Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

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*Objective outward experience is also possible and to be desired!

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This is not a formal quote. It’s a great article that shows the enormous value of mentorship in the development of scientists (and really any area of enquiry). A mentor who takes the time to share with rank beginners his or her enthusiasm for and fascination with a subject makes powerful change for good in the lives of young people:
If you don’t have a Washington Post subscription, use this link:


For this article:


(I updated the link to a gift article that should work for a few weeks).

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I hit a paywall, but here’s the Apple News link for anyone in that ecosystem:


(It looks like WaPo has an article gifting setup similar to NYT):

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Not a pithy quote, but a sense of wonder I felt today which reminded me of a feeling I had finishing Arthur C. Clark’s The Fountains of Paradise back around 1995.

Brian Fagan’s lectures on human prehistory are utterly fascinating, and I’m pretty sure his oration would make Shakespeare proud.

It also pairs nicely with John Oswalt teaching on Isaiah :grin:

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.’”


    Joy & Strength

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      Joy & Strength

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5 posts were split to a new topic: Discussion of Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary

Hardly slept at all last night. Kept going back to Annie D’s The Maytrees. There’ve been a couple of quotes that were pretty good but nothing that warranted sharing or even eliciting a strong recommendation. But then I wondered why did this book earn a place on that list @jpm shared a while back that included so many great books including the last novel I read and enjoyed quite a bit, Jayber Crow? So I looked up the NYT review of it and there I at least found a worthy quote that is also fairly concentrated. Here you go:

Dillard does not want a refuge from her own head; she tends to value contemplative pleasures over bodily ones. So she persists in contemplating: “Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts?” she asks — and asks and asks — in “The Writing Life.”

*In the review he looks at themes that emerge in other of her books as well, including the one mentioned and Pilgram at Tinker Creek for which she won a Pulitzer.

  • @Kendel, wanted you to know I haven’t deserted our new MAHE thread but I may be MIA a might longer. Though I finished the first world problem of the social event I was organizing -as I imagine you have too- now I have the suddenly more urgent matter of finishing The Maytrees to attend to. So basically another first world problem.

I couldn’t get on with Dillard myself. I can’t remember what book of hers I attempted, but I wasn’t even sure I’d even enjoy coffee (or oatmeal with blueberries, the one image I remember from the book) with her. Maybe for exactly the reason that she seemed far more interested in her own company. I much more preferred Marilyn Robinson’s writing, which is precisely as vivid and contemplative, but outward-reaching to the reader. How many of us will remember her description of Jack’s hands after washing dishes, because we have seen the very same vision of hands of someone we love, perfectly clean and a little damp, drying off on the thin dish towel and then neatly hanging it on the rod.

In spite of my inability to connect with Dillard, she seems to connect with St. Vincent Millay’s beauty laid bare.

Mark, you are free to finish Maytrees. I am loose to divorce any book I feel little connection with, as I will never come close to doing all the reading I want to do, much less need to do. Not everyone feels the same way. Wuthering Heights, I think was my first divorce. It was delightful to move on.

I’m not worried about MAHE. Spending time with people is important. Saturday we just had the first indoor/outdoor company (for Youngest Daughter’s birthday) in over 2 years. It was lovely and jarring at the same time. Someday I may be more normal again.

I do need to knuckle down on any of my reading. So much and so many distractions. I’ve let much fall off the table, particularly in the last 6 months. Read on. Enjoy the company.

Very fair. I struggled with Gilead for at least as long as I did with Maytrees. But I felt ground into the dust by Robinson’s book. After the many strong recommendations I received here I wanted to like it but failed. Frankly Maytrees was having the same effect on me until last night. In fact that’s what I was hoping for was to become exhausted in the attempt and just get some sleep. But I failed in that too and suddenly all Dillard’s naval gazing that had kept me perplexed if I understood anything she was saying gelled and moved me even. She failed to fail me when I needed that most. But now the way forward though bleak feels human and interesting again. Go figure.

Back to agreeing with you. I fully intend to die in the saddle enjoying people, walks with my wife an dogs and meeting nature in my garden. [Edited to add “and read books, of course!.] I expect no closure and no end of questions. Not sure if I will fail in this respect or if I do just how disappointed I’d be.

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I’m glad for you that you’ve finally been able to connect with Dillard. Please share any insights you feel like posting.
Sorry about the sleep. You have my sym/empathy.
I know Robinson is heavy on theology and contemplation of it. Was that part of the disconnect? Of course that is part of my interest in her work. She addresses — both directly and indirectly — hard questions that many feel we’re not supposed to ask.

I admire the way you stated your aspirations. I think I may adopt [editing, too.] (most of) your wording.

There are a few things that are settled for me. With those in place, I don’t need to worry about having a lot of answers. I just need to remind myself of that regularly.

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“These are difficult issues that will require a generation of interdisciplinary research and Spirit-led, scripturally faithful developments in our theological imagination—and it is important to create the space for the community to have time to conduct such research.”

James K A. Smith

Read more on Scribd: Evolution and the Fall by Michael Gulker - Ebook | Scribd

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From James Smith again, in the conclusion to his essay:

“When such a population has evolved to the point of exhibiting features of emergent consciousness, relational aptitude, and mechanisms of will—in short, when these hominids have evolved to the point of exhibiting moral capabilities—our creating God “elects” this population as his covenant people.”

I think this book is on my nightstand. [Why do I continue to buy printe books, I can barely manage to plysically read? Well, it’s a good place to store notes and pretend I am working with texts the way my brain was trained.]
I need to take a look. [Geeze! So many books…]

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Smith’s essay is a quick read. Reading an entire book has been rare for me.

Here is a nice bit that addresses the age old question: do we have things or do they have us? I’m far less spartan than the heroine Lou in Dillard’s Maytrees. I sometimes wonder whether industry for its own sake isn’t the enemy of reflection.

She took pains to keep outside the world’s acceleration. An Athens marketplace amazed Diogenes with “How many things there are in the world of which Diogenes hath no need!” Lou had long since cut out fashion and all radio but the Red Sox. In the past few years she had let go her ties to people she did not like, to ironing, to dining out in town, and to buying things not necessary and that themselves needed care. She ignored whatever didn’t interest her. With these blows she opened her days like a piñata. A hundred freedoms fell on her. She hitched free years to her life like a kite tail. Everyone envied her the time she had, not noticing that they had equal time.


When it rains it pores or have I just hit a sweet spot in the book? This next quote follows soon after the meditation of who is the owner and who the owned between things and us. This one is a meditation on self importance and makes me think of something I just read on the insidiousness of entitlement from @mitchellmckain in the Collins vs Dawkins thread.

“Three days a week she helped at the Manor Nursing Home, where people proved their keenness by reciting received analyses of current events. All the Manor residents watched television day and night, informed to the eyeballs like everyone else and rushed for time, toward what end no one asked. Their cupidity and self-love were no worse than anyone else‘s, but their many experiences’ having taught them so little irked Lou. One hated tourists, another southerners; another despised immigrants. Even dying, they still held themselves in the highest regard. Lou would have to watch herself. For this way of thinking began to look like human nature- as if each person of two or three billion would spend his last vital drop to sustain his self-importance.”


Mark, thank you for these. Maybe Dillard’s Maytrees holds something for me.
Many times, and again now, you remind me of Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing.

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I would, however, point out a difference between tooting your own horn, which your quote must talking about, and in the privacy of your own mind reassuring yourself that your life has not been wasted. It is only natural to reflect on your life at the end of it to ask yourself whether you have done anything worthwhile.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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