I thought this was a very interesting book. Themes of morality, what it means to be human, biomedical ethics, geopolitical themes, and the meaning ofI thought this was a very interesting book. Themes of morality, what it means to be human, biomedical ethics, geopolitical themes, and the meaning of loyalty and friendship are all covered in an interesting way. While child abuse and drugs are primary themes in the book, reading this book along with a parent will provide ample opportunity to discuss these themes with children....more
Most people know Warren as a novelist, the author of All the King’s Men. He was an acclaimed poet as well, and a brilliant contributer to the traditioMost people know Warren as a novelist, the author of All the King’s Men. He was an acclaimed poet as well, and a brilliant contributer to the tradition of American poetry. He was expansive in his scope, ranging from post-ante bellum southern culture (not quite modern, as some of his language is offensive), while musing about death, life, the every day, and the infinite. His scope was expansive.
This collection is not necessarily an enjoyable read. My favorite selections are quite foreboding. Examples would be:
“The Nature of a Mirror”: The sky has murder in the eye, and I Have murder in the heart, for I Am only human. We look at each other, the sky and I. We understand each other, for
The solstice of summer has sagged, I stand And wit. Virtue is rewarded, that Is the nightmare, and I must tell you
That soon now, even before The change from Daylight Saving Time, the sun, Beyond the western ridge of black-burnt pine stubs like A snuggery of rotten shark teeth, sinks Lower, large, more blank, and redder than A mother’s rage, as though F.D.R. had never run for office even, or the first vagina Had not had the texture of dream. Time
Is the mirror into which you stare. (21)
The end of “Sunset Walk in Thaw-Time in Vermont”: For what blessing may a man hope for but An immortality in The loving vigilance of death. (78)
“Answer Yes or No” Death is only a technical correction of the market. Death is only the transfer of energy to a new form. Death is only the fulfillment of a wish.
Whose wish? (144)
The end of “Holy Writ”: The death I have entered is a death In which I cannot lie down.
I have forgotten, literally, God, and through The enormous hollow of my head, History Whistles like a wind.
How beautiful are the young, walking!
If I could weep. (182)
Perhaps my favorite lines are the ominous words from the end of “To a Little Girl, One Year Old, in a Ruined Fortress”: I cannot interpret for you this collocation Of memories. You will live your own life, and contrive The language of your own heart, but let that conversation, In the last analysis, be always of whatever truth you would live.
For fire flames but in the heart of a colder fire. All voice is but echo caught from a soundless voice. Height is not deprivation of valley, nor defect of desire, But defines, for the fortunate, that joy in which all joys should rejoice. (226)
This collection won’t necessarily make you happy, but it will make you think.
Augustine of Hippo is a seminal figure not just in the development of Christian theology, but also in the shaping of the Western mind. In this volume,Augustine of Hippo is a seminal figure not just in the development of Christian theology, but also in the shaping of the Western mind. In this volume, excerpts from his homilies and some of his most famous books are presented. The introductions are incredibly well written and well reasoned. Particularly excellent is the introduction to the selections from “City of God” in which Augustine presents his philosophy of history under God’s direction. I will not attempt criticism of this volume, other than to say that it deserves careful reading and reflection. Below are my favorite passages in a book that will remain on my shelf, to be pulled down from time to time, and sampled deeply.
From “The Happy Life” – “You have truly gained the mastery of the very stronghold of philosophy, Mother. For without doubt only for lack of words you did not elaborate on this subject as did Tullius [Cicero], whose words will follow. For in the Hortensius, the book he wrote on the praise and defense of philosophy, he said: ‘But see, surely not the philosophers but all given to argument say that those who live just as they wish are happy.’ This is definitely false; for to want what is not appropriate is the worst of all miseries. It is not so miserable not to get what you want as to want to get what you ought not. Wickedness of will brings to everyone greater evil than good fortune brings good.” (174)
From “The Happy Life” – “Hence to be happy is nothing but not to be in need, that is, to be wise. But if you seek what wisdom is, reason has already explained and declared this as far as presently possible. For wisdom is nothing but the measure of the soul, that is, that by which the mind is liberated so that it neither runs over into too much nor falls short of fullness. For there is a running over into luxuries, tyrannies, acts of pride, and other such things whereby the souls of unrestrained and unhappy men think they get for themselves pleasure and power. But there is a falling short of fullness through baseness, fear, sorrow, passion, and other things, of whatever kind, whereby unhappy men even admit that they are unhappy.” (191)
From “The Happy Life” – “This, therefore, is the complete satisfaction of souls, that is, the happy life: to know precisely and perfectly Him through whom you are led into the truth, the nature of the truth you enjoy, and the bond that connects you with the Supreme Measure! These three show to those who understand the one God, the one Substance, excluding the variety of all vain and superstitious images.” (193)
From his homily “Psalm 119: The Ascents of the Christian” – Augustine ponders on the crucifixion into the valley of tears. “What is a valley of tears? He was scourged, covered with spittle, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross. From this valley of tears you must ascend. But ascend where? ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God‘ (Jn 1:1). For He Himself, the ‘Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.’ Abiding in Himself, He descended to you. He descended to you so as to become for you a valley of tears; He abode in Himself so as to be for you a mountain of ascent. And ‘In the days to come,’ said Isaiah, ‘the mountain of the Lord shall tower above the hills’ (Is 2:2). It is there we must ascend.” (200)
From his homily “Psalm 120: Our Confidence in the Lord” – But in their turn, before the hour comes, let them listen also to what the Apostle says to them: ‘You were once darkness, and now youa re light in the Lord’ (Eph 5:8). Let them awaken according to the admonition of our Psalm. Already the mountains are lightened, why then sleep? ‘Let them lift their eyes toward the mountains whence help will come to them’ (Ps 120:1). What does it mean to say that the mountains are already lightened? Already there has arisen the Sun of Justice, already the Apostles have preached the Gospel, preached the Holy Scriptures, all the Mysteries have been laid open, the veil has been rent, the secret of the temple has been revealed; let them finally lift their eyes toward the mountain whence help will come to them.” (215)
From his homily “Psalm 121: The Ecstasy of Love” – “It is indeed a song of steps. And as I have often said to you, these steps are not made to descend but to ascend. The questioner wishes then to ascend; and where does he wish to ascend if not to heaven? What does this mean—to ascend to heaven? Does he wish to ascend so as to be in the heavens with the sun, the moon, and the stars? Far from that! But there is in heaven an eternal Jerusalem where the angels, our co-citizens, are. From these co-citizens we on earth are estranged. In this exile we sigh; in the city we shall have joy.” (232)
From his homily “Psalm 121: The Ecstasy of Love” – “The throne of wisdom is the soul of the righteous, that is, wisdom sits on the soul of the righteous as on her chair, as on her throne, and there judges whatever she judges.” (242)
From his Eleventh Homily on the Gospel of St. John – “But perhaps there are insensitive hearts, still incapable of receiving this Light because the weight of their sins prevents them from seeing it. Let them not imagine that they Light is absent because they do not see it, for on account of their sins they are in darkness. ‘And the Light shone in the darkness, and the darkness understood it not’ (Jn 1:5). Therefore, Brothers, like the blind man exposed to the sun, the sun being present to him but he being absent from the sun, so the insensitive one, the sinner, the impious has a blind heart.” (280)
From Treatise Seven of “Homily on the First Epistle of Saint John” – “But if you do not wish to die of thirst in the desert, drink charity. This is the fountain the Lord has willed to place here, lest we faint on the way, and we shall drink it more abundantly when we come to the Fatherland.” (299)
From Treatise Seven of “Homily on the First Epistle of Saint John” – “Therefore once for all this short command is given to you: ‘Love and do what you will.’ If you keep silent, keep silent by love, if you speak, speak by love; if you correct, correct by love; if you pardon, pardon by love: let love be rooted in you, and from this root nothing but good can grow.” (305)
From “On Seeing God” – “Hence, you see your faith, you see your doubt, you see your desire and will to learn, and when you are induced by divine authority to believe what you do not see, you see at one that you believe these things; you analyze and discern all this.” (392)
From “On the Presence of God” – “No one will make a good end to the life into which he is born unless he is born again before he ends it.” (420)