Tag Archives: the world

Elihu Palmer

was born 245 years ago today, in Connecticut, U.S.A.,
a lawyer, he was a writer & lecturer in favor of deism as well

“Another important doctrine of the Christian religion, is the atonement supposed to have been made by the death and sufferings of the pretended Saviour of the world; and this is grounded upon principles as regardless of justice as the doctrine of original sin. It exhibits a spectacle truly distressing to the feelings of the benevolent mind, it calls innocence and virtue into a scene of suffering, and reputed guilt, in order to destroy the injurious effects of real vice. It pretends to free the world from the fatal effects of a primary apostacy, by the sacrifice of an innocent being. Evil has already been introduced into the world, and in order to remove it, a fresh accumulation of crimes becomes necessary. In plain terms, to destroy one evil, another must be committed.”

“Deism declares, that the practice of a pure, natural, and uncorrupted virtue, is the essential duty, and constitutes the highest dignity of man; that the powers of man are competent to all the great purposes of human existence; that science, virtue, and happiness are the great objects which ought to awake the mental energies, and draw forth the moral affections of the human race.”

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Gloria Steinem

turns 75 today, born in Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A. 
a journalist, and a feminist, she helped found Ms. Magazine

“Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious. We are all mysterious. We have only to imagine how differently we would be described – and will be, after our deaths – by each of the family members who believe they know us.”

“We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach.”

“It’s an incredible con job, when you think of it, to believe something now in exchange for life after death. Even corporations, with all their reward systems, don’t try to make it posthumous.”

“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.”

“Hope is a very unruly emotion.”

“It is more rewarding to watch money change the world than watch it accumulate.”

“The authority of any governing institution must stop at its citizen’s skin.”


Religulous

a film I went to watch a couple months ago at a movie theater the night it premiered, October 3, 2008, I was well satisfied with it as a whole, it is a documentary style film following Bill Maher as he discovers some amusing yet disturbing sides to religion, it points out things worth wondering about, let alone gives us a chance to realize some of the absurdness religions have caused in our world, directed by Larry Charles


the world

“Be careful how you interpret the world; it IS like that.” – Erich Heller


Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

a 2008 movie featuring Ben Stein

while things are tied together kinda nicely, over-all it just comes across… sloppy

the main point seems to be that the idea of “intelligent design” is rejected by the scientific community, but doesn’t go so far as to delve into why that may be the case (if it did, I missed it)

now, I don’t claim to be an expert on all the concepts of evolution, or “intelligent design” either, but here’s what I appreciate about science: its theories, & that they are just that, theories, & if the answer to something isn’t ultimately known (at least not yet) then that’s what is said: we don’t know, but nonetheless, scientists proceed in investigations and explorations, seeking answers, but then, to give the “intelligent design” take on it – god did that, or a higher power did that, or some other force out there in the universe with a mind of its own, & whatever else have you did that – that, to me, if you’ll allow for my slanguage, is a total cop-out, OF COURSE the scientific community is going to reject that, it’s a dead end, it gets us nowhere

would we except this alternative attitude in other areas of our daily life? take the examination of a crime, we may not immediately (& sadly, sometimes, ever) know who killed so & so and with what weapon, but does that mean we give up on trying to figure it out for ourselves & just conclude “evil forces in the world did it”? if that was the conclusion written at the end of an autopsy report, for instance, and the writer of that report was then dismissed from their job, who would protest that?

if this movie is going to harp on how ideas of “intelligent design” could fill the gaps of evolution (& other scientific theories, for that matter), I would like good examples of exactly how accepting this as an explanation advances scientifc progress

sorta gives the subtitle No Intelligence Allowed an ironic twist, doesn’t it?

Charles Darwin may not have produced the answers to life, the universe, & everything, but “intelligent design” sure doesn’t seem like the way to go instead

as for linking Darwinism to Nazism, besides being a cheap shot, I would like to sarcastically say what a great point that makes, cuz’ it’s not like religion has ever killed anybody, it’s not like people who believe they were “intelligently designed” ever use that belief to wage holy war against those they judge as infidels, or anything like that… oh, hell no

but seriously, this is part of what makes this movie sloppy, cuz’ discussion of how a civilized society should behave, that’s a broad topic of it’s own, discussion of ethics, still a broad topic of it’s own, discussion of abortion & euthanasia, topics of their own, eugenics, another topic of it’s own, & this movie is nowhere near long enough to give much of any sort of overview of any of those things, yet throws them in anyway, which actually might be alright if they were all strongly inter-connected to one another & building up to a climatic conclusion, but if they did, what was it? If it was all to attack Darwinism, then I don’t see the logic in how finding flaws in Darwinism somehow validates Intelligent Design as science, which, again, seemed to be the point of the movie.


Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

by Kathleen Norris

a book I read last summer, a good read

noted excerpts/quotes:

page 11-12:

     “… and I asked him if the angel had visited him here. “Don’t you know?” he said in the incredulous tone children adopt when adults seem stupefyingly ignorant. “Don’t you know?” he said, his voice rising, “This is where angels drown.”

page 14:

     “Reading is a solitary act, one in keeping with the silence of the Plains, but it’s also paradoxically public, as it deepens my connections with the larger world.”

page 16:

     “Silence is the best response to mystery.”

page 18-19:

     “We know it won’t last, not in Dakota, and we stay anyway. That is our glory, both folly and strength.”

page 19:

     “Many farmers I know use language in a way that is as eloquent as it is grammatically unorthodox.”

page 23:

     “Rather, it is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person.”

page 24:

     “Desert wisdom allows you to be at home, wherever you are.”

page 26:

     “The Dakotas are America’s empty quarter…”

     “Say what you will about our climate, in Dakota we say it keeps the riff raff out.”

page 35:

     “It may be odd to think of living in Dakota as a luxury, but I’m well aware that ours is a privileged and endangered way of life, one that, ironically, only the poor may be able to afford.”

page 36:

     “Our odd, tortured landscape terrifies many people. Some think it’s as barren as the moon…”

page 37:

     “In western Dakota, as in few other places I’ve seen in this country, one realizes the truth of Gertrude Stein’s remark, “In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is.” Eleven counties in South Dakota now meet the traditional definition of frontier, places having two or fewer persons per square mile.”

page 38:

     “The Plains are not forgiving. Anything that is shallow – the easy optimism of a homesteader; the false hope that denies geography, climate, history; the tree whose roots don’t reach ground water – will dry up and blow away.”

page 41:

     “…my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.”

page 95:

     “As Emily Dickinson once said, “You know there is no account of her death in the Bible, and why am I not Eve?””

page 104:

     “Shadows ‘n’ Owls: A Message From Jim Sullivan”

     “Dairy farming made an empiricist out of me. When I was a little boy I had to walk alone at night with bucket and lantern, down throught the trees by the river, and milk cows in a dark barn. There was no room in my life for bogeymen or poltergeists, anything I couldn’t explain. There were shadows ‘n’ owls, that’s all.”

page 107:

     “When you get the feeling that the whole world can see you but no one is watching, you have come to the grasslands of North America.” – Dan O’Brien In the Center of the Nation

page 108:

     “Where I am is a place that does not readily render its secrets or subtleties.”

     “Where I am is a place where Native Americans and whites live alone together, to paraphrase David Allen Evans, a South Dakota poet.”

page 110:

     “Where I am is a place where the human fabric is worn thin, farms and ranches and little towns scattered over miles of seemingly endless, empty grassland.”

     “Some have come to prefer the treelessness and isolation, becoming monks of the land, knowing that its loneliness is an honest reflection of the essential human loneliness. The willingly embraced desert fosters realism, not despair.”

page 117:

     “The West River of Dakota encourages you to either make or find deserts for yourself.”

page 121:

     “The irony and wonder of all this is that it is the desert’s grimness, its stillness and isolation, that bring us back to love.”

page 122:

     “For one who has chosen the desert and truly embraced the forsaken ground it is not despair or fear or limitation that dictates how one lives. One finds instead an openness and hope that verges on the wild…”

page 127:

     “I’ve come to think that one thing that distinguishes a frontier is the precarious nature of the human hold on it.

     The severe climate of Dakota forces us to see that no one can control this land. The largeness of land and sky is humbling, putting humankind in  proper perspective.”

page 140:

     “I know that Thomas Jefferson, who first read Plato’s “Republic” in Greek at the age of seventy-one and found it overrated, believed that the independent farmer was a foundation stone of American democracy. But, knowing that the words for liberty and library come from the same Latin root, he also believed that the farmer had to be well read for democracy to work.”

page 153:

     “It’s a dangerous place, this vast ocean of praire. Something happens to us here.”

page 155:

     “The midwestern landscape is abstract, and our response to the geology of the region might be similar to our response to the contemporary walls of paint in museums. We are forced to live in our eye.” – Michael Martone

page 157:

     “Maybe seeing the Plains is like seeing an icon: what seems stern and almost empty is merely open, a door into some simple and holy state.”

page 159:

     “There is the Zen of it: “When you come to a place where you have to go left or right, ” says Sister Ruth, “go straight ahead.””

page 168:

     “If this process of leveling down, of making everybody alike… is allowed to continue, America is doomed to become the most impoverished land spiritually on the face of the earth; out of our highly praised melting pot will come a dull… smug complacency, barren of all creative thought… Soon we will have reached the perfect democracy of barrenness… Dead will be the hidden life of the heart which is nourished by tradition, the idioms of language, and our attitude to life. It is out of these elements that character grows.” – Ole Rolvaag Giants of the Earth

     “If we’re to accomplish anything worthwhile, we must do it as Norwegians. Otherwise we may meet the same fate as corn in too strong a sun.” – Ole Rolvaag

page 170:

     “Ghosts don’t exist in some cultures.” – Martin Broken Leg

     “They think time exists.” – Martin Broken Leg

page 171:

     “I said that telling a poet not to look for connections is like telling a farmer not to look at the rain gauge after a storm.”

page 173:

     Bible: Isaiah: “All flesh is grass.”

page 182:

     “I recall a saying of the desert monks: If a man settles in a certain place and does not bring forth the fruit of that place, the place itself casts him out.”

page 190:

     “I was reading one of the old ones who said, “One who keeps death before his eyes conquers despair.” The little girl calls me, holding up her paper for me to read:

When my third snail died, I said,

‘I’m through with snails,’

But I didn’t mean it.”

page 193:

     “A Newsweek reporter captured the essence of the communities…

     “…Some are sophisticated and scholarly, others are earthy and well-balanced, a few are simply God’s fools.” “

page 197:

     “True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.”

page 207:

     “At another, when I remarked that my stereotypes had been shattered, expecting monks would hate women, a monk replied, “You came at the right time. We had one like that, but he died.””

page 210-211:

     “She said, speaking of the relationship between Benedictines and the Vatican, “We’re a very decentralized order, and the popes don’t like that, because when they want to tell us what to do, they can’t find us.””

page 211-212:

     “All monasteries have their characters, and in taking to heart Benedict’s admonishment to “support with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses in body or behavior,” monks often sense that their homes are the last refuge of the eccentric.”

page 212:

     “Of course our laughter came, as all true humor does, from a displacement of context.”

page 213:

     “The point is not to avoid having fun but to keep in balance one’s need for food, work, prayer, rest, and play. Moderation is essential, for, in the words of Amma Syncletica, a fourth-century desert nun, “lack of proportion always corrupts.””

page 214:

     “Like country folk everywhere, monks develop an ability to party simply but well.”

page 215:

     “What sets monks apart from the rest of us is not an overbearing piety but a contemplative sense of fun.”

page 220:

     “Unable to sleep, I’ve been reading the words of a modern monk: “You have only to let the place happen to you… the loneliness, the silence, the poverty, the futility, indeed the stillness of your life.””