In the following excerpts, I've often highlighted bits that speak most forcefully to me. But those bits (probably) aren't called out in the original text.

Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.

Will Rogers 💬

There is no formula for success – you just begin and then you continue.

Cameron Esposito 💬

We can only try to be our best selves and do the best we can. Else why get up?

Vivienne Westwood 💬

It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Genuine liberalism ... takes for granted that people living in a free and open society of any meaningful size or complexity will have profound, wrenching disagreements about fundamental issues, and that the job of the state and of civic institutions (including the schools) is not to scrub religions, political platforms, and creeds of anything potentially offensive but rather to create a political space in which community life can be lived peaceably....

Mature people understand that living with fundamental disagreements is part of being a good citizen: a good Christian citizen, a good Jewish citizen, a good Muslim citizen, a good atheist citizen, etc. But without that political liberalism, what you end up with is either constant bitter conflict or some kind of (ruthlessly) enforced theological and social liberalism, one that tries to deal with the disagreement by eliminating it rather than by respectfully conceding its legitimacy.

While we have enjoyed decades worth of reinforcement of the formal structures of political liberalism—thanks in no small part to the conservative legal movement’s successful advocacy of religious freedom, freedom of speech, and a robust interpretation of the constitutional bulwark of our civil rights—we have lost some of the civic and cultural buttresses of that liberalism that are necessary virtues of citizenship.

Kevin D. Williamson
April 8, 2024

As for their parts in the drama, nothing could now alter the fact that [the disciples] had been stupid, cowardly, faithless, and in many ways singularly unhelpful; but they did not allow any morbid and egotistical remorse to inhibit their joyful activities in the future.

Now, indeed, they could go out and “do something” about the problem of sin and suffering. They had seen the strong hands of God twist the crown of thorns into a crown of glory, and in hands as strong as that they knew themselves safe. They had misunderstood practically everything Christ had ever said to them, but no matter: the thing made sense at last, and the meaning was far beyond anything they had dreamed.

Dorothy L. Sayers
The Triumph of Easter

We look at our perishability without illusion: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” But it is a preparation for glory that as Paul says, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Through embracing our limitations, we can release the death grip with which we clutch youth and earthly glory and reach out toward the promise of glory that comes through the cross.

Paul Wheatley
Covenant Blog, 27 March 2024

I'm always racing through poetry as though it were prose, worried about getting the literal sense right, like a tourist sprinting past priceless architecture to catch a bus.

Philip Christman, in an interview with Alan Jacobs 💬
N.B. – I often find myself doing the same thing. And I love poetry.

Art plays and is meant to play an enormous diversity of roles in human life. Works of art are instruments by which we perform such diverse actions as praising our great men and expressing our grief, evoking emotion and communicating knowledge. Works of art are objects of such actions as contemplation for the sake of delight. Works of art are accompaniments for such actions as hoeing cotton and rocking infants. Works of art are background for such actions as eating meals and walking through airports.

Works of art equip us for action. And the range of actions for which they equip us is very nearly as broad as the range of human action itself. The purposes of art are the purposes of life.

Nicholas Wolterstorff
Art in Action

... the third place tavern combines drinking with conversation such that each improves the other. The talking/drinking synergism is basic to the pub, tavern, taverna, bistro, saloon, estaminet, osteria -- whatever it is called and wherever it is found... [J]ust as conversation is enhanced by the temperate use of alcohol, the artful and witty game of conversation moderates consumption of liquor. As Tibor Scitovsky remarked with respect to those who know how to use a public drinking facility, "a pint of beer is to talk as bed is to making love -- one can do without, but does better with.”

Ray Oldenberg
The Great Good Place

I think what we should learn from all this is simply that one should have principles — ... but we should not be ashamed of the subjectivity inherent in them. I know people who care for abandoned dogs, and whose attention to those abandoned dogs makes them effectively, if not theoretically, indifferent to matters that many people believe to be much greater concern: what’s happening in Gaza, who the next President of the United States will be, global climate change, etc. I think that’s just fine. The world has so much more suffering than any of us could possibly address that any remediation, any limiting of harm and pain and suffering, is a good thing. And we are not wired in such a way that we can maintain our commitment to undoing or preventing harm that (for whatever reason) doesn’t really touch our hearts. We should not feel guilty for failing to think about — still less for failing to speak about — climate change when there is something else, some other suffering or violence right before us that we can to some degree ameliorate. That’s the human condition and we ought to embrace it. In enables us to leave the world in at least a slightly better condition than we found it.

Alan Jacobs
Silence, Violence, and the Human Condition, 15 Jan 2024

Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing – say Pimlico. If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne of the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico; in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico; for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico; to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles… If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence. Some readers will say that this is mere fantasy. I answer that this is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.

G.K. Chesterton

What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?
-- attributed to Carl Jung 💬
... as the [7-Up] series has progressed, the chaos of individuality has encroached on the clarity of categorization. One participant has become a lay minister and gone into politics; another has begun helping orphans in Bulgaria; others have done amateur theatre, studied nuclear fusion, and started rock bands. One turned into a documentarian himself and quit the project. Real life, irrepressible in its particulars, has overpowered the schematic intentions of the filmmakers.

Joshua Rothman
“Becoming You” - The New Yorker, 03 Oct 2022

We’re misinformed not because the government is systematically lying or suppressing the truth. We’re misinformed because we like the misinformation we receive and are eager for more.... The market is very, very happy to provide us with all the misinformation we like. Algorithms recognize our preferences and serve up the next video or article that echoes or amplifies the themes of the first story we clicked.... It’s important to recognize that no person or movement is immune to the temptations of bespoke reality. We’re all vulnerable... That means following as many or more people who disagree with me as agree with me. That means reading the best and smartest people I can find who disagree with me. These practices help both challenge me and humanize my opponents.

David French
“Welcome to Our New ‘Bespoke Realities'” - New York Times, 30 Nov 2024

There is little excuse for pretending eloquence about the meaning of the Resurrection while holding reservations about whether the event really happened. The assertion that Jesus was raised from the dead cannot at the same time be theologically true and historically false.

Andrew Christiansen, paraphrasing Carl Braaten
Covenant blog

Two by David Brooks

Over the Trump years, we’ve learned how easy it is to anesthetize one’s moral circuits... You start by lying about yourself, and pretty soon you’re lying to yourself. 14 Sept 2023

[Biden] has his faults ... but I’ve always thought: Give me a leader who identifies with those who feel looked down upon. Give me a leader whose moral compass generally sends him in the right direction. 6 Oct 2023 💬

Is the rise of AI and algorithms a sign of more innovation in the future, or does it actually prove how much we are regurgitating the past? ... After all, an algorithm is only a feedback loop. When an algorithm recommends that I listen to a new song, it only does this based on patterns drawn from the past. ... Ted liked a similar song last month, so I will give him more of the same. ... the whole process is backward looking, despite the appearance of innovation. ... Hence my assessment is that the rapid rise of AI is actually the most profound evidence yet of cultural stagnation.

Ted Gioia
The Honest Broker, 31 Aug 2023

I am against confusion—against personalizing instruments and instrumentalizing persons, which is what is at stake in this philosophical question about human and computer intelligence.

Peter Kreeft
The Best Things in Life: A Contemporary Socrates Looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth & the Good Life

THOMASINA: Septimus, what is carnal embrace?
SEPTIMUS: Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef.

Tom Stoppard
Arcadia, Act I, Scene 1

As I get older, I find that I care more and more about being a good man and less and less about career stuff. I think a lot of it is just a product of age. But the fact that I’m the last survivor of the family I grew up in plays a significant part. When my mom passed away last October, the only guide for how I behaved was asking myself how my parents would want me to deal with it…

Jonah Goldberg
“In Defense of Manly Tears,” 4 Aug 2023

Paul is clear that the presentation of our bodies is our spiritual act of worship. It is a significant Christian paradox. No worship is pleasing to God which is purely inward, abstract and mystical; it must express itself in concrete acts of service performed by our bodies.

John Stott

God can make good use of all that happens. But the loss is real.

C.S. Lewis

I’m driven to get the things I’m excited about out of my head. Because I don’t know how good they do me — just me in the world — if they’re only in my head... I can be in opposition to my inherent laziness, and build a discipline around, not even the work of writing, but the work of joyful extraction. And to present it like that, and to put it like that, offers me a better runway to it.

Hanif Abdurraqib
via Austin Kleon

  1. People who dig a lot learn how to dig less.
  2. I believe it was Willa Cather who said -- and I quote approximately -- that elsewhere the land has the sky for a ceiling, but here in New Mexico the sky has the land for its floor.
  3. Václav Havel has written, "Hope is not a feeling. It is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the conviction that what we are doing makes sense, no matter how things turn out."

William deBuys
The Walk

... [it] pleases like a Schubert song, a delight that begins quietly and never definitely ends.

Rebecca West
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

  1. Grateful for the quiet flow of vespers that had nudged me into acknowledging my weary state, I'd become more willing to do what my body asked of me: let the day suffice, with all its joys and failings, its little triumphs and defeats.
  2. One of the things I like most about monastic people is the respect they show for the holy hours of sunrise and sunset.
Kathleen Norris
The Cloister Walk
My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great savior.
John Newton 💬
... the stars shone in their watches, and were glad;
he called them, and they said, ‘Here we are!’
They shone with gladness for him who made them.
Baruch 3:24 💬
There is no democracy in any love relation: only mercy.
Gillian Rose
Love's Work: A Reckoning with Life
Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an un-uprooted small corner of evil.
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago
The best art shows the human touch; the catch is that it also has to be made by humans, who are inherently a mess.
Stephanie Zacharek
"We Still Don’t Know How to Judge Great Art by Bad Men"
You cannot control birth: it just happens to you. You’re so overwhelmed you just cry the whole time. But then, through no grasping or straining on your part, you are given a warm breast to lie on, and a meal, and comfort and nourishment and love—all by the one who gave you your very being. Just because you exist! Being utterly dependent on the goodness and generosity of another is very freeing.
Jeff Reimer "
"Rules for Passivists"
I don’t like the idea of law deciding whether something is sayable or unsayable. I’m sure that there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but like all such lines, there’s no one person whom you know whom you would want to draw it, and I’m not sure that any two people would ever draw it in the same place. I would prefer to meet hate speech with derision and better arguments.
Tom Stoppard
New York Times, Nov. 28, 2022
Trump’s language is, or seeks to be, performative. He speaks to advance his cause and confound his enemies. To achieve this, he will say virtually anything.... If Trump ever used words to render reality, I never heard it.
Mark Edmonson
"Truth Takes a Vacation," Harpers, January 2023