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For First Communion and Baptism see Children and Religion.
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.
The 'I' of my being, or if you choose,
the Ego -- is a never perishing circle
within the sphere of Divine Love.
I have always been -- and shall ever be!
In my bumbling search for the truth,
I have set in motion forces that have both
helped and hindered myself -- and others.
Though I be bound of free, I seek --
from age to age -- the achievement of my ideal
and in my seeking earn the right
to be an inspirer of nations yet unborn.
I may choose to be a leader or follower,
teacher or learner -- doer or dreamer.
Even though I appear, in the eyes of the world,
to grow old and die -- I am unconcerned,
it is only an illusion!
I have the unfailing promise of Infinite Wisdom--
that I need never be an elder of the sunset--
rather I shall ever be an eager child of the dawn.
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon;
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By the glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for all of us--my only swerving--
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
Now the stone house on the lakefront is finished
and the workmen are beginning the fence.
The palings are made of iron bars with steel points
that can stab the life out of any man who falls on them.
As a fence, it is a masterpiece, and will shut off
the rabble and all vagabonds and hungry men and
all wandering children looking for a place to play.
Passing through the bars and over the steel points
will go nothing except Death and the Rain and Tomorrow.
I discovered a secret of life
in a single line of poetry.
That was a week ago.
Today, I celebrate a new week
yet have forgotten
what the secret was.
Oh, as life goes on
I shall discover it again
in other lines of poetry.
assuming there is a secret.
One cannot exist today as a person--one cannot exist in full consciousness--without having to have a showdown with one's self, without having to define what it is that one lives by, without being clear in one's own mind what matters and what does not matter.
Answer to door-to-door 'religious salesmen' promising eternal life--and selling books:
If there was no suffering or sorrow there would be no relief or rejoicing.
We understand one only in terms of the other.
We define life in terms of death.
There is a need for a balance in life and for everything to fit together.
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
I would be the last to condemn the thousands of sincere and dedicated people outside the churches who have labored unselfishly through various humanitarian movements to cure the world of social evils, for I would rather a man be a committed humanist than an uncommitted Christian.
(Thomas H. Huxley)
If the question is put to me, would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessing great means and influence and yet who employs those faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into grave scientific discussion--I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.
Life is so rich; it's presumptuous of man to ask for more than it gives.
I want to fall with the snowflakes and melt on the mountaintops and flow with the rivers to the sea, if I may. But if that is not part of the whole, then I shall have been content with what is and was. As for eternal life, save it for someone who needs it.
(Robert A. Heinlein)
A long and wicked life followed by five minutes of perfect grace gets you into Heaven. An equally long life of decent living and good works followed by one outburst of taking the name of the Lord in vain--then have a heart attack at that moment and be damned for eternity. Is that the system?
Say not, "I have found the truth,"
but rather, "I have found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul."
Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
The thin veneer of civilization that we know is precious. It is also modern. We could bring together one couple, husband and wife, for each generation of man since he acquired his present appearance and characteristics about 50,000 years ago. There would only be about 2000 couples, and most of them would seem quite odd. The first 1400 of the couples would have lived in caves, and only the last 33 would have ever seen a printed page.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances--to choose one's own way.
An atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god.
An atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now--here on earth--for all men together to enjoy.
An atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it.
An atheist accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will lead to a life of fulfillment. Therefore he seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god.
An atheist accepts that a hospital should be built instead of a church.
An atheist accepts that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said.
An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants mankind to understand and love mankind. He wants an ethical way of life.
An atheist accepts that we cannot rely on a god nor channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.
An atheist accepts that we are--in a sense--our brothers' keeper--in that we are first keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is now.