’s in the understanding.
Sometimes we forget those millions of sins which we have committed, we scarce remember so many as to make us sorrowful, or ashamed. Our judgments are baffled with every Sophism, and we change our opinion with a wind, and are confident against truth, but in love with error. We use to reprove one error by another, and lose truth while we contend too earnestly for it. Infinite opinions there are in matters of Religion, and most men are confident, and most are deceived in many things, and all in some; and those few that are not confident, have only reason enough to suspect their own reason. We do not know our own bodies, nor what is within us, nor what ails us when we are sick, nor whereof we are made; nay we oftentimes cannot tell what we think, or believe, or love. We desire and hate the same thing, speak against something and then run after it. We resolve, and then consider; we bind our selves, and then find causes why we ought not to be bound, and want not some pretences to make our selves believe we were not bound. Prejudice and Interest are our two great motives of believing; we weigh deeper what is extrinsical to a question, then what is in its nature; and oftener regard who speaks, then what is said.

The diseases of our soul are infinite. Mankind of old fell from those good things which God gave him, and now is fallen into a life of passion and a state of death. In sum, it follows the temper or distemper of the body, and sailing by such a Compass, and being carried in so rotten a vessel, especially being empty, or filled with lightness, and ignorance, and mistakes, it must needs be exposed to the danger and miseries of every storm.

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Asya Schween

But then if we consider what our spirit is, we have reason to lie down flat upon our faces, and confess God’s glory and our own shame. When it is at the best, it is but willing, but can do nothing without the miracle of Grace. Our spirit is hindered by the body, and cannot rise up whither it properly tends, with those great weights upon it. It is foolish and improvident; large in desires, and narrow in abilities; naturally curious in trifles, and inquisitive after vanities; but neither understands deeply, nor affectionately relishes the things of God; pleased with forms, cousened with pretences, satisfied with shadows, incurious of substances and realities. It is quick enough to find doubts, and when the doubts are satisfied, it raises scruples, that is, it is restless after it is put to sleep, and will be troubled in despite of all arguments of peace. It is incredibly negligent of matters of Religion, and most solicitous and troubled in the things of the world. We love our selves, and despise others; judging most unjust sentences, and by peevish and cross measures; Covetousness and ambition, gain and Empire are the proportions by which we take account of things. We hate to be governed by others, even when we cannot dress our selves; and to be forbidden to do or have a thing, is the best art in the world to make us greedy for it. The flesh and the spirit are perpetually at strife; the spirit pretending that his ought to be the dominion, and the flesh alleging that this is her state, and her day. We hate our present condition, and know not how to better ourselves, our changes being but like the tumblings and tossings in a fever, from trouble to trouble, that’s all the variety. We are extremely inconstant, and always hate our own choice: we despair sometimes of God’s mercies, and are confident in our own follies; as we order things, we cannot avoid little sins, and do not avoid great ones. We love the present world, though it be good for nothing, and undervalue infinite treasures, if they be not to be had till the day of recompenses. We are peevish, if a servant does but break a glass, and patient when we have thrown an ill cast for eternity;
Throwing away the hopes of a glorious Crown for wine, and dirty silver. We know that our prayers, if well done, are great advantages to our state, and yet we are hardly brought to them, and love not to stay at them, and wander while we are saying them, and say them without minding and are glad when they are done, or when we have a reasonable excuse to omit them. A passion does quite overturn all our purposes, and all our principles, and there are certain times of weakness in which any temptation may prevail, if it comes in that unlucky minute.
This is a little representment of the state of man.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I heard a story on the radio the other day about teamwork. The story was about an intern working along with a surgeon in the E.R. The surgeon noticed that the intern failed to greet and did not acknowledge the janitor that cleans between each patient. Later he told the intern that the janitor’s name was Carlos and that he is the most efficient, swift and thorough cleaner he has worked with. And he said because he is conscientious about his work, he enables us to help more people. He went on to say that Carlos lived only three blocks away and is married to Marie and then named his two children. He then told the intern that by the end of the next day, he wanted the intern to tell him something about Carlos that he did not know.
This is the kind of man I would like to work for.
Photo by Salih Guler

Friday, August 08, 2008

“One of the most common forms of perverseness, though one of the most subtle and least known, is that shown by people who study to shut everybody out from a knowledge of their nature and their life. They make it their grand end and aim to appear to be exactly what they are not, to appear to believe exactly what they do not believe, and to appear to feel what they do not feel at all. This is not because they are ashamed of themselves, or because they really have any thing to conceal. They have simply taken on this form of perverseness. They will not, if they can help it, allow any man to get inside of their natures and characters. If they write you a letter, they will mislead you. They will say to you irreverent and shocking things, to prove to you that they are bold, and unfeeling, and unthoughtful, when they tremble at what they have written, and really show by their language that they are afraid, and full of feeling, and very thoughtful. If they have a sentiment of love for anybody, they take it as a dog would a bone, and go and dig a hole in the ground and bury it, only resorting to it in the dark, for private craunching. Very likely they will try to make you believe that they live a most dainty and delicate life – that the animals of the field, and the fowls of the air love them, and come at their call – that the clouds arrange themselves in heaven for their benefit, and are sufficiently paid for the effort by their admiration – that flowers excite them to frenzy – a very fine frenzy, indeed – and that all sounds shape themselves to music in their souls. They would have you think that they live a kind of charmed life- that the sun woos them, and the moon pines for them, and the sea sobs because they will not come, and the daisies wait lovingly for their feet, yet, if you knew the truth, you would see that they sit discontentedly among the homeliest surroundings of domestic life, with their sleeves rolled up --- confound them!
Photo from Internet

I ran across this piece on happiness, and enjoyed it. I don't know if the guy is a Christian or not, and it isn't the "end all" definition of happiness, but his conclusions are apparent.
William Lyon Phelps – Professor at Yale, writer, critic, lecturer.

“No matter what may be one’s nationality, sex, age, philosophy, or religion, everyone wishes either to become or to remain happy. Hence definitions of happiness are interesting. One of the best was given in my senior year at college by President Timothy Dwight: “The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts.”
This definition places happiness where it belongs – within and not without. The principle of happiness should be like the principle of virtue: it should not be dependent on things, but be a part of personality…..
If the happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts we are bound to grow happier as we advance in years, because our minds have more and more interesting thoughts. A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.
Here lies the real value of education. Advanced education may or may not make men and women more efficient; but it enriches personality, increases the wealth of the mind, and hence brings happiness. It is the finest insurance against old age, against the growth of physical disability, against the lack and loss of animal delights. No matter how many there may be in our family, no matter how many friends we may have, we are in a certain sense forced to lead a lonely life, because we have all the days of our existence to live with ourselves. How essential it is, then, in youth to acquire some intellectual or artistic tastes, in order to furnish the mind, to be able to live inside a mind with attractive and interesting pictures on the walls.”

When I was in Thailand, I went to a crafter's mall, where they sculpt and paint etc.
I doubt many of the people had an academic background, but the detail, ornament and over all beauty of the art showed how the mind of man is ever perfecting itself, educating itself and if a formal education is unattainable, self education is always available.
Photo by Marek Dstrowski

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Which church?

"Let us choose, therefore, to commune where there is the warmest Sense of Religion; where devotion exceeds formality, and practise most corresponds with Profession; and where there is at least as much charity as zeal: For where this society is to be found, there shall we find the Church of God.
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls, are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another, although the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers."

William Penn - Photo by Branko Korelc - Kobra

"Men are generally more careful of the Breed of their horses and Dogs than of their children.

Those must be of the best Sort for Shape, Strength, Courage and good conditions; But as for these, their own posterity, Money shall answer all things."

William Penn - Photo by Niceto Munoz

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I ran across a passage by Jeremy Taylor that I read and loved many years ago. The context is a comparison between the riches of Kings and the common riches we all enjoy, regardless of income. Here he contrasts the enjoyment a King may have gazing on his gold locked up in a little room and the jewels in his crown---

“For not to name the beauties and sparkling diamonds of heaven, a man’s or a woman’s or a hawks eye is more beautiful and excellent, then all the Jewels of his crown.”

What jewel can compare to the beauty of the eyes? And they are there for all the world to see, with no cost. I have thirteen grandchildren, and if they were all together, side by side, and all twenty six eyes were compared to the most expensive gemstones in the entire world, their eyes would captivate and out gleam the fairest stone.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes, we call a man cold when he is only sad."

Longfellow - Photo by Brett Walker

Friday, August 01, 2008

"A man's heart is infinitely deceitful, unknown to it self, not certain in his own acts, praying one way, and desiring another, wandering and imperfect, loose and various worshipping God and entertaining sin, following what it hates, and running from what it flatters, loving to be tempted and betrayed, petulant like a wanton girl, running from, that it might invite the fondness and enrage the appetite of the foolish young man or the evil temptation that follows it; cold and indifferent one while, and presently zealous and passionate, furious and indiscreet; not understood of it self or any one else, and deceitful beyond all arts and numbers of observation."

Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Jingna Zhang