William F. Buckley Jr. – The Maker of a Movement by Lee Edwards: Quotations


Truly, there are few people who brought together the conservative movement so forcefully and so cleverly and with so much wit than William F. Buckley Jr.. In Lee Edwards’ biography of William F. Buckley Jr., he is able to trace not only the threads that made the man of the popular television show, Firing Line, but also the threads of a family man, capable of uniting the conservative philosophy during some of America’s darkest times, and leading that movement to the pinnacle of Ronald Reagan.

Below are a few quotations from Lee Edwards and his many references surrounding the life of one of the conservative movement’s greatest men.



“If I’m still famous, try to convince the cardinal to do the service at St. Patrick’s. If I’m not, just tuck me away in Stamford.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 11

“Buckley and National Review did more than yell ‘Stop!’ at history; they turned it around, first of all by establishing a coherent and respectable conservativism.” – Michael Barone

“We must do what we can to bring hammer blows against the bell jar that protects the dreamers from reality. The ideal scenario is that pounding from without we can effect resonances, which will one day crack through to the latent impulses of those who dream within bringing to life a circuit which will spare the republic.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 12

Chapter 1 – Growing Up Conservative

“There was nothing complicated about Father’s theory of child-rearing. He brought up his sons and daughters to be absolutely perfect.” – Aloise Buckley Heath, Oldest Daughter of Buckley Senior

“What education did not occur in the classroom, writes Buckley biographer John B. Judis, took place at the dinner table. The father made the children defend their intellectual and political positions.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 18

“The dominant personality of the family was “Father” – Will Buckley, who loved America, trusted the free market, and hated communism with equal passion. He detested Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. He did not try to mold his children into exact copies of himself, but saw to it that they were prepared, intellectually and morally, to make a difference in whatever profession they chose.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 19

“He worshiped three earthly things: learning, beauty, and his family.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 19

“I found that there were actually very few prerequisites to the good friend: he had to have a good sense of humor, a pleasant personality and a certain number of common interests.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 26

“He prevailed and learned a key lesson: editorial control of a newspaper, or a magazine, must rest with one person, not a board.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 29

“The answer [to restlessness of young intellects], philosophically, was a combination of conservatism, with its emphasis on order and custom, and libertarianism, with its belief in individual freedom.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 30

“We deeply bemoan our inability to allure without antagonizing, to seduce without violating. Especially because we believe in what we preached and would have liked very much for our vision to have been contagious.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 30

“They [the Yale debate team] were extremely effective and dedicated, and struck some of us as rather unusual that people of their relatively young years could be so fiercely ideological. Many of us wished that we could be as certain about anything as they were about everything.” – Alan Finberg, pg. 31

“While conceding the validity of academic freedom for a professor’s research, Buckley insisted that the professor did not have the right to inseminate into the minds of his students values that were counter to the values of the parents paying his salary.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 44

“He said that the faculty members who fostered atheism and socialism ought to be fired, because the primary goal of education is to familiarize students with an existing body of truth, of which Christianity and free enterprise are the foundations.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 44

“Individualism is dying at Yale, and without a fight.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 44

“[Intercollegiate Studies Institute:] to promote among college students, specifically, and the public, generally, an understanding of and appreciation for the Constitution of the United States of America, laissez-faire (free market) economics and the doctrine of individualism.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 48

“Then and always, Buckley honored the principle of standing by your friends and colleagues when they are under attack.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 51

Chapter 2 – Getting it Right

“May it (National Review) become a mighty factor in saving our country from further follies of collectivism and the communist menace behind them.” – Robert Welch pg. 56

“That is what conservatives must decide, how much to give in order to survive at all; how much to give in order not to give up the basic principles.” – Whittaker Chambers, pg. 61

“[H]e would assess a political situation as accurately as he could and then take corrective action.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 61

“Chambers argues that America faces a transcendent, not transitory, crisis; that the crisis is not one of politics or economics but of faith.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 63

“Chambers writes that Communism is “the central experience of the first half of the 20th century, and may be its final experience” unless the free world discovers a “power of faith” that will provide two certainties: “a reason to live and a reason to die.”” – Lee Edwards, pg. 63

“Buckley performed like ‘Braveheart,’ lopping off the heads of one faculty lord and knight after another… It was a devastating performance, an inspiration.” – Campaigne, pg. 69

“I will use my power as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 71

“Editor Buckley clearly had certain goals in mind for his magazine: keep the Republican Party – the primary political vehicle of conservatives – tilted to the right; eliminate any and all extremists from the conservative movement; flay and fleece the liberals at every opportunity; and push hard for a policy of victory over Communism in the Cold War.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 72

“Careful to protect the advances that had been made, Buckley acted decisively when he saw it necessary to dissociate the conservatives movement from the irresponsible Right.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 77

“The problem of assigning priorities to the two objectives is not merely a problem of intellectual discrimination, but of moral balance.” – William F. Buckley, Social Security versus Communism, pg. 79

“You have once again given a voice to the conscience of conservationism.” – Ronald Reagan, pg. 82

“What a great heart – eager to spread joy, and ready to share grief.” – Joe Sobran, pg. 84

“I learned a lot of things from Bill Buckley, but the best thing he taught me was how to be a Christian.” – Joe Sobran, pg. 84

“[B]efore the conservative movement could be a major player in American politics: it had to be philosophically united.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 86

“Freedom, Meyer argued, was the indispensable condition for the pursuit of virtue. Freedom was the ultimate political end of man as man.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 87

“For a few stunning days, early in November in 1965, the freedom fighters of Budapest held the entire Communist world at bay. America was struck by the intensity – and efficacy – of the anti-Communist spirit, and we were breathless with wonder and admiration. But in the end, we did nothing. ‘For a while,’ Mr. Eugene Lyons, a wise and veteran American anti-Communist, remarked to me, ‘it looked almost as though Budapest would liberate the United States.'” – William F. Buckley, pg. 90

Chapter 3 – Cruising Speed

“He knows he’s quick, but doubts he’s deep.” – William Rickenbacker (Concerning Buckley)

“The grief was spontaneous and, in most cases, wholly sincere. Not because Mr. Kennedy’s policies were so universally beloved, but because he was a man so intensely charming, whose personal vigor and robust enjoyment of life so invigorated almost all who beheld him.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 95

“Buckley argued that if conservatives in politics wanted to be successful they had to steer a middle course between the ideal and the prudential.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 100

“Along with T.S. Elliot, he believed that there are not permanent defeats because there are not permanent victories.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 100

“Bill knew that if conservativism had any future, it had to be a hard political movement as well as a soft intellectual movement.” – John O’Sullivan, pg. 104

“No, I think I’ll just contemplate the great eloquence of my previous remarks.” – William F. Buckley (When asked if he had any further comments during a debate for Mayor of New York City)

“If the whole world were to be covered with asphalt, one day a crack would appear in the asphalt; and in that crack grass would grow.” – Ilya Ehrenburg (In defense of Boris Pasternak)

“The effect was as if Sir Hartley Shawcross had suddenly risen from the prosecutor’s stand at Nurembur and descended to embrace Goering and Goebbels and Doenitz and Hess, begging them to join him in the making of a better world.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 116

“The United Nations is the most concentrated assault on moral reality in the history of free institutions.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 116

“It is not wide of the historical mark to say that during the years Firing Line has been produced, socialism has collapsed.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 125

“His son, Christopher, wrote that his father’s greatness “was of a piece with the way he conducted himself at sea.” Great men, he said, “always have too much sail up.” They take great risks and they are ever impatient – for the next adventure.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 127

“[I]t was the voyage, not the stopping.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 127

Chapter 4 – The Builder

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” – Thomas Paine, pg. 131

“Communism is theoretically and empirically dead.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 131

“[T]here are no signs at all that God is dead. He appears to have survived even Vatican II.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 131

“Is it a third party that we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues troubling the people?” – Ronald Reagan, pg. 132

“I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile; though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again.” – Old Scottish Ballad, pg. 133

“The best thing Buckley did was bugging me into hiring a guy named Tony Dolan.” – Bill Casey, pg. 135

“I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 138

“Nothing of that size and force and sweep could have been created over a weekend or even a week or two by the assorted mullahs and miseries of our times.” – Washington Post (On the Conservative Movement) pg. 139

“He was determined not to be cut off from old friends, even if he did not necessarily take their advice.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 141

“What we do not need is anything that suggests that human freedom is going to lead us to Utopia.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 144

“To venerate life is to attach to it first importance. Surely if we were all to do that, any talk of war, just or unjust, prudent or imprudent, limited or unlimited, provoked or unprovoked, would be an exercise in moral atavism.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 145

“What the opponents of Robert Bork are saying comes down to this: (1) We believe in an activist court that does not hesitate to write social policy. (2) But that social policy must be what we favor; for which reason, (3) Bork the legal scholar, the veteran teacher, administrator and judge, is not fit to serve.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 149

“There were two overriding factors that would ultimately save Clinton in the Lewinsky affair: his wife and a broad cultural shift in the American public that predisposed it to go easy on him.” – Legacy, pg. 159

“The task ahead is to reconstruct our basic allegiance to what is right.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 160

“Any failures by beneficiaries of the free world to recognize what we have here over against what it is [, the communists,] would impose on us, amounts to a moral and intellectual nihilism.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 164

“You and I remember a time of the forest primeval, a time when nightmare and danger reigned and only the knights of darkness prevailed; when conservatives seemed without a champion. And then, suddenly riding up through the lists, came our clipboard-bearing Galahad: ready to take on any challengers in the critical battle of point and counter-point. And, with grace and humor and passion, to raise a standard to which patriots and lovers of freedom could repair.” – Ronald Reagan, 30th Anniversary of National Review, pg. 165

Chapter 5 – Last Things

“It had to be that the offense was critical, that the defense was appropriate, that the violence was proportional.” – William F. Buckley, pg. 172

“We may say that we shall not abuse this astonishing and hitherto unheard of power. But every other nation will think we shall abuse it. IT is impossible but that, sooner or later, this state of things must produce a combination against us which may end in ruin.” – Edmund Burke, On British Foreign Power

“[B]ringing democracy to the Arab world is akin to making bricks without straw.” – Andrew Bacevich, pg. 174

“One of the era’s greatest illusions was spun by President Bush – that the force of freedom was so irresistible, it would prevail in a place like Iraq even in the absence of law and order.” – Rich Lowry, pg. 178

Peter Robinson: “Bill, you were born wealthy and you’ve been famous thirty years. Why do you keep working so hard?”

William F. Buckley (looking surprised): “My father taught me that I owe it to my country. It’s how I pay my debt.” – pg. 178

“I would go to bed tired each night and come down for breakfast at eight each morning, and he would already be up in the study, attacking the next chapter, Bach on the stereo, sailboats bobbing in the water down below.” – Anthony Dick pg. 185-186

“When the young man remarked how nice it must be, doing the things he loved, Buckley quickly corrected him. He found writing increasingly difficult. Nor did he love politics, which he said was awash in sordidness and banality. He would much prefer to read or sail or visit friends, but he stayed at work – echoing what he had told Peter Robinson and others – out of a sense of duty to his country, to repay civilization for all the beauty it had given him, and to resist the designs of those “who would push the tentacles of politics even further into our lives.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 186


“He brought them all together into a unified movement by pointing out they all had the same enemy – the liberals.” – William A. Rusher, pg. 189

“He did it all. He combined George Will, the columnist; Rush Limbaugh, the voice; Tim Russert, the interviewer; Ann Coulter, the liberals’ bete noir; and Tom Clancy, the novelist.” – Rich Lowry, pg. 189

“He viewed Communism as the great enemy of America and the West, an enemy to be defeated, not accommodated.” – Lee Edwards, pg. 190

A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy by Harvey C. Mansfield: Quotations

9781497645103-book-coverIn A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, an essay by Dr. Harvey Mansfield for Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), we are given an introductory exploration of the history of political thought in the search to solve the problem of partisanship. While acknowledging the brevity of the essay, Mansfield introduces the core differences in the method, available questions, and effects of what has become a competition between modern political science – and their attempt to reduce all political investigation into statements of fact – and political philosophy – and their attempt to overcome partisanship by enriching our vocabulary to allow for “the best” forms of government. He provides this sketch of political history by tracing a silver line from Socrates to Rousseau and onward to Kant. The culminating issue is that in the pursuit for solutions to partisanship, we often turn to political science and its attempts to provide non-controversial, or non-partisan, answers, and in doing so we introduce a theory (or theories) which reduce mankind to a principle insufficient for encompassing the many faucets of human living. We often trade what is practical for what is wise.

“You should spend much more time with the great authors than with the professors, and you should use the professors to help you understand the great authors; you should not allow yourself to be diverted or distracted from the great books by the professors.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 1

“But politics and political philosophy have one thing in common, and that is argument.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 2

“Arguments, good or bad, are made with reasons and so are aimed implicitly, if not usually, at a reasonable judge. Here is where political philosophy enters.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 2

“That political science, which dominates political political science departments today, is a rival to political philosophy. Instead of addressing the partisan issues of citizens and politicians, it avoids them and replaces their words with scientific terms. Rather than good, just, and noble, you hear political scientists of this kind speaking of utility or preferences.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 4

“Political philosophy seeks to judge political partisans, but to do so it must enter into political debate.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 5

“Being involved in partisan dispute does not make the political philosopher fall victim to relativism, for the relativism so fashionable today is a sort of lazy dogmatism.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 5

“Political philosophy reaches for the best regime, a regime so good that it can hardly exist. Political science advances a theory – in fact, a number of theories – that promises to bring agreement and put an end to partisan dispute. The one rises above partisanship, the other, as we shall see, undercuts it.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 6

“Today political science is often said to be “descriptive” or “empirical,” concerned with facts; political philosophy is called “normative” because it expresses values. But these terms merely repeat in more abstract form the difference between political science, which seeks agreement, and political philosophy, which seeks the best.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 6

“Socrates was the first to call philosophy down from heaven, place it in cities and homes, and compel it to inquire about life and morals as well as good things and bad.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy (Paraphrasing Cicero), pg. 9

“The rhetoricians taught students to argue both sides of any question, regardless of justice. They assumed, like the pre-Socratic philosophers, that justice is a matter of law or custom (nomos), that it has no definition of its own but only reflects the dominating will of a master or ruler.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 10

“Perhaps the most obvious evidence of natural justice is our believe in it, or rather our belief in injustice.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 10

“Anger always comes with reason; an angry person may not stop to express it, but if he had the time and the ability, he could say why he’s angry.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 11

“Anger is the animus behind unjust partisanship, as when you wrongly feel you deserve something; but it is also the animus behind just partisanship, when you are rightly incensed.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 11

“But evil has a finger on the good; though it cannot grasp the good, evil cannot help admitting that the good is superior because that is what even evil wants.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 12

“You cannot have an argument unless you share a concern for some common good, such as justice, about which you are arguing. The possibility of natural justice makes politics interesting; without that, politics is only about winners and losers.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 12

“Instead of directly questioning the authority of the god, Socrates uses the god’s authority to question the authority of the gods.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 13

“It’s as if when the law tells you to obey, it is actually, through the implied reasons for its commands, allowing you to talk back rather than simply obey.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 13 – 14

“He (Aristotle) compares the political philosopher to a gym teacher who betters the condition of average bodies as well as the best, and who, while leading the exercise of his pupils, also gets some for himself incidentally, as it were.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 14

“Human nature includes both the freedom and the necessity to construct a regime, for we could not have freedom if nature had done everything for us.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 18

“A political constitution is neither entirely natural nor entirely artificial. If it were entirely natural, there would be only one regime corresponding with human nature: and we would have no freedom to choose the direction of our politics. If it were entirely artificial, we would have no guide for our choice: and the only freedom would be for the first maker, who gets to impose his creation until some other maker comes along.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 19

“One must distinguish between what is by nature, in which we have no choice, and what is according to nature, the standard by which we choose.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 19

“Democracy is based on our natural equality, since there are many important respects in which human beings are equal; all have reason, for one. But oligarchy is based on human inequality, for which there is also ample evidence; for instance, the superiority in reason of a few over the many.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 19 – 20

“A choice is not a choice without a reason, he (Aristotle) says, but when you give a reason, you say why something is good for you – and for others like yourself.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy (on how subjective experiences infer universal claims), pg. 20

“A principle of rule is part rational, part conventional; what is natural has to be completed by what is conventional, and what is conventional has to be guided by the natural.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 21

“But from the standpoint of the philosophical tradition, one may hold that any nation having had contact with Greek philosophy or science belongs to the West.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 24

“But Augustine wanted to make the point that moral virtue, contrary to Aristotle’s glowing picture, is always tainted with human self-interest, and always in need of God’s grace. Just as for Plato the only true virtue is philosophic, so for Augustine, true virtue is Christian.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 24

“Human partisanship arising from sin has its own correction, both natural and divine, in the conscience.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 26

“Nature, he (Aquinas) thought, was created by God in such a way that its order can be understood by human reason unassisted by Christian revelation.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 27

“But just as God’s grace adds to nature, Christian truth completes natural truth without changing it.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 27

“Whereas natural justice takes effect through the regime, natural law sets the basis for regimes and so precedes the regime.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 28

“Aristotle did not speak of a conscience in all, nor of a universal natural inclination to virtue, as did Aquinas.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 29

“Somehow the fruits of science in these regimes were poison to liberty.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 30

“The Church caused weakness, he (Machiavelli) believed, by teaching men to despise worldly glory and to seek salvation in humble contemplation instead of manly virtue.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 32

“For Machiavelli, as opposed to Aristotle, there is no contest as to who should rule, but only a conflict between those who want to rule and those who do not want to be ruled.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 34

“Hobbes never gave much of a proof that all men are equal, but he launched the assumption that they can be taken to be equal.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 37

“(Hobbes believed …) Sovereignty needs to be absolute. Any limitation of its power would in effect divide power against itself and return the people to the state of nature they had wished to escape.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 39

“Whereas Machiavelli reduced partisan opinions to two humors underlying them, Hobbes took the reduction one step further and found one fundamental factor: the “passion to be relied upon,” that is, fear.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 39

“Here Hobbes departs from Machiavelli, who had looked for princes to inspire fear. Hobbes looks for subjects who feel fear.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 40

“The moderation, I would say, consists in not seeking a perfect substitute for the virtue that the ancients (variously) described, but in continuing to leave opportunity for virtue. America has been more successful than other regimes by not trying to guarantee success.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 42

“[W]hen you do not rely on virtue, you have to make a new man.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 42

“Disgust with the bourgeoisie became the theme of Western culture as society divided into those who made money and those (on both Left and Right) who despised money-making.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 47

“Boredom is a modern affliction that comes with modern rationality. As life is made more predicable and secure, it becomes mediocre, uninteresting, and lacking in risk or challenge.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 47

“It [Modern thought] does not wonder whether it was a mistake to seek greater rational control over events and for this purpose to invent theories that oversimplify human nature.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 47

“Science can enslave us as well as liberate us.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 48

“They (post-moderns) are too attached to the power and comforts of science to reject it, and they content themselves with biting the hand that feeds them.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 48

“What the moderns did not attempt was to put reason and nature together, as did the ancients, so that reason sees both the greatness and the limitation of human beings. So we are let as we are now: rather small creatures with too much power. We have simultaneously belittled ourselves and empowered ourselves.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 50

“In history you learn facts; you don’t study natures. A fact is how things have turned out; nature is about how things have to be.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 50

“You can see, for example, that you have lost a battle, but whether you deserve to lose is arguable, and from the standpoint of the fact, useless.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 50

“Tocqueville reproved the sort of democratic history that subjects human events to impersonal forces over which men have no control land that levels mankind to a herd of impotent individuals.” – Harvey C. Mansfield, A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy, pg. 51

I, Pencil by Lawrence W. Reed: Quotations


A famous five-page story that succinctly illustrates Adam Smith’s principle of cooperation without coercion and Hayek’s idea that price values communicates the appropriate information to allow people to make economically rational decisions without force.


“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Here is an astonishing fact: Neither the workers in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or truck nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit or metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.” – pg. 44

“If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” – pg. 45

“The lesson I have to each is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson.” – pg. 47

We Have No Right to Happiness by C.S. Lewis: Quotations

C.s.lewis3This opinion piece was published in the Saturday Evening Post, December 11, 1963. It was C.S. Lewis’ last written work prior to his death. Here he examines the tragedy that awaits those who dispose the eternal law from behind the principle of ‘the right to happiness’: first it becomes ‘the right to (sexual) happiness’, and eventually ‘the right to happiness (in all things)’. “And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will – one dare not even add ‘unfortunately’ – be swept away.”

“A right to happiness doesn’t, for me, make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall, or have a millionaire for your father, or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“They meant ‘to pursue happiness by all lawful means’; that is, by all means which the Law of Nature eternally sanctions and which the laws of the nation shall sanction.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, ‘Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.’ I was simple-minded enough to believe they mean what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; t your acquisitive impulse, avarice.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“If I object to boys who seal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“The real situation is skillfully concealed by saying that the question of MR. A’s ‘right’ to desert his wife is one of ‘sexual morality.’ Robbing an orchard is not an offense against some special morality called ‘fruit morality.’ It is an offense against honest. Mr. A’s action is an offense against good faith (to solemn promises), against gratitude (Toward one to whom he was deeply indebted) and against common humanity.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also – I must put it crudely – good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded mutually adaptable people.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness

“If we establish a ‘right to (sexual) happiness” which supersedes all the ordinary rules of behavior, we do so not because of what our passion shows itself to be in experience bu because of what it professes to be while we are in the grip of it.” – C.S Lewis, We Have No Right to Happiness


How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler : Quotations

Sir Francis Bacon once wrote, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” Mortimer Adler’s book How to Read a Book (here) is such a book to be read with diligence and attention. It is not only one of those books that enlightens upon each reading, but has a particular light that, once comprehended, has a way of shining into every other book you read.

howtoreadabookA quick summary of Mortimier’s book would be this: Most have been taught to read, but most have not been taught to read well. Below is a quick summary of each of the 21 chapters of his book, divided into four parts, to provide an ever so slight a context for the complication of quotes I found helpful in my readings. In other blogposts (which I will link from here) I’ll provide a bit more detailed understanding of the four levels of reading and some comments on how to read special genres of books.

While the aim of this post isn’t to persuade you to read this book, I cannot help but say, “If you can swallow your pride and, as my siblings have said, ‘Read a book on how to read a book,’ you’ll be in good hands.”

Part 1 – The Dimensions of Reading

Chapter 1. We are hit with so much information all the time. And this information is sent via a medium to reduce active reading. As a result of “easy reading”, we have by and large lost the sense of unaided discovery through books.

This book proposes that the best readers are not the most widely read but the most well-read. And the most well-read are those who read most actively. And the best active readers are those who read to “understand” the material, or to know the “why” behind the reasons the author has for saying what he is saying and how those reasons correspond to the web of knowledge and facts concerning the subject the author is addressing or contributing.

The tools we would be required to know to make unaided discoveries in the external world are the same tools necessary to read books well and to the best of our abilities.

Chapter 2. There are four levels of reading, levels that assumes mastery of the previous levels. Level one is the most elementary level of reading – identification of sentences and words. The second level is skim reading and understanding the general structure of any book. The third level is a deeply analytical look at a book, it’s concepts, and flow of arguments that stretch beyond one’s own understanding. And level four is a comparative reading of several books to create an emergent analysis that may not be found in any of the particular books that have been read.

Chapter 3. The first level of reading is Elementary Reading. This level of reading should be mastered in elementary school, however, the focus of this level of reading instruction tends to go well into high school and college.

There are four stages of Elementary Reading: Reading Readiness, Word Mastery, Elementary Reading, and Reading Refinement.  Reading Readiness develops the general physical, intellectual, linguistical, and personal ability to remember letters and words. Word mastery develops the ability to expand vocabulary and detect meaning from context. Elementary Reading develops, by continuation, a more well-developed vocabulary and more advanced meaning detection from context. And Reading Refinement develops the ability to compare books on a single topic.

Chapter 4. The second level of reading is Inspectional, or Skim, Reading. Inspectional reading can be divided into two sub-levels: Systematic Skimming and Superficial Reading

Systematic Skimming allows us to identify book structure, logic of arguments, range of subjects a book covers, and author’s project/intent.

Superficial Reading is a method for blasting through a book, or lily-pad jumping, in order to have some web of general understanding by which to tackle the tougher portions of the book upon a second or third reading. It’s not systematic skimming in that what you’re attempting to do is create pockets of understanding to contextually understand the meaning of the more difficult sections of the author’s points.

Chapter 5. A demanding reader does two things: he is an active reader and he asks questions of the book. One thing you’ll need to work on is actively placing notes into the margins of your books, write out chapter summaries, providing structural outlines, and underline key word repetition.

Looking forward, it’ll be hard to implement all of these rules at any give time, but if they are original taught as tons of simple rules, you’ll one day be able to complete all of them as if no rules existed – this goes for anything new we attempt to learn, from sports to games.

Part 2 – The Third Level of Reading: Analytical Reading

Chapter 6. Inspectional reading gives us the necessary information to understand what type of book we are reading. This is important because different types of books must be read different – just as different subjects and different sports are taught differently.

Rule #1 to Analytical Reading – You must know what kind of book you are reading, and you should know this as early as possible, preferably before you begin to read.

Chapter 7.  We are introduced to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rules of analytical reading. The second rule is to state the objective of the whole book with utmost brevity – one or two sentences. The third rule is to enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole. And the fourth rule is to define the problem or problems the author is trying to solve. All of four of these rules goes to answer the question of the first stage of analytical reading, “What is the book about as a whole?”

The first rule allows us to understand how we should approach a book. The second rule allows us to understand the unifying principle or principles of the book. The third rule allows us to understand the complexity of the sub-ordinate parts and how they connect to the whole. And the fourth rule allows us to understand the second and third rules in a mirror – to understand the unity and complexity in relation to the questions the author is trying to ask. With all of this understood, we can begin to understand what the book is about as a whole.

Chapter 8.  The simplest way to increase your comprehension of any book is by coming to terms with the author.

First, identify the important, troubling, and technical terms. And second, once they have been identified, come to understand how the author uses them. If you would like, studying an introductory text in the philosophy of language will help you understand the complexity in relating “terms”, which is a linguistic aspect, with a word, which is a grammatical aspect. There are many terms that can be associated to a single word and many words that can be associated to a single term. It’s your job to sort and connect the terms and words together.

Chapter 9. Once you have understood which terms go to which words and which words go to which terms, you must then attach the proper propositions to the correct sentences and vice versa. This goes for arguments to paragraphs. The common divide is that semantics is not the same thing as syntax – the former concerns itself with the rules of thought the latter with the rules of grammar or natural language.

The process of ensuring the correct correspondence of thought to natural language completes the second stage of analytical reading – understanding the author’s main concepts, terms, and arguments in detail, or, simply put, understanding the content of a book.

Chapter 10. There are three rules to the etiquette of properly judging a book: First, make sure you understand before you criticize; second, seek the truth through your criticism and not contention; third, through your reasons and distinctions allow room for resolution.

Chapter 11. The first stage of analytical reading is understanding a book’s structure. The second stage of analytical reading is understanding a book’s content. The third stage of analytical reading is criticizing a book fairly.

Criticizing a book is just as important as understanding it. To have read a book and to have understand it but not to judge it is to levy the worst form of judgement: to judge a book and the author as not being worth your time. In order to judge a book effectively, you must understand the etiquette of judging a book – which consists of being willing to understand the book before judging, not judging out of malice but out of grace, and to understand the difference between knowledge and opinion concerning the topics covered in the book – and the criteria of what a book could be criticized for – being uninformed, misinformed, illogical, or incomplete.

Chapter 12.  Before you seek aids to reading ensure two things: first, that you have tried to understand the material on your own, and, second, ensure you know how to use the reading aids that you are using. Reading aids in the hands of a knowledgeable person can be indispensable, but they are no cure for ignorance. This includes relevant experience, other books on the subject, commentaries and abstracts, reference books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries.

Part 3 – Approaches to Different Kinds of Reading Matter

Chapter 13. Practical books different from theoretical books in that practical books do not solve themselves – they require action from the reader to solve the reader’s problem.

Chapter 14. Imaginative literature is different than practical or expository books is that practical books teach you to do something and expository books conveys knowledge about an experience. An imaginative book conveys the experience itself. To read an imaginative book well, you must be willing to allow the book to act upon you, to allow yourself to experience that which it was written to convey. While expository focuses upon our judgments, imaginative focuses upon our senses.

Chapter 15. There are two prerequisites in reading stories, plays, and poems: are you willing to read the book on its terms and are you willing to experience it.

Chapter 16. To effectively read history, you must be willing to read more than one perspective, or view point, and not be willing to read history just for “the facts”. History isn’t merely a factual report of the past, it is also a story about those who have lived before us, their experiences, and how their choices impacted people’s lives at that time. History has a moral element which we can take in.

Chapter 17. Science and mathematics books can be tedious and difficult, especially if they are heavy laden with complex equations and technical jargon. To read these books effectively, especially as a layperson, focus not on the complex equations or the technical jargon but upon the problem, or problems, that required the writing of the book and the solutions the author is proposing.

Chapter 18. The paradox of philosophy is that it requires the wonder of a child and the understanding of an adult to seek and gain wisdom. To effectively read philosophy books, find the questions they are trying to solve, understand the terms they are trying to use (philosophers are notorious for using private vocabularies), and identify the controlling principles, or assumptions, that the author makes.

Chapter 19. Social science is as hard to define as it is to sort its subject matter. A general definition is, “Social Science systematically organizes human knowledge that focuses on society/culture (not the individual) with concerns surrounding the behavioral aspects, which are both observable and quantifiable.”

To be effective in reading books on social science, you must not only be able to identify the general subject the book belongs, but also untie all the subjects the author cuts across to make his point – each subject will require a different method for interpretation and understanding.

Part 4 – The Ultimate Goals of Reading

Chapter 20. Syntopical reading has two chief stages: preparatory and creation. Preparatory is when you create a tentative bibliography and inspect the books of your bibliography to see how you can expand, contract, or edit your book selection. Of course, these two sub-points are done simultaneously and serves the purposes of the other. Creation is the active process in which you attempt to create a neutral framework in which to allow your sources to flow freely into so as to create an emergent thesis.

Chapter 21.  In mastering all four levels of reading, you will be fully equipped to expand your understanding and actively seek discovery without external aids. This is the purpose of this book and the goal of its authors – to read well.

Chapter 1 – The Activity and Art of Reading:

“But knowledge is not as much a prerequisite to understanding as is commonly supposed. We do not have a know everything about something in order to understand it; too many facts are often as much of an obstacle to understanding as too few. There is a sense in which we moderns are inundated with facts to the detriment of understanding.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Thus we can roughly define what we mean by the art of reading as follows: the process whereby a mind, with nothing to operate on but the symbols of the readable matter, and with no help form outside, elevates itself by the power of its own operations. The mind passes from understanding less to understanding more. The skilled operations that cause this to happen are the various acts that constitute the art of reading.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“In short, we can learn only from our “betters.” We must know who they are and how to learn from them.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To be informed is to know simply that something is the case. To be enlightened is to know, in addition, what it is all about: why it is the case, what its connections are with other facts, in what respects it is the same, in what respects it is different, and so forth.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The distinction is familiar in terms of the differences between being able to remember something and being able to explain it. If you remember what an author says, you have learned something from reading him. If what he says is true, you have even learned something about the world. But whether it is a fact about the book or a fact about the world that you have learned, you have gained nothing but information if you have exercised only your memory. You have not been enlightened. Enlightenment is achieved only when, in addition to knowing what an author says, you know what he means and why he says it.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The art of reading, in short, includes all of the same skills hat are involved int he art of unaided discovery: keenness of observation, readily available memory, range of imagination, and, of course, an intellect trained in analysis and reflection.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Near-universal literacy was obtained in the United States earlier than anywhere else, and this in turn has helped us to become the highly developed industrial society that we are at the present day.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“If, however, you ask a  book a question, you must answer it yourself. In this respect a book is like nature or the world. when you question it, it answers you only to the extent that you do the work of thinking and analysis yourself.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 3 – The First Level of Reading: Elementary Reading

“It is traditional in America to criticize the schools; for more than a century, parents, self-styled experts, and educators themselves have attacked and indicted the educational system.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“That does not mean, however, that reading instruction beyond the elementary level is offered in many U.S. colleges to this day. In fact, it is offered in almost none of them. Remedial reading instruction is not instruction in the higher levels of reading. It serves only to bring students up to a level of maturity in reading that they should have attained by the time they graduated from elementary school. To this day, most institutions of higher learning either do not know how to instruct students in reading beyond the elementary level, or lack the facilities and personnel to do so.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“A college degree ought to represent general competence in reading such that a graduate could read any kind of material for general readers and be able to undertake independent research on almost any subject (for that is syntopical reading, among other things, enables you to do). Often, however, three or four years of graduate study are required before students attain this level of reading ability, and they do not always attain it even then.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“We must become more than a nation of functional literates. We must become a nation of truly competent readers, recognizing all that the word competent implies. Nothing less will satisfy the needs of the world that is coming.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 4 – The 2nd Level of Reading: Inspectional Reading

“In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things you do not understand right away.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Take a basic work in economics, for example, such as Adam Smith’s classic The Wealth of Nations. If you insist on understanding everything on every page before you go on to the next, you will not get very far. In your effort to master the fine points, you will miss the big points that Smith makes so clearly about the factors of wages, rents, profits, and interest that enter into the cost of things, the role of the market in determining prices, the evil of monopoly, the reasons for free trade. you will miss the forest for the trees. You will not be reading well on any level.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Every book should be read no more slowly than it deserves and no more quickly than you can read it with satisfaction and comprehension.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 5 – How to be a Demanding Reader

“Ask questions while you read – questions that you yourself must answer in the course of reading.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Reading a book on any level beyond the elementary is essentially an effort on your part to ask it questions (and to answer them to the best of your ability). That should ever be forgotten. And that is why there is all the difference in the world between the demanding and the undemanding reader. The latter asks no questions – and gets no answers.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Good books are over your head; they would not be good for you if they were not.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[U]nderstanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to be willing to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The art as something that can be taught consists of rules to be followed in operation. The art as something learned and possessed consists of the habit that results from operating according to the rules.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[I]n order to forget them as separate acts, you have to learn them first as separate acts.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Part II – The Third Level of Reading:Analytical Reading

Chapter 6 – Pigeonholing a Book

“(Rule 1 to Analytical Reading) You must know what kind of book you are reading, and you should know this as early in the process as possible, preferably before you begin to read.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“There is so much social science in some contemporary novels, and so much fiction in much sociology, that it is hard to keep them apart.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“It is not merely a question of knowing which books are primarily instructive, but also which are instructive in a particular way. The kinds of information or enlightenment that a history and a philosophical work afford are not the same. The problems dealt with by a book on physics and one on morals are not the same, nor are the method the writers employ in solving such different problems.: – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To make knowledge practical we must convert it into rules of operation. We must pass from knowing what is the case to knowing what to do about it if we wish to get somewhere.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[Theoretical Books] tries to show that something is true, that these are the facts; not that things would be better if they were otherwise, and here is the way to make them better.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Now, just as there is a difference in the art of teaching in different fields, so there is a reciprocal difference in the art of being taught. The activity of the student must somehow be responsive to the activity of the instructor. The relation between books and their readers is the same as that between teachers and their students. Hence as books differ in the kinds of knowledge they have to communicate they proceed to instruct us differently; and, if we are to follow them, we must learn to read each kind in an appropriate manner.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 7 – X-Raying a Book

“[E]very book without exception that is worth reading at all has a unity and an organization of parts. A book that did not would be a mess. It would be relatively unreadable, as bad books actually are.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(The Second Rule to Analytical Reading) State the unity of the whole book in a single sentence, or at most a few sentences (a short paragraph).” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(The Third Rule to Analytical Reading) Set forth the major parts of the book, and show how these are organized into a whole, by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“As houses are more or less livable, so books are more or less readable. The most readable book is an architectural achievement on the part of tehe author. The best books are those that have the most intelligible structure. Though they are usually more complex than poorer books, their greater complexity is also a greater simplicity, because their parts are better organized, more unified.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The difference between good and bad stories having the same essential plot lies in what the author does with it, how he dresses up the bare bones.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The reader tries to uncover the skeleton that the book conceals. The author starts with the skeleton and tries to cover it up.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(The Fourth Rule of Analytical Reading) Find out what the author’s problem’s were.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“They will fail to see the unity of a book because they do not see why it has the unity it has; and their apprehension of the book’s skeletal structure will lack comprehension of the end that it serves.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 8 – Coming to Terms with an Author

“[T]he miracle of two minds with but a single thought.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Where there is unresolved ambiguity in communication, there is no communication, or at best communication must be incomplete.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[Terms are] a skilled use of words for the sake of communicating knowledge.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Find the important words and through them come to terms with the author.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Philosophers are notorious for having private vocabularies.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Most of us are addicted to non-active reading. The outstanding fault of the non-active or undemanding reader is his inattention to words, and his consequent failure to come to terms with the author.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[Y]ou have to discover the meaning of a word you do not understand by using the meaning of all the other words in the context that you do understand.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[Y]ou will find that your comprehension of any book will be enormously increased if you only go to the trouble of finding its important words, identifying their shifting meanings, and coming to terms.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 9 – Determining an Author’s Message

“As in the case of the rule about words and terms, we are here also dealing with the relation of language and thought. Sentences and paragraphs are grammatical units. They are units of language. Propositions and arguments are logical units, or units of thought and knowledge.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Mark the most important sentences in a book and discover the propositions they contain.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Locate or construct the basic arguments in the book by finding them in the connection of sentences.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature. If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you do not already possess.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[V]erbalism is the besetting sin of those who fail to read analytically?” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The failure in reading – the omnipotent verbalism – of those who have not been trained in the arts of grammar and logic shows how lack of such discipline results in slavery to words rather than master of them.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Find if you can the paragraphs in a book that states its important arguments; But if the arguments are not thus expressed, your task is to construct them, by taking a sentence form this paragraph and one from that, until you have gathered together the sequence of sentences that state the propositions that compose the arguments.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Find out what the author’s solutions are.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 10 – Criticizing a Book Fairly

“The profit in good conversation is something learned.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The activity of reading does not stop with the work of understanding what a book says. It must be completed by the work of criticism, the work of judging. The undemanding reader fails to satisfy this requirement, probably even more than he fails to analyze and interpret. He not only makes no effort to understand; he also dismisses a book simply by putting it aside and forgetting it. Worse than faintly praising it, he damns it by giving it no critical consideration whatever.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book (Quoting Sir Francis Bacon)

“There is no book so bad but something good may be found in it.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Teachability is often confused with subservience.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“No one is really teachable who does  not freely exercise his power of independent judgment.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To regard anyone except yourself as responsible for your judgement is to be a slave, not a free man.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“You must be able to say, with reasonable certainty, “I understand,” before you can say any one of the following things: “I agree,” “I disagree,” or, “I suspend judgement.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To agree is just as much an exercise of critical judgement on your part as to disagree.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To agree without understanding is inane. To disagree without understanding is impudent.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Students who plainly do not know what the author is saying seem to have no hesitation in setting themselves up as his judges. They not only disagree with something they do not understand but, what is equally bad, they also often agree to a position they cannot express intelligibly in their own words. Their discussion, like their reading, is all words.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“When you disagree, do so reasonably, and not disputatiously or contentiously.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Men are creatures of passion and prejudice. The language they must use to communicate is an imperfect medium, clouded by emotion and coloured by interest, as well as inadequately transparent for thought. Yet to the extent that men are rational, these obstacles to their understanding can be overcome.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“He does not judge the book but the man.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Respect the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by giving reasons for any critical judgement you make.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 11 – Agreeing or Disagreeing with an Author

“To the extent that a reader can support his charge that the book is unintelligible, he has no further critical obligations.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“No higher commendation can be given any work of the human mind than to praise it for the measure of truth it has achieved; by the same token, to criticize it adversely for this failure in this respect is to treat it with the seriousness that a serious work deserves. Yet, strangely enough, in recent years, for the first time in Western history, there is a dwindling concern with this criteria of excellence. Books win the plaudits of the critics and gain widespread popular attention almost to the extent that they flout the truth – the more outrageously they do so, the better.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“One might hazard the guess that if saying something that is true, in any sense of that term, were ever again to become the primary concern it should be, fewer books would be written, published, and read.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“If communications were not complex, structural outlining would be unnecessary. If language were a perfect medium instead of a relatively opaque one, there would be no need for interpretation. I error and ignorance did not circumscribe truth and knowledge, we should not have to be critical.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“A person who has read widely but not well deserves to be pitied rather than praised.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“In the natural course of events, a good student frequently becomes a teacher, and so, too, a good reader becomes an author.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 12 – Aids to Reading

“The philosopher, like the poet, appeals to the common experiences of mankind.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The surest test is one we have already recommended as a test of understanding: ask yourself whether you can give a concrete example of a point that you feel you understand.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[Y]ou should not read a commentary by someone else until after you have read the book.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Reference books are useless to people who know nothing. They are not guides to the perplexed.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Part 3 – Approaches to Different kinds of Reading

“The most important thing to remember about any practical book is that it can never solve the practical problems with which it is concerned. But a practical problem can only be solved by action itself.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The best protection against propaganda of any sort is the recognition of it fro what it is. only hidden and undetected oratory is really insidious. What reaches the heart without going through the mind is likely to bounce back and put the mind out of business. Propaganda taken in that way is like a drug you d not know you are swallowing. The effect is mysterious; you do not know afterwards why you feel or think the way you do.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 14 – How to Read Imaginative Literature

“A critical reading of anything depends upon the fullness of one’s apprehension. Those who cannot say what they like about a novel probably have not read it below its most obvious surfaces.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Imaginative literature primarily pleases rather than teaches. It is much easier to be pleased than taught, but much harder to know why one is pleased. Beauty is harder to analyze than truth.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(Rule One of Reading Imaginative Literature) Do not try to resist the effect that a work of imaginative literature has on you.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The imaginative writer tries to maximize the latent ambiguities of words, in order thereby to gain all the richness and force that is inherent in their multiple meanings. The uses metaphors as the units of his construction just as the logical writer uses words sharpened to a single meaning.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(Rule Two of Reading Imaginative Literature) Don’t look for terms, propositions, and arguments in imaginative literature.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Expository works do not provide us with novel experiences. They comment on such experiences as we already have or can get.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(Rule Three of Reading Imaginative Literature) Don’t criticize fiction by the standards of truth and consistency that properly apply to communication of knowledge.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“You have not grasped a story until you are familiar with its characters, until you have lived through its events.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“To read a story well you must have your finger on the pulse of the narrative, be sensitive to its very beat.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Don’t criticize imaginative writing until you fully appreciate what the author has tried to make you experience.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 15 – Suggestions for Reading Stories, Plays, and Poems

“To read it well, all you have to do is experience it.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“A story is like life itself; in life, we do not expect to understand events as they occur, at least with total clarity, but looking back on it after he has finished it, understands the relation of events and order of actions.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“All Greek tragedies could have been solved if they had more time. The question we should be concerned with is if we could have made a better decision given that time.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Read through the entire poem even if you don’t think you understand it.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book (Rule one for poetry)

“Read the poem a second time but aloud.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book (Rule two for poetry)

Chapter 16 – How to Read History

“A historical fact, though we may have a feeling of trust and solidity about the word, is one of the most elusive things in the world.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(Rule One in Reading History) Ensure you read history from more than one view point. Every account is from a viewpoint, but closer approximations to the truth require more than a single viewpoint.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The victories are now meaningless, and the defeats without pain.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“History is the story of what led up to now.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“(Rule Two in Reading History) Read history not only to gather facts but also to understand how men acted, what resulted, and what that means for our current decisions.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“History suggests the possible, for it describes things that have already been done.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“If we are interested in humanity, we will tend, within reasonable limits, to read any book partly with an eye to discovering the character of its author.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 17 – How to Read Science and Mathematics

“Most important of all, it is the activity of the mind that is essential to education, the essential aim of which has always been recognized, from Socrates’ day down to our own, as the freeing of the mind through the discipline of wonder.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Scientific objectivity is not the absence of initial bias. It is attained by frank confession of it.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“We are not told, or not told early enough so that it sinks in, that mathematics is a language, and that we can learn it like any other, including our own. We have to learn our own language twice, first when we learn to speak it, second when we learn to read it. Fortunately, mathematics has to be learned only once, since it is almost wholly a written language.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 18 – How to Read Philosophy

“Out of the mouths of babes comes, if not wisdom, at least the search for it. Philosophy according to Aristotle, begins in wonder. It certainly begins in childhood, even if for most of us it stops there, too.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Adults do not lose the curiosity that seems to be a native human trait, but their curiosity deteriorates in quality. They want to know whether something is so, not why.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“A mind not agitated by good questions cannot appreciate the significance of even the best answers.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The ability to retain the child’s view of the world, with at the same time a mature understanding of what it means to retain it, is extremely rare…” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[We want] you to recognize that one of the most remarkable things about great philosophical books is that they ask the same sort of profound questions that a child asks.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“A proposition was not accepted as true unless it could meet ht test open discussion; the philosopher was not a solitary thinker, but instead faced his opponents in the intellectual market place.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book, Concerning Medieval Philosophers

“The author [of the aphoristic style] is like a hit-and-run driver; he touches on a subject, he suggests a truth or insight about it, and then runs off to another subject without properly defending what he has said.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[T]he most distinctive mark of philosophical questions that everyone must answer them for himself. Taking the opinions of another is not solving them, but evading them. And your answer must be solidly grounded, with arguments to back them up. This means, above all, that you cannot depend on the testimony of experts, as you may have to do in the case of science.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“It would be true to say that, in the European tradition at least, the Bible is the book in more senses than one. It has been not only the most widely read, but also the most carefully read, book of all.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 19 – How to Read Social Science

“The situation in social science is quite different. Much social science is a mixture of science, philosophy , and history, often with some fiction thrown in for good measure.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Part 4 – The Ultimate Goal of Reading

Chapter 20 – The Fourth Level of Reading: Syntopical Reading

“In syntopical reading, it is you and your concerns that are primarily to be served, not the books that you read.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Thus it is you who must establish the terms, and bring your authors to them rather than the other way around.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[W]e are faced with the task of establishing a set of neutral propositions as well.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Thus, in order to present this truth to our minds – and to the minds of others – we have to do more than merely ask and answer the questions. We have to ask them in a certain order, and be able to defend that order; we must show how the questions are answered differently and try to say why; and we must be able to point to the texts in the books examined that support our classification of answers.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“The special quality that a syntopical analysis tries to achieve can, indeed, be summarized in the two words, “dialectical objectivity.”” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“Unless you know what books to read, you cannot read syntopically, but unless you can read syntopically, you do not know what to read.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Chapter 21 – REading and the Growth of the Mind

“If you are reading in order to become a better reader, you cannot read just any book or article.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“There are some human problems, after all, that have no solution. There are some relationships, both among human beings and between human beings and the nonhuman world, about which no one can have the last word. This is true not only in such fields as science and philosophy, where it is obvious that final understanding about nature and its laws, and about being and becoming, has not been achieved by anyone and never will be it is also true of such familiar and everyday matters as the relation between men and omen, or parents and children, or man and God. These are matters about which you cannot think too much, or too well. The greatest books can help you to think better about them, because they were written by men and women who thought better than other people about them.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

“[W]hen we cease to grow, we begin to die.” – Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Quotations

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic, Life Together (found here), explores not only the importance of Christian community but how that community should be grounded in and conducted through Jesus Christ. As he often writes, Christian Community can only be found, “in Christ and through Christ.” Below are a collection of quotes that I found to be exemplary in point, precision, and articulation. Of course, another who reads through this work may find a different collection (as the one I currently possess has highlighter marks – though against the rules of borrowing the book – which I didn’t always find helpful.)

919yabqy9klThe following paragraphs may be skipped, but they are provided to add a bit of context to each of the quotes:

Chapter 1 – Christian community can be found in almost any circumstance: for long periods of time or for as short as a prayer. But, in any case, we do not live for the experience of Christian community but will seek to understand what that community means and how it is to function for those who do find it. The central issue everyone in Christian community will face is this: will you view your fellow friend in the eyes of God, and therefore in God’s image, or in your own eyes, and try to form them in your image?

Chapter 2 – We should begin and end each day in the community of believers and in the Word of Christ. What we should be weary of is having our prayer life hinder our work life and our work life hinder our prayer life. They must not only work together, but also understood in proportion to each other. As God worked for six days and rested on the seventh, so we should understand that most of each of our days will be consumed for work, but this work will be as a prayer and unto God.

Chapter 3 – We should dedicate an hour per day to meditation and reflection. This is not to be used for focusing upon other issues or to attempt to understand scripture, but to simply have God’s Word impress our minds. The test of our meditation, of impressing ourselves with God’s Word and making it our own, is how we respond when we are out in the world: do we forsake Christ or further proclaim His Word?

Chapter 4 – We can only be effective ministers of God’s Word if we are effective in all of our ministries. We must understand when and how to hold our tongue, and ensure we do not allow evil to flow from our mouths; We must become meek so we may see the world as God sees the world and our place in it; We must be willing to hear our fellow Christians on their terms, to understand their needs, so we may effectively help them; We must be helpful in every good work, not being too busy or too proud for any task; We must be willing to bear the burdens of others as Christ carried ours on the cross; We must proclaim God’s Word in the fullness of God’s character – showing both mercy and judgement, love and grace;  And we must understand that our authority does not rise or fall upon our attractive characteristics or personality to the church but upon how faithful we are in executing the commands of Christ.

Chapter 5 – We must hear out our fellow Christian’s confessions and forgive them in the name of Christ. This is what makes Christian fellowship so intimate – in seeing each other as Christ sees us, fallen man in need of a savior, we begin to bear the love for each other that Christ has for us. But, in this intimacy, be careful to not use confession as a power over others or make it a pious ritual. Confession should be heard by those who also practice confession.

The culmination of Christian fellowship is found upon the sacrament of Communion: to break bread together, in full community and in the truth of each others’ existence, as Christ broke bread with his disciples.

Chapter 1 – Community

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Not that he believed that everybody must act as he did, but from where he was standing, he could see no possibility of retreat into any sinless, righteous, pious refuge. The sin of respectable people reveals itself in flight from responsibility. He saw that sin falling upon him and he took his stand.” – Bethge, A friend of Bonhoeffer commenting on his retreat from pacifism.

“It is not simple to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end of all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the think of foes.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“[T]he Christian is the man who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone. He knows that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ. On this presupposition rests everything that the Scriptures provide in the way of directions and precepts for the communal life of Christians.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren. When received forgiveness instead of judgement, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received the more we were able to give; and the more meager our brotherly love, the less we were living by God’s mercy and love. Thus God himself taught us to meet one another as God has met us in Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“My brother is rather that other person who has been redeemed by Christ, delivered form his sin, and called to faith and eternal life.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“In Christian brotherhood everything depends upon being clear right from the beginning, first, that Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality. Second, that Christian brotherhood is a spiritual and not a psychic reality.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“God is not a God of emotions but the God of truth.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crises (the coming to face with ugly and unhappy fellowship), which insists upon keeping its illusions when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds them together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first, the accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and, finally, the despairing accuser of himself.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brothers becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“When the morning mists of dreams vanish,then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The basis of the community of the Spirit is truth; the basis of human community of spirit is desire.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritual love loves him for Christ’s sake.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“[H]uman love is by its very nature desire – desire for human community. So long as it can satisfy this desire in some way, it will not give it up, even for the sake of truth, even for the sake of genuine love for others. But where it can no longer expect its desire to be fulfilled, there it stops short – namely, in the face of any enemy. There it turns into hatred, contempt, and calumny.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It [Spiritual Love] originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and his Word.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Human love constructs its own image of the other person, of what he is and what he should become. it takes the life of the other person into its own hands.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“[S]piritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by truth.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The existence of any Christian life together depends on whether it succeeds at the right time in bringing out the ability to distinguish between a human ideal and God’s reality, between spiritual and human community.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“In other words, life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society, a collegium pietatis, but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles and promise of the whole Church.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“A purely spiritual relationship is not only a dangerous but also an altogether abnormal thing. When physical and family relationships or ordinary associations, that is, those arising from everyday life with all its claims upon people who are working together, are not projected into the spiritual community, then we must be especially careful.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Nothing is easier than to stimulate the glow of fellowship in a few days of life together, but nothing is more fatal to the sound, sober brotherly fellowship of everyday life.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“There is probably no Christian to whom God has not given the uplifting experience of genuine Christian community at least once in his life. But in this world such experiences can be no more than a gracious extra beyond the daily bread of Christian community life. We have not claim upon such experiences, and we do not live with other Christians for the sake of acquiring them. It is not the experience of Christian brotherhood, but solid and certain faith in brotherhood that holds us together. That God has acted and wants to act upon us all, this we see in faith as God’s greatest gift, this makes us glad and happy, but it also makes us ready to forego all such experiences when God at times does not grant them. We are bound together by faith, not by experience.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Chapter 2 – The Day with Others

“Common life under the Word begins with common worship at the beginning of the day.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Therefore, at the beginning of the day, let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“In the Psalter we learn to pray on the basis of Christ’s prayer. The Psalter is the great school of prayer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“We can and we should pray the psalms of suffering, the psalms of the passion, not in order to generate in ourselves what our hearts do not know of their own experiences, not to make our own lament, but because all this suffering was real and actual in Jesus Christ, because the Man Jesus Christ suffered sickness, pain, shame, and death, because in his suffering and death all flesh suffered and died.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Is this [Psalm 119 and other reiterations] not an indication that prayer is not a matter of pouring out the human heart once and for all in need or joy, but of an unbroken, constant learning, accepting, and impressing upon the mind of God’s will in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“What he [Oetinger] had discerned was that the whole sweep of the Book of Psalms was concerned with nothing more nor less than the [seven] brief petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“But there can be equally little doubt that brief verses cannot and should not take place of reading the Scripture as a whole.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“So perhaps one may say that every Scripture reading always has to be somewhat “too long,” because it is not merely proverbial and practical wisdom but God’s revealing Word in Jesus Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is in fact more important for us to know what god did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“How, for example, should we ever attain certainty and confidence in our personal and church activities if we do not stand on solid Biblical ground? It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s Word.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“How often we hear innumerable arguments “from life” and “from experience” put forward as the basis for most crucial decisions, but the arguments of Scripture is missing.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“But one who will not learn to handle the Bible for himself is not an evangelical Christian.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Often the difference between an experienced Christian and the novice becomes clearly apparent. It may be taken as a rule for the right reading f the Scriptures that the reader should never identify himself with the person who is speaking in the Bible. It is not I that am angered, but God; it is not I giving consolation, but God; it is not I admonishing, but God admonishing in the Scriptures. I shall be able, of course, to express the fact that it is God who is angered, who is consoling and admonishing, not by indifferent monotony, but only with inmost concern and rapport, as one who knows that he himself is begin addressed. It will make all the difference between right and wrong reading of Scriptures if I do not identify myself with God but quite simply serve Him. Otherwise I will become rhetorical, emotional, sentimental, or coercive and imperative; that is, I will be directing the listeners’  attention to myself instead of the World. But this is to commit the worst of sins in presenting the Scriptures.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“This song has a different ring on earth from what i has in heaven. on earth it is the song of those who believe, in heaven the song of those who see.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Where the singing is not to the Lord, it is singing to the honor of the self or the music, and the new song becomes a song to idols.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“No matter what the objections there may be, the fact simply remains that where Christians want to live together under the Word of God they may and they should pray together to God in their own words.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Prayer, even thought it e free, will be determined by a certain internal order. It is not the chaotic outbursts of a human heart but the prayer of an inwardly ordered fellowship.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“[W]here there is mistrust and uneasiness, one must bear the other in patience. Let nothing be done by force; let everything be done in freedom and love.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Praying and working are two different things. Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer. Just as it was God’s will that man should work six days and rest and make holy day in His presence on the seventh, so it is also God’s will that every day should be marked for the Christian by both prayer and work.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Prayer is entitled to its time. But the bulk of the day belongs to work. And only where each receives its own specific due will it become clear that both belong inseparably together.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Thus every word, every work, every labor of the Christian becomes a prayer; not in the unreal sense of a constant turning away from the task that must be done, but in the real breaking through the hard “it” to the gracious Thou. “Whatsoever ye do in the word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).”

“A day at a time is long enough to sustain one’s faith; the next day will have its own cares.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It is an excellent thing if the evening devotion can be held at the actual end of the day, thus becoming the last word before night’s rest.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“When we grow weary, God does his work.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It is a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that every dissension that the day has brought must be healed in the evening.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Most remarkable and profound is the ancient church’s prayer that when our eyes are closed in sleep God may nevertheless keep our hearts awake.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The person who comes into a fellowship because he is running away from himself is misusing it for the sake of diversion, no matter how spiritual this diversion may appear. He is really not seeking community at all, but only distraction which will allow him to forget his loneliness for a brief time, the very alienation that creates the deadly isolation of man. The disintegration of communication and all genuine experience, and finally resignation and spiritual death are the result of such attempts to find a cure.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Chapter 3 – The Day Alone

“Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“We recognize, then, that only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in fellowship.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The mark of solitude is silence, as speech is the mark of community.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“”Seek God, not happiness” – this is the fundamental rule of meditation.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Prayer means nothing else but the readiness and willingness to receive and appropriate the Word, and, what is more, to accept it in one’s personal situation, particular tasks, decisions, sins, and temptations.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Intercession means no more than to bring our brother ito the presence of God, to see him under the Cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in his mercy.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“He who denies his neighbor the service of praying for him denies him the service of a Christian. It is clear, furthermore, that intercession is not general and vague but very concrete: a matter of definite persons and definite difficulties and therefore of definite petitions.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Who can really be faithful in great things if he has not learned to be faithful in the things of daily life?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Ever day brings to the Christian many hours in which he will be alone in an unchristian environment. These are the times of testing. This is the test of true meditation and true Christian community. Has the fellowship served to make the individual free, strong, and mature, or has it made him weak and dependent? Has it taken him by the hand for a while in order that he may learn again to walk by himself, or has it made him uneasy and unsure? This is one of the most searching and critical questions that can be put to any Christian fellowship.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Has it [the fellowship] transported him for a moment into a spiritual ecstasy that vanishes when everyday life returns, or has it lodged the Word of god so securely and deeply in his heart that it holds and fortifies him, impelling him  to active love, to obedience, to good works? Only the day can decide.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Every act of self-control of the Christian is also a service to the fellowship.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Chapter 4 – Ministry

“Where is there a person who does not with instinctive sureness find the spot where he can stand and defend himself, but which he will never give up to another, for which he will fight with all the drive of his instinct of self-assertion?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“He finds it only in comparing himself with others, in condemning and judging others self-justification go together, as justification by grace and serving others go together.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me God made this person in His image.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“What does it matter if I suffer injustice? Would I not have deserved even worse punishment from God, if He had not dealt with me according to his mercy?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brothers’ confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Nobody is too good for the meanest service. One who worries about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness entail is usually taking the importance of his own career too solemnly.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Only where hands are not too good for deeds of love and mercy in everyday helpfulness can the mouth joyfully and convincingly proclaim the message of God’s love and mercy.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The brother is a burden to the Christian precisely because he is a Christian. For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all. He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose upon him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and, in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The weak must not judge the strong, the strong must not despise the weak. The weak must guard against pride, the strong against indifference.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“He who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne, and only in this strength can he go on bearing.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The basis upon which Christians can speak to one another is that each knows the other as a sinner, who, with all his human dignity, is lonely and lost if he is not given help.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“We speak to one another on the basis of the help we both need. We admonish one another to go the way that Christ bid us to go. We warn one another against the disobedience that is our common destruction. We are gentle and we are severe with one another, for we know both God’s kindness and God’s severity. Why should we be afraid of one another, since both of us have only God to fear?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“The person whose touchiness and vanity make him spurn a brother’s earnest censure cannot speak the truth in humility to others; he is afraid of being rebuffed and of feeling that he has been aggrieved. The touchy person will always become a flatter and very soon he will come to despise and slander his brother. But the humble person will sick both to truth and to love…. Because he seeks nothing for himself and has no fears for himself, he can help his brother through the Word.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Our brother’s ways are not in our hands; we cannot hold together what is breaking’ we cannot keep life in what is determined to die. But God binds elements together in the breaking, creates community in the separation, grants grace through judgement.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Chapter 5 – Confession and Communion

“The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“We cannot find the Cross of Jesus if we shrink from going to the place where it is to be found, namely, the public death of the sinner.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

“Confession as a routine duty is spiritual death; confession in reliance upon the promise is life.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

John Jay: Quotations

john_jay_gilbert_stuart_portraitAs more quotes become available, this list will be properly updated.

Many of the quotes below can be found in the article The Education of John Jay or the book John Jay:The Education of an American Leader (ISBN978-1944241-61-2). The citations provided below were found through my research.


“Too many in your State, as in this, love pure democracy dearly. They seem not to consider that pure democracy, like pure rum, easily produces intoxication, and with it a thousand mad pranks and fooleries.” – John Jay, A letter to Judge Peters on July 24, 1809

“By this history, as well as by those of former times, we are taught the vanity of expecting, that from the perfectibility of human nature an the lights of philosophy, the multitude will become virtuous and wise, or their demagogues candid and honest.” – John Jay, Letter to George Washington

“Human knowledge and experience will doubtless continue to do good, in proportion to their extent and influence; but that they will ever be able reduce the passions and prejudices of mankind to such a state of subordination to right reason as modern philosophers would persuade us, I do not believe one word of.” – John Jay, Letter to William Vaughan, New York, 26th May, 1796

“He nevertheless, during one of his visits, very abruptly remarked, that there was no God, and he hoped the time would come when there would be no religion in the world. I very concisely remarked that if there was no God there could be no moral obligations, and I did not see how society could subsist without them.” – John Jay, Letter to John Bristed, Bedford, 23rd April, 1811

“The philosophic topics of consolation are familiar to you and we all know from experience how little relief is to be derived from them. May the Author and only Giver of consolation be and remain with you.” – John Jay, A Letter to Philip Schuyler, Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law, concerning Hamilton’s death