A Woman Reading
You needn’t find a person or their views agreeable to agree with this or that in their legacy. That’s why I listen to opponents… they sometimes speak the truth, at times unwittingly. Unfortunately, they usually don’t act on it, though (JP is a classic example of such).
I submit that you can tell much about a person by what they choose to share from others… so, here’s a selection of things that struck me… may they tell you much about me, as much as they shall give you something to think upon.
- Until one has given all, one has given nothing.
- Politics, when it is an art and a service, not an exploitation, is about acting for an ideal through realities.
- Difficulty attracts the characterful man, for it is by grasping it that he fulfils himself.
- The important things that were said to humanity were always simple things.
- There are three roads to ruin… by gambling, which is the quickest; through women, which is the most pleasurable; and through taking the advice of experts, which is the most certain.
Charles de Gaulle
- I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
- The hand of the aggressor is stayed by strength… and strength alone.
- Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
- In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D Eisenhower
- This war is not as in the past; whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach. It cannot be otherwise.
- Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.
- The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
- If the Russian word “perestroika” has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet Union. Now, the whole world needs restructuring, i.e. progressive development, a fundamental change.
- Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.
- With Yeltsin, the Soviet Union broke apart, the country was totally mismanaged, the constitution was not respected by the regions of Russia. The army, education, and health systems collapsed. People in the West quietly applauded, dancing with and around Yeltsin. I conclude, therefore, that we should not pay too much attention to what the West is saying.
- We had 10 years after the Cold War to build a new world order and yet we squandered them. The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every US president has to have a war.
- We desperately need to recognise that we are the guests, not the masters, of nature, and adopt a new paradigm for development, based on the costs and benefits to all people, and bound by the limits of nature herself rather than the limits of technology and consumerism…
Not only did Dostoyevsky have to make a “leap of faith”… so shall we all. The only road to True Faith leads through Doubt and Temptation… remember that whenever you hear a konvert gas about the Faith.
- It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.
- The formula “two plus two equals five” is not without its attractions.
- The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.
- Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and, thus, falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself. A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offence. It sometimes feels very good to take offence, doesn’t it? And surely he knows that no one has offended him, and that he himself has invented the offence and told lies just for the beauty of it, that he has exaggerated for the sake of effect, that he has picked on a word and made a mountain out of a pea… he knows all of that, and still he is the first to take offence, he likes feeling offended, it gives him great pleasure, and, thus, he reaches the point of real hostility… Do get up from your knees and sit down, I beg you, these posturings are false, too.
- Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads, first, to conformity, and, then, to despotism.
- I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.
- Where you find money… you’ll find the devil there, too.
- For those in power, there is no sin greater than the cowardly evasion of responsibility.
- There is nothing permanent in politics, but there are consequences.
Graf Pyotr Stolypin
Yesenin was right… Americans DO worship the Almighty Dollar… it’s the implicit message of the Tea Party. “Vote us in and you’ll have more money! We’ll cut services to all those lazy bastards who refuse to work!” Needless to say, it’s a lie… but if a lie is repeated often enough and loudly enough…
- The dominion of the dollar has etched into [Americans] an all-consuming desire; they ask no subtle questions [of themselves]. Americans are fully immersed in “Business”; they don’t care about anything else.
- Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience, but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognise the voice of their own conscience usually recognise also the voice of justice.
- If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
- Not everyone likes the stable, gradual rise of our country. There are some who are using democratic ideology to interfere in our internal affairs.
- A superpower is a cold war term. When people today say that Russia aspires to have this status, I interpret it in the following way… they want to undermine trust in Russia, to portray Russia as frightening, and create some kind of image of an enemy. … Russia is in favour of a multipolar world, a democratic world order, strengthening the system of international law, and for developing a legal system in which any small country, even a very small country, can feel itself secure, as if behind a stone wall. … Russia is ready to become part of this multipolar world and guarantee that the international community observes these rules. And not as a superpower with special rights, but rather as an equal among equals.
- Combating poverty is obviously one of our top priorities in the immediate term, and we still have to do a lot to improve our pension system, too, because the correlation between pensions and the average wage is still lower here than in Europe. The gap between incomes at the top and bottom end of the scale is still high here… a 15.6-15.7-fold difference. This is less than in the United States today (they have a figure of 15.9), but more than in the UK or Italy (where they have 13.6-13.7). But this remains a big gap for us and fighting poverty is one of our biggest priorities.
- People are always teaching us democracy, but the people who teach us democracy don’t want to learn it themselves.
- A gift for reading from a teleprompter is not the same as leadership.
Here is a contemporary Russian view of “American freedom”…
- With people like Limbaugh as the loudmouth image of the Republican Party, you need no enemies. But something far more serious has happened than an image problem, the Republican Party has become the party of obstruction at just the time when all Americans should be pulling together for the good of our country. Instead, Republicans are today’s fifth column sabotaging American renewal.
- What we need in America is a spiritual rebirth, a turning away from the false value of consumerism and utilitarianism that have trumped every aspect of human life. To implement this vision, we need leaders that inspire, but to do so they have to be what they say they are. It’s not about policy; it’s about character.
- The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law. We need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers. We need to stop seeing ourselves as “me”, and begin to think of “we”. Our country needs someone to show us a better way, a president who is what he seems, someone with actual moral authority that our diverse population can believe in, who has the qualities that make us want to follow him. Obama is that person.
- It takes a special breed of ahistorical American president who is steeped in the Protestant idea of denominationalism, wherein Methodists, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists etc., all do their thing and somehow get along, to so thoroughly misunderstand the fact that Russia is re-emerging, first and foremost, as a country reconnecting with its Orthodox historical imperial roots. We just have no concept of blood ties, soil, and holy tradition in America. Since we don’t take tradition seriously, we can’t believe that anyone else does. For us, the bottom line is always expediency and “what works”. But in other parts of the world, national pride is tied to a continuity of historic tradition (as was just demonstrated so beautifully in the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, steeped as they were in Confucianism and imperial history). In Russia’s case, its public humiliation at the hands of the United States following the Cold War could not have been designed better to have produced the invasion of Georgia. What’s going on is the slow-motion counterattack of the Orthodox world against the West’s latest crusade. Georgia is just a symbol for the counter-punch to the modern version of the West’s sack of Constantinople in 1204.
- The United States and the West have been busy insulting and humiliating the Orthodox world since the end of the Cold War. We have missed every opportunity to show magnanimity as victors of the Cold War. American evangelicals invaded Russia with missionaries, because they said the Orthodox aren’t “real Christians”. We bombed Serbia. We treated the other global nuclear power as a younger dumber cousin. We attacked their friends. We lectured them. Now, we expect Russia to be logical about these matters and do what is good for business. But we have forgotten that not everyone in this world is ready to forgo their heritage for a fast buck. We also failed to discipline our energy consumption, and decided to have fun, instead of going green while the cheap gas lasted. Thus, we’ve been empowering Russia and all the oil states, by transferring our wealth to them in order to fuel our weekend junkets to Vegas and Disneyland. We have forgotten that ties of faith and history have not been overwhelmed by modernity elsewhere, as they have been in America. The world is not a melting pot. Nor is every culture as frivolous and forgetful as ours.
- We shop for church experiences as we shop for everything else, folding religion into our consumer culture. The average American (who is religious) changes churches six or seven times during a lifetime, even changes religions. (Disclosure: I was raised in the evangelical right wing, left, and, in 1990, converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, and also changed from a lifelong Republican to an Independent voter, who is an Obama supporter). No wonder that Bush and Clinton just didn’t get it. Religion is a game we play.
I hope you find these as thought provoking as I did. There is no better eulogy for the Tea Party than Ms Cheney’s bon mot of “A gift for reading from a teleprompter is not the same as leadership”. THAT is the perfect description of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh. She said it about President Obama, but it fits the Tea Party even better! Yes, sir… never forget the Law of Unintended Consequence.
In addition, many of ignorant nappy-wearing konvertsy are ranting that Frank Schaeffer is speaking against the Church because he doesn’t support the right wing of the Republican Party. They hate him because he has their number and he isn’t afraid of speaking out. Say it loud, Frank, “We shop for church experiences as we shop for everything else, folding religion into our consumer culture”. That is the perfect picture of the contemporary pseudo-Orthodox konvert, especially the former Episkies.
As I said in my foreword, what I chose is not only something to ponder; it’s a window into my personality. I’m not ashamed of who and what I am… I believe it shows in my choice of quotes. Be good, all, and do pass the jug. It DOES take all kinds, and we have a spell to go before coming to the Last Homely Home. Shall you join me?