"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thomas Carlyle Quotations & Biography

Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)
Scottish author, essayist, & historian

Scottish author, essayist, & historian; wrote "Sartor Resartus" 1833-1834,
"On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History" 1841

- 22 Quotations in other collections
- Search for Thomas Carlyle at Amazon.com
(for many more Carlyle quotes go to link above)
A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.
He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.
No pressure, no diamonds.
A laugh, to be joyous, must flow from a joyous heart, for without kindness, there can be no true joy.
If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music.

Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis, advancing nowhere.
Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.
There are good and bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune.
Music is well said to be the speech of angels.

A strong mind always hopes, and has always cause to hope.
Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less rascal in the world.
Every noble work is at first impossible.
Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.
A man's felicity consists not in the outward and visible blessing of fortune, but in the inward and unseen perfections and riches of the mind.
Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness; on the confines of the two everlasting empires, necessity and free will.
Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.
Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.
A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun.

Read more at - http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_carlyle.html#foZeK2TED8vm5Ccr.99

From QuotationsPage - http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Thomas_Carlyle/
A well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
All men, if they work not as in the great taskmaster's eye, will work wrong, and work unhappily for themselves and for you.
Enjoy things which are pleasant; that is not the evil: it is the reducing of our moral self to slavery by them that is.
Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.

Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world. Speech is human, silence is divine, yet also brutish and dead: therefore we must learn both arts.

That there should one Man die ignorant who had capacity for Knowledge, this I call a tragedy.

The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity. The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.

The history of the world is but the biography of great men.

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.

What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books. Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as eternity; speech is as shallow as time. (Essay on Sir Walter Scott, 1881)

Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. (Past and Present, 1843)

In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their wisdom and unwisdom; we have to say, Like People like Government. (Past and Present, 1843)


Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)
Scottish author, essayist, & historian

From Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher during the Victorian era.[1] He called economics "the dismal science", wrote articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, and became a controversial social commentator.
Coming from a strict Calvinist family, Carlyle was expected to become a preacher by his parents, but while at the University of Edinburgh he lost his Christian faith. Calvinist values, however, remained with him throughout his life. His combination of a religious temperament with loss of faith in traditional Christianity, made Carlyle's work appealing to many Victorians who were grappling with scientific and political changes that threatened the traditional social order. He brought a trenchant style to his social and political criticism and a complex literary style to works such as The French Revolution: A History (1837). Dickens used Carlyle's work as a primary source for the events of the French Revolution in his novel A Tale of Two Cities.


CarlyleThomas Carlyle, Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer. was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, eldest child of James Carlyle, stonemason, and Margaret (Aitken) Carlyle. The father was stern, irascible, a puritan of the puritans, but withal a man of rigid probity and strength of character. The mother, too, was of the Scottish earth, and Thomas' education was begun at home by both the parents. From the age of five to nine he was at the village school; from nine to fourteen at Annan Grammar School. where he showed proficiency in mathematics and was well grounded in French and Latin. In November 1809 he walked to Edinburgh, and attended courses at the University till 1814, with the ultimate aim of becoming a minister. He left without a degree, became a mathematical tutor at Annan Academy in 1814, and three years later abandoned all thoughts of entering the Kirk, having reached a theological position incompatible with its teachings. He had begun to learn German in Edinburgh, and had done much independent reading outside the regular curriculum. Late in 1816 he moved to a school in Kirkcaldy, where he became the intimate associate of Edward Irving, an old boy of Annan School, and now also a schoolmaster. This contact was Carlyle's first experience of true intellectual companionship, and the two men became lifelong friends. He remained there two years, was attracted by Margaret Gordon, a lady of good family (whose friends vetoed an engagement), and in October 1818 gave up schoolmastering and went to Edinburgh, where he took mathematical pupils and made some show of reading law.
During this period in the Scottish capital he began to suffer agonies from a gastric complaint which continued to torment him all his life, and may well have played a large part in shaping the rugged, rude fabric of his philosophy. In literature he had at first little success, a series of articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia bringing in little money and no special credit. In 1820 and 1821 he visited Irving in Glasgow and made long stays at his father's new farm, Mainhill; and in June 1821, in Leith Walk, Edinburgh, he experienced a striking spiritual rebirth which is related in Sartor Resartus. Put briefly and prosaically, it consisted in a sudden clearing away of doubts as to the beneficent organization of the universe; a semi-mystical conviction that he was free to think and work, and that honest effort and striving would not be thwarted by what he called the "Everlasting No."
For about a year, from the spring of 1823, Carlyle was tutor to Charles and Arthur Buller, young men of substance, first in Edinburgh and later at Dunkeld. Now likewise appeared the first fruits of his deep studies in German, the Life of Schiller, which was published serially in the London Magazine in 1823-24 and issued as a separate volume in 1825. A second garner from the same field was his version of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister which earned the praise of Blackwood's and was at once recognized as a very masterly rendering.
In 1821 Irving had gone to London, and in June 1821 Carlyle followed, in the train of his employers, the Bullers. But he soon resigned his tutorship, and, after a few weeks at Birmingham, trying a dyspepsia cure, he lived with Irving at Pentonville, London, and paid a short visit to Paris. March 1825 saw him back; in Scotland, on his brother's farm, Hoddam Hill, near the Solway. Here for a year he worked hard at German translations, perhaps more serenely than before or after and free from that noise which was always a curse to his sensitive ear and which later caused him to build a sound-proof room in his Chelsea home.
Before leaving for London Irving had introduced Carlyle to Jane Baillie Welsh daughter of the surgeon, John Welsh, and descended from John Knox. She was beautiful, precociously learned, talented, and a brilliant mistress of cynical satire. Among her numerous suitors, the rough, uncouth Carlyle at first made an ill impression; but a literary correspondence was begun, and on October 17, 1826, after a courtship that was in some sort a battle of strong wills, the two were married and went to live at Comely Bank, Edinburgh starting with a capital of £200. Francis Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review, was a cousin of the Welshes. He accepted Carlyle as a contributor, and during 1827 printed two important articles — on "Richter" and "The State of German Literature."
The Foreign Review published two penetrating essays on Goethe; and in 1827 a cordial correspondence was begun with the great German writer, who backed Carlyle (unsuccessfully) for the vacant Chair of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews. Another application for a university chair, this time at the new University of London, failed equally. An attempt at a novel was destroyed.
In May 1828 the Carlyles moved to Craigenputtock, an isolated farm belonging to the Welsh family, which was their permanent home until 1834. Carlyle lived the life of a recluse and scholar, and his clever wife, immersed in household duties and immured in solitude, led a dull and empty existence. Jeffrey, who paid visits in 1828 and 1830, said: "Bring your blooming Eve out of your blasted Paradise, and seek shelter in the lower world," but Carlyle was lacking in consideration for his partner, and would not. Jeffrey even thought of Carlyle as his successor in the editorship of the Edinburgh, when he gave it up in 1829, but the matter could not be arranged. A memorable visit, in August 1833, was that of the young Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was kindly received and became a fast friend.
At Craigenputtock was written the first of Carlyle's great commentaries on life in general, Sartor Resartus, which appeared in Fraser's Magazine between November 1833 and August 1834. The idea of a philosophy of clothes was not new; there are debts to Swift, Jean Paul Richter, and others; but what were new were the amazing, humorous energy, the moral force, the resourceful (if eccentric) command over English. It was damned by the press, and was not issued in book-form until 1838; but it is now numbered among his most significant works. Other notable writings of this time were essays on Voltaire, Novalis, and Richter (a new paper) in the Foreign Review.
After visits to Edinburgh and London, and an unsuccessful application for a professorship of astronomy at Edinburgh in January 1834, Carlyle decided to set up house in London, settling at 5, Cheyne Row, Chelsea. His struggle to live was made more severe by his refusal to engage in journalism: even an offer of work on The Times was rejected; and instead a grandiose history of the French Revolution was begun. In the spring of 1835 occurred one of the great heroisms of literature. The manuscript of the first volume of the new work had been lent to the philosopher, J. S. Mill, who in his turn had lent it to a Mrs. Taylor. An illiterate housekeeper took it for waste paper, and it was burnt. Mill was inconsolable; Carlyle behaved with the utmost stoicism and nobility, and was only with difficulty induced to accept £ 100 as a slight pecuniary compensation.
The French Revolution was re-written, and its publication in January 1837 brought the praise of Thackeray, Southey, Hallam, and others of weight, and consolidated Carlyle's reputation as one of the foremost men of letters of the day. Even so, it sold slowly, and he had to resort to public lecturing (arranged by Harriet Martineau) to raise funds; and it was only in 1842, when Mrs. Welsh died and left them an annuity, that the Carlyles were able to rid themselves of financial worry.
Of outward event Carlyle's life contains little. From his establishment in London his history was one of enormous work and the gradual building up of a literary fame that became world-wide. In the 'forties and onward he became more and more sought after by men of letters, statesmen and the aristocracy, and his friends included such names as Monckton Milnes, Tyndall, Peel, Froude, Grote, Browning, and Ruskin. One friendship, with the clergyman, John Sterling, was close and warm, and left its record in the Life published in 1851. Another, with Lady Harriet Ashburton, caused grave dissension in the Carlyle home, being strongly disapproved by Mrs. Carlyle, though there was no suggestion of anything more than high mutual regard.
In literature Carlyle moved more and more away from democratic ideas. Chartism, On Heroes Past and Present, and Cromwell all developed his thesis that the people need a strong and ruthless ruler and should obey him. Latter-day Pamphlets, which includes "Hudson's Statue," poured out all his contempt on the philanthropic and humanitarian tendencies of the day. His last monumental exaltation of strength was a six-volume history of Friedrich II of Prussia: Called Fredrick the Great. Following his custom, he paid two visits to Germany to survey the scene (in 1852 and 1858), and turned over great masses of material. The first two volumes appeared in the autumn of 1858, were at once translated into German, and were hailed as a masterpiece. The remaining volumes appeared in 1862, 1864, and 1865. In this last year Carlyle was made Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh. While he was still in the north, after delivering his inaugural address, he learned of the sudden death of his wife, from heart disease, and was thereby plunged into the deepest distress.
Thenceforward a gradual decadence supervened. In the autumn of 1866 Carlyle joined the committee for the defense of Governor Eyre, of Jamaica, who had been recalled for alleged cruelty in the suppression of a rebellion. The next year he wrote the tract, Shooting Niagara, against the Reform Act (which had introduced improvements into the British franchise system). He sided with the Prussians in the war of 1870-71; in 1874 he was awarded the high Prussian order "Pour le Merite," and the same year refused Disraeli's offer of a Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and a pension. He died on February 4, 1881, and was buried at Ecclefechan.
Carlyle's personal character and his philosophy are alike full of contradictions and hardly susceptible to summary exposition. The most high-minded devotee of the ideal, he could yet be in the last degree churlish and uncharitable to the work and personalities of others — even to such a man as Charles Lamb. An apostle of courage and endurance, he was yet the most vociferous and ungracious of grumblers. His love for his wife was deep and abiding, yet her life with him was often a torment. While he abhorred philanthropy and liberal legislation along utilitarian lines, and came more and more to admire despotism, he could be scathing about the "game-preserving aristocracy" and in his personal life was quick to relieve distress.
No coherent body of philosophy can be extracted from his teachings: it is rather as a prophet and a seer that he has his place. He was blind to the greatest phenomenon of his age — the rise of science as an interpreter of the universe — and spoke insultingly of Darwin. Formal economics also incurred his censure. His theological attitude is hardest of all to define. At an early age he found himself unable to subscribe to any of the orthodox creeds, but he was even more condemnatory of atheism than of the Kirk, and never ceased to believe passionately in a personal God. His central tenet was the worship of strength; and, after beginning as a radical, he came to despise the democratic system and increasingly to extol the value and necessity of strong and stern government, in which the people themselves should have no share.
In literature he was the pioneer who explored and made known the work of modern Germany. His literary judgments were penetrating, and (when he had a congenial subject) just; and on men like Voltaire, Burns, and Johnson he gave verdicts that approached finality. At a historian he is in the highest rank. Bating certain unimportant errors of detail, he illumined the past with astonishing insight and made his personages actual and his scenes dramatic. His style is an extraordinary farrago, leaping not flowing, coining strange words and performing extravagant evolutions; yet cumulatively it impresses as a great style, suffused with humor, irony, and passion; impossible to imitate, utterly personal, burning, and convincing.
"Carlyle's genius," wrote Hector Macpherson, "was many-sided. He touched and ennobled the national life at all points. He lifted a whole generation of young men out of the stagnating atmosphere of materialism and dead orthodoxy into the region of the ideal. With the Master of Balliol, we believe that 'no English writer has done more to elevate and purify our ideas of life and to make us conscious that the things of the spirit are real, and that in the last resort there is no other reality.'" (From British Authors of the Nineteenth Century, 115-118 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Louisa May Alcott - A Christmas Dream and How It Came True (poem)

From The Short Story A Christmas Dream and How It Came True
by Louisa May Alcott

From our happy home
Through the world we roam
One week in all the year,
Making winter spring
With the joy we bring
For Christmas-tide is here.

Now the eastern star
Shines from afar
To light the poorest home;
Hearts warmer grow,
Gifts freely flow,
For Christmas-tide has come.

Now gay trees rise
Before young eyes,
Abloom with tempting cheer;
Blithe voices sing,
And blithe bells ring,
For Christmas-tide is here.

Oh, happy chime,
Oh, blessed time,
That draws us all so near!
"Welcome, dear day,"
All creatures say,
For Christmas-tide is here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

R.E. Slater - "Thinking Through a Postmodern, Post-Evangelic, Christianity"

Lord of the Harvest

In my spare time this past year-and-a-half I have been working through a newer, more relevant form of theology to help deepen the poems I wish to someday bring to life. Under the web blog title of Relevancy22 I have taken both an academic and contemporary approach to the issues of the day that have unnecessarily narrowed the Christianity I grew up with. One that would write of a wider breadth of faith that is less constricted by conservative boundaries and barriers, and more centered in Jesus, if possible. A kind of post-evangelic Christianity which in its own way is a more moderate, or progressive, form of evangelical Christianity that has become politically unbalanced by rightist, conservative issues which have marginalized the church's message and ministry. And in the process politicized the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to our postmodern, 21st Century, pluralistic, and multi-cultural societies. Societies we struggle to live within given the many incidents of civil warfare and terroristic atrocities witnessed globally between religious, ethnic, and ideological temperaments, rather than seeing the good, the beautiful, the helpful within our human differences.

For myself, I don't pretend to live in the failed eras of yesteryear. Nor to pursue the enlightened, late-modernism issues of the 50s and 60s by revisionistic historical practices (from either side of the political aisle). Mostly because I firmly believe that today's Christian faith can be as vital now as it was fifty years ago without having to artificially create invasive thought-barriers and protective screens to shield the church's faithful from the dialectic events bombarding us in contemporary society. That the life of Jesus was one of action combined with a broadening-out of Jewish theology, itself become constricted and divisive in His day of revelatory illumination. That our actions count as much as our words. That seeing the value of human life is more important than clinging to the traditions of a rich, and faithful church heritage, itself become insular to the criticisms and humanitarian needs of the 21st Century. That the human faith must allow for the majesty and mystery of God while doubting the foibles and wisdom of man. Especially as considering God's love as the prime motivator in our Creator-Redeemer's communion with man (and the cosmos) in everything He has done - and is now doing - within our expanding worlds of knowledge and industry and societal evolution.

Consequently, I have spent many recent days and nights digesting the current affairs of Christian theology and practice, and have re-positioned those issues alongside the thoughts and actions of fellow Christian contemporaries excited by the same possibilities as myself of a newer, more gracious form of faith than presently being discussed or practiced. Along the way I have contributed what articles I could to this emerging discussion through personal insight and experience to help lend vocal support to those fellow "miscreant" theologs that my conservative branch of Christianity has purposely flagellated - or worse, ignored - in its struggle to update itself while embracing the unknown, the feared, the obvious and the unavoidable. So that in my first six months of blogging I began unsure of myself as writer and commentator, but passionate to the burden placed upon my heart, by adopting the pseudonym skinhead (which in hindsight more probably indicated mine own personal de-construction at the time) until feeling surer of myself to hazard my name to that signatory list of evolving practitioners and writers, elocutioners and philosophers, poets and minstrels. I find that I write best in prose but have attempted during that same time to duplicate the more pedantic form of my officiously ranked brethren to help readers along who, with me, wish to investigate the root forms, and basal energies, of their faith. What poetry I have attempted (and in truth it has been very limited) is written hastily to match the temperament of the article of that day's contribution or edition. And usually, I save my best prose for the concluding portions of that day's posting trusting the diligent reader to better appreciate its words when having first read through the opening structures of the ensuing proposition and juxtaposed teaching.

Overall, I have not so much personally blogged as to try to create more of a timeless biblical index to what I consider an emerging, post-modern form of theology and practice in need of definition, sorting-out, and topical discussion. One that can appreciate the contributions of the church's past creeds and confessions, beliefs and practices of yesteryear, but is willing to move beyond any current misconceptions or misrepresentations of the bible. Or even the faith of the faithful seeking cultural acclamations rather than the biblical charter and precedence shown to us by the prophets of earlier times struggling with their own generation of well-meaning religious priests and temple'd guardians. An emerging faith which has come to understand that "the human language is both a problem and a gift" - a problem because we wish to make it so mathematic-like. So precise and formal when it is anything but that (credit the Enlightenment for this effort of definitive syllogism and logistical precision found in Evangelical Christianity's popularly acclaimed systematic theologies of today). And a gift, because through it we may use all the forms of human language and human presence to speak of God - whether poetically, or musically; in chants or in liturgical practice; or non-verbally by our actions, body-language, and symbolic usage (art, film, etc).

But to also understand that "last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words are awaiting another voice" as one youth had expressed it to me. And by that means help each generation through its own concerns and frames of reference that must be addressed if it is to evolve into its own habitats, expressions, cares and concerns. That if we don't learn to speak to one another between our generations - from old to young, and young to old - than we will instead speak past one another. To be aware that the Christian faith is meant to be expanded and stretched past any previous thought categories and semantic definitions into newer thought forms and meanings (Jesus showed us that in the Gospels, even as His disciples and the old guard of Judaism struggled with the same). This is because language itself can be both time-bound to the generation it lives within, as well as timeless to the generations to come. To recognize that human language bears a fluidity, or metamorphosing ability, which allows for its continual reconstitution and reconfiguration through the many eras and societies of mankind. So that we may use this uniqueness of human communication that it might breathe and find new lands of discovery and settlement amongst a wider variety of human habitat and mental conception. That how we might "think" in our people groups may be different from how other societies and generations "think" in their regional (and era-specific) people groups. That one is neither right nor wrong in their Christian thoughts and language. And that by this process we may better learn to communicate with one another from within our differing philosophical and cultural reference points without feeling threatened that our Christian faith is under attack every time we do. For me, Emergent Christianity is just this. No more and nor less. And because it is a different animal from the more popular Evangelical Christianity I grew up within, it gets undeservedly bad press because of its different look-and-feel when it is simply learning to speak to younger generations more attuned to their own issues and era-specific needs.

Or, in another sense, we might say "it is of no use to going back to yesterday's voice (or being) because I was a different person then." And by this learn to appreciate and recognize the epistemologic and existential (e/e) growth of a person as experience catches up with the age of our time-worn souls and personhood. I feel I have gone through a minimum of three personal revisions to myself. As example, I began life within a pre-modern enclave of farming families carrying on the deep traditions of their remembered past (from the mid- to late- 1800s) even as they were trying to absorb the industrial, World War 1 and 2 eras of the early- to mid- 1900s. They began as homesteading families to the wilderness areas of West Michigan when black bear and aboriginal natives were still common to the land. My brothers and I were the sixth generation of a farming lifestyle quickly going out of existence (as well as inheritors to a Scandinavian heritage newly come to America from the "Old Country"). And with it, all the ingrained traditions and agrarian practices of the past. We were left out-of-time and out-of-place with a modern day world of public schooling, gas and electricity, TV, music and an encroaching urban lifestyle far more diverse than our own. And when entering university during the upheaval of the Vietnam War era with its civil unrests, angry riots, peace sit-ins, Hippie and LSD drug experimentation, and societal turmoils, I struggled for many years to "adopt" this strange new land I found myself within. But which later caused me to seek a bible school environment which held  the stability I found I needed, along with familiar values to my own remembered background. And yet, over the years I have learned to wean myself away from these (e/e) dependencies and to finally make the leap these past dozen years or so towards a more metropolitan way of thinking. So that in a way, its been my third revision of myself, though more probably, my older soul still lives deep within my fractured being as I have become more accepting of contemporary change. And by nature, am predisposed to understand the change I am confronted with, not being content to simply allow it to haunt my pysche without pursuing its causes, permutations, dissatisfactions, and general disorders.

And yet, this deconstructive process has given me hope that through personal adjustments, whether small or great (however personally painful or disorientating to friends and family), our God may arightly affect both ourselves and succeeding generations to become fuller participants in this precious life we have been given - and daily seem to fail - when coming to embrace it as fully, or completely, as we might. To receive each day with thanksgiving. And to learn to behave ourselves more wisely with one another through the service of our gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses. And at the last, to allow for the mystery and majesty of life itself through Jesus our Lord and Saviour. That yes, language can be a problem, but it can also be a gift, as we accept the fact that we must grow in our communicational strengths with those unlike ourselves (and perhaps in as much turmoil as we have experienced). And by this communication allow it to bind us into a stronger, healthier society of men and women that might celebrate our differences while seeing those differences as the key to a brighter future not fraught with warfare, hate, fear, and distrust. May this then be our prayer. Our practice. Our desire. And in all things may we learn to share the grace of God with one another. To allow God's grace to become a vital part of our language with one another... and even within our very selves matriculating with age and experience to adopt God's love and forgiveness within our own lives and livelihood. Family structures and friends. Communities, churches, and workplace.

R. E. Slater
October 13, 2012