Thursday, September 24, 2015

"After Commandore McDonoug's great victory over the British fleet on Lake Champlain, the commander of the of the British land forces sent to him to inquire the secret of his success. He replied, "Hard fighting." He pushed on the battle, though his ship was riddled with shot, twice on fire and in a sinking condition. He was twice knocked down, and reported killed, but revived and returned to the gun, which he sighted in till the victory was gained."
Now, though our battles are no doubt less, we can learn a measure of courage from McDonoug's spirit. "Fight the good fight."

Monday, September 21, 2015

  "A mother whose children were remarkable examples of early piety, was asked the secret of her success. She answered, "While my children were infants on my lap, as I washed them, I raised my heart to God, that he would wash them in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; as I clothed them in the morning, I asked my Heavenly Father to clothe them with the robe of Christ's righteousness; as I provided them food, I prayed that God would feed them with the bread of heaven, and give them to drink of the water of life. When I have prepared them for the house of God, I have pleaded that their bodies might be fit temples for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. When they left me for the week-day school, I followed their infant footsteps with a prayer, that their path through life might be like that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And so I committed them to the rest of the night, the silent breathing of my soul has been, that their Heavenly Father would take them in his embrace and fold them in his paternal arms." 

Author unknown, photo by Jose A. Gallego. 

Over sensibility

  "To feel is amiable; but to feel too keenly is injurious both to mind and body; and a habit of giving way to sensibility, which we should endeavor to regulate, though not to eradicate, may end in a morbid weakness of mind, which may appear to romantic persons very gentle and very interesting, but will undoubtedly render its victims very useless in society. Our feelings were given to us to excite to action, and when they end in themselves, they are impressed to no one good purpose that I know of." Bishop Sandford, photo found on

I have to watch out for this, sometimes I get nearly paralyzed by sentimentalism and the like; I like his conclusion that, "that feelings were given to us to excite action.." 

Friday, September 18, 2015

  "There is a true story about this, concerning Professor Einstein, already up in years, sitting next to an eighteen year-old girl at an American dinner party. 
  When the conversation flagged, the young lady asked brightly, "What are you actually by profession?" Einstein quietly replied, "I devote myself to the study of physics." And the girl retorted in surprise: "You mean to say you study physics at your age? Why, I finished mine a year ago." 

There is no finish to any important discipline. There is always more to learn, and sometimes to unlearn. This is not only true intellectually but also spiritually and physically." Sydney J. Harris.

This appealed to me because I have some nephews who are questioning the things of God and there jump to conclusions reminds me of this 18 year old girl.

Making friends

  "Surely the oldest and perhaps the most familiar of all sayings is the ancient injunction of Socrates: "Know thyself." Almost everyone agrees on its importance, and many have tried to follow it; but with results that are more often disappointing than satisfying. 
  The failures come from a profound misunderstanding of the way to go about this process. For there is a paradox at the heart of the human situation, and it is this: We can only know ourselves through knowing others, and we can only know others through knowing ourselves.
  In order to know oneself, no amount of introspection or self-examination will suffice. You can analyze yourself for weeks or meditate for months, and you will not get an inch further --- any more than you can smell your own breath or laugh when you tickle yourself. 
  You must first be open to the other person before you catch a glimpse of yourself. Our self-reflection in a mirror does not tell us what we are like, only our reflection in other people does. 
We are essentially social creatures, and our personality resides in association, not in isolation." 
Sydney J. Harris.

What I took from this quote is that think what we may about ourselves and our character, when we really find out who we are is when we socialize. Do I come away feeling positive, productive, more intimate with the person, or do I come away with judgments, criticisms, distance from them or feeling competitive. This is truly our level of maturity and godliness not what we think about ourself in isolation.
  "Those with a tendency to love create their own objects to love; 
Those with a tendency to fear create their own objects to fear." Sydney J. Harris.

My first thought in reading this was that those who have a tendency to love may choose objects
that are unworthy of love, considering romantic attractions that draw us with physical attraction and little else. But the more I reflected, I think it may also apply to those optimists who find the good in
others and are discoverers of spirits.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

  "Do you think the safe and quiet times in a countries history, when risk is absent and ease secured, that this is what cut the distinctive lines into their character, and gave them a place in history books? On the contrary, it is in the days of peril, in the crises of anguish, that the force of character steps forth and establishes itself, and under some high and daring guidance, finds a footing upon the rock and retakes the stronghold of hope. And what might historians write if all was calm and peaceful, what would the poet write and sing without the material of great actions; and what would philosophers speak if the problems of the world were but the sleepy experience of men? Rather, it is tyrannies, invasions and the shame of spreading corruption that noble protests arouse and the deeds of heroism came.
Of every great City, the memorials of fallen heroes and the trophies of dread strife are among the chief works of art. Every legislative hall is guarded by the figures of those who once braved the dangers of their country's darkest hours.
In every national tradition, the popular favorite is the captive king, the chained patriot, and the unflinching martyr.
  And if it is the great crises of peril that, as they are passing, train a people's character, so it is their reflection in literature, that ages after they are gone, still spreads and perpetuates the ennobling influence. The inspiration that descends on us from the Past, and makes us heirs of accumulated thought and enriched affections, --- from whom does it chiefly come from? Is it from the uniformly happy and the untempted good? Those who have most realized the lot for which our sensual and intellectual instincts cry aloud? No: but from the central figures of the great tragedies of our humanity; from the conquerors of desolating monsters; from the creators of Law and tamers of the people; from love beyond death, that carried its plaintive music to the shades, from the avengers of wrong; from the martyrs of right; from missionaries of mercy; from the pass of Thermopylae; or from the cross of Calvary. A world without a contingency or an agony could have no hero and no saint, and enable no Son of Man to discover that he was a Son of God.

There is no Epic of the certainties, and no lyric without the surprise of sorrow and the sigh of fear. Whatever touches and ennobles us in the lives and in the voices of the past is a divine birth from human doubt and pain. Let then the shadows lie, and the perspective of the light still deepen beyond our view; else, while we walk together, our hearts will never burn within us as we go; and the darkness, as it falls, will deliver us into no hand that is Divine." 
James Martineau, photo by Sara Treanor. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The following are excerpts from The Song of Solomon. I'm using this text to speak about marriage and sex at the Corrections Center tomorrow night.

Her thoughts of him 
As an apricot tree stands out in the forest,
    my lover stands above the young men in town.
All I want is to sit in his shade,
    to taste and savor his delicious love.
He took me home with him for a festive meal,
    but his eyes feasted on me!
Oh! Give me something refreshing to eat—and quickly!
    Apricots, raisins—anything. I’m about to faint with love!
His left hand cradles my head,
    and his right arm encircles my waist!
  Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love is more delightful than wine.

His thoughts of her 
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
and there is no blemish in you.
“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
With a single strand of your necklace.
 “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all kinds of spices!
 “Your lips, my bride, drip honey;
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
The fragrance of your garments
    is like the fragrance of the fields of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
    you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

I'm going to bring out in her thoughts about her love, how she has been prudent and picks out a man among men, not rushing to fill a fleeting need but waiting to find the right man. A man she can find relief and comfort with in the journey of life as represented by "sitting in the shade." She is captivated by his kisses, his embrace and is faint with love without promiscuity: which I think he implies in his last two lines.  His reference to her as sister as well as bride reveals the depth of his feelings. He is not only her love but also her friend and protector. He sees the beauty in her love, and the promise of devotion. 
 In our culture often lust eclipses love, instant sexual gratification has all but extinguished romance and the joys of a caress, the affectionate touch and warm kisses are often bypassed in haste. 

Photo by Farhan Quaiy. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

I always enjoy a difficult quote and the following one by Samuel Johnson qualifies. 

"That to the vulgar canst thyself apply,
Treading a better path, not contrary." Johnson.

  -- The best and holiest will not seem to go contrary to others, but as if they could afford to travel the same way, they go parallel but on a higher course.' And by their example helps to reprimand, reprove and show a better way.