Saturday, February 8, 2020

Opening doors and minds................

     Faithful readers will understand that my musical tastes evolved "fifty years ago."  The expression, "no really good music has been written since the Beatles broke up" has been heard a time or two around this house.  Acknowledging that's not truly true, escaping from comfortable, well-worn ruts often requires some assistance.  Fortunately, Scott Blitstein is hard at work providing such assistance.  If you are not following his latest effort at opening hearts and minds—well, you should.

I don't often agree with..............

...............James Carville, but he raises a good point here:

The purpose of a political party is to acquire power. All right? Without power, nothing matters.

What’s the answer?

By framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you.

-as extracted from this interview detailing his concerns about the coming 2020 election

On work..............................

     Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
     But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when the dream was born,
     And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
     And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life's inmost secret.

-Kahlil Gibran,   from his discourse on Work in The Prophet


     When we see God's grace operate in the lives of people who we feel don't deserve it, we have a choice.  Either we can complain and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can be thankful that the God of such goodness is the One we love and serve.  Comparison kills because it always leaves us wanting more, but thankfulness brings life.

-Zig Ziglar and Ike Reighard,  The One Year Daily Insights

the mystery.......................

I have observed the power of the watermelon seed.  It has the power to draw from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight.
When you can tell me how it takes this material from the ground and out of its colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight —when you can explain to me the mystery of a watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God.

-attributed to William Jennings Bryan

both at the same time...............

     F. Scott Fitzgerald, a contemporary of William Jennings Bryan, described this paradox.  "The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.  One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them better."  It seems to me that the lesson in both Bryan's and Fitzgerald's comments is to simultaneously choose life while serenely knowing that the mysterious future pull is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing as our bodies age and die.  Thus we are in charge and we are not in charge, both at the same time, and it is all right for these two opposites to coexist.

-Wayne Dyer,  from Wisdom of the Ages

Friday, February 7, 2020

slow but spectacular.................

    By contrast, the African-American poet Langston Hughes sang in 1935: "O, let America be America again—/ The land that never has been yet—/And yet must be—a land where every man is free."  Free to move, to invent, to persuade, to offer a dollar, with no master in charge.  The result of liberal democracy's partial, imperfect fulfillment has been a slow but in the end spectacular approach worldwide to flourishing, in which fewer and fewer people are pushed or bossed around without their voluntarily given consent or contract.

-Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,  Why Liberalism Works:  How True Liberal Values Produce A Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World For All

on the International Brotherhood of Contraries...

I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.

I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
so often laughing at funerals, that was because
I knew the dead were already slipping away,
preparing a comeback, and can I help it?
And if at weddings I have gritted and gnashed
my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom
had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not
be resurrected by a piece of cake. ‘Dance,’ they told me,
and I stood still, and while they stood
quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
‘Pray,’ they said, and I laughed, covering myself
in the earth’s brightnesses, and then stole off gray
into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
When they said, ‘I know my Redeemer liveth,’
I told them, ‘He’s dead.’ And when they told me
‘God is dead,’ I answered, ‘He goes fishing every day
in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.’

When they asked me would I like to contribute
I said no, and when they had collected
more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.
When they asked me to join them I wouldn’t,
and then went off by myself and did more
than they would have asked. ‘Well, then,’ they said
‘go and organize the International Brotherhood
of Contraries,’ and I said, ‘Did you finish killing
everybody who was against peace?’ So be it.

Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.

-Wendell Berry, The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer

Sunday, February 2, 2020


1   How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! *
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2   The sparrow has found her a house
and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; *
by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.

3   Happy are they who dwell in your house! *
they will always be praising you.

4   Happy are the people whose strength is in you! *
whose hearts are set on the pilgrims' way.

5   Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, *
for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6   They will climb from height to height, *
and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

7   Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; *
hearken, O God of Jacob.

8   Behold our defender, O God; *
and look upon the face of your Anointed.

9   For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, *
and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God
than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

10   For the Lord God is both sun and shield; *
he will give grace and glory;

11   No good thing will the Lord withhold *
from those who walk with integrity.

12   O Lord of hosts, *
happy are they who put their trust in you!

-The Holy Bible, Psalm 84