Thursday, July 28, 2011

Old fogey and young iPad...

So the children and I leave early tomorrow morning for our annual trip to South Dakota to visit my parents, brothers, sisters, grandfather, aunts, uncles,nephews and nieces...It's a wonderful trip but spendy so am looking to reduce luggage costs. Every year I agonize over what books to bring and the result is always a backpack full of books. This year...just the I pad. On it my:
current devotions: (Seneca, Day Unto Day)
Summer reading: Plutarch, and three books about Plutarch
Relaxing reading: Sir Walter Scott
All free and all in one small space. Just thought this old fogey should give credit where credit is due...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

each day is a life...

Today is the birthday of Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham. Born in Boston in 1793, Frothingham is, as much as anyone, the inspiration for this blog. His son, Octavius Brooks' biography of his father, "Boston Unitarianism" describes a way of being religious that I wanted (and still want) to preserve. For all posts Frothingham, go here. This from his sermon, "The Day's Duty."

"That every day is enough for its own evil, was a word of Jesus Christ. It was a word intended to raise men's hearts above undue and useless anxieties, and to allay the fever of worldly care. It has always been received as true. It has been repeated, perhaps, as often as any of the sayings of our Lord. And there is another word that may be grafted on this. It is, that every day is enough for its own duty. Let this, too, be received as true. It has a like spirit with the other. It is suited to withdraw the thoughts from a vague futurity, and collect them upon a space that can easily be surveyed, judged of, commanded. A day is one of the small circles of time. We can lay out its work, though we cannot predict its fortunes. We can remember how it has been spent, whatever may have come to pass in it. We soon run through its course, whether brighter or darker, whether employed to good purposes or thrown foolishly or wickedly away. It is capable of holding as much duty as our minds can well compass. He who fills each of them well, as they pass and are recorded, is wanting in nothing. Let us, in our present reflections, separate this portion of our lives from their great sum, and see if what has now been affirmed of it has been affirmed truly. This discourse will attempt to illustrate the fact, that what "the duty of every day" requires is just that amount of service which God requires, and which we can with the most profit set before us as the direct object of our endeavors.

We hear it often said, that life is but a day. It is said to express the shortness of our stay upon the earth. It is said, for the most part, sorrowfully. Let us reverse it, and say with more striking truth that each day is a life."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

cookery begins...

It's a little on the warm side here and in a good part of the country. This from Henry David Thoreau...

"By proper Shelter and Clothing we legitimately retain our own internal heat; but with an excess of these, or of Fuel, that is, with an external heat greater than our internal, may not cookery be properly said to begin?"

Yes it may. Stay cool and

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a very important thing to do

Yesterday, I took the children (who were very good sports) to the new Winnie the Pooh movie. Was it a great movie? I don't suppose it was. But I loved it. It had "a very important thing to do" and the moral was to take more notice of helping others than your own stomach. And, it was Winnie the Pooh.


Friday, July 15, 2011

life a solemn trust...

This quite wonderful prayer "For the Use of Daily Blessings" from the Unitarian devotional:

"The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament uhoweth his handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night show eth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line hath gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit to the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from his heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever : the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me : then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

God over all, forever blessed, we would worship thee in reverence, and gratitude, and joy. As the sun in the heavens doth rise and shine down upon our dwellings, so may the light of thy truth and thy Jove rise and shine upon our souls. Thou dost bring the dawn out of' darkness; grant unto us also that true knowledge of thee which shall enlighten us in all our ways. Thou dost beset us behind and before, numbering the very hairs of our heads, giving unto us discerning minds, and offering unto us that Spirit which maketh us truly free. Praise unto thee, thou everlasting Helper, for thine infinite compassions. May they entreat us every day to consecrate ourselves unto thee, and may they remind us that our life is a solemn trust.
Known unto thee, Father, are all thy works from the foundation of the world,— the duties, the perplexities and the joys, which are appointed for each day of thy children's lot. Prepare us, 0 thou, who knowest our mortal frame, for all that shall befall us, that in our prosperity we may not be high-minded; that in our adversity we may be drawn very closely unto him who pitieth us every day, and doth encompass our weakness with his almighty power. Earnestly do we seek of thee the forgiveness of those sins that have darkened our past lives. Enable us, in the humblest reliance upon the only Mediator, to build again that which is fallen down, and to walk in ways more excellent. Keep us from presumptuous sins, and cleanse us from secret faults. Establish us in that law of the Lord which converts the soul, and in those statutes of the Lord which rejoice the heart. Let there be health and peace in this dwelling. Save us from foolish anxieties. May we believe that the Lord will provide. Striving each one of us to bear his own burden, may we do good to our brethren as we shall have opportunity, and freely give as we have freely received.
We commend the young to him who, whilst he was yet with us in bodily presence, took little children into his loving arms. May they feel that the gracious Lord still loveth them, and is ready to send to their hearts the Holy Spirit of consolation and peace. 0 God, be very near to our kindred and friends. We would ever remember them in our morning prayer. 0 thou, unto whom all souls are present, hear the prayers of the afflicted; watch over those who travel by land or by water, and may the sweet influences of the Gospel gladden and redeem many hearts. We ask it through him who is evermore the way. Amen."

Blessings and have a good day

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the merchant princes of Boston...

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Nathan Appleton (1779-1861)enrtrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist, and dedicated Unitarian. This is how Daniel Walker Howe described him in his "The Political Culture of the American Whigs."

"The class of which Appleton was a representative has often been loosely called 'aristocratic' by contemporaries as well as by historians. It would seem more accurate to term it a bourgeois patriciate, not only because of its urban base and commercial origins, but also because of certain typically bourgeois values it endorsed, like sexual restraint, education, and self-improvement in general...

Appleton lived up to the ideals of his class, He did not merely patronize religion and learning with money; he devoteed effort to them himself. He was a faithful parishioner of William Ellery Channing's church on Federal Street and took his religion seriously enough to engage an Anglican clergyman in public theological debate...

Appleton came to typify the Boston patriciate in the minds of friend and foe. Francis Bowen, an admiring Harvard economist and moral philosopher, called Appleton 'one of the most eminent living representatives of a highly honored class, the merchant princes of Boston...


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

compassion and the "utter overthrow of Trinitarian theology"...

This from "The Unitarian Handbook of Scriptural Illustrations and Expositions" compiled by Robert Spears, and published in 1862. I would maybe have a little more compassion for the Trinitarians but still a nifty statement of Scriptural Unitarianism...

"God is love, good to all, the Father of us all; not the God of the Jews only, but also the God of the Gentiles; exercising loving kindness and tender mercy, the Father of mercy, from -whom every good and perfect gift cometh, kind unto the unthankful and the evil, great in goodness and rich in mercy, whose mercy is everlasting and whose compassions fail not, merciful and gracious, always ready to forgive." So the divine page glows with his goodness and love. How degrading, therefore, are the views inculcated in the name of Christianity by many of the churches; limiting his compassion to a few of his creatures, representing his pardoning mercy as purchased by the blood of his Son, making mortal nan more just than God, and a finite being more benevolent than his Maker. This section of Scriptural passages which might have been greatly increased, sets forth the Unitarian faith in the attributes of God, to the utter overthrow of Trinitarian theology.
God, A God Of Tender Mercy And Loving Kindness.— *' The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth: keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin."—Ex. xxxiv. 7. "The 'Lord is long suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression."—Numb. xiv. 18. "Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."—-Neh. ix. 17. "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old."— Psalm xxv. 6. "How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."—Psalm xxxvi. 7. "Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy loving kindness and thy truth continually preserve me."—Psalm xl. 11. "Hear me, O Lord; for thy loving kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies."—Psalm lxix. 16. "But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering and plenteous in mercy and truth."—Psalm lxxxvi. 15. "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion."—Psalm cxi. 4. "The earth, O Lord, is full of thy- mercy."—Psalm cxix. 64. "Thou art good, and doest good."—Psalm cxix. 68. "Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord."—Psalm cxix. 156. "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion: slow to anger, and of great mercy."—Psalm cxlv. 8. "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works."—Psalm cxlv. 9. "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."—Matt. v. 45. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him."—Matt. vii. 11."


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A priest of Buddha...

Happy birthday Henry David Thoreau...

John Weiss on Thoreau in 1865...

"His countenance had not a line upon it expressive of ambition or discontent; the affectional emotions had not fretted at it. He went about like a priest of Buddha who expects to arrive soon at the summit of a life of contemplation."


Monday, July 11, 2011


It's the Birthday of John Quincy Adams, fascinating member of America's First Family. We would be less than we are if not for them...

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.". JQA

Saturday, July 9, 2011

the solemn crow...

William Bourne Oliver Peabody, Unitarian Minister, naturalist, poet, and lover of birds, was born on this day in 1799. This from his "Biography of Birds."

"It is surprising to see how few of all the birds which annually visit us are known by name, and how little their habits are understood. Most natives of New England are acquainted with the bluejay, one of the earliest of our visitors, who comes sounding his penny trumpet as a herald of the spring, and either amuses himself by playing pranks upon other more serious birds, or entertains them by acting, to the life, the part of an angry Frenchman. Every miller and vagrant fisherman knows the belted kingfisher, who sits for hours upon his favorite dead branch, looking with his calm, bright eye to the lowest depth of the waters. The robin also makes himself welcome, not only by the tradition of the kindness shown by his European relation to the children in the wood, but by his hearty whistle, lifted up as if he knew that all would be thankful to hear that the winter is over and gone, and his familiarity with man, whereby he shows his belief, that they who least deserve confidence are sometimes made better by being trusted. The solemn crow, who is willing to repose the same confidence in man, taking only the additional precaution of keeping out of his reach; the quizzical bobolink, or ricebunting, who tells man, in so many words, that he cares nothing about him, — not he; the swallow, that takes his quarters in our barns, or the one that passes up and down our chimneys with a noise like thunder, the purple martin, that offers to pay his house-rent by keeping insects from our gardens; the snow-bird, that comes riding from the arctic circle upon the winter storm; and the baltimore, or golden-robin, that glances like a flame of fire through the green caverns of foliage, — will almost complete the list of those which are familiarly known to man."

(Elizabeth at "Little House on a Hillside" has a wonderful series of bird pictures here)


Friday, July 8, 2011

softening of the nature...

My reading in Plutarch this morning included this:

"Verily, among all the benefits which men derive from the favour of the Muses, none other is so great as that softening of the nature which is produced by culture and discipline, the nature being induced by culture to take on moderation and cast off excess"

Which put me in mind of the description of a certain kind of Unitarianism (Boston Unitarianism) as described by O. B. Frothingham in his book "Boston Unitarianism 1820-1850"

"But it should be added, that the faith we are concerned with laid stress on the old virtues of private character—purity, moderation, kindness, hospitality, generosity, peacefulness, hopefulness, humility, truth —rather than on the philosophical foundations of belief, or the changes necessary to perfect society. Its whole purpose was to create good men, trusting to their influence for the regeneration of mankind, avoiding whatever, by causing disturbance, might alienate, discourage, or divert men from self-examination and self-discipline. It was certain that the multitude cared nothing for philosophical speculation, and it was equally certain that any discussion of social themes would arouse disaffection. The field of Christian character -was wide, and its elements were well understood and cordially respected."


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a religious way to live...

From the category easier said than done...

Plutarch from his Life of Pericles...

"acquiesce in the present without fault-finding, remember the past with thankfulness, and meet the future without fear or suspicion, with hopes cheerful and bright."

And from Ralph Waldo Emerson...

My whole philosophy, and it is very real, teaches acquiescence and optimism."


Monday, July 4, 2011

an immortal halo of glory...

This from James Freeman Clarke...

"MEN in whom the ideas of the State are incarnate, renew once more its decaying life. Good men save the State, but they can only save it when other men are capable of being moved and led by their examples. Hannibal could not save Carthage; Marcus Antoninus could not save the Roman Empire; Demosthenes could not save Greece; and Jesus Christ himself could not save Jerusalem from destruction. Nations can go too far to be saved.
The great hope of this land is in the fact that the mass of the people mean right, and, unless misled by demagogues, will do right. But, for this hope to be realized, all Christians and patriots must work together. Then we shall have in place of a nation hampered and fettered by evil institutions a great and noble Christian republic, with its face lifted to the future, and the rising sun of coming centuries of human progress glowing around its brow as an immortal halo of glory."