I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.
....There are many other facets to the current collapse of childhood. I have touched on the issue only briefly, but one thing is clear, our schools have deteriorated because they must deal with damaged goods. Most responsible for this damage is hospital childbirth; second comes television. Next comes day care, which fosters television and is a result of hospital childbirth. Premature schooling runs fourth. (A fifth must wait a bit for discussion.) And as our damaged children grow up and become the parents and teachers, damage will be the norm, the way of life. We will habituate to damage. Nothing else will be known. How can you miss something you can't even recognize, something you never had?
Truth to me was dead, God had never lived, life was full of pain, and death was the end of life. As a young Atheist, I sincerely believed that man had created God to fill the gaps in knowledge that would never be spanned by experience, reason, or science. In 1983 the God who pursues those who deny him interrupted my existence, he captured my soul with raw love. Two decades later, God's tangible friendship still amazes me. To deny his existence I'd have to first deny my own.
It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from others; not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us -- or having found them dry. Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
WHEN a man feels proud of himself, he stands erect, draws himself to his full height, throws back his head and shoulders and says with every part of his body, I am bigger and more important than you. But when he is humble he feels his littleness, and lowers his head and shrinks into himself. He abases himself. And the greater the presence in which he stands the more deeply he abases himself; the smaller he becomes in his own eyes.But when does our littleness so come home to us as when we stand in God's presence? He is the great God, who is today and yesterday, whose years are hundreds and thousands, who fills the place where we are, the city, the wide world, the measureless space of the starry sky, in whose eyes the universe is less than a particle of dust, all-holy, all-pure, all-righteous, infinitely high. He is so great, I so small, so small that beside him I seem hardly to exist, so wanting am I in worth and substance. One has no need to be told that God's presence is not the place in which to stand on one's dignity. To appear less presumptuous, to be as little and low as we feel, we sink to our knees and thus sacrifice half our height; and to satisfy our hearts still further we bow down our heads, and our diminished stature speaks to God and says, Thou art the great God; I am nothing.Therefore let not the bending of our knees be a hurried gesture, an empty form. Put meaning into it. To kneel, in the soul's intention, is to bow down before God in deepest reverence.On entering a church, or in passing before the altar, kneel down all the way without haste or hurry, putting your heart into what you do, and let your whole attitude say, Thou art the great God. It is an act of humility, an act of truth, and everytime you kneel it will do your soul good.http://www.cfpeople.org/Books/Sacred/CFPtoc.htm
The ordinary reverence, the reverence defined and explained by the dictionary, costs nothing. Reverence for one's own sacred things--parents, religion, flag, laws and respect for one's own beliefs--these are feelings which we cannot even help. They come natural to us; they are involuntary, like breathing. There is no personal merit in breathing. But the reverence which is difficult, and which has personal merit in it, is the respect which you pay, without compulsion, to the political or religious attitude of a man whose beliefs are not yours. You can't revere his gods or his politics, and no one expects you to do that, but you could respect his belief in them if you tried hard enough; and you could respect him, too, if you tried hard enough. But it is very, very difficult; it is next to impossible, and so we hardly ever try. If the man doesn't believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean it does nowadays, because we can't burn him.http://www.twainquotes.com/Reverence.html
How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout. The courteous gesture increases one's respect for others. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight.
I would like to suggest that the history of science is the history of an enlarging understanding of the universe, its evolution, its history, and its structure. We have engaged the universe at the very limits of our capacity. We have explored the world of the microcosm and the world of the macrocosm. We have found at both extremes incredible complexity.The universe, beginning from an unimaginably hot and dense singularity, evolved through a series of stages, each producing the condition necessary for the succeeding stage. Our sun, our solar system, our planet, our own beings are all late stages of this evolving universe.The insights of cosmology and theoretical astronomy have served to tie us ever more tightly into the emerging story of the universe itself.The history of the universe is our history. We emerged from the same vast processes that created galaxies and suns and stars and planets. We are all of us recycled stardust.from a collection of quotations at http://www.humanistsofutah.org/quotes.html
I have the right to do my own thinking. I am going to do it. I have never met any minister that I thought had brain enough to think for himself and for me too. I do my own. I have no reverence for barbarism, no matter how ancient it may be, and no reverence for the savagery of the Old Testament; no reverence for the malice of the New. And let me tell you here tonight that the Old Testament is a thousand times better than the New. The Old Testament threatened no vengeance beyond the grave. God was satisfied when his enemy was dead. It was reserved for the New Testament-it was reserved for universal benevolence - to rend the veil between time and eternity and fix the horrified gaze of man upon the abyss of hell. The New Testament is just as much worse than the Old, as hell is worse than sleep. And yet it is the fashion to say that the Old Testament is bad and that the New Testament is good.I have no reverence for any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my reason; no reverence for any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my heart; and, no matter how old it is, no matter how many have believed it, no matter how many have died on account of it, no matter how many live for it, I have no reverence for that book, and I am glad of it.From a collection of quotes at http://www.humanistsofutah.org/quotes.html
But the man who dares to live his life with death before his eyes, the man who receives life back bit by bit and lives as though it did not belong to him by right but has been bestowed on him as a gift, the man who has such freedom and peace of mind that he has overcome death in his thoughts--such a man believes in eternal life because it is already his, it is a present experience, and he already benefits from its peace and joy. He cannot describe this experience in words. He may not be able to conform his view with the traditional picture of it. But one thing he knows for certain: Something within us does not pass away, something goes on living and working wherever the kingdom of the spirit is present. It is already working and living within us, because in our hearts we have been able to reach life by overcoming death.source: http://home.pcisys.net/~jnf/schauth/rq8.html
Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap -- let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; -- let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.