Saturday, October 20, 2018
As a child, I had a number of strong religious beliefs but little faith in God. There is a distinction between belief in a set of propositions and a faith which enables us to put our trust in them. I believed implicitly in the existence of God; I also believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the efficacy of the sacraments, the prospect of eternal damnation and the objective reality of Purgatory. I cannot say, however, that my belief in these religious opinions about the nature of ultimate reality gave me much confidence that life here on earth was good and beneficent. The Roman Catholicism of my childhood was a rather frightening creed. James Joyce got it right in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: I listened to my share of hellfire sermons. In fact Hell seemed a more potent reality than God, because it was something that I could grasp imaginatively. God, on the other hand, was a somewhat shadowy figure, defined in intellectual abstractions rather than images. When I was about eight years old, I had to memorize this catechism answer to the question, "What is God?": "God is the Supreme Spirit, Who alone exists of Himself and is infinite in all perfections." Not surprisingly, it meant little to me, and I am bound to say that it still leaves me cold. It has always seemed a singularly arid, pompous and arrogant definition. Since writing this book, however, I have come to believe that it is also incorrect.
-Karen Armstrong, from the Introduction to A History Of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
“I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: "Go down again - I dwell among the people.”
-John Henry Newman
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
“God has no religion.”
Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote.
- Pankaj Mishra, as excerpted from this essay
Friday, October 19, 2018
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
...........that "housing starts" were a key driver for the U. S. economy. Some people (me) will tell you that we probably should have had a mild recession in +/- 2003. To avoid that, and to keep the number of housing starts growing, politicians expanded the pool of eligible home buyers by including those who couldn't afford one. We all paid the price for that decision in 2007-2009. Just didn't know that the home construction rebound would take this long and be this slow.
enlargeable chart may be found here
Thursday, October 18, 2018
The way one brings people together to do this is the key. This is what is what most people call "leadership." What are the most important things that a leader needs to do in order to get their organizations to push through to results? Most importantly, they must recruit individuals who are willing to do the work that success requires. While there might be more glamour in coming up with the brilliant new ideas, most of success comes from doing the mundane and often distasteful stuff, like identifying and dealing with problems and pushing hard over a long time.
-Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
It's pretty obvious that one should keep away from the wicked and two-faced as much as possible - the jealous friend, the narcissistic parent, the untrustworthy partner. At first glance Marcus Aurelius is reminding us to avoid false friends.
But what if we turn it around? What if, instead, we ask about the times that we have been false to our friends? Ultimately that's what Stoicism is about - not judging other people's behavior, but judging our own.
-Ryan Holiday, as lifted from today's entry in The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations On Wisdom, Perseverance, And The Art Of Living
"You can define a free person precisely as someone whose fate is not centrally or directly dependent on peer assessment."
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin In The Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use - do the work you want to see done.
-Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths. But during the twentieth century the global elites in New York, London, Berlin, and Moscow formulated three grand stories that claimed to explain the whole past and to predict the future of the entire world: the fascist story, the communist story, and the liberal story. The Second World War knocked out the fascist story, and from the late 1940s to the late 1980s the world became the battleground between just two stories: communism and liberalism. Then the communist story collapsed, and the liberal story remained the dominant guide to the human past and the indispensable manual for the future of the world - or so it seemed to the global elite.
-Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”