Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28 to February 3, 2013



What we are, we have reached because of other people's planting. The thoughts, the values, the ideas and the feelings we possess are articulate because we have been the recipients of knowledge, kindness, love and understanding. And above all, the mystery we call Life, we owe to a Presence yet unknown but still very near to us. For these gifts not our own we give thanks.

And now, O God, may we have the faith in life to do wise planting that the generations to come may reap even more abundantly than we. May we be reminded of the wise ones of old who admonished, “If you plan for one year, plant grain; if you plan for ten years, plant trees; if you plan for the centuries, plant men.” May we be bold in bringing to fruition the golden dreams of human kinship and justice. This we ask that the fields of promise become fields of reality.

    V. Emil Gudmundson (born January 28, 1924)

© 1982: The Estate of V. Emil Gudmundson. Used with permission.


I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.
And for the cruel person who tears
out the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.

    José Marti (born January 28, 1853)



It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

    Thomas Paine (born January 29, 1737)


Contemplating the universe, the whole system of creation, in this point of light, we shall discover, that all that which is called natural philosophy is properly a divine study — it is the study of God through his works — it is the best study, by which we can arrive at a knowledge of the existence, and the only one by which we can gain a glimpse of his perfection.

Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the Creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not written or printed books, but the Scripture called the Creation.

    Thomas Paine (born January 29, 1737)



Experience is the inward light, and it will satisfy each soul in its own way. All eyes are not helped in the same way; too much light blinds as certainly as too little; but God puts a taper, a candle, a star, a sun, a heaven of suns into the souls of his
children, just as they need or can bear more orless. The glow-worm's light guides its mate as well as the morning star guides the dawn. Not what your soul, but what my soul needs, not what would satisfy you, but what satisfies me, is the heart's rightful demand; and this is just what religious experience, when it comes, gives to every soul.

If people would only believe in just that little original religious experience which each of them possesses, if they would only trust the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, how soon they would find it increasing and shedding ever more satisfying illumination on their way.

Henry W. Bellows (died January 30, 1882)


Not as I will, but as Thou wilt. We may repeat these words upon occasions, in hours of bereavement. But do they suggest anything more to our minds than a silent submission to the inevitable? They have a far, far deeper meaning.

To accept them as expressing the supreme abiding law of life, from a heart overflowing with their full significance, is the greatest act of which the soul of man is capable.

It is not the annihilation of the human will, it is not the mere passive submission of it to a higher Power. It is the realization of a transcendent mystery of our being: the exaltation of the human will to an identity with the Supreme Will.

To realize this mystery in one's self, to be con- scious that one's own will is identically the Divine Will is to be made conscious of the imperishable Life and Love and Power of the Supreme Nature, and consequently, of a profound sense of being in harmony with the whole world of things, of a Peace, the Peace of God, down deep in the heart, that
nothing can reach to destroy.

Would that we all might know this great truth from our own experience! We all shall know it, if not now and here, yet hereafter.

William H. Furness (died January 30, 1896



With Unicorns we feel the nostalgia of the infinite, the sorcery of dolls, the salt of sex, the vertigo of them that skirt the edge of perilous ravines, or straddle the rim of finer issues. He dwells in equivocal twilights; and he can stare the sun out of countenance. The enchanting Unicorn boasts no favoured zone. He runs around the globe. He is of all ages and climes. He knows that fantastic land of Gautier, which contains all the divine lost landscapes ever painted, and whose inhabitants are the lovely figures created by art in granite, marble, or wood, on walls, canvas, or crystal. Betimes he flashes by the nymph in the brake, and dazzled, she sighs with desire. Mallarmé set him to cryptic harmonies, and placed him in a dim rich forest (though he called him a faun; a faun in retorsion). Like the apocryphal Sadhuzag in Flaubert's cosmical drama of dreams, which bore seventy-four hollow antlers from which issued music of ineffable sweetness, our Unicorn sings ravishing melodies for those who possess the inner ear of mystics and poets. When angered he echoes the Seven Thunders of the Apocalypse, and we hear of desperate rumours of fire, flood, and disaster. And he haunts those ivory gates of sleep whence come ineffable dreams to mortals.

He has always fought with the Lion for the crown, and he is always defeated, but invariably claims the victory. The crown is Art, and the Lion, being a realist born, is only attracted by its glitter, not the symbol. The Unicorn, an idealist, divines the inner meaning of this precious fillet of gold. Art is the modern philosopher's stone, and the most brilliant jewel in this much-contested crown. Eternal is the conflict of the Real and the Ideal; Aristotle and Plato; Alice and the Unicorn; the practical and the poetic; butterflies and geese; and rare roast-beef versus the impossible blue rose. And neither the Lion nor the Unicorn has yet fought the battle decisive. Perhaps the day may come when, weariness invading their very bones, they may realise that they are as different sides of the same coveted shield; matter and spirit, the multitude and the individual. Then unlock the ivory tower, abolish the tyrannies of superannuated superstitions, and give the people vision, without which they perish. The divine rights of humanity, no longer of kingly cabbages.

James G. Huneker (born January 31, 1857)



We hear much said in recent days about the irreligious tendencies of people as manifested in the multitudes who do not go to any church; and the prospect is in some respects bad. Yet, to my mind, there is a thousand-fold more ground for solicitude concerning the moral and spiritual welfare of society, in the fact that there are so many habitual church-goers who are no more religious in their characters and lives than if they had no contact whatever with religious institutions, and to whom religious habits have only become a convenient cloak, not only to cover the want of real moral and spiritual earnestness, but to conceal decently from the public eye positive moral deformity and rottenness. To such an extent does the insincerity prevail, that it is a wonder the maskers, as they meet in their Sunday pilgrimage to their respective churches, do not peep out from under their masks to laugh at each other's attempt at pious deceit. The deceit, however, has a sort of conventional success. At least the mask answers its purpose of advertising where the wearer is, and in what social circle he may be found. As to character, it cannot be said to vouch for, nor perhaps to impeach that.

William J. Potter (born February 1, 1829)


Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos; the materials must, in the first place, be afforded: it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself. In all matters of discovery and invention, even of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continually reminded of the story of Columbus and his egg. Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it.

Mary Shelley (died February 1, 1851)



The sufferings of humankind fall into two groups: those arising from natural causes, such as disease, floods, famine, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions; and those which are the result of human ignorance or wrongdoing, selfishness, greed, cruelty, persecution, warfare.  It is only the latter group of ills which can be called evil, in any moral sense, for moral considerations arise only on the level of human personality.  A cat tormenting a mouse suffers no qualms of conscience, and there is nothing immoral in the sweep of a devastating hurricane, though it drown scores or hundreds of people in its path. …  The ills due to natural causes proceed from conditions inherent in the constitution of the universe, which we cannot change or abolish but to which, with the growth of knowledge or foresight, we can better adapt ourselves. …

Moral evil is of a different order and has been explained in a variety of ways in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  It has been attributed to the entrance of evil spirits or devils into the hearts of men and women; to Satan, “the adversary” of the good God in the struggle for control of the world; to the existence of two antagonistic realms of being, the inherently evil realm of matter and the holy realm of the spirit; to the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden. …

The inquiring mind today has a wholly different understanding of the source of both the good and the evil in human nature. …  Evil comes from failure to control instinctive reactions so that they may work for the common good, either because willful, self-seeking desires, checked only by fear of retaliation, override all other considerations, or because people have become so committed to some doctrinaire theory of action that they are blind to its consequences and become ruthless in enforcing it.

Henry Wilder Foote (born February 2, 1875)



The traditions of all nations point to a primeval grandeur of the human race, whose glory shines through the mist of ages; a golden age, when the gods could visit mortals — when wisdom and innocence were one — when there was no discord in our nature, hut freedom was order, to know, to will, to do, were one; when human brotherhood was a present fact — when there was harmony between man and creation, between man and the Creator.

A gleam of this bright vision comes to us through the records of every nation; it shines through the mystic writings of the East, through the poetic fables of the West, through the wild sagas of the North; and the eye of faith gathering up these scattered rays, bends them on the Garden of Eden, where in beautiful radiance we behold the first man, Adam and Eve, Heaven-crowned; and in them we may incarnate our ideal of the Human race; harmoniously blending beauty and strength, lofty intelligence, powerful action, and purity of soul.

Connected with this universal thought, of the lofty origin of Humanity, is the high standard which is cherished by every people of the grand power of our nature — the excellence to which it may attain. The evils of existence, the poverty of daily life, have never dimmed this thought, this aspiration after a loftier expression than is seen in actual performance; there is a deep consciousness in the heart of every people, that at some future time, they shall reach a higher condition than their present one. A spirit of unseen beauty broods over them, and thus we behold the effort of man in every age to express his own ideal — to behold his own faculties raised to their highest power …

Observe how in all ages our ancestors have endeavored to express their ideals by beautiful forms, through which the spirit might freely shine ; they saw more
clearly than we do, that the condition of our present life is the union of body and soul, that we cannot live as disembodied spirits, but must necessarily express ourselves through a material frame — that our aspirations are often limited by the body, and that the condition of our material organization reacts most powerfully upon the soul. They saw that weakness, ugliness, and disease, deaden our power, cripple all our activities, and render our lives discordant — therefore they figured their gods and goddesses and heroes, under forms of surpassing beauty; their bodies were well proportioned, the  features regular; every muscle had a living development, every sense a vigorous organ: and all these forms though perfect, were infinitely varied — the beauty of Juno was not the beauty of Diana — the perfection of Jupiter differed from that of Apollo — it was not the beauty of material form as an end, that they aimed to reach, but the grand truth that the loftiest qualities of the soul find their highest expression in corresponding beauty of form.

See how beautifully the harmonic development of one phase of womanhood was expressed in the ancient myth of Athena, the stately deity of Attica. Her mother was the wisest, her father the most powerful of the celestials, and these attributes of wisdom and power were blended in her character with that benignant protecting care which marks the maternal character in woman. She was the protectress of the state and of social institutions, and of all that gives to society its highest prosperity. She was the inventor of the plough, the rake, the bridle; she created the olive tree, instructing men in the cultivation of the land, and the taming of animals. The inventions ascribed to her, were such as required thought and meditation — the science of numbers, the art of navigating, the use of fire, were taught by her, and the elegant works of women. She maintained law and justice, and when judgment was divided in the case of an accused person, she gave a casting vote on the side of mercy. She was the protectress of the defences of the state, the walls, fortresses, harbors, and her warlike character is assumed for the welfare of the people — she is represented as sitting by the side of Jupiter, supporting him by her counsel. The expression of her countenance is thoughtful and earnest, her face oval, with luxuriant hair combed back from the temples, and floating freely down behind; the figure is majestic and strongly built, clothed in the Spartan tunic and cloak.

Elizabeth Blackwell (born February 3, 1821)

Barbara J.R. Gudmundson and V. Emil Gudmundson

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21 to 27, 2013



Undoubtedly it is our duty, and for our best good, that we occupy and improve the faculties, with which our creator has endowed us, but so far as prejudice, or prepossession of opinion prevails over our minds, in the same proportion, reason is excluded from our theory or practice. Therefore if we would acquire useful knowledge, we must first divest ourselves of those impediments and sincerely endeavor to search out the truth: and draw our conclusions from reason and just argument, which will never conform to our inclination, interest or fancy but we must conform to that if we would judge rightly.

Ethan Allen (born January 21, 1737)


We hold the past by the reproduction of memory. We summon the future by the forecast of imagination: without which powers and their present exercise, what joy? For the present is but a breath, a feeling, an instant, an atom, a mote, here and gone. If it were all we could enjoy, we should be simply like passing bursts of strength or like bubbling sensations each dying in the next, as perhaps we may conceive some creatures to be who have no memory. But the forecasting of the future depends on memory, since all that is to be grows out of what has been. Therefore, memory is the storehouse of zest; and happiness, though it draws from the future because hope and imagination are blissful, yet more exercises itself in filling up the present from the past; for this is to live our lives all at once and to combine past pleasures into one whole of delight, which is the very nobility and humanity of enjoyment. Hence, the value of a rich past, to be lived over again by communion with happy memories, crowded with thoughts great as heaven, and especially with growth; for this is most absorbing and interesting always. All of these may be compacted into a very brief space, so that some great year, or two or three perhaps, may hold riches for a lifetime, and pour their wealth into the lap of the present perpetually. But, if the enjoyment of the present springs so much from the past, so do the riches of the future depend on the wealth of the present; for, if the present be not rich going by, how can the future be rich when it arrives? The future is the riches of the present gathered in a mass of power. To glean all possible worth, therefore, from the things that pass along, whatever they be, to see the divinity in them, to seize on the great side of them, if they be little, — that is, on their relationship to the great, — and to drain the pleasure of little things, — if only, perhaps, a draught of cold water on a dusty day, with a sense of gratitude therewith, — this is wisdom, if one wish to be blest.

James Vila Blake (born January 21, 1842)


Meditation is a strong and quiet attention of the mind to high and noble ideas. This definition states two qualities. Meditation is first quietness. We live in a great din. It is well to see (for who sees it not will have but narrow sympathies and understand little that occurs around him) that the noise is often a noble uproar, "deep calling unto deep, "the clamor of wonderful machinery, of great labors, of human struggles, of heroes' voices. But storms, though grand, must sink if the sea is to show the stars. Meditation, secondly, must be power of will and strength of attention, being like a flight to great heights wherein wings must be plied hard though joyfully.

James Vila Blake (born January 21, 1842)


We do not know what the years may yet bring forth in the mysterious workings of the human spirit. Religion has not always come to men in the stress and strain of life. It does not always come as a great wave of enthusiasm following widespread disaster and suffering. Where the voice of hope and aspiration fails to be heard in the earthquake and the whirlwind, it has been detected in the softer and quieter tones of the spirit. The mere promise of a better day may yet arouse a people, however complacent they may be in the present. Some element of spiritual discontent may yet seize on souls that to all outward appearance are now wholly self-satisfied. Some sense of eternal values yet to be achieved may still come to lives that today seem wholly absorbed in the passing things of sense and matter.

A religion that presents a whole world of experience to be explored may yet have its day. When the religion of dogma shall have lost its dominion over the minds of men, who shall say that the vistas opened up by a new and living truth shall not come, to light again those holy fires of the heart that without this new gospel are in danger of being extinguished? Not wholly with a vain dream do we entertain ourselves then, when we picture even the ideal of a church that may sometime be founded on this pragmatic principle in religion. In the more general sense, that church would consist of every man and woman in all the churches who is inspired with the spirit of progress, and who lays more stress on the fruits of living than on abstract and useless theories. In the more specific sense, that new church would consist of a band of earnest and thoughtful men and women gathered, possibly, out of the ranks of the apparently skeptical and indifferent, who would organize for united thought and effort in the practical directions here outlined. Unlike all other churches, the conditions of membership in this would be based less on claims of knowledge than on a humble, reverent confession of ignorance. Instead of formulating dogmas that map out and define the Infinite, here would be presented the inspiring idea of a universe and a life larger and richer than any man's thought of it.

If the members of such a religious organization came together bound by any covenant, that form of agreement would rest on the simple faith in the latent and undeveloped capacities of the human soul. This, the first and the only essential faith: if, out of the richer experience and broader spiritual growth which such a church might produce, it should develop some common faith in unseen and eternal realities, or even if, out of its unfolding life, there might grow up something that might seem like a theology, all this would be the blossom and the fruitage rather than the root or the trunk of that tree of life the growth of which is the object of its endeavors.

Loren B. Macdonald (born January 21, 1858)



Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own. Those on the other hand who have taken a contrary course, and asserted that absolutely nothing can be known — whether it were from hatred of the ancient sophists, or from uncertainty and fluctuation of mind, or even from a kind of fullness of learning, that they fell upon this opinion — have certainly advanced reasons for it that are not to be despised; but yet they have neither started from true principles nor rested in the just conclusion, zeal and affectation having carried them much too far. ...

Now my method, though hard to practice, is easy to explain; and it is this. I propose to establish progressive stages of certainty. The evidence of the sense, helped and guarded by a certain process of correction, I retain. But the mental operation which follows the act of sense I for the most part reject; and instead of it I open and lay out a new and certain path for the mind to proceed in, starting directly from the simple sensuous perception.

Francis Bacon (born January 22, 1561)



Mystery and contradiction are very different things. The former is something beyond our sight,  or seen imperfectly. The latter is plainly seen to be untrue. It may concern subjects of which we know very little, but of every subject we know enough to see that two contradictory statements cannot both be true.

William Greenleaf Eliot, Jr. (died January 23, 1887)


I no longer find such pleasure in that preeminently good society, of which I was once so fond. It seems to me that beneath a cloak of clever talk it proscribes all energy, all originality. If you are not a copy, people accuse you of being ill-mannered. And besides, good society usurps its privileges. It had in the past the privilege of judging what was proper, but now that it supposes itself to be attacked, it condemns not what is coarse and disagreeable without compensation, but what it thinks harmful to its interest.

Stendhal, a.k.a. Marie-Henri Beyle (born January 23, 1783)



The merits and services of Christianity have been industriously extolled by its hired advocates. Every Sunday its praises are sounded from myriads of pulpits. It enjoys the prestige of an ancient establishment and the comprehensive support of the State. It has the ear of rulers and the control of education. Every generation is suborned in its favor. Those who dissent from it are losers, those who oppose it are ostracized; while in the past, for century after century, it has replied to criticism with imprisonment, and to skepticism with the dungeon and the stake. By such means it has induced a general tendency to allow its pretensions without inquiry and its beneficence without proof.

    G.W. Foote and J.M. Wheeler
(Joseph Mazzini Wheeler was born January 24, 1850)


It is suitable — it is well — that we sometimes pause on our life-journey, and, in retrospect, survey the landmarks we have passed, recalling to mind some of the many incidents of our sojourn, that our spirits may be refreshed with a recollection of the virtues and graces of our fellow-travellers, and those who have preceded us ; being won to imitate their excellences, and to follow them in so far as they have followed the great Exemplar of Christians. Hence, great events and important epochs in the history of nations, peoples, and individuals, have been commemorated, in all ages, by centennial, semi-centennial, and anniversary celebrations.

Edward Turner (died January 24, 1853)



Orthodox! Orthodox! —
Who believe in John Knox —
Let me sound an alarm to your conscience:
A heretic blast
Has been blown in the West,
That what is not sense must be nonsense —
That what is not sense must be nonsense.

Dr. Mac! Dr. Mac!
You should stretch on a rack,
To strike wicked Writers with terror:
To join faith and sense,
Upon any pretence,
Was heretic, damnable error —
Dr. Mac!
It was heretic, damnable error.

Town of Ayr! Town of Ayr!
It was rash, I declare,
To meddle with mischief a-brewing:
Provost John is still deaf
To the church's relief,
And Orator Bob is its ruin —
Town of Ayr!
And Orator Bob is its ruin.

Dalrymple mild! Dalrymple mild!
Though your heart is like a child,
And your life like the new-driven snow,
Yet that will not save you:
Old Satan must have you,
For preaching that three is one and two —
Dalrymple mild!
For preaching that three is one and two.

Calvin's sons! Calvin's sons!
Seize your spiritual guns,
Ammunition you never can need:
Your hearts are the stuff
Will be powder enough,
And your skulls are store-houses of lead —
Calvin's sons!
Your skulls are store-houses of lead.

Rumble John! Rumble John!
Mount the steps with a groan,
Cry:—  'The book is with heresy crammed';
Then lug out your ladle,
Deal brimstone like cow-lant,
And roar every note of the damned —
Rumble John!
And roar every note of the damned. …

Davie Rant! Davie Rant!
In a face like a saint
And a heart that would poison a hog,
Raise an impudent roar,
Like a breaker lee-shore,
Or the Church will be lost in a bog —
Davie Rant!
Or the Church will be lost in a bog. …

Muirland Jock! Muirland Jock!
Whom the Lord gave a stock
Would set up a gypsy tinker in brass (money),
If ill manners were wit,
There is no mortal so fit
To prove the poor Doctor an ass —
Muirland Jock!
To prove the poor Doctor an ass.

Holy William! Holy William!
There was wit in your skull,
When you pilfered the alms of the poor:
The material is scant,
When you are taken for a saint
Who should swing in a rope for an hour —
Holy William!
You should swing in a rope for an hour.

Poet Burns! Poet Burns!
With your Priest-slapping turns,
Why desert you your old native shire?
Your Muse is a gypsy,
Yet were she even tipsy,
She could call us no worse than we are —
Poet Burns!
You could call us no worse than we are.

    Robert Burns (born January 25, 1759)


For ourselves, who are ordinary men and women, let us return thanks to Nature for her bounty by using every one of the senses she has given us; vary our state as much as possible; turn now this side, now that, to the warmth, and relish to the full before the sun goes down the kisses of youth and the echoes of a beautiful voice singing Catullus. Every season is likeable, and wet days and fine, red wine and white, company and solitude. Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions—a walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard—can be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind. Beauty is everywhere, and beauty is only two finger’s-breadth from goodness.

Virginia Woolf (born January 25, 1882)


“Like a work of art,” she repeated, looking from her canvas to the drawing-room steps and back again. She must rest for a moment. And, resting, looking from one to the other vaguely, the old question which transversed the sky of the soul perpetually, the vast, the general question which was apt to particularize itself at such moments as these, when she released faculties that had been on the strain, stood over her, paused over her, darkened over her. What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other …

Virginia Woolf (born January 25, 1882)



Society owes it to itself and to its members, first to give recreation, then to regulate it; what is given freely can be regulated with ease; sanctity attaches to the munificence of the generous mind; what is wrung from the miser, we squander without remorse.  Let society make of recreation a friend, and it will cease to be its enemy; let us overcome its evil with good. Let your children grow up with the idea that they may practise no recreation in which their parents, if not participants, shall at least be present as observers and wardens. The extremes of society ought to suspend hostilities, and compromise their dissensions ; the sinful gaiety on one side should be abandoned, and the equally sinful severity on the other; there is the common ground of health and innocence, friendship and peace, purity and virtue, which, for a few moments at least of life, they might occupy together. We ought to strive for a pious happiness and a happy piety.

Our people thirst for happiness, for recreation, for something festive; and, when a man is not sustained by religion, or fed by literature, when there is no genial, pleasant occasion to call him out on the common in company with his fellow-citizens, he betakes himself to his bottle. I believe happiness, on a large and general scale, is not unfavorable to morality; and for this reason, when all are happy, and all are united in their happiness, there is no opportunity for individual passion and selfish desire to be very active.

Sylvester Judd (died January 26, 1853)


How beautiful the setting sun!
The clouds how bright and gay!
The stars, appearing one by one,
How beautiful are they!

And when the moon climbs up the sky,
And sheds her gentle light,
And hangs her crystal lamp on high,
How beautiful is night!

And can it be I am possessed
Of something brighter far?
Glows there a light within this breast
Outshining every star?

Yes; should the sun and stars turn pale,
The mountains melt away,
This flame within shall never fail,
But live in endless day.

This is the soul that God has given,—
Sin may its lustre dim;
While goodness bears it up to heaven,
And leads it back to him.

Eliza Lee Cabot Follen (died January 26, 1860)



If religion be defined as the perception of truth, not in the form of an idea, which is the philosophic perception, but invested with imagery, it is easy to see that the mythical element can be wanting only when religion either falls short of it, or goes beyond its peculiar province, and that in the proper religious sphere it must necessarily exist.

David Friedrich Strauss (born January 27, 1808)


I believe this thought, of the possibility of death — if calmly realized, and steadily faced would be one of the best possible tests as to our going to any scene of amusement being right or wrong. If the thought of sudden death acquires, for you, a special horror when imagined as happening in a theatre, then be very sure the theatre is harmful for you, however harmless it may be for others; and that you are incurring a deadly peril in going. Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die.

But, once realize what the true object is in life — that it is not pleasure, not knowledge, not even fame itself, ‘that last infirmity of noble minds’ — but that it is the development of character, the rising to a higher, nobler, purer standard, the building-up of the perfect Man — and then, so long as we feel that this is going on, and will (we trust) go on for evermore, death has for us no terror; it is not a shadow, but a light; not an end, but a beginning!

Lewis Carroll (born January 27, 1832)


Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

— Attributed to Sir Francis Drake (died January 27, 1596)

Robert Burns (1759-1796)