Tag Archives: history

Read history

“If you think you have it tough, read history books.” — Bill Maher I’m no fan of Bill Maher, but he has a point about history.  It’s a great way to gain some perspective.  Not long ago I read Bill Bryson’s fascinating book At Home, and I realized I’d never fully appreciated such things as electricity and sewer systems.  From …

Continue reading

It still matters

“Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago…” — G. K. Chesterton Tevye isn’t the only one who prizes tradition.  …

Continue reading

Make them carry you

“If the winds of fortune are temporarily blowing against you, remember that you can harness them and make them carry you toward your definite purpose, through the use of your imagination.” — Napoleon Hill Windmills are a visually appealing reminder that forces beyond our control can be turned to good purpose.  Wind-driven machines have been …

Continue reading

More than logical

“If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope…” — Jacques Yves Cousteau I’m a great fan of logic.  My highest scores on the GRE and other standardized tests were always in the “analytical thinking” category.  …

Continue reading

Don’t forget the present

“Remember the past, and prepare for the future, but don’t forget:  the present is where you live.” — Ashleigh Brilliant The Hertford Bridge pictured above is part of Hertford College, of the University of Oxford in England.  It connects the Old and New Quadrangles of that college, with administrative offices in the older building and student accommodations in …

Continue reading

The familiar exotic

“Make the familiar exotic; the exotic familiar.”  — Bharati Mukherjee I’m pretty good at making the exotic familiar, or at least trying.  When Jeff and I travel, we tend to avoid the tourist routes and go to places where the locals are: public transportation, grocery stores, municipal libraries.  The more intriguing a city is, the more I am determined …

Continue reading

It’s helpful to remember

“In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.” — Paul Harvey Today’s post is dedicated to all of us who are FED UP with: 1. traffic, gas prices and ridiculous parking costs; 2. the hassles of air travel; 3. public bus or rail system problems; or …

Continue reading

How we remember

“How we remember, what we remember and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.” — Christina Baldwin Among the countless ways my sister has blessed my life, one comes to mind often: she read to me and taught me to read.  Over fifty years later, I have wonderful memories of the …

Continue reading

The one who thinks differently

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and …

Continue reading

Everybody can be great

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”— Martin Luther King, Jr. These beautiful words are being quoted more frequently …

Continue reading

Primitive purity

Originally posted on Defeat Despair:
A cozy cabin room at a northern California bed and breakfast inn, 2003 “How has it come about that we use the highly emotive word ‘stagnation,’ with all its malodorous and malarial overtones, for what other ages would have called ‘permanence?’ Why does the word ‘primitive’ at once suggest to…

Continue reading

Our due as humans

“Whereas 19th-century Americans perceived limits on how many people they could know, how much they should self-promote, how much excitement they should expect, 21st-century Americans are coming to expect that endless affirmation, unfettered anger, infinite cognitive power, unending entertainment, and constant companionship are our due as humans.”— Susan J. Matt This is one of those …

Continue reading

Patience and perseverance

Dear Readers, As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, I find myself sorely in need of both patience and perseverance. This week has been filled with endless paperwork, logistical tangles and other oppressive tasks, and it feels increasingly difficult to muster the energy and enthusiasm to keep going. Here I am, once again re-blogging a …

Continue reading

Count on flowers

“No matter how uncertain our world sometimes seems, we can count on flowers to appear each spring.” – Barbara Milo Ohrbach Longtime members of the Defeat Despair community will be familiar with Susan, whom I first met here and whose previous visits have inspired earlier posts. She spent some time with Matt and me this …

Continue reading

To look forward

“I didn’t have particular baseball heroes in those days…I didn’t relate to baseball players, even though I played the game myself, because I knew I had nothing to look forward to. There was no hope for me to play in the big leagues back then because I was black.” — Hank Aaron Wow. Talk about defeating …

Continue reading

A thousand tongues

“There is an air about it, resonant of joy and hope: it speaks with a thousand tongues to the heart: it waves its mighty shadow over the imagination…and points with prophetic fingers to the sky.” — William Hazlitt, describing Oxford This was my third visit to Oxford, but the first time I stayed more than three …

Continue reading

To transform

“He had a way of using all that he read and experienced to transform the way that he lived. There was no such thing as purely academic knowledge for him…” — John Bremer As it happens, I’m taking a break from working hard on a “purely academic” paper on C. S. Lewis that’s due in …

Continue reading

It harbors beauty

“History should be studied because it is essential to society, and because it harbors beauty.” – Peter N. Stearns Leaving aside for a moment the arguments that might arise from Stearns’ assertion that history is essential to society (I’m one who agrees that it is), I think most everyone will admit that history indeed harbors …

Continue reading

The quickening pollen

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.” ― James Russell Lowell If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the term “quickening pollen” might not sound like a good thing. But in the sense that Lowell intended it, the concept is quite exciting. Suppose you could somehow time travel to have …

Continue reading

Webbed and sustained

“Liberty is as relevant to modern Americans as it was to the men and women of 1776. We live in a world webbed and sustained by the liberties they won at terrific cost in an agonizing eight-year ordeal.  The freedom to speak our minds, to worship in the churches of our faith, to vote for the …

Continue reading

Free and undivided

“Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.” — John A. Logan Union General Logan was an important leader in the movement to recognize Memorial Day (then known as …

Continue reading

A pathological nostalgia

“I had a pathological nostalgia.  I grieved not only for my own rapidly receding childhood but also for the years, ‘the pasts,’ that I would never experience.  The past seemed as real to me as the present, as real as another country.  But unlike another country, its borders were closed…pictures felt like the next best …

Continue reading

You’d think I knew

“The way I run this thing you’d think I knew something about it.” — Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny is 75 years old today! No puns about gray hares, just heartfelt celebration for the laughs he has given us all these years.  Bugs had some very similar cartoon cousins who came before him, but the general consensus is …

Continue reading

Don’t lose sight

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” — Walt Disney Walt Disney’s success is legendary, and the tough road he took to get there is well documented.  He died in 1966, soon after his 65th birthday, an age that sounds far too …

Continue reading

The experience of a great people

“The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights.  It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life.  It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, …

Continue reading