I was stirred by the following email from a friend. The verses below reportedly were written on the walls of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; . . . Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; . . . Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; . . . Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; . . . Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; . . . Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous, . . . Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; . . . Do good anyway. Give the world your best and it may never be enough; . . . Give the world your best anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway
Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Michael Novak (author of two recent books), who came forth with the thought for the day:
NOVAK: A wise teacher once told our class: Keep a worn journal by the bed, and write in it every night — five minutes, no more — jotting down the most memorable image (or even insight) of the day. Four minutes if you must. But do it. You will be surprised how this will teach you to notice many vivid images each day, and many insights. Only choose one at night, though, “to snatch from the flames.”
Teenagers need assistance in clear thinking. Thankfully, a number of worldview programs are now available. Charles Colson introduces one such program -- Summit Ministries -- with his helpful post:
A few years ago, a teenager named Chris attended a worldview training
program run by Summit Ministries. He learned a great deal and had a
great time. But by the end of the intensive, two-week program, he was
As Chris wrote to John Stonestreet, executive director of Summit, “I
had never had to think so hard...before in my life! So I decided I was
just going to veg out for the next few days.”
When some friends invited Chris to a movie, he thought it would be a
good way to relax and recover from all that hard thinking. They went to
see the latest version of War of the Worlds.
But the film wasn’t the mental vacation Chris expected it to be. As
he explained in his letter, “Mr. Stonestreet, I tried to veg out during
the movie, but I just couldn’t. I am watching it and thinking, ‘Wait a
minute, that’s secular humanism, and wait a minute, that’s not true.
And, what do they mean by that, and how do they know that’s true!’”
Chris then joked, “I just wanted you to know that you ruined my
After the film ended, Chris and his friends went out for food and
talked about the themes in the movie. His friends were astonished at how
much Chris had gotten out of the film. As he told Stonestreet, “They
kept asking me, ‘How did you see that? How do you know all that stuff?’
It was a great conversation. And I [learned] I can’t just turn this
worldview thing off!”
Good! What a wonderful testimony to the power of worldview training.
It’s the kind of training all young people need to undergo, but so often
don’t. (more . . .)
A couple of days ago he posted the entirety of his article, "The New Age Jesus," which first appeared in Areopagus Journal (Nov-Dec 2004). The article comes with footnotes, making it all the more useful.
On another post, Groothuis introduces Ian R. Colle (one of Groothuis'
students) who published a positive, helpful, substantial (therefore
worth reading!) review of Paul A. Boghossian's Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. vii + 139 pages, $19.95 paper. Colle's concludes his review:
Boghossian presents the constructivist/relativist views accurately and
fairly and defeats the strongest formulation of their supporting
arguments in a way that is easy to follow and understandable to the
non-technical reader. This short book should be required reading for
all humanities professors and all who care about presenting sound
arguments for a realist epistemology. Read the entire review.
Let us take it [meaning in life] to refer simply to a sense of worthful purpose in what we do and the life
we lead. A man possesses a sense of "meaning" when he feels there is a vital connection between the goals he values and the activities and relationships in which he is involved.
Then what he does each day becomes a coherent means to ends he really prizes, his life and work accomplish something of value to him and so "make sense." Consequently his energies and powers are called forth in creative effort; he is vigorous, hardworking, and, in the good sense of that word, ambitious. In this sense, meaning in life is the spiritual fuel that drives the human machine. Without it we are indifferent and bored; there is no ambition to work, we are inspired by no concern or sense of significance, and our powers are unstirred and so lie idle. Without "meaning" we are undirected and a vulnerable prey to all manner of despair and anxiety, unable to stand firm against any new winds of adversity.
Me:Shantung Compound remains one of the top 10 most insightful books I have ever read. I first read it years ago. It's the true story of men and women from all walks of life interned in a Japanese prison camp durng World War II. One won't find a better exposition of "lived" psychology, sociology, philosophy, anthropology and morality anywhere-- better than textbooks!
Douglas Groothuis, aka "the Constructive Curmudgeon" and Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary writes:
My paper in "Think: Philosophy for Everyone"(a
publication of The Royal Institute for Philosophy) is now on line
(Spring, 2009 edition, pages 71-81). It is a secular journal, which
encourages creative forms for doing philosophy that will reach past the
purely academic world. That doesn't mean it is dumbed down. Some very prestigious
contributors have been featured. For my paper, I designed a discussion
between a Christian, an agnostic, and an atheist partial to Richard Dawkins. (In 2004, I published a paper in Think that featured a posthumous report from Pascal about the errors made in a Think paper criticizing his wager argument.)
John Loftus, host of Debunking Christianity and author of Why I Became an Atheist,
kindly asked me if I wished to submit an essay to his blog. I chose a
short and fairly popular piece first published at True U called, "Understanding the New Atheism: the Straw God." His fellow atheists have weighed in immediately with more posts that I have time to respond to. So, I encourage some of you apologists to read their responses and to respond in turn: politely and smartly.
There is an atheism that attacks Christianity on the grounds that it
is not true. The new atheism, described below, attacks Christianity on
the grounds that it is not good. But Rand's atheism, with that of her
mentor Nietzsche, is far more devastating, attacking Christianity on
the grounds of its strengths. The ethic of "love," they claim, inhibits
the natural law of survival of the fittest, making successful people
feel guilty, and draining the culture of its strength, with Christian
compassion begetting expensive welfare programs, protectionist economic
policies, and other misguided attempts to prop up failures, etc., etc.
And unlike most atheists, she offers a positive ideology to fill the
void she creates.
When I was in high school, a good friend got way into Rand and this
kind of thinking. It challenged my then rather minimalistic faith more
than anything else. Trying to answer her led me to C. S. Lewis, among
other writers, and drove me deeper into Christianity. But it is driving
even more away.
A reader of Veith's post says:
For a real eye opener go to Booknotes on c-span and see the July of
1989 interview of Nathaniel Branden. He was one of the founders of the
self esteem movement in psychology. Branden was part Rand’s inner
circle with Greenspan he also was Rand’s consort. It seems Rand’s
personal life was nearly as depraved as her philosophy.
Rand did not hate American Christians. Some of her views can be seen
I would also suggest that John Piper has some worthwhile things to say about what Miss Rand achieved and where she fell short:
** For those of us who have heard of Ayn Rand (1905-1982), but haven't read her books, this New York Times article (9/15/07) will serve as an introduction to her ideas and her influence. One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Rand was an atheist. She summarized her philosophy this way:
"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being,
with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with
productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only
Whitaker Chambers wrote a classic critique (required reading!) of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. He notes that no children appear in this novel saying "the strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged is scarcely a place for children." Near the end of his review he speaks of
the book's dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature.
Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a
tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its
shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is
John Podhoretz over at NRO's Corner calls attention, in a most extravagant way, to a new book saying:
Tod Lindberg, the editor of Policy Review, has just published a
stunning, eye-opening, and sentence-by-sentence brilliant book called The Political Teachings of Jesusthat
is exactly as its title advertises. It is not a tract, nor a polemic,
but a study of the political ramifications of Jesus's own words as
recorded in the Gospels. It is Lindberg's contention that the Sermon on
the Mount, in particular, is the most revolutionary document in the
history of the world because it effectively created the notion of
can read the book's close study of the Beatitudes, the opening passage
of the Sermon on the Mount, at Policy Review's website. Tod and I
studied with Allan Bloom a quarter-century ago at the University of
Chicago, and I can't think of higher praise than to say that Bloom (who
was a rotten, mean, nasty grader) would have given Tod an A for this.
Not even an A-minus.
I am always interested in books that send a man into the stratosphere. Heaven knows there have been scores of books written on the alleged political teachings of Jesus but this one just might be special. I like the blurb printed at Amazon.com (emphases are mine):
Since the beginning of the Christian era, people have used the
words and ideas of Jesus to justify all manner of political action.
Despite these repeated attempts, few have been able to move past the
rhetoric and understand the true nature of Jesus's political views.
Now, in The Political Teachings of Jesus,
longtime political analyst and commentator Tod Lindberg goes beyond
political punditry to address how Jesus's words and teachings—once a
radical set of ideas—have come to define our concept of government and
our vision for society. With nuanced prose, Lindberg draws a crucial
distinction between Christ's religious and political teachings,
presenting a detailed discussion of the world transformation that Jesus
sought through his words, stories, and sayings.
readers through the social and political dialogue of the Gospels,
Lindberg expertly analyzes how Jesus's principles of universal freedom
and equality have combined in our social order to become the
unacknowledged bedrock of the modern world. In addition, he offers a
provocative look at the role that Jesus's words have played in the
formation of the modern democratic ideal, demonstrating how the basic
principles of both liberal and conservative thought find common roots
in the Christian messiah's words.
Through close reading of
the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus's parables, Lindberg offers a
sophisticated portrait of Jesus as a teacher of unique insight and
perception, one whose political views have transcended time and become
essential to the way everyone lives in our society. In an era when
people on both sides of the aisle are prone to using Jesus's beliefs
for their own ends, The Political Teachings of Jesus is a
refreshingly clear-eyed take on our shared concepts of government and
society—and their common roots between the covers of the New Testament.
An Amazon reviewer wrote this:
We wouldn't have the country we have today if it were based on any
other foundation. Even tho some of the founders, such as Jefferson,
were athiests, they were profoundly influenced by the Golden Rule that
Jesus taught -- treat others the way we want to be treated. Incidently,
as Alli Sina shows in his book, "Understanding Muhhammad," Muslim
countries are far different from ours mainly because they are based on
the violent and vengeful teachings of Mohhamad.
Me: That is undoubtedly true. The great problem we face here in the West is the (false) supposition that the mindset we enjoy is a universal one. It is not. It has been nurtured and developed on the foundation and the pervasive influence of Christian thought. I marvel at the gaping blindspots of the elite opinion makers in the West.
Our colleges are not overrun with either moral or cultural relativism. The problem is the opposite — moral and cultural absolutism that is occasionally so extreme that it would make a Bob Jones theology professor blush.
a truly morally relativistic environment, there would be great
difficulty in getting a straight answer from a professor, diversity
dean, or student activist on the morality of same-sex marriage, for
example. Or the justice of the Iraq war, or even the worth of Wal-Mart.
Instead, does anyone have any doubt what the academic establishment’s
answer is to any of the following questions: Was the Iraq war
justified? Is consciously race-based affirmative action a proper
response to historical injustice? Should achieving “diversity” be a
central goal of the academy?
As for cultural relativism, does
the academy paint a “warts and all” picture of indigenous cultures?
Even the act of equating the Aztecs and Greeks (to take Murray’s
example) requires that the academy magnify the flaws of the Greeks and
minimize the flaws of the Aztecs, so that the culture that invented
democracy is “equated” with a culture organized around human sacrifice
on a mass scale. The “western civilization bad, other cultures good”
formula of so many lectures and books is anything but relativistic.
Simplistic, maybe, but not relativistic.
I routinely receive
correspondence from concerned parents who worry about relativism. What
they need to understand, however, is that academic relativism is a tactic,
not a substantive position. When a student of orthodox faith or a
person of traditional belief presents a position, they are often
countered with the classic relativistic verbal shrug (i.e. “that may be
true for you but not for me”), but when the shoe is on the other foot —
when the issue is dear to the heart of the academic — the position
could not be more absolute. Insults like “racist” or “sexist” or
“homophobe” do not come from relativism, but from absolutism.
Bishop N.T. Wright, for whom I have enormous respect as an historian and New Testament scholar, illustrates (sadly!) how true it is that a man speaking authoritatively outside his realm of expertise makes for truly discouraging reading.
Well-known Christian philosopher Gilbert Meilaender (Valparaiso University), takes N.T. Wright to task in the February 2007 First Things journal for showing little depth of understanding or nuance in his pronouncements on geopolitical issues. It is the more sad because Wright is known for extraordinary thoroughness in Biblical studies.
A link will be forthcoming to Meilaender's article when the February 2007 First Things issue goes online. [Here it is.] For now, let me just say that Wright faults the United States' Iraq policy in the most strenuous of terms, without benefit of the theological and political seriousness befitting his position.
A few quotes from Meilaender (which in no way does justice to the whole article):
When one considers the volumes that have been written by political theorists and political scientists on the nature of political institutions, one ought