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Showing posts from July, 2010

1000 Incidents of Beauty Every Day

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In some of the heart’s business there is really no net gain. — Richard Ford, The Sportswriter [Zeus] swore to be revenged, on mankind first and then on mankind's friend. He made a great evil for men, a sweet and lovely thing to look upon, in the likeness of a shy maiden, and all the gods gave her gifts, silvery raiment and a broidered veil, a wonder to behold, and bright garlands of blooming flowers and a crown of gold--great beauty shone out from it. ...When this beautiful disaster had been made, Zeus brought her out and wonder took hold of gods and men when they beheld her. From her, the first woman, comes the race of women, who are an evil to men, with a nature to do evil. — Edith Hamilton, Mythology It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. —Marianne Williamson I felt that at some time or other I had passed through the valley of diamonds, but I could convince no one—not even myself, when I looked at them more closely,—that the specimens I had b

The Tyranny of Ideas

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We often get riled up over issues and causes that are not our own, that we can do nothing whatever about.  This unfortunate tendency is portrayed with refreshing clarity in Susan Wise Bauer's book,  The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade . During the medieval period, four of the world's five major religions codified their doctrines. We know a lot about how this happened, but few people bother to find out about it.  I was raised to consider religious ideas on their own, as if they were the result of people wondering about life, suggesting answers. Medieval history proves that religion did not develop this way. All the major religions owe their existence to rulers, men who designed or re-tooled the doctrines to preserve the rulers' power. We only have these ideas to argue about because they once served someone's earthly ambitions. I find this fascinating. It's possible for people to burn with passion, thinking t

The Way Forward

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These times of change suit big enterprises. — Tacitus, Histories, 105 CE We live in disturbing times. All around us, our support systems appear to break down. Banks fail, governments falter. Values we held to be universal are challenged or ignored. Our unease over these events is made more painful by news outlets that relay them in the most alarming terms.  Despite our fear, we are fortunate to live in troubled times. Change brings opportunity, where stability does not. The Italian Renaissance produced giant leaps in human achievement, and it cannot be an accident that these leaps took place amid dizzying political and social change. Life during the Renaissance was dangerous, much more so than in our time. In that era, if you whispered any disagreement with the governor of your city, you risked immediate execution, by horrible means. If, on the other hand, you were too courteous and obedient, you could easily be executed the following week, when the governor was murdered and repla