NOTE TO SELF, BASED ON QUAKER TESTIMONIES OF INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY, PEACE, EQUALITY, AND COMMUNITY:

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.
2. Do what you say, say what you think, think what is true.
3. Subtract superfluities from your life, speech, desires and thoughts.
4. Don't initiate aggression against the persons or property of others, nor support people who do, including the people who "constitute" the government.
5. Respect life and natural law.
6. All people are endowed by their Creator with equal and inalienable rights to the earth and to the fruits of their own labor, and a "Citizen's Dividend" funded by a "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land and other natural resources would be the fairest way to protect these rights.

For supporting materials, see the Archive and the Recommended Reading and Videos section at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Merry Michaelmas, and Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It's also the birthday of me, Bryant Gumbel, Lech Walesa, Madeline Kahn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Anita Ekberg, Stanley Kramer, Gene Autry, most notably Miguel de Cervantes, and presumably many other less famous people. I'm hereby reminded to add Cervantes' wonderful Don Quixote to my profile's list of favorite books. In honor of Cervantes and Don Quixote, here's some poignant lines from the end of G.K. Chesterton's poem about the Battle of Lepanto, in which Cervantes fought:

"Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain"

Speaking of setting swords back in sheaths, one of my favorite stories about St. Michael is of the vision that Pope St. Gregory in the tenth century had of the Archangel doing just that, during a penitential procession the Pope was leading through the streets of Rome for the end of a plague that was devastating the city. The Pope took it as a sign that God's wrath had passed, and indeed the pestilence abated after that day. In honor of the occasion, the Pope re-named the mausoleum of Hadrian over which St. Michael had appeared the Castle of the Holy Angel, which is still known by that name today and over which stands a statue of St. Michael sheathing his sword.

I'll refrain from speculating about the metaphysical and theological implications of this legend, but it certainly provides a different perspective than the one we're used to!

On a lighter note, St. Michael is traditionally seen as a protector against the dark of night and the administrator of cosmic intelligence, making appropriate the occurrence of his Feast Day at the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. Tune up them snow-blowers with chins up!