Friday, March 31, 2006


We live in a society that expects the impulses and urges of men to age with their bodies. Inconveniently, both for society and for men, they don't.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fair Vanity

If a conceited person happens to think highly of us as well as himself, his conceit is less likely to offend us.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Measure for Measure

By what measure or gauge is God’s will superior to mine? Is there something outside of God to which we refer, or is the measure God himself? If it is something outside of God, we have to conclude that God is inferior to it and subject to its judgment. Potentially it could determine that God was evil. Moreover, we have to ask by what measure it gains its own authority, and until we can establish goodness per se, goodness indefinable and immeasurable, we are left with an infinite series of measures or gods. The measure then seems to be God himself. But how does God’s goodness establish itself? Is God immeasurably good? Are we able to say yes to that question without giving a reason whose source lies outside of God? Does God himself provide us with the means to judge him and determine that he is good? Is he good because he is supremely creative and makes each of us? Is he good because he is all-powerful and immortal? Are these qualities that define goodness, or do they inspire fright because we are weak by comparison? Does might make right? Couldn’t God have given me qualities identical to his own? If so, by not giving them to me he deliberately made me inferior to himself. Is it for that reason that I ought to subordinate my will to his? Was it according to his own standard of superiority that he made me inferior? What is it about his standards that make them sacred? Who was he in the first place? Was he created, or has he always been here? What makes him anything but an arbitrary being? I need a reason to subordinate my will to his, and I have never heard one that is remotely convincing. We can go around and around and around on this, and unless there is something I am missing, I will continue to prefer my will to his, despite my weakness and my mortality, or even because of them. Is that appalling? Do you damn me? Then I damn you back. An eye for an eye. It is long since time that we rediscovered honest reciprocity anyway.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Measure of Respect

Those who admire us the most are also those whose opinions we most respect.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

You Don't Say

If we consistently acknowledge our minor faults, we earn a reputation for being openhearted and unguarded and give people less reason to suspect that we are concealing faults of a sort that we would never confess.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Unformed Substance

Deceit is easiest to effect where it is least expected. A great many people, for instance, are simpleminded but believe and want us to believe that they are complex. We grow accustomed, through frequent contact with this type of person, to adjusting our perspective of people in general, in order to compensate for the imbalance between form and substance. As an unexpected result, a truly complex person who wants to keep his complexities a secret is rarely recognized behind his disguise of simplicity.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pay Off

Religion is the securing of rewards from a divine source. A modern mistake in comprehending religion lies in assuming that what we do in order to obtain divine favor is the essence of the relation between us and our deity. We tend to think, for instance, that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is the mark of a religious person. In the context of Christianity, however, one loves one’s neighbor for the sake of one’s own eternal salvation. Without the perceived reward there would be no religion. In many religions of the past, the actions were simple ritual performed according to strict formulae. It hardly even mattered what the actions were, because nobody was under the illusion that the goal was to be virtuous. It was a matter of open bribery, and the goal was to win the favors that the gods could choose to provide or not. We are still engaged in bribery today, except that we try to hide it, both from ourselves and from our god, by calling it “being good.”

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Unionized Process

As barriers between peoples collapse, individuals seek a union with the universal; religion, with the help of philosophy, becomes mystical; and mankind begins its process of self-proclaimed progress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Enviously Eager

Our interest in ourselves makes us envious of others and eager at the same time to conceal our envy from everybody, including ourselves.

Monday, March 13, 2006

It Slices, It Dices, It Makes You Live Forever

When we read the majestic Latin poetry of Lucretius, apostle of Epicurus, and compare it to the inelegant Greek prose of the New Testament, and when we notice the striking similarities between Epicurus and Christ, we might wonder why today there are still worshipers of the latter and not the former -- until we remember the promise of immortality. Like any other product, a doctrine of moral philosophy or religion sells because of its perceived benefits. And the emotional tranquillity or lack of disturbance offered by Epicurus does not do well in direct competition with an offer for eternal life.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

To the Victor

Christianity has enjoyed enormous power, but its power has been in a state of mutation as people have stopped seeking immortality through worshipping a god who had become a man and started worshipping mankind, or themselves, directly. Giving up the promise of everlasting life is a price to pay, but taking God’s place is tremendous compensation. Christians today lament their besieged and weakened condition, but their antagonist was their own creation in the first place. Even liberals admit that liberalism is Christianity without Christ. As Victor Frankenstein discovers, playing god is a dangerous occupation. For when your creature ceases to obey you, it becomes a terrible and superhuman opponent.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

That One Again?

Plutarch matter-of-factly writes, “The story was given out that Theseus was the son of Poseidon, not Aegeus.” In the ancient world many people, both in myth and in history, claimed to be the offspring of gods. By the time of Christ it was a trite story.

Swapping Costumes

Conceit frequently disguises itself as modesty, and modesty frequently as conceit.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How Much?

A favor is a service the fee for which is gratitude. When we ourselves provide the service, we are frequently disappointed by the misestimation of its value; when we receive the service, on the other hand, we often refuse to pay the price expected by the provider.

Progressively Prouder

Moral progress is marked by the ascension of human pride.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Opposites Attract

At first the subversive teachings of Jesus seemed at odds with the bureaucratic power of Rome. Upon closer interpretation, however, it was discovered that the marriage between a universal religious ideal and a far-reaching empire was a match made in heaven. And their child, which turned out to be even greater than its parents, was the Church.

Sensational Immortality

A large part of our conception of our existence lies in the perception that we perceive others to have of us. Therefore, we feel a sensation and a thrill of immortality when it comes to mind that we will continue to be perceived after we die.