Be not therefore a solver of riddles.

Oct. 19th, 2009

08:47 pm - A fun little bit of oratory history: Sojourner Truth

Excerpted from Frances D. Gage. Reminiscences of Sojourner Truth in History of Woman Suffrage Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. V.1.


May 29, 1851

There were very few women in those days who dared to "speak in meeting"; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture, as they supposed, of the "strong-minded." Some of the tenderskinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. "Don't let her speak!" gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced "Sojourner Truth," and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.

The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows.

"Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt the niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all dis here talkin' about?"

"Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place!" And raising herself to her full height, and her voice to a pitch like rolling thunder, she asked, "And a'n't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! (and she bared her right arm to the shoulder, showing her tremendous muscular power). I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a'n't I a woman? I could work as much as eat as much as a man--when I could get it--and a'n't I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a'n't I a woman?

"Den dey talks 'bout dis ting in de head; what dis dey call it?" ("Intellect," whispered some one near.) "Dat's it, honey. What's dat got to do wid womin's rights or nigger's rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?" And she pointed her significant finger, and sent a keen glance at the minister who had made the argument. The cheering was long and loud.

"Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?" Rolling thunder couldn't have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated. "Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin' to do with Him." Oh, what a rebuke that was to that little man.

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Aug. 28th, 2009

03:49 pm - Saint Quotage: St. Theophan the Recluse

You say that you have no success. Indeed, there will be no success so long as you are full of self-indulgence and self-pity. These two things show at once that what is uppermost in your heart is "I" and not the Lord. It is the sin of self-love, living within us, that gives birth to all our sinfulness, making the whole man a sinner from head to foot, so long as we allow it to dwell in the soul. And when the whole man is a sinner, how can grace come to him? It will not come, just as a bee will not come where there is smoke.

There are two elements in the decision to work for the Lord: first a man must deny himself, and secondly he must follow Christ (Mark 8:34). The first demands a complete stamping out of egoism or self-love, and consequently a refusal to allow any self-indulgence or self-pity--whether in great matter or small.

--St. Theophan the Recluse (+1894), The Art of Prayer, p. 260

-As quoted in Heavenly Wisdom from God-illumined Teachers on Conquering Depression, published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.

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Aug. 26th, 2009

09:07 pm - excerpt from "The Revolution" by Ron Paul

Residents were encouraged to visit various operating rooms in order to observe the procedures that were doing done. One day I walked into an operating room without knowing what I was walking into, and the doctors were in the middle of performing a C-section. It was actually an abortion by hysterotomy. The woman was probably six months along in her pregnancy, and the child she was carrying weighed over two pounds. At the time doctors were not especially sophisticated, for lack of a better term, when it came to killing the baby prior to delivery, so they went ahead with delivery and put the baby in a bucket in the corner of the room. The baby tried to breathe, and tried to cry, and everyone in the room pretended the baby wasn't there. I was deeply shaken by this experience, and it hit me at that moment just how important the life issue was.

I have heard the arguments in favor of abortion many times, and they have always disturbed me deeply. A popular academic argument for abortion demands that we think of the child in the womb as a "parasite" that the woman has the right to expel from her body. But the same argument justifies outright infanticide, since it applies just as well to an infant outside the womb: newborns require even more attention and care, and in that sense are even more "parasitic."

If we can be so callous as to refer to a growing child in a mother's womb as a parasite, I fear for our country's future all the more. Whether it is ware or abortion, we conceal the reality of violent acts through linguistic contrivances meant to devalue human lives we find inconvenient. Dead civilians become "collateral damage," are ignored altogether, or are rationalized away on the Leninist grounds that to make an omelet you have to break some eggs. (The apostle Paul, on the other hand, condemned the idea that we should do evil that good may come.) People ask an expectant mother how her baby is doing. They do not ask how her fetus is doing, or her blob of tissue, or her parasite. But that is what her baby becomes as soon as the child is declared to be unwanted. In both cases, we try to make human life into something less than human, simply according to our will.

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Aug. 23rd, 2009

08:25 pm - Excerpt from "Domestic Tranquility"

Feminists claimed a woman can find identity and fulfillment only in a career; they are wrong. They claimed a woman can, in that popular expression, "have it all"; they are wrong--she can have only some. The experience of being a mother at home is a different experience from being a full-time market producer who is also a mother. A woman can have one or the other experience, but not both at the same time. Combining a career with motherhood requires a woman to compromise by diminishing her commitment and exertions with respect to one role or the other, or usually, to both. Rarely, if ever, can a woman adequately perform in a full-time career if she diminishes her commitment to it sufficiently to replicate the experience of being a mother at home.

Women were never told they could not choose to make the compromises required to combine these roles; within the memory of all living today there were always some women who did so choose. But by successfully degrading the housewife's role, contemporary feminism undertook to force this choice upon all women. I declined to make the compromises necessary to combine a career with motherhood because I did not want to become like Andrea Dworkin's spiritual virgin. I did not want to keep my being intact, as Dworkin puts it, so that I could continue to pursue career success. Such pursuit would have required me to hold too much of myself aloof from husband and children: the invisible "wedge-shaped core of darkness" that Virginia Woolf described as being oneself would have to be too large, and not enough of me would have been left over for them.
Nor did Helen Frankenthaler who, at the time she was acknowledged to be the most prominent living female artist, said in an interview: "We all make different compromises. And, no, I don't regret not having children. Given my painting, children would have suffered. A mother must make her children come first: young children are helpless. Well, paintings are objects but they're also helpless." I agree with her; that is precisely how I felt about the briefs I wrote for clients. Those briefs were, to me, like helpless children; in writing them, I first learned the meaning of complete devotion. I stopped writing them because I believed they would have been masters too jealous of my husband and children.
It is in society's interest to begin to pull apart the double-bind web spun by feminism and so order itself as not to inhibit any woman who could be an awakened Brunnhilde. Delighted and contented women will certainly do less harm--and probably more good--to society than frenzied and despairing ones. This is not to suggest that society should interfere with a woman's decision to follow the feminist script and adopt any form of spiritual virginity that suits her. But neither should society continue to validate destruction of the women's pact by the contemporary feminists who sought to make us all follow their script.

Excerpts from Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism by F. Carolyn Graglia.

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Aug. 2nd, 2009

09:25 pm - Excerpt from "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

"Father," Almanzo said, "would you--would you give me--a nickel?"
He stood there while Father and Mr. Paddock looked at him, and he wished he could get away. Finally Father asked:
"What for?"
Almanzo looked down at his moccasins and muttered:
"Frank had a nickel. He bought pink lemonade."
"Well," Father said, slowly, "if Frank treated you, it's only right you should treat him." Father put his hand in his pocket. Then he stopped and asked:
"Did Frank treat you to lemonade?"
Almanzo wanted so badly to get the nickel that he nodded. Then he squirmed and said:
"No, Father."
Father looked at him a long time. Then he took out his wallet and opened it, and slowly he took out a round, big silver half-dollar. He asked:
"Almanzo, do you know what this is?"
who needs personal finance classes? just read a good classic.Collapse )

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May. 30th, 2009

08:52 pm - 05-30-09 baking the head

05-30-09 baking the head
Originally uploaded by aviendha1979

May. 11th, 2009

09:03 pm - More from Chesterton's Orthodoxy

And then followed an experience impossible to describe. It was as if I had been blundering about since my birth with two huge and unmanageable machines, of different shapes and without apparent connection--the world and the Christian tradition. I had found this hole in the world: the fact that one must somehow find a way of loving the world without trusting it; somehow one must love the world without being worldly. I found this projecting feature of Christian theology, like a sort of hard spike, the dogmatic insistence that God was personal, and had made a world separate from Himself. The spike of dogma fitted exactly into the hole in the world--it had evidently been meant to go there--and then the strange thing began to happen. When once these two parts of the two machines had come together, one after another, all the other parts fitted and fell in with an eerie exactitude. I could hear bolt after bolt over all the machinery falling into its place with a kind of click of relief. Having got one part right, all the other parts were repeating that rectitude, as clock after clock strikes noon. Instinct after instinct was answered by doctrine after doctrine. Or, to vary the metaphor, I was like one who had advanced into a hostile country to take one high fortress. And when that fort had fallen the whole country surrendered and turned solid behind me. The whole land was lit up, as it were, back to the first fields of my childhood. All those blind fancies of boyhood which in the fourth chapter I have tried in vain to trace on the darkness, became suddenly transparent and sane. I was right when I felt that roses were red by some sort of choice: it was the divine choice. I was right when I felt that I would almost rather say that grass was the wrong colour than say it must by necessity have been that colour: it might verily have been any other. My sense that happiness hung on the crazy thread of a condition did mean something when all was said: it meant the whole doctrine of the Fall. Even those dim and shapeless monsters of notions which I have not been able to describe, much less defend, stepped quietly into their places like colossal caryatides of the creed. The fancy that the cosmos was not vast and void, but small and cosy, had a fulfilled significance now, for anything that is a work of art must be small in the sight of the artist; to God the stars might be only small and dear, like diamonds. And my haunting instinct that somehow good was not merely a tool to be used, but a relic to be guarded, like the goods from Crusoe's ship--even that had been the wild whisper of something originally wise, for, according to Christianity, we were indeed the survivors of a wreck, the crew of a golden ship that had gone down before the beginning of the world.

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Apr. 26th, 2009

09:41 am - excerpt from "Orthodoxy" by G.K. Chesterton

All the will-worshipers, from Nietzsche to Mr. Davidson, are really quite empty of volition. They cannot will, they can hardly wish. And if any one wants a proof of this, it can be found quite easily. It can be found in this fact: that they always talk of will as something that expands and breaks out. But it is quite the opposite. Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitations. In that sense every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. That objection, which men of this school used to make to the act of marriage, is really an objection to every act. Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion. Just as when you marry one woman you give up all the others, so when you take one course of action you give up all the other courses. If you become King of England, you give up the post of Beadle in Brompton. If you go to Rome, you sacrifice a rich suggestive life in Wimbledon. It is the existence of this negative or limiting side of will that makes most of the talk of the anarchic will-worshipers little better than nonsense. For instance, Mr. John Davidson tells us to have nothing to do with "Thou shalt not"; but it is surely obvious that "Thou shalt not" is only one of the necessary corollaries of "I will." "I will go to the Lord Mayor's Show, and thou shalt not stop me." Anarchism adjures us to be bold creative artists, and care for no laws or limits. Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end. Somebody wrote a work called "The Loves of the Triangles"; I never read it, but I am sure that if triangles ever were loved, they were loved for being triangular. This is certainly the case with all artistic creation, which is in some ways the most decisive example of pure will. The artist loves his limitations: they constituent the thing he is doing. The painter is glad that the canvas is flat. The sculptor is glad that the clay is colorless.

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Apr. 8th, 2009

01:50 pm - excerpt from "An Unbroken Circle"

The following is the conclusion to one of the essays in The Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience, "The Legacy of a Suffering Church: The Holiness of American Saints," by Professor Albert Raboteau, an Orthodox Christian convert.


What meaning can we glean from the slaves' suffering?

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Apr. 7th, 2009

09:39 pm - quotage, "Another Turn of the Crank" by Wendell Berry

Abortion, for instance, which might be defensible as a tragic choice acceptable in the most straitened circumstances, is defended as a "right" derived from "the right of a woman to control her own body." The right of any person to control her or his own body, subject to the usual qualifications is incontestable--or, at any rate, it is not going to be contested by me. But the usual qualifications hold that if you can control your own body only by destroying another person's body, then control has come much too late. Self-mastery is the appropriate way to control one's own body, not surgery.


What we traditionally called "virtues" on the other hand, are good not because they are necessary; they make for unity and harmony. Faith, to speak only of the highest of the traditional virtues, is our life's instinctive leap toward its origin, the motion by which we acknowledge the order and harmony to which we belong. To deny that this is so is not to destroy faith but only to reduce and misdirect it, for faith of some kind is apparently necessary also in the sense that we cannot escape it; we have to have some version of it. Our instinct for faith is like a well-bred Border collie, who, lacking cattle or sheep, will herd children or chickens or cats. If we don't direct our faith toward God or into some authentic "way" of the soul, then we direct it toward progress or science or weaponry or education or nature or human nature or doctors or gurus or genetic engineers or computers or NASA. And as we reduce the objects of our faith and so reduce our faith, we inevitably reduce ourselves. We are by nature creatures of faith, we must choose either to be religious or superstitious, to believe in things that cannot be proved or to believe in things that cannot be disproved.

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Mar. 3rd, 2009

02:26 pm - More Wendell Berry quotes

Again, from Home Economics

With industrialization has come a general depreciation of work. As the price of work has gone up, the value of it has gone down, until it is now so depressed that people simply do not want to do it anymore. We can say without exaggeration that the present national ambition of the United States is unemployment. People live for quitting time, for weekends, for vacations, and for retirement; moreover, this ambition seems to be classless, as true in the executive suites as on the assembly lines. One works, not because the work is necessary, valuable, useful to a desirable end, or because one loves to do it, but only to be able to quit--a condition that a saner time would regard as infernal, a condemnation. This is explained, of course, by the dullness of the work, by the loss of responsibility for, or credit for, or knowledge of the thing made. What can be the status of the working small farmer in a nation whose motto is a sigh of relief: "Thank God it's Friday"?

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Feb. 27th, 2009

02:34 pm - Wendell Berry quotage

Various quotes from Home Economics. Just to pique the interest.

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Feb. 7th, 2009

07:33 am - Ray Bradbury. Now HERE's someone who knows how to write a rant!

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

But, she added, wouldn't it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women's characters and roles?

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Jan. 1st, 2009

08:44 am - Incarnation and lament if ramah

This is one of the best homilies I've ever heard. Period.

Dec. 25th, 2008

02:32 pm - Survivalist humor.

Expenses For Burning Wood For One Year

558.00 - Stove, pipe, installation, etc.
249.95 - Chain Saw
44.60 - Gas and maintenance for chain saw
24,759.04 - 4-wheel-drive pickup, stripped
538.00 - 4-wheel-drive maintenance
610.00 - Replace rear window in pickup (twice)
500.00 - Fine for cutting unmarked tree in state forest
167.30 - 14 cases of beer
100.00 - Littering fine
50.00 - Tow charge from creek
125.00 - Doctor's fee for removing splinter from eye
29.90 - Safety glasses
278.80 - Emergency room treatment (dropped log, broke toes)
49.50 - Steel-toed safety boots
800.00 - New living room carpet
120.00 - Paint walls and ceiling
75.00 - Chimney brush and rod
39.00 - Splitting maul and wedges
1,295.00 - Gasoline-powered log splitter
9,000.00 - 15-acre wooded lot
357.00 - Taxes on wooded lot
125.00 - Replace coffee table (chopped & burned while in high spirits)
56,922.00 - Divorce settlement

96,793.09 - Total first year's costs
-124.74 - Less savings over "conventional" fuel-first year

96,668.35 - Net cost of first year's wood burning

-from The Self-Reliant Homestead:  A Book of Country Skills by Charles A. Sanders.


Nov. 21st, 2008

09:04 pm - Excerpts: The Well-Adjusted Child

It may seem useful in theory for kids to have a chance to experience things away from their parents, but in specific, some questions must be asked about this. What are these things kids "need" to experience (that their parents theoretically wouldn't let them do), and why would we want them to experience such things if they are things parents wouldn't want them to do? If it is adverse experiences we feel they need, why should they, as children, have to experience these things without their parents on hand for guidance and help? Or why should they experience things that can only be experience away from parents? If asked, how many parents (of school-going kids or otherwise) would really want their kids to be out experiencing drugs, sex, fights, or other such things that require non-supervision in order to take place?

The Well-Adjusted Child by Rachel Gathercole.

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05:46 pm - a quote and a hippo

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.

-Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


and totally unrelated:


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Oct. 24th, 2008

06:24 am - excerpt Plato's apology

Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods?

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06:13 am - a a a a a



Oct. 23rd, 2008

08:55 pm - Plato from The Apology

Although, if a man is able to teach, I honor him for being paid. There is Gorgias of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens, by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them, whom they not only pay, but are thankful to be allowed to pay them. There is actually a Parian philosopher residing in Athens, of whom I have heard; and I came to hear of him in this way: I met a man who has spent a world of money on the Sophists, Callias the son of Hipponicus, and knowing he had sons, I asked him: "Callias," I said, "if your two sons were foals or calves, there would be no difficulty in finding someone to put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses or a farmer probably who would improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you thinking of placing over them? Is there anyone who understands human and political virtue? You must have thought about this as you have sons; is there anyone?" "There is," he said. "Who is he?" said I, "and of what country? and what does he charge?" "Evenus the Parian," he replied; "he is the man, and his charge is five minae." Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this wisdom, and teaches at such a modest charge. Had I the same, I should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I have no knowledge of the kind. O Athenians.

Plato, Apology

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