Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gotta Love The Classics!

In the spirit of my last blog post about continuing education and improving myself, I'm following the 15 minutes per day reading schedule of the Harvard Classics. Of course, this never is simply 15 minutes. Each reading ends up being 30 minutes or more as I want to read about the authors, when and where they lived and why they wrote what they did. It has been an interesting journey from Grimm's Fairy Tales, Robert Burns' poetry, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Odysseus and the sirens, Dante and Beatrice in Paradise to Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat and much more!

My favorite thus far has been a selection from the classic plays of French literature - Corneille's Polyeucte - which, of course, was totally unfamiliar to me. It was about an Armenian Christian and his Roman general father-in-law and wife. The Armenian connection caught me right away, but it was so beautifully written and the story so compelling that I read the whole thing - far more than a 30 minute reading! But SO worth it!

I have read many of the selections in the Harvard Classics in years past and particularly enjoyed I Promessi Sposi about the Black Plague but have never followed the reading schedule. This year I'm determined to follow it. My reading today is from Thomas A Kempis's Imitation of Christ.

He lived between 1329-1441 and his comments are so very appropriate for us today, This is from Chapter III Of The Good, Peaceable Man:

"First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a well-learned. A passionate man turneth even good into evil and easily believeth evil; a good peaceable man converteth all things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth what it were more expedient for him to do. He considereth to what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is bound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbor."

This would certainly solve the world's ills if each of us determined we would be "good, peaceable men and women" and concern ourselves with being peacemakers and turning all things into good! I will try to do this and hope I can make a difference. Gotta love these classics!

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