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Conscience is a man's compass, and though the needle sometimes deviates, though one often perceives irregularities when directing one's course by it, one must still try to follow its direction.
--Vincent van Gogh, (1853-1890)
(92:2.6) Conscience, untaught by experience and unaided by reason, never has been, and never can be, a safe and unerring guide to human conduct. Conscience is not a divine voice speaking to the human soul. It is merely the sum total of the moral and ethical content of the mores of any current stage of existence; it simply represents the humanly conceived ideal of reaction in any given set of circumstances.
(100:1.5) Growth is also predicated on the discovery of selfhood accompanied by self-criticism—conscience, for conscience is really the criticism of oneself by one's own value-habits, personal ideals.
(101:0.3) Religion, the conviction-faith of the personality, can always triumph over the superficially contradictory logic of despair born in the unbelieving material mind. There really is a true and genuine inner voice, that "true light which lights every man who comes into the world." And this spirit leading is distinct from the ethical prompting of human conscience.
(103:2.10) A misguided conscience can become responsible for much conflict, worry, sorrow, and no end of human unhappiness.
(110:5.1) Do not confuse and confound the mission and influence of the Adjuster with what is commonly called conscience; they are not directly related. Conscience is a human and purely psychic reaction. It is not to be despised, but it is hardly the voice of God to the soul, which indeed the Adjuster's would be if such a voice could be heard. Conscience, rightly, admonishes you to do right; but the Adjuster, in addition, endeavors to tell you what truly is right; that is, when and as you are able to perceive the Monitor's leading.
Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade he created approximately 2100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterised by bold, symbolic colours, and dramatic, impulsive and highly expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. He sold only one painting during his lifetime and became famous after his suicide, aged 37, which followed years of poverty and mental illness.
Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh drew as a child and was serious, quiet and thoughtful, but showed signs of mental instability. As a young man he worked as an art dealer, often travelling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He turned to religion, and spent time as a missionary in southern Belgium. Later he drifted in ill-health and solitude. He was keenly aware of modernist trends in art and, while back with his parents, took up painting in 1881. His younger brother, Theo, supported him financially, and the two of them kept up a long correspondence by letter.
Van Gogh's early works, mostly still lifes and depictions of peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguished his later work. In 1886 he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. As his work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in Arles in the south of France in 1888. He lived there in the Yellow House and, with the French artist Paul Gauguin, developed a concept of colour that symbolised inner emotion. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.
Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and, though he worried about his mental stability, he often neglected his physical health, not eating properly and drinking heavily. His friendship with Gauguin came to an end after a violent encounter when he threatened the Frenchman with a razor, and in a rage, cut off part of his own left ear. While in a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy his condition stabilised, leading to one of the more productive periods of his life. He moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris under the care of the homeopathic doctor and artist, Paul Gachet. During this time, his brother Theo wrote that he could no longer support him financially. A few weeks later, on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died from his injuries two days later.
Considered a madman and a failure in his lifetime, Van Gogh exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge." His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists. He attained widespread critical, commercial and popular success over the ensuing decades, and is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist.
In the cellars of the night, when the mind starts moving around old trunks of bad times, the pain of this and the shame of that, the memory of a small boldness is a hand to hold.
--John Leonard, (1939-2008)
(156:2.7) Said Jesus: "My disciples must not only cease to do evil but learn to do well; you must not only be cleansed from all conscious sin, but you must refuse to harbor even the feelings of guilt. If you confess your sins, they are forgiven; therefore must you maintain a conscience void of offense."
John Leonard (February 25, 1939 – November 5, 2008) was an American literary, television, film, and cultural critic.
Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
--Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)
(1:5.11) Primitive religion had many personal gods, and they were fashioned in the image of man.
(85:6.3) Tribal chiefs died and were deified. Later, distinguished souls passed on and were sainted. Unaided evolution never originated gods higher than the glorified, exalted, and evolved spirits of deceased humans. In early evolution religion creates its own gods. In the course of revelation the Gods formulate religion. Evolutionary religion creates its gods in the image and likeness of mortal man; revelatory religion seeks to evolve and transform mortal man into the image and likeness of God.
(96:4.7) Moses made a heroic effort to uplift Yahweh to the dignity of a supreme Deity when he presented him as the "God of truth and without iniquity, just and right in all his ways." And yet, despite this exalted teaching, the limited understanding of his followers made it necessary to speak of God as being in man's image, as being subject to fits of anger, wrath, and severity, even that he was vengeful and easily influenced by man's conduct.
(196:3.23) The projections of the human intellect may indeed originate false gods—gods in man's image—but the true God-consciousness does not have such an origin.
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science-fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was an influential and controversial author of the genre in his time.
Heinlein became one of the first science-fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the "Big Three" of science fiction authors.
A notable writer of science-fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. at his Astounding Science Fiction magazine—though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree.
Within the framework of his science-fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices.
Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; in addition, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded "Retro Hugos"—awards given retrospectively for works that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence. In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including "grok", "waldo", and "speculative fiction", as well as popularizing existing terms like "TANSTAAFL", "pay it forward", and "space marine". He also anticipated mechanical Computer Aided Design with "Drafting Dan" and described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door into Summer, though he never patented or built one. In the first chapter of the novel Space Cadet he anticipated the cell-phone, 35 years before Motorola invented the technology. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for film and television.
Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.
--Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)
(48:6.35) From them you will learn to let pressure develop stability and certainty; to be faithful and earnest and, withal, cheerful; to accept challenges without complaint and to face difficulties and uncertainties without fear. They will ask: If you fail, will you rise indomitably to try anew? If you succeed, will you maintain a well-balanced poise—a stabilized and spiritualized attitude—throughout every effort in the long struggle to break the fetters of material inertia, to attain the freedom of spirit existence?
(160:3.4) My philosophy tells me that there are times when I must fight, if need be, for the defense of my concept of righteousness, but I doubt not that the Master, with a more mature type of personality, would easily and gracefully gain an equal victory by his superior and winsome technique of tact and tolerance. All too often, when we battle for the right, it turns out that both the victor and the vanquished have sustained defeat.
Jean-Paul-Charles-Aymard Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism.
His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.
Sartre has also been noted for his open relationship with the prominent feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir. Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyle and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually destructive conformity (mauvaise foi, literally, "bad faith") and an "authentic" way of "being" became the dominant theme of Sartre's early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work Being and Nothingness (L'Être et le Néant, 1943). Sartre's introduction to his philosophy is his work Existentialism and Humanism (L'existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946), originally presented as a lecture.
He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honours and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution".
We have begun our study tonight on the Speres of Light and Life. Come and be inspired by the revelations of this great destiny of our planet. We'd love to have you share your insights next Sunday, Sept. 19.
In Light and Life,
What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give.
--P.D. James, novelist (1920-2014)
(177:2.2) I know you will prove loyal to the gospel of the kingdom because I can depend upon your present faith and love when these qualities are grounded upon such an early training as has been your portion at home. You are the product of a home where the parents bear each other a sincere affection, and therefore you have not been overloved so as injuriously to exalt your concept of self-importance. Neither has your personality suffered distortion in consequence of your parents' loveless maneuvering for your confidence and loyalty, the one against the other. You have enjoyed that parental love which insures laudable self-confidence and which fosters normal feelings of security. But you have also been fortunate in that your parents possessed wisdom as well as love; and it was wisdom which led them to withhold most forms of indulgence and many luxuries which wealth can buy while they sent you to the synagogue school along with your neighborhood playfellows, and they also encouraged you to learn how to live in this world by permitting you to have original experience. You came over to the Jordan, where we preached and John's disciples baptized, with your young friend Amos. Both of you desired to go with us. When you returned to Jerusalem, your parents consented; Amos's parents refused; they loved their son so much that they denied him the blessed experience which you have had, even such as you this day enjoy. By running away from home, Amos could have joined us, but in so doing he would have wounded love and sacrificed loyalty. Even if such a course had been wise, it would have been a terrible price to pay for experience, independence, and liberty. Wise parents, such as yours, see to it that their children do not have to wound love or stifle loyalty in order to develop independence and enjoy invigorating liberty when they have grown up to your age.
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, known as P. D. James, was an English crime writer. She rose to fame for her series of detective novels starring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh.
All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.
--Peter Singer, philosopher and professor (b.1946)
(125:1.4) They now passed down to the priests' court beneath the rock ledge in front of the temple, where the altar stood, to observe the killing of the droves of animals and the washing away of the blood from the hands of the officiating slaughter priests at the bronze fountain. The bloodstained pavement, the gory hands of the priests, and the sounds of the dying animals were more than this nature-loving lad could stand. The terrible sight sickened this boy of Nazareth; he clutched his father's arm and begged to be taken away. They walked back through the court of the gentiles, and even the coarse laughter and profane jesting which he there heard were a relief from the sights he had just beheld.
(125:2.3-4) Even at this early date, though he said nothing about such matters to his parents, Jesus had begun to turn over in his mind the propriety of celebrating the Passover without the slaughtered lamb. He felt assured in his own mind that the Father in heaven was not pleased with this spectacle of sacrificial offerings, and as the years passed, he became increasingly determined someday to establish the celebration of a bloodless Passover.
Jesus slept very little that night. His rest was greatly disturbed by revolting dreams of slaughter and suffering. His mind was distraught and his heart torn by the inconsistencies and absurdities of the theology of the whole Jewish ceremonial system. His parents likewise slept little. They were greatly disconcerted by the events of the day just ended. They were completely upset in their own hearts by the lad's, to them, strange and determined attitude.
Peter Albert David Singer, AC (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. He is known in particular for his book, Animal Liberation (1975), a canonical text in animal liberation theory, and his essay Famine, Affluence, and Morality, a key text in the theory of effective altruism. For most of his career, he was a preference utilitarianism, but he announced in The Point of View of the Universe that he had become a hedonistic utilitarian.
On two occasions, Singer served as chair of the philosophy department at Monash University, where he founded its Centre for Human Bioethics. In 1996 he stood unsuccessfully as a Greens candidate for the Australian Senate. In 2004 Singer was recognized as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, and in 2006 he was voted one of Australia's ten most influential public intellectuals. In 2012, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to philosophy and bioethics. Singer is a cofounder of Animals Australia and the founder of The Life You Can Save.
The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
--Arnold J. Toynbee, (1889-1975)
(28:6.17) But ever will the play cycles of time alternate with the service cycles of progress. And after the service of time there follows the superservice of eternity. During the play of time you should envision the work of eternity, even as you will, during the service of eternity, reminisce the play of time.
Arnold Joseph Toynbee was a British historian, philosopher of history, research professor of International History at the London School of Economics and the University of London and author of numerous books. Toynbee in the 1918–1950 period was a leading specialist on international affairs.
He is best known for his 12-volume A Study of History (1934–1961). With his prodigious output of papers, articles, speeches and presentations, and numerous books translated into many languages, Toynbee was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s.
Toynbee was the son of Harry Valpy Toynbee (1861–1941), secretary of the Charity Organization Society, and his wife Sarah Edith Marshall (1859–1939); his sister Jocelyn Toynbee was an archaeologist and art historian. Toynbee was the grandson of Joseph Toynbee, nephew of the 19th-century economist Arnold Toynbee (1852–1883) and descendant of prominent British intellectuals for several generations. He won scholarships to Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford (Literae Humaniores, 1907-1911), and studied briefly at the British School at Athens, an experience that influenced the genesis of his philosophy about the decline of civilizations. In 1912 he became a tutor and fellow in ancient history at Balliol College, and in 1915 he began working for the intelligence department of the British Foreign Office. After serving as a delegate to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 he was appointed professor of Byzantine and modern Greek studies at the University of London. From 1921 to 1922 he was the Manchester Guardian correspondent during the Greco-Turkish War, an experience that resulted in the publication of The Western Question in Greece and Turkey. In 1925 he became research professor of international history at the London School of Economics and director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
His first marriage was to Rosalind Murray (1890–1967), daughter of Gilbert Murray, in 1913; they had three sons, of whom Philip Toynbee was the second. They divorced in 1946; Toynbee then married his research assistant, Veronica M. Boulter (1893-1980), in the same year. He died on 22 October 1975, age 86.
I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"
--Eve Merriam, poet and writer (1916-1992)
(52:6.1) The bestowal Son is the Prince of Peace. He arrives with the message, "Peace on earth and good will among men." On normal worlds this is a dispensation of world-wide peace; the nations no more learn war. But such salutary influences did not attend the coming of your bestowal Son, Christ Michael. Urantia is not proceeding in the normal order. Your world is out of step in the planetary procession. Your Master, when on earth, warned his disciples that his advent would not bring the usual reign of peace on Urantia. He distinctly told them that there would be "wars and rumors of wars," and that nation would rise against nation. At another time he said, "Think not that I have come to bring peace upon earth."
(159:5.6) "Neither shall the nations learn war any more."
Eve Merriam (July 19, 1916 – April 11, 1992) was an American poet and writer.
Merriam's first book was the 1946 Family Circle, which won the Yale Younger Poets Prize.
Her book, The Inner City Mother Goose, was described as one of the most banned books of the time. It inspired a 1971 Broadway musical called Inner City and a 1982 musical production called Street Dreams. In 1981 she won the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She published a total of 88 books.
Born as Eva Moskovitz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating with an A.B. from the Cornell University in 1937, Merriam moved to New York to pursue graduate studies at Columbia University. She was married for a time to writer Leonard C. Lewin. She later married screenwriter Waldo Salt and was actress Jennifer Salt's stepmother.
Merriam died on April 11, 1992 in Manhattan from liver cancer.
This Sunday, August 28, we will have our monthly Family Class at the home
of Cabot and Jill Eudaley. We will, as usual, begin at 10:00 am with
a pot luck brunch followed by our family-friendly Urantia Book study group.
I hope to see you all there.