Classic and contemporary excerpts.


Rest is not quitting

This busy career;

Rest is the fitting

Of self to one’s sphere.

’Tis the brook’s motion

Clear without strife,

Fleeing to the ocean

After its life.

’Tis loving and serving

The highest and best;

’Tis onward, unswerving:

And this is true rest.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Sourcebook of Poetry (comp. Al Bryant)

Inner wonder

There is one spectacle greater than the sea: That is the sky; there is one spectacle greater than the sky: That is the interior of the soul.

Victor Hugo in Les Misérables

From morality to “ethics”

How do we create symbolic virtue? We take the standards of morality that we have inherited from past generations. Then we “drain” away the idea of a just and holy God that was associated with that morality. We siphon off any notion of punishment for falling short of the standard. Then we redefine obligations to God to mean mutual obligations to each other as human beings. We focus on the positive, on a few actions that people can do, rather [than] on the many possible violations of the standard or on the common ways that we all fall short of the standard. Then we change the name from morality to ethics.

Stephen J. Keillor in Prisoners of Hope

Poor substitutes

When people do succeed in breaking free from belief in God, they simply create another religious belief to replace it. We always assimilate religion or God to a specific image, to specific rites or groups, to a specific conception, and when we banish these …, we think we have achieved freedom of thought. But we then proceed to an apotheosis of reason or science and we have new Gods.

Jacques Ellul in What I B.elieve

The gift of freedom

The greatest gift which God in His bounty bestowed in creating, and the most conformed ...

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