Archive for the ‘humanity’ Category

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all

June 5, 2010

Know Thyself

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is Man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state A being darkly wise and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest, In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast, In doubt his mind or body to prefer; Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such Whether he thinks too little or too much: Chaos of thought and passion, all confused; Still by himself abused, or disabused; Created half to rise and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless errors hurled; The glory, jest and riddle of the world!

Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Pope captures beautifully the contradiction that man is: the riddle of the world!

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A wretched creature who can yet apprehend perfection

September 7, 2009

…man is in no sense perfect but a wretched creature who can yet apprehend perfection.

T.E. Hulme (1883-1917)

Sanctity of Life

August 6, 2009

For my part I believe that there is no life so degraded, debased, deteriorated or impoverished that it does not deserve respect and is not worth defending with zeal and conviction … I have the weakness to believe that it is an honour for our society to desire the expensive luxury of sustaining life for its useless, incompetent, and incurably ill members. I would almost measure society’s degree of civilization by the amount of effort and vigilance it imposes on itself out of pure respect for life.

Jean Rostan, the French biologist, quoted from Humanly Possible by C. Everett Koop at the beginning of his The Right to Live; the Right to Die

Dignity and Death

August 5, 2009

Consider Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. A social worker and nurse, she was appalled at the way medical staff treated people who were about to die-in essence, ignoring them, as tokens of failure. This attitude offended Saunders as a Christian, for she knew that care for the dying was traditionally one of the church’s seven works of mercy. Since no one would listen to a nurse, she returned to medical school in middle age and became a doctor before founding a place where people could come to die with dignity and without pain. Now there are 2,000 hospices in the United States alone, about half of which have a Christian base. Dame Cicely believed from the beginning that Christians offer the best combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual care for those facing death. Now she presents the hospice movement as a glowing alternative to Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his “right to die” movement.

Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?p.266-7