The Agora
Bits And Pieces

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Part 6

The following quotations are from "Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution it Inspired" by Benson Bobrick:

"Next to the Bible itself, the English Bible was -- and is -- the most influential book ever published...

"In 1604, a committee of 54 scholars, the flower of Oxford and Cambridge, collaborated on the new translation for King James. Their collective expertise in biblical languages and related fields has probably never been matched, and the translation they produced -- substantially based on the earlier work of Wycliffe, Tyndale and others -- would shape English literature and speech for centuries. As the great historian Macaulay wrote of their version, 'If everything else in our language should perish, it alone would suffice to show the extent of its beauty and power.' To this day its common expressions, such as 'labour of love', 'lick the dust', 'a thorn in the flesh', 'the root of all evil', 'the fat of the land', 'the sweat of thy brow', 'to cast pearls before swine' and 'the shadow of death' are heard in everyday speech.

"The impact of the English Bible on law and society was profound. It gave every literate person access to the sacred text, which helped to foster the spirit of inquiry through reading and reflection. This, in turn, accelerated the growth of commercial printing and the proliferation of books. Once people were free to interpret the word of God according to the light of their own understanding, they began to question the authority of their inherited institutions, both religious and secular. This led to reformation within the Church, and to the rise of constitutional government in England and the end of the divine right of kings. England fought a Civil War in the light (and shadow) of such concepts, and by them confirmed the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In time, the new world of ideas that the English Bible helped inspire spread across the Atlantic to America, and eventually, like Wycliffe's sea-borne scattered ashes, all the world over, 'as wide as the waters be'."


"With the Great Bible the Scriptures in English finally achieved that official status Tyndale had envisioned for them when he died. By royal injunction... every parish church in England was to 'set up in some convenient place' a copy of the English Bible accessible to all as 'the very lively Word of God'. Throughout the kingdom, copies for public use and edification were soon chained to lecterns in the vestibules of churches -- six of them in St Paul's Church alone.

"There were some constraints. The people, for example, were admonished 'to avoid all contention and altercation' in their discussion of Biblical passages and 'refer the explication of obscure places to men of higher judgement'. But they ignored such injunctions and yielded completely to their new, blissful sense of spiritual awakening and release. 'It was wonderful to see with what joy the book of God was received,' wrote an early biographer of Cranmer, 'not only among the learneder sort and those that were noted for lovers of the reformation, but generally all England over among the vulgar and common people; with what greediness God's word was read, and what resort to places where the reading of it was. Everybody that could bought the book and busily read it; or got others to read it to them, if they could not themselves; and divers among the elderly learned to read on purpose. And even little boys flocked among the rest to hear portions of the Holy Scriptures read.' "


"To a remarkable degree, the translators had proved faithful to the Hebrew, to the Greek, even (in a sense) to the Vulgate, 'for the rhythm of the English Bible, as it finally emerged,' Sir Herbert Grierson noted, 'owes not a little to the Latin of St Jerome.' At the same time, nine tenths of the words were of Saxon derivation, and the entire translation had a vocabulary of only 8,000 words. It fused Anglo-Saxon and Latin elements- - the Latin, as one scholar notes, imparting stateliness and sonority to its diction; the Anglo-Saxon conforming to the Hebrew in homely vigour, concreteness and directness of style. In Anglo-Saxon, the translators captured the form of Hebrew superlatives, such as 'Holy of Holies', 'Song of Songs', 'King of Kings', and 'Vanity of vanities'; and the inverted phrase -- 'throne of ivory', 'altar of stone', 'helmet of brass', 'man of war', 'children of wickedness', 'man of truth', 'prisoners of hope', 'rock of ages', 'man of sorrows', and 'Son of Man'. The learned and literary John Selden (an eminent 17th century lawyer, scholar and orientalist, with expertise in rabbinical law) once complained that the Bible had been 'rather translated into English words than into English phrases. The Hebraisms are kept and the phrase of that language is kept.' But that was precisely what gave it special dignity and strength."


"By the end of Elizabeth's reign, the English public was the most literate in Europe -- indeed, it had become 'the people of a book', and that book was the English Bible. Its legends, histories, war songs, and Psalms; its sacred biographies of the Hebrew fathers, who loomed as large in the imagined past as classical gods; the stern words of its mighty prophets; the infinitely illuminating parables of Christ; the life of Christ itself; apocalyptic visions -- all were absorbed by the popular mind 'unoccupied for the most part by any rival learning.' However much the ruling powers might wish to direct the understanding of their subjects, no state or Church authority could any longer hope to force it in a mould. 'Pandora's box was open,' as one historian put it, 'and no power could put back the thoughts on religion that took hold of the minds of men.' "

(What a contrast to the 21st century! England now seems to rank among the most irreligious nations in the world!)


"The fruit that grows on a tree does not make a tree good or bad; and works do not make a man good or bad, they only make it plain to other men whether the man who performs them is good or bad. There is an inward justification of a man before God which is by faith alone; works serve only to make his justification known before men."


"We must always remember scriptural definitions when we are trying to apply scriptural lessons. There is no room for doubt as to who are the wise and who are the foolish from the divine point of view. In all parts of the Word we are told that 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' A worldly wisdom which ignores God is only folly temporarily disguised. Every one can see that in the affairs of this life there are times when an imposing store of learning is useless while a little special wisdom and knowledge may save life. In a stormy sea we should choose the boat manned by able seamen even though they were ignorant and unlearned men, rather than the one manned by men who had never handled an oar, even though they were the most learned of scientists. So in the ocean of human life, men who serve God are better companions than those who ignore Him whatever their knowledge of other matters may be" (PrPr).


"Last night I passed beside a blacksmith's door,
        And heard the anvil ring with vesper chimes.
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
        Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
'How many anvils have you had?' said I,
        'To wear and batter all those hammers so?'
'Just one', said he, and then with twinkling eye,
        'The anvil wears the hammers out, you know!'
And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,
        For ages skeptic blows have beat upon.
Yet though the noise of telling blows was heard,
        The anvil is unharmed, but the hammers are all gone."


It's a free world. You don't have to like Jews if you don't want to, BUT if you are going to be an anti-Semite, you should be consistent and turn your back on the medical advances that Jews made possible.

I am talking about the hepatitis vaccine discovered by Baruch Blumberg, the Wasserman test for syphilis developed by August Von Wasserman, and the first effective drug to fight syphilis developed by Paul Ehrlich.

Bela Schick developed the diagnostic skin test for diphtheria.

Insulin would not have been discovered if Oskar Minkowski had not demonstrated the link between diabetes and the pancreas.

It was Burrill Crohn who identified the disease that bears his name.

Alfred Hess discovered that vitamin C could cure scurvy.

Casimir Funk was the first to use vitamin B to treat beriberi.

Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine, and later, Albert Sabin developed the oral version.

Humanitarianism requires that we offer these gifts to all the people of the world, regardless of race, color or creed. So, the anti-Semites who do not want to accept these gifts can go ahead and turn them down, but I am warning you... you are not going to feel so good.

(Ann Landers)


People are often unreasonable,
Illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
You will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
Someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
They may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
People will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
It is between you and God;
It never was between you and them anyway.


O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

(Katharine Lee Bates, 1913)


"A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little
details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching."


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the LORD;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read the righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As you deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal."
Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel;
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat;
Oh! Be swift, my soul, to answer him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me.
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave;
He is wisdom to the mighty; he is succour to the brave.
So the world shall be his footstool, and the soul of time his slave.
Our God is marching on.

(see Xd 46:164)


Boys of the hills grow larger views.
For are the hills not high?
And does not climbing exercise
The will of those who try?

The highest peak is first to see
The glory of the dawn,
And that same peak can see the sun
When others think 'tis gone.

Up to the hills he lifts his eyes;
From whence shall come his aid?
His safety cometh from the Lord,
Who heaven and earth hath made.

And thus the little Son of God,
In Galilee's green hills,
Soon learned to trust God's staff and rod
To keep him from all ills.

O Nazareth, thy very streets
Should shout aloud for joy,
For they did feel the happy feet
Of God's own little boy.

(WB Tunstall, Xd 102:122).


"Preach the gospel at all times -- if necessary, use words."


When I am tired, the Bible is my bed;
Or in the dark, the Bible is my light;
When I am hungry, it is vital bread;
Or fearful, it is armor for the fight;
When I am sick, 'tis healing medicine;
Or lonely, thronging friends I find therein.
If I would work, the Bible is my tool;
Or play, it is a harp of happy sound.
If I am ignorant, it is my school;
If I am sinking, it is solid ground.
If I am cold, the Bible is my fire;
And wings, if boldly I aspire.
Should I be lost, the Bible is my guide;
Or naked, it is raiment, rich and warm.
Am I imprisoned, it is ranges wide;
Or tempest-tossed, a shelter from the storm.
Would I adventure, 'tis a gallant sea;
Or would I rest, it is a flowery lea.

(Amos R. Wells)


"Hot tub religion... attempts to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness. Feelings of pleasure and comfort, springing from pleasant circumstances and soothing experiences, are prime goals these days, and much popular Christianity on both sides of the Atlantic tries to oblige us by manufacturing them for us... Now we can see hot tub religion for what it is -- Christianity corrupted by the passion for pleasure... Symptoms of hot tub religion today include... an overheated supernaturalism that seeks signs, wonders, visions, prophecies, and miracles; constant soothing syrup from electronic preachers and the liberal pulpit; anti-intellectual sentimentalism and emotional 'highs' deliberately cultivated, the Christian equivalent of cannabis and coca" (John I. Packer, "Laid-Back Religion" 53,58).


"The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging" (JS Bach).


"It is surprising to see how clearly the liberal, neo-orthodox way of thinking is reflected in the new weakened evangelical view... By placing a radical emphasis on subjective human experience, existentialism undercuts the objective side of experience. For the existentialist it is an illusion to think that we can know anything truly... all we have is subjective experience, with no final basis for right or wrong or truth or beauty" (Francis Shaeffer, "The Great Evangelical Disaster", pp 51,53).


"If thou bring thy sins to Jesus Christ, as thy malady and misery, to be cured of them, and delivered from them -- it is well: but to come with them as thy beloved darlings and delight, thinking still to retain THEM, and to receive HIM, thou mistakest him grossly, and miserably deludest thyself" (Robert Leighton).


"When I fall into a certain sin for the first time, I may stand aghast, horrified at it. When I fall into it the second time, I am not more aghast, but less. if I go on sinning long enough, I cannot see the thing that belongs unto my peace at all, and I cannot see sin as sin. The conscience that once shouted 'This is wrong!' now only whispers and in the end may be silent altogether. Sin is unique in all God's universe in that the more you practice it, the less you know its nature" (Leslie Weatherhead).


"Truth, like love, is 'a many splendoured thing', and presents many aspects. Too often we may find ourselves so obsessed with one of those facets that we give insufficient consideration to those others which, though presenting a different face, are yet part of the same truth. There is always what I have called the 'Yes, but...' syndrome. In other words, a thing may be true, yet still not be THE Truth. We have to learn to balance the Book" (Len Richardson).


A teacher asked her students to list what they thought were, currently, the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:

1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one quiet student hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.

The girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many."

The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."

The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

1. to touch
2. to taste
3. to see
4. to hear..."

She hesitated a little, and then added:

"5. to feel
6. to laugh
7. and to love."

The room was so silent you could have heard a pin drop. Those things we overlook as simple and "ordinary" are truly wondrous.

A gentle reminder that the most precious and wonderful things are right in front of us: our family, our faith, our love, our good health and our friends.


"If we were arrested for being followers of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict us?"


"The Mosaic account of the creation and fall of man was treated with profane derision by the Gnostics, who would not listen with patience to the repose of the Deity after six days' labour, to the rib of Adam, the garden of Eden, trees of life and of knowledge, the speaking serpent, the forbidden fruit, and the condemnation pronounced against human kind for the venial offence of their first progenitors" (Gibbon).


It takes a little courage, and a little self-control
And some grim determination, if you want to reach your goal.
It takes some real striving, and a firm and stern-set chin,
No matter what the battle, if you really want to win.
There's no easy path to glory, there's no rosy road to fame;
Life, however, we may view it, is no simple parlor game.
But its prizes call for fighting, for endurance and for grit,
For a rugged disposition and a "don't-know-when-to-quit."
You must take a blow or give one' you must risk and you must lose;
And expect that in the struggle you will suffer from the bruise.
But you must not wince or falter, if you once begin;
Be strong and face the battle; that's the only way to win.


"What God chooses, He cleanses. What God cleanses, He molds. What God molds, He fills. What God fills, He uses" (JSB).


"Thank God that every morning when you get up you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you a hundred virtues which the idle will never know" (Charles Kingsley).


"A person who doesn't know but knows he doesn't know is a student; teach him.

"A person who knows but who doesn't know that he knows is asleep; awaken him.

"But a person who knows and knows that he knows is wise; follow him" (Asian proverb).


"No one has any right to set up his own ignorance as the limit of that which God has revealed. A thing may be unknown to such a man, but it does not therefore follow that it is either absolutely unintelligible or a secret. He may not know of it, or, if explained to him, he may not have intellect enough to comprehend it, or his prejudices or sectarian bias may darken his understanding -- this by no means makes the thing unintelligible or mysterious to other people. All that such persons have a right to say is, 'we do not know anything about it.' They may confess their own ignorance and resolve to look into the matter, or not, but they are presumptuously overstepping the bounds of propriety to venture to do more. This, however, is not the practice of those who have no secondary interests to subserve apart from the Truth. They only desire to know that they may believe and do; but where to know more would jeopardise the vested interests of a sect and extort the confession of its leaders and members that they were in error and knew not the Truth, investigation is discouraged and the things proscribed as too speculative and mysterious for comprehension, or if understood, of no practical utility. In this way mankind infold themselves as in the mantle of their self-esteem. They repress all progress and glorify their own ignorance by detracting from things which they fear to look into, or apprehend are far above their reach" (JT, Elpis Israel).


"Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight?: Always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary" (James Matthew Barrie, 1860-1937).


The earth is a globe, the horizon curved... so that we may not see too far down the road.


"When you're tempted to give in to anger, resentment, self-pity, envy, or other feelings of negativity, remember this: life is a privilege, not a punishment.

"Think of how a tiny insect acts to save its own life when injured or threatened. Consider the compelling wisdom in that instinct for self-preservation. Life is precious to the living, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It is a privilege worth preserving and nurturing.

"Life is a privilege, not a punishment. Think about that. Look at your attitude; consider your actions, from the perspective that life is indeed a privilege. Why would you ever want to complain about anything?

"You're not a victim. You're a miracle. Your life is precious and magnificent. Keep that in mind, and live it accordingly" (MT).


It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
God opens this flower so sweetly,
Then in my hands they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust in Him for leading
Each moment of my day.
I will look to him for His guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

The pathway that lies before me,
Only my Heavenly Father knows.
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.


"It is the calling of great men, not so much to preach new truths but to rescue from oblivion those old truths which it is our wisdom to remember and our weakness to forget" (Sydney Smith).


"Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching" (Thomas Jefferson).


Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In dark and bitter cold,
Each one possessed a stick of wood.
Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
The woman held hers back;
For on the faces 'round the fire
She noticed one was black.

The next man, looking 'cross the way,
Saw one not from his church
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his single log be used
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face spoke of revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to hurt the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group
Did nothing but for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands
Were proof of human sin.
They didn't die from the cold without;
They died from the cold within.

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