11 July 2016

Thomas a Kempis: "be ready also to hear the opinions of others"

Thomas รก Kempis has some good words to say about hearing and receiving the opinions of others. At PlayFull, we think such receptivity is key to living a playful life. In a politically charged climate, these words are worthy of being practiced.

"But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby."          -The Imitation of Christ*

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*The quote appeared July 11, 2016 via Plough’s Daily Dig.

10 July 2016

Author George Saunders: "...the only tool we have is empathy..."

There is a wonderful excerpt from an interview of author George Saunders by Lynn Neary of NPR on her program Weekend Edition Saturday (July 9, 2016). The interview is titled “In Search For Answers, Author George Saunders Covers Trump Campaign.”

In PlayFull’s Creative Awakening course, we discuss the importance of specificity in artistic expression. It’s interesting to see that Saunders cites specificity as also key to generating understanding of those who come from a different background—whether that difference is political, racial, or religious. In this way, specificity has the capacity to nurture empathy and compassion for those we regard as the Other.

The following quote is a transcript of an interview so it doesn’t read like edited print work. I invite you to bear with the glitches in the language and read for the overall meaning. Here is what Saunders said:

SAUNDERS: Well, because the way that media falls on our mind and then inflects it has changed so much. You know, as a fiction writer, one of things you learn is God lives in specificity. You know, human kindness is increased as we pursue specificity.

So in a story, for example, you'll start off with a character who is a little bit of a cartoon. That's not satisfying and you start revising. And as you revise you always are making it better by being specific and by observing more closely, which actually is really the same as saying you love your characters. The close observation equals love of them.

In the process, the piece gets more big-hearted, more fair, it includes more things and more people. So I think, and this - I know this is a, you know, kind of a big theory, but I think something that I can't name about our media has made us move away from that kind of specificity and that kind of curiosity. So it doesn't - the problem doesn't go away no matter what happens in November. And I think the - what I tried to get at in the piece is that the only tool we have is empathy and some development of mutual affection for the other side.

You can listen to the rest of the interview here.

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06 July 2016

On His Blindness by John Milton

This sonnet by John Milton (1608-1674) is wonderful. It may take you a few readings to get the sense of it, but it is worth reading again and again. Enjoy!


On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent,
     Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
     And that one Talent which is death to hide,
     Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
     My true account, lest he returning chide,
     Doth God exact day-labour, light deny’d,
     I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
     Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
     Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
     And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
     They also serve who only stand and waite.


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