From time to time, I will add passages here from different sources (news, literature, opinions, and so on) that I find interesting, well argued, or simply well said.
“The great news about America–the American gospel, if you will–is that religion shapes the life of the nation without strangling it. Driven by a sense of providence and an acute appreciation of the fallibility of humankind, the Founders made a nation in which faith should not be singled out for special help or particular harm. The balance between the promise of the Declaration of Independence, with its evocation of divine origins and destiny, and the practicalities of the Constitution, with its checks on extremism, remains the most brilliant of American successes.”
— Jon Meacham, Newsweek, 4.10.06 Full article
“Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.”
— Edmund Morrison
“Palin and Edwards are two of an American archetype, opportunists playing to outrage while taking care of themselves. They are both attractive, with that lucky combination of genes that rarely lands on more than one member of an extended family. They can both hold an audience without saying anything of substance, or even making sense. They repeat certain phrases: “good people,” “real Americans” and “God’s will” for Palin; “hard-working folks,” “two Americas” and “millworker’s son” for Edwards. Code words, time-worn and simple, that say: I’m one of you. … Palin is trying to get in front of the same parade that Edwards wanted to lead.”
— Timothy Egan, NY Times, 2.3.10 Full article
“The Enlightenment is regularly blamed for much that’s wrong with modern society. Programmes are made with titles like “Enlightenment’s dark shadow.” Others speak of its “twisted legacy.” In fact, both many religious conservatives and many “post-moderns” (who distrust ‘reason’) blame the Enlightenment for the Holocaust. In the U.S. 45% of the population now take the Bible to be absolutely authoritative not just on moral matters but on scientific matters too. Which is why they believe the entire universe is only 6,000 years old. A U.S. college professor recently wrote that educators like him are having to fight the battles of the Enlightenment all over again. Medieval ideas that were killed stone dead by the rise of science three to four hundred years ago are not merely twitching; they are alive and well in our schools, colleges and universities.”
— Stephen Law Full article
“There are a lot of bad days. There are a lot of good ones.
You’ll forget. There are a lot of days.
Let it go.”
— Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
“Speaking of Christians (at least the Fundamentalist ones), their demonization of Islam is actually rather amusing. Christian Fundamentalists share more common ground with the extreme members of the Islamic faith than they perhaps realize. Some Muslim nations treat homosexuality as a crime. Abortion is illegal in virtually every circumstance throughout much of the Middle East. Separation of church and state does not exist in nations like Iran. Implementation of the death penalty is common in the Middle East. How can men like John Hagee reconcile their cognitive dissonance in advocating war against Iran, a model of the theocracy they strive to implement in the United States?”
— Jason Miller, 8.17.06 Full article
“You found the earth too great for your one life… But it has been this way with all men… You have faltered, you have missed the way… And now, because you have known madness and despair… We who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us—we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.”
— Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
“It may make us feel good to put together children’s care packages with cards and teddy bears–but whose needs are we trying to meet? Money is fleet and nimble. The very thing that makes it unsatisfying to give makes it powerful to deploy. It can turn into anything–a water bottle, a prefab house, a tetanus shot, a biscuit. It lets relief agencies buy locally whenever possible, supporting local markets for products that are culturally and environmentally right. … If you can’t feed a hundred people, Mother Teresa used to say, then feed just one. There are slow-motion disasters everywhere. The Red Cross is doing heroic work in Haiti, but it is also doing it around the corner, when a house burns down. It may not feel glorious, but often the greatest good is accomplished quietly, invisibly. The choice is not either-or. We can give globally and help locally. Either way, the same principle holds in helping as in healing: First, do no harm.”
— Nancy Gibbs, Time, 2.22.10 Full article
“Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.”
— Pat Conroy, Lords of Discipline
“An assemblage of learned men, zealous for their own sciences, and rivals of each other, are brought, by familiar intercourse and for the sake of intellectual peace, to adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation. They learn to respect, to consult, to aid each other. Thus is created a pure and clear atmosphere of thought, which the student also breathes, though in his own case he only pursues a few sciences out of the multitude. He profits by an intellectual tradition, which is independent of particular teachers, which guides him in his choice of subjects, and duly interprets for him those which he chooses. He apprehends the great outlines of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shades, its great points and its little, as he otherwise cannot apprehend them. Hence it is that his education is called “Liberal.” A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom; or what in a former Discourse I have ventured to call a philosophical habit. This then I would assign as the special fruit of the education furnished at a University, as contrasted with other places of teaching or modes of teaching.”
— John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, “Knowledge Its Own End“