Thursday, November 23, 2017
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Technology can be truly astonishing, but today we often confuse technology and wisdom. Many of the greatest creators and thinkers of history produced works of great beauty, inspiration, and profound insight, using tools we would regard today as primitive. Using a computer doesn’t guarantee that the user is producing great music, writing a brilliant book, or reflecting wise and profound ideas.  The great composers and writers throughout history didn’t have access to today’s technological wonders. The finest musical masterpieces were written by hand, as were the novels and books... (Read More ...)

Do the music, books, and art we choose matter? Just as we preserve our natural treasures, our streams, lakes, forests, and national parks, we must preserve our cultural legacy. Otherwise the best of our culture will fade into an undeserved oblivion. Is choosing a book to read or a piece of music to hear no more important than expressing a preference for baseball or football, chocolate or vanilla, driving or flying? There is an major difference. These other choices may not impact our lives. But what we read, the music we hear, the art, motion pictures, and plays we see, all convey ideas. For the... (Read More ...)

It is easy for us become frustrated and angry when we see what has happened to true culture in the 21st century. But instead of merely tilting at windmills like Don Quixote or spending all our time focused upon those who have created our problems, we can take a positive attitude and positive action. Those who have done so have truly changed the world for the better. While many among us have chosen to complain bitterly about the very real problems we face, others have chosen to something about them. Certainly we need to identify these problems. If we do not recognize our challenges, we cannot meet... (Read More ...)

  Not long ago, only birds twittered. Google was a comic strip. The Web was spun by a wise spider in the book “Charlotte’s Web.” Now everyone twitters and tweets. We  are all in a hurry and think that everything worth saying can be said in 140 characters.   Technology has provided untold blessings for society. But technology often places great emphasis on speed. Fast computers, faster e-mails and text message, and even the fastest food.  People, we are told, have a short attention span. So if you can’t capture public attention with a catch phrase or a quick picture, your message... (Read More ...)

In the 21st century, we tend to just the value of a man’s work by how much money he earns and how famous he becomes. But fame doesn’t guarantee quality and this phenomenon is not new. Ernest Hemingway was outspoken on this subject and things have become much worse since Hemingway’s day. This is a reminder that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Hemingway said, “We have writers who can’t write, painters who can’t paint, and actors who can’t act, and they are all making a million dollars a year.” The very idea of a writer who can’t... (Read More ...)

Robert Nathan was a master of satiric fantasy and the author of over forty books. He often wrote about people who were romantic, gentle, and whimsical. He said, “A writer can find reality in an open sewer or an April meadow. It’s all a matter of where you choose to look.”  When other writers insisted that only the scandals and violence reflected reality, he had a different point of view. His outlook tells us that we shouldn’t apologize for seeking inspiration and beauty in a world that often ridicules us for doing so. Publishers and movie producers alike tell us today... (Read More ...)

Ray Bradbury was the world’s most famous and admired writer of science fiction. Although a prolific author, he never graduated from college and was instead the product of self-education and an intense desire for learning. He set an example for all of us. You’re never too young or too old to learn and there is no telling what you may accomplish through curiosity, enthusiasm, and a desire to achieve.  When he graduated from high school in the midst of the Depression, he didn’t have the funds to go to college. So he decided to educate himself and draw upon the great minds and teachers... (Read More ...)

Dr. John Silber, President of Boston University was a distinguished scholar who recognized the need for moral clarity in education and urged colleagues and students to understand that one cannot understand the present or prepare for the future without knowledge of the past. Dr. Silber was irrepressibly honest and rejected today’s assumption that the present always trumps the past. His speeches are now collected in a provocative and inspiring book called, “Seeking the North Star.” We can learn much from Dr. Silber; he spent many year successfully challenging the conventional wisdom... (Read More ...)