Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Your Life Symphony — 2nd Movement

Here at Eliot Institute, in picturesque Puget Sound, I'm addressing the general theme, "Your Life Symphony," which I've organized around William Henry Channing's (1810-1884) prose-poem, My Symphony.  The theme for the second day's lecture was "Wealth Beyond Riches: The Foundations of Human Worth."  Here were the day's offerings of music and readings …

Wealth Beyond Riches:
The Foundations of Human Worth

The Copenhagen Philharmonic (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) surprises passengers on the Metro with a flashmob performance of Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt."

The Essential Things

I am in love with this world; by my constitution I nestled lovingly in it.  It has been my home.  It has been my point of outlook into the universe.  I have not bruised myself against it, nor tried to use it ignobly. …  I have gathered its harvests, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown.  While I delved I did not lose sight of the sky overhead.  While I gathered its bread and meat for my body, I did not neglect to gather its bread and meat for my soul.  I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings …

In every life may be read some lesson.  What may be read in mine?  If I see myself correctly, it is this: that one may live a happy and not altogether useless life on cheap and easy terms; that the essential things are always near at hand; that one’s own door opens upon the wealth of heaven and earth; and that all things are ready to serve and cheer one.  Life is a struggle, but not a warfare; it is day’s labor, but labor on God’s earth, under the sun and stars with other laborers, where we may think and sing and rejoice as we work.

John Burroughs (1837-1921)

"I am grateful for what I am and have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.  It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence.  My breath is sweet to me.  O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.  No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment." — Henry David Thoreau
"Beloved Pan, and all you other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward person be at one.  May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy, and may I have such a quantity of gold as a temperate person and only they can bear." — The Prayer of Socrates (Plato)

Florida State University AcaBelles perform Lorde's song "Royals."

The Primal Interest of Religion

The primal interest of religion is with the individual, through the inspiring power of personality.  It is forever the “fifty righteous in the city” that saves the city.  Let all secular movements go on, to relieve the stress of circumstances; the real source of energy is found in personal character, in the actual excellence and virtue that radiate from high and pure lives.  No more vague and senseless notion ever possessed an honest but ignorant mind than the notion that the machinery of things will do the world’s noblest work.  All excellence, all renovating powers are fully vested in persons, and there can be nothing in a nation or a state, or a city, however exalted its aims, or however perfectly organized, which is not in the persons composing the city, the state, or the nation.  An ultimate standard of worth is an ideal of personal worth.  All our inspirations, all our visions of eternal beauty are visions, remembered glances of persons, or some ineffable glory of [that Infinite Person], all good.  To speak of any progress or improvement or development of a nation, or society, or [hu]mankind, except as relative to some greater worth of persons, is to use words without meaning.

Horatio Stebbins (1821-1902)

The Value of Persons

If there is any one yardstick by means of which we may measure the quality of an individual, an institution, a nation, or an era in history, it is this:  What value is placed on persons?  When we look back over [human] history, we find that the periods of enlightenment and of promise have been those periods in which a fresh evaluation of human worth has entered into the thinking and practice of men [and women].  When the historians write about the Golden Age of Greek life, the fifteenth century Revival of Learning, or the eighteenth century enlightenment in Western Europe as creative periods, they are noting the moments in history when the worth of persons has been most recognized.  These were times when [people] were called back to the reality of human values. …

The culture of any people can rise no higher that the prevailing value set upon persons.  Whenever a state has regarded itself as established and maintained not to serve its citizens but to be served by them, citizenship has been degraded.  Whenever a church has regarded itself as established and maintained not to serve it members but to be served by them, religion has been degraded.  The important principle to be safeguarded in all organized life – state, church, education, industry, even the home – is the healthy recognition of the worth of all persons involved and respect for their individual personalities.

Clinton Lee Scott (1887-1985)

Carrie Newcomer performs "Room at the Table."

No comments: