George R.R. Martin on Books…

I’ve currently been engrossed in The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. Here are a few quotes I’ve picked up along the way from Martin:

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.”

“Sleep is good…and books are better.”

“It is one thing to be clever and another to be wise.”

 

Auld Lang Syne

You know that song that everyone sings in movies and on TV at New Years Eve?  If you’re like me, you know the song,  you can recognize the melody but have no idea what the words are! Well, here you go!

“Auld Lang Syne” is the name of the song. The lyrics come from a poem by the Scot, Robert Burns and is in an older Scottish dialect. The phrase “aul lang syne” means literally “old long since” and is idiomatic for “long, long ago”.  Here is an excellent version of the song with a translation following:

 

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of old lang syne ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for days of auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since days of auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions

It is that time of year–the end of the year–the time when people begin making New Year’s Resolutions. I admit I’m not one for resolutions, but if I did make them, I pray they are in line with Jonathan Edwards. These are the first 21 of his resolutions which he wrote in 1722. He would add to them over the next two years and according to his own prologue planned to read them through at least once a week.

Lord, grant to us to be as resolved as Edwards.

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Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

Santa v. God

Many people understand God the same way they understand Santa. He is a jolly old man who wants nothing more than to make me happy; he is all-knowing and all-seeing, yet he only intervenes to bestow blessings on those who please him. If I am good enough, he will give me presents, he will love me. If I am bad, he will simply ignore me. That’s the most we expect of God. If we’re good enough He will love us—if we’re not, He’ll overlook our sin and let us go in peace.

Such a view is childish and simplistic at best, degenerated and reductionist at worst. It denigrates our Humanity, the nature of evil, and God’s Love. Sin is not merely the violation of some law, like driving 60mph in a 55mph zone, it is the corruption of our Humanity. It is an undoing of what we are—what we were created to be. It is an affront to the Creator.

On this view, evil is really not so evil. It is a childish prank, something we can laugh at or gloss over as youthful indiscretion. It is not the perversion of the Good. It is not the raising up of the self over and above the Creator. It is not the destruction of anything that isn’t finally ME. When understood properly, it can be seen just how evil demands justice. Demands for things that are twisted be straightened, things that are polluted be filtered, things that are stained be washed. Sin cannot merely be forgiven, it must be purged.

On this view, God will only love us if we are good enough. But with the corruption we bring upon ourselves, the vileness of our existence in the face of perfection—I can never do enough to be “good enough”. It is natural for us to think this way, for when someone is good to us, our affection grows for that person. This only shows the shallowness of our goodness. We tend to love people who are good to us and think God must be like us. So, if I’m good enough, God will love me (or worse yet—because I am blessed financially, in relationships, or in health this shows that God loves me and approves of me). How then, could I ever do enough good to appease the Being that I have sought to undo with my every act, word and thought? It is only once we come to the realization that our deeds are worthless in earning God’s love that we are ready to understand ourselves and God. C.S. Lewis wrote that, “God will not love us because we are good, but rather God will make us good because He loves us”.

God is not a Santa Claus in the sky. It is high time we stop thinking of Him as such. Maybe we should stop equating the visitation of a jolly old man who practices a strict works-salvation with the birth of the One who came to be the work for us that we may be saved.

A Dose of Davila

To depend on God alone is our true autonomy.

With God there are only individuals.

Modern society works fervently to put vulgarity within the reach of everyone.

Many love humanity only in order to forget God with a clear conscience.

The religious life begins when we discover that God is not a postulate of ethics, but the only adventure in which it is worth the trouble to risk ourselves.

No one is more insufferable than a man who does not suspect, once in a while, that he might not be right.

If one does not believe in God, the only honest alternative is vulgar utilitarianism.  The rest is rhetoric.

~Nicolás Gómez Dávila

On Dealing With Irrational Parents…

Epicurus, Vatican Sayings, #62:

“If parents are rightfully angry with their children, it is, of course, useless for the children to resist and not beg their forgiveness; but if parents have no just or logical reason for their anger, it is foolish for the child to inflame their unreason further by nursing his own anger and not to seek, by being considerate, to turn aside their wrath through other means.”

 

The Defender of Common Sense

“Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke have all employed their genius and skill, to prove the existence of a material world; and with very bad success. Poor untaught mortals believe undoubtedly, that there is a sun, moon, and stars; an earth, which we inhabit; country, friends, and relations, which we enjoy; land, houses, and moveables, which we possess. But philosophers, pitying the credulity of the vulgar, resolve to have no faith but what is founded upon reason. They apply to philosophy to furnish them with reasons for the belief of those things, which all mankind have believed without being able to give any reason for it. And surely one would expect, that, in matters of such importance, the proof would not be difficult: but it is the most difficult thing in the world. For these three great men, with the best good will, have not been able, from all the treasures of philosophy, to draw one argument, that is fit to convince a man that can reason, of the existence of any one thing without him. Admired Philosophy! daughter of light! parent of wisdom and knowledge! if thou art she! surely thou hast not yet arisen upon the human mind, nor blessed us with more of thy rays, than are sufficient to shed a “darkness visible” upon the human faculties, and to disturb that repose and security which happier mortals enjoy, who never approached thine altar, nor felt thine influence! But if indeed thou hast not power to dispel those clouds and phantoms which thou hast discovered or created, withdraw this penurious and malignant ray: I despise Philosophy, and renounce its guidance: let my soul dwell with Common Sense.”

Thomas Reid (1711-1796) An Inquiry Into the Human Mind On the Principles of Common Sense