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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt

More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang

As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

By William Wordsworth

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Careful what you ask for

A man facetiously said that he prayed that God would make him good, but not as good as Job. He didn't want Satan to take that much notice of him.

(Or maybe he wasn't being facetious at all.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Next quotes

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." -- Ernest Hemingway

"I am certain that to preach the wrath of God with a hard heart, a cold lip, a tearless eye, and an unfeeling spirit is to harden men, not benefit them." -- Charles Spurgeon

"Trouble is a soil in which faith grows." -- copied

"Since the apostles of the Lamb have finished their course with us in the flesh, no history of the church of God should be allowed to lure us from the doctrine which they taught, the judgments they recorded, the ordinances they have enjoined; nothing is to be added nor aught diminished from the perfect standard of faith and order they established, which is confirmed by all the valid authority of earth and heaven." -- Gilbert Beebe

"When you're in deep water, look to the ONE who walked on it." -- copied from a church sign

"Preach to hearts, not to heads. Everyone has a heart; not everyone has a head." -- R. G. Lee

“Theological Seminaries, in attempting to qualify men to preach the gospel, virtually profess to hold at their disposal the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and to impart them to men for money.” -- By Gilbert Beebe

"Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice." -- Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Next links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 8 Fascinating Secret Societies and Bohemian Clubs -- "Most people have heard of groups like the Skull and Bones Society‎, but see what you make of these other organizations."
* 11 Emabarassing Bodily Functions that are Actually Signs of Good Health -- "You might be surprised to learn that those bodily functions that are so mortifying are actually signs that we have healthy bodies."
* Archbishop of Canterbury admits he has doubts about God -- "The extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful even when we're not."
* A Response to Matthew Vines: The Bible Doesn't Support Same-Sex Relationships -- "This issue and these arguments aren’t going to go away."
* Crest Will Eliminate Microbeads From Its Toothpastes -- "...what you probably assume are flavor crystals in your toothpaste may actually be plastic microbeads."
* Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack (They're Different for Women) -- "Bottom line: a heart attack doesn't always look like the typical Hollywood heart attack..."
* Meet the Young, Evangelical, Pro-Gay Movement -- "...Matthew Vines...became an internet sensation with his hour-long video on why Bible-believing Christians can and should become affirming of LGBT people."
* Pew Poll: Liberals Choose Tolerance Over Faith -- "...there are sharp ideological differences in what parents choose to emphasize in the upbringing of their children."
* School accused of 'purging' Christian books -- “She was told by one of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company.”
* Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground -- "As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children..."
* The Global Divide on Homosexuality -- "There is a strong relationship between a country’s religiosity and opinions about homosexuality."
* The NFL and the church share the same culture of silence on abuse -- "Many church leaders do not realize that all evils are present in their congregations, especially sins that carry a heavy culture of silence."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who's more righteous?

A recent study (published 12 Sept 2014) has found that Religion Doesn't Make People More Moral. This has been reported in various ways, often in words similar to the title of the article by Elizabeth Palermo at LiveScience, linked above.

I agree with  Macrina Cooper-White's conclusion "So much for religious people being more righteous than non-believers." Religious people are not more righteous, even though some religious people think so. But that doesn't tell the whole story (and Macrina tells the story with traditional Huff Post spin).

According to Palermo, the study was conducted in this manner: "Researchers asked 1,252 adults of different religious and political backgrounds in the United States and Canada to record the good and bad deeds they committed, witnessed, learned about or were the target of throughout the day." Further explaining, she writes, "For three days, participants received five text messages a day that included a link to the study's mobile website, where they could record any moral phenomena that they had experienced in the past hour via their smartphones."

Reports of the study state that religious or non-religious people committed both moral and immoral deeds with “comparable frequency.” The same held true of regardless of the participants' political viewpoints.

One benefit of the study is that it takes such study out of the "lab" and moves it into real life experience -- perhaps the first study to do so. "As far as I know, this is the first study that's used this kind of lived-experience approach to track morality as it's happening," said Dan Wisneski, a professor of psychology at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, and one of the leaders of the study. Perhaps it will also have some benefit in combatting "Phariseeism", though Phariseeism usually seems to produce the fuel on which it runs.

But there are some problems I see (or think I see) with the study. Researchers used Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to recruit over 1200 people with the incentive of winning an iPod Touch. By this method they apparently recruited a diversity of participants -- in some ways. But it seems like the not-so-social media savvy folks who aren't interested in an iPod Touch got left out! Could that skew the results? Though it is not clear who determined what was "moral" behaviour, it seems very likely that along with the self-reporting was a certain amount of "self-classification" -- that is, the reports by the individuals are skewed by their own views of their behaviour. One false conclusion that some will have is that religion does not have any direct effect on morality and is therefore not beneficial. (Or more likely, those who already have that view will point to this study as proving it.)

In the end it will be well that we all remind ourselves that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."

The study can be found here:
* Morality in everyday life and can be read if you have a "sciencemag" account.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be Still My Soul

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Written by Katharina von Schlegel, 1697 - 1768
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813 - 1897

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Brilliantly quoted

"Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living and Tradition is the living faith of the dead." -- Jaroslav Pelikan

"Jesus knows me, this I love." -- copied

"When you preach the wonderful Gospel this morning, don’t be thinking about how our society and culture offers more monetary rewards to elevator installers than you. You deal with Jacob’s Ladder. Let them get greasy with Otis." -- William Thornton

"...the fashion industry understands what the pornography industry does: female nakedness makes more money than its male counterpart." -- Jeff Pollard

"I’ve never seen any cleavage at church that helped me worship the Lord." -- Doug Sayers

"I think music in itself is healing." -- Bill Joel

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." -- Babe Ruth

"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle of which you know nothing." -- copied

Friday, September 19, 2014

Brilliantly linked

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 5 Things Our Parents Did That Would Get Them Arrested Today -- "Read on for a list of things that your parents may have done -- or let you do -- that would get them into hot water today."
* An Oration, commemorative of the late Major-General Alex R. Hamilton; pronounced before the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, on Tuesday, July 31, 1804. By J. M. Mason -- "Sad, my fellow-citizens, are the recollections and forebodings which the present solemnities force upon the mind."
* Court hears challenge to clergy housing allowance -- "The Freedom From Religion Foundation argued that singling out clergy for preferential tax benefits violates the Establishment Clause."
* Here's The Most Educated Town In Every State -- "Using the 2008-2012 ACS estimates for places with at least 1,000 population, Business Insider made a map showing, for each state, the town with the highest percentage of adults over 25 who have at least a bachelor's degree..."
* King Richard III's Final Moments Were Quick & Brutal -- "...Richard III was almost certainly brought down by more than one man — and more than one weapon."
* Pope Francis Supposedly Claimed Virgin Mary Is Second Trinity, At Godhead Level -- "Pope Francis, with his open-mindedness and more humanist approach to Catholicism reportedly promoted that the Virgin Mary should be at the second Holy Trinity, even putting her at Godhead level."
* Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone -- "...if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness."
* The New Abortion Abolitionists -- "Being pro-choice is passé nowadays."
* Top 10 myths about the Constitution on Constitution Day -- "The Constitution is our most endearing document, but not everything you read online about the Constitution is accurate!"