Thursday, September 13, 2007

Definition of commonplace book

"Commonplace-book. Formerly Book of common places. orig. A book in which 'commonplaces' or passages important for reference were collected, usually under general heads; hence, a book in which one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement." From The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971. First usage recorded: 1578.

Now this makes sense.

"I was still that child in The Snow Queen, asking 'what is sin?' but not knowing how to find out. Fortunately a Benedictine friend provided one answer: 'Sin, in the New Testament,' he told me, 'is the failure to do concrete acts of love.' That is something I can live with, a guide in my conversion. It's also a much better definition of sin than I learned as a child: sin as breaking rules.
"Comprehensible, sensible sin is one of the unexpected gifts I've found in the monastic tradition. The fourth-century monks began to answer a question for me that the human potential movement of the late twentieth century never seemed to address: if I'm O.K. and you're O.K., and our friends (nice people and, like us, markedly middle class, if a bit bohemian) are O.K., why is the world definitely not O.K.? Blaming others wouldn't do. Only when I began to see the world's ills mirrored in myself did I begin to find an answer; only as I began to address that uncomfortable word, sin, did I see that I was not being handed a load of needless guilt so much as a useful tool for confronting the negative side of human behavior."
--Kathleen Norris in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

Sometimes I feel like this.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
--Benjamin Franklin


"The Americans who call themselves "Conservatives" have the right to the title only in a particular sense. In fact, they are old-fashioned liberals. They stand for the freedom of the individual to use his property as he wishes, and for a limited government which must keep out of the marketplace. Their concentration on freedom from governmental interference has more to do with nineteenth-century liberalism than with traditional convervatism, which asserts the right of the community to restrain freedom in the name of the common good. Senator Goldwater appealed directly to the American Constitution and to Locke, its philosophical architect. The Senator's chief economic adviser, Professor Milton Friedman, appeals to the British liberal economists of the nineteenth century. They are "conservatives" only in terms of the short history of their own country. They claim that the authentic American tradition went off the rails with the mass liberalism of the New Deal and should return to the individualism of the founding fathers. The makers of the Constitution took their philosophy from the first wave of modernity; the spirit of the New Deal belonged to the later waves of liberalism. In this sense, Goldwater is an American conservative. But what he conserves is the liberal philosophy of Locke. The founders of the United States took their thought from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Their rallying cry was "freedom." There was no place in their cry for the organic conservatism that pre-dated the age of progress. Indeed, the United States is the only society on earth that has no traditions from before the age of progress. Their "right-wing" and "left-wing" are just different species of liberalism. "Freedom" was the slogan of both Goldwater and President Johnson."
--George Grant, from Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism.

Here's plenty for comment . . .

Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.


All belief systems are just dry bones unless they impel people to actions which edify humanity or improve the natural world, or both.

"Quite rightly we criticize that in most Islamic states the role of
religion in society and the secular character of the legal system are
not clearly separated. But we haven't taken note as readily of the
U.S. Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the bible
that show similar tendencies."

"There is thus little scope for peaceful resolutions if both sides
claim to have a monopoly on the only truth."

Gerhard Schroder, former German Chancellor, in "Decisions: My Life in Politics," published in Der Spiegel magazine

So it didn't take an attack or cancer for him to reflect on his own mortality-he did it all the time. You know, he'd say, "One of these days I'm gonna be dead and you're gonna have to look after these trees!" And I'd be, "Stop saying that, Dad!" And he'd be like, "But it's true." Because he was a realist. And I'm very much the same way. Everyone is gonna die, but no one thinks they're gonna die. No one. And that's like the biggest blind spot that everyone in the world has, this inability to believe that they're gonna die. And I think the sooner you address that, the better, really. It's like practice, really.

Dhani Harrison, regarding his father, George Harrison

Jameson said, "Several times in my life I've been in a tough spot, something I couldn't get out of by myself. Somebody always came along. Most often it was a stranger, somebody I never saw before or ever saw again. Seems like we go through life owing gratitude to strangers. The only way we can ever repay them is to help some other stranger. It all evens up, in the long pull."
-- from Buffalo Wagons, by Elmer Kelton (p. 134)

"I do the very best I know how - the very best I can;
and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end
brings me out all right, what is said against me won't
amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong,
ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

-Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

"There is mounting evidence that failure to respond to the business risks associated with climate change could result in multi-billion dollar losses for U.S. businesses and investment portfolios," said John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments and author of The Challenge To Power: Money, Investing and Democracy. "In addition, companies that take proactive measures to address climate risk enjoy lower costs, higher profit margins and enhanced customer loyalty. With companies outside the U.S. already taking a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, American companies face a 'sustainability gap' that could affect their competitive edge."

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Albert Einstein

Those who give up essential liberty to preserve a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-- Benjamin Franklin