Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekly Quotes 2014 #11

As Sweet as Honey

Who doesn’t have the right to happy ending?  Especially one brave enough to follow her heart.  (34)

[W]hen is grief rational?  (42)

Grandmother takes in all of this hurt, all of these questions, and shrugs her shoulders.  In that shrug lies the way of compassion, of not knowing.  But when one is in the throes of emotion, a shrug is hard to come by.  A shrug is ancient; it is a way of acknowledging pain, of moving past it while acknowledging it, of recognizing that many things are out of our control, that the world is impermanent, that love and loss go hand in hand.  (65)

[H]er female brain knew that brains had no gender, they were simply brains, and no one used his as much as Einstein had.  (93)

Isn’t that who we are at heart, a species that tells and doesn’t tell, keeps the heart and brain hidden, complicating our lives for the drama, so we don’t have to face the night?  (126)

When you see someone after a long time, you wonder where the time had gone.  What had really prevented you from keeping in touch, visiting?  It is a terrible feeling, because the reasons are so selfish and petty.  We hadn’t tried hard enough, and at some point, we forgot.  (221)

It’s a bit hard to know what the words of the Bible mean if we don’t even know what the words are!  (11)

For modern people intimately familiar with the major contemporary Western religious (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), it may be hard to imagine, but books played virtually no role in the polytheistic religions of the ancient Western world. These religions were almost exclusively concerned with honoring he gods through ritual acts of sacrifice.  There were no doctrines to be learned . . . and almost no ethical principles to be followed, as laid out in books. . . . This is not to say that adherents of the various polytheistic religions had no beliefs about their gods or that they had no ethics, but beliefs and ethics . . . played almost no role in religion per se.  These were instead matters of personal  philosophy, and philosophies, of course could be bookish.  Since ancient religions themselves did not require any particular sets of “right doctrines” or, for the most part, “ethical codes,” books placed almost no role in them.  (19)

[I]t is the change of a single word:  so why does it matter?  It matters because the only way to understand what an author wants to say is to know what his words—all his words—actually were.  (Think of all the sermons preached on the basis of a single word in a text:  what if the word is one the author didn’t actually write?)  (56)

That is to say, once a scribe changes a text—whether accidentally or intentionally—then those changes are permanent in his manuscript (unless, of course, another scribe comes along to correct the mistake).  The next scribe who copies that manuscript copies those mistakes (thinking they are what the text said), and he adds mistakes of his own.  The next scribe who then copies that manuscript copies the mistakes of both his predecessors and adds mistakes of his own, and so on.  The only way mistakes get corrected is when a scribe recognizes that a predecessor has made an error and tries to resolve it.  There is no guarantee, however that a scribe who tries to correct a mistake corrects it correctly.  That is, by changing what he thinks is an error, he may in fact change it incorrectly, so now there are three forms of the text:  the original, the error, and the incorrect attempt to resolve the error.  Mistakes multiply and get repeated; sometimes they get corrected and sometimes they get compounded.  And so it goes. For centuries.  (57)

That naturally leaves the reader with a dilemma:  if this story was not originally part of John, should it be considered part of the Bible?  Not everyone will respond to this question in the same way, but for most textual critics, the answer is no.  (65)

My new pens weren’t cheap, but when I think of all the time I spend using pens and how much I appreciate a good pen, I realize it was money well spent.  Finely made tools help make work a pleasure.  (172)

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.  (179)

Quoting Samuel Johnson:  To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation.  (181)

Happiness experts point out that merely making and sticking to a decision is a source of happiness, because it gives you a feeling of control, of efficacy, of responsibility.  (187)

Will focusing on spiritual matters make you happier?  According to the research, yes.  Studies show that spiritual people are relatively happier, they’re more mentally and physically healthy, deal better with stress, have better marriages, and live longer.  (195-196)

If you can’t be a good example—then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.  (167)

If concentrating on the how of our lives breaks old behavioral taboos and clears out emotional baggage, it also enlarges our field of potential attachments.  (171)

I want to be the truest self I can reach.  I want to do the best I can toward those I love and expect no more from them.  I want to celebrate the gift of the present.  With authenticity and gratitude.  With curiosity and mastery.  With courage and generosity.  With humor and empathy.  And a grain of salt.  (179) 


  1. Love all the quotes. I think I need to read "misquoting Jesus.

    1. Betty, I'm awfully glad I read it. There are several changes that are significant, such as the Johannine Comma. I wish he had gone into more depth with the changes that were made for historical reasons (i.e. the role of women in the church, antisemitism) but he has several other books and I've little doubt that some of those address or touch upon those subjects with greater depth. He obviously has made a lot of Christians angry, enough so that they wrote books of their own to prove him wrong.

      For me, and forgive my blabbering, the need to have agreement in a sacred text is a very Western approach to belief. Eastern philosophies do not have a problem with a text contradicting itself. And with the introduction of the printing press, this need made for some interesting decisions on what would and would not become part of our more permanent canon.

  2. I am going to check it out! I read Fifty is the New 50. My friend was looking for it at the bookstore yesterday. It was sold out. I purchased the book on my reader. She just finished The Happiness Project and liked it. It is another one on my list. My list just keeps getting longer. I need more reading time!