Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Quotes 2014 #2

Enlightened faith never asks us to set aside what we know.  (120)

Faith requires a leap of the moral imagination to connect the world as it is to the world as it might become.  As such, faith is not a product of reason, or knowledge, or evidence, or even of experience, though each of these plays an important role in faith.  Faith looks at what is and imagines what might be.  It requires a leap of the moral imagination to construct a bridge from what is past to what is possible. In this sense, faith is a gift of God—the God we experience as the source of all that is possible.  (121)

[Religion] can be a dynamic incubus of prophetic faith and enduring transformation.  (126)

The commitment to religious pluralism is taken by some to mean that any conviction that is sincerely held is a good conviction, and therefore cannot be criticized or rejected.  This is not true.  How do we decide which beliefs and commitments are better than others.  The test is what goes from our lives as a result of our faith: the issue of religion.  (127)

Every living and healthy religion, Santayana concludes, has its own special and surprising message.  “The vistas it opens and the mysteries it propounds are another world to live in; and another world to live in –whether we expect ever to pass wholly into it or not—is what we mean by having a religion (p. 5).  (127)

He’s here but he’s not here.  He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then it will be “here.”  What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it is all around him.  Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.  (190)

[Y]ou don’t have to prove anything to me.  Do you understand that? (198)

The book seems tame and cloistered, something I’d never thought of Thoreau, but there it is.  He’s talking to another situation, another time, just discovering the evils of technology rather than discovering the solution.  (202)

When you learn not to do “just what you like” then the System loves you.  (209)

As long as he left Quality undefined there was no way to argue with this but he knew and he knew the students knew that it had the smell of falseness about it.  It didn’t really answer the question.  (212)

Treating our worries like a surprise, day after day, just makes the thoughts more powerful. (kindle)

Recognize anxiety, don’t deny it. Hear worry, but don’t obey it. (kindle)

All families need a devoted willingness to be uncertain and uncomfortable, and to tolerate risk. (kindle)

[T]o win over anxiety, we have to act courageously—to feel uncertain and uncomfortable . . . and step forward anyway. (kindle)

People who seek certainty as their highest priority look for the one correct, positively perfect answer; decisions for those people can become time-consuming and overwhelming.  (kindle)

How do we change? Can we?

The more ambitious partnership I’m imagining would ask that Facebook truly share with schools—and parents—the burden that cyberbullying imposes. The site would own its power over kids and use it to make them reckon with their wrongdoing. Facebook profits from its teen users, so how crazy is it to ask the site to spend some of its social capital on helping the adults who work with teenagers? It seems to me a demand worth making.

In the documentary Bully, released by the Weinstein Company in 2012, the suicide of a seventeen-year-old from Georgia named Tyler Long was portrayed as if bullying were its only cause. You’d never know from the film that Tyler had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is linked to suicide. Or that his suicide note mentioned neither bullying nor school. Or that his family brought a $1.7 million lawsuit against his school, blaming the principal and other officials for his death, which was later thrown out of court. The examples of error and omission and distortion are seemingly endless.

As a causal explanation of first resort, however, the seductive narrative of the “bullycide” is dangerous. It romanticizes victims in a way that can beckon other teens to follow them and it treats suicide as a normal response to bullying, rather than a reaction that’s extremely rare.

Many modern writers of pseudo-history have done a great deal of reading of many different sources, sometimes (though admittedly not very often) even in the original languages. This hard work should be saluted but it does not make their theories any more reliable if they do not conform to the rigorous rules of medieval evidence. It is not how much they have read that matters but how well they use what they have read.

Contrary to what is often said the difference between academic and amateur writers of history is not that the academics think they know it all; it is that they know they don’t know it all.

[M]ost modern populist pseudo-historical theories about the historical Arthur seem to require you to have had a skin-full of alcohol or other mind enhancing substance in order to believe them.

Boys believe nothing can hurt them, his doubt whispered. Grown men know better.

I’m so tired of being strong. I want to be foolish and frightened for once. Just for a small while, that’s all . . . a day . . . an hour . . .

Perhaps that is the secret. It is not what we do, so much as why we do it.

The living should smile, for the dead cannot.

There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.


  1. I think I would really love Clash of Kings!!

    1. Absolutely. There are details the HBO series has to drop for the sake of time but really add so much to the overall story. Book 3 is a friggin' mind blower. Books 4 and 5 sort of split off one another because Martin had too much story to tell to fit into one book. Rather than follow Tolkien's lead and have half of each parallel story told, he chooses to focus on one half and then pick up on the other half. I don't know that this was as effective as it could be but, I think if he had done it the way Tolkien did, he would still have had fans complaining. I can't wait for the 6th and 7th books now. I'll never forgive Rob for buying me the first four books.