Thursday, 30 December 2010

Approaching the New Year

My quote for the end of the year: "I have learned that keeping relationships and friendships in good repair is the best defence against trouble; and that planning and organising fun is the best antidote to regret, discontent, and boredom" (John Milnes, my best man).

My quote for the beginning of next year: "Can it be that there is not enough space for man in this beautiful world, under those immeasurable, starry heavens? Is it possible that man's heart can harbour, amid such ravishing natural beauty, feelings of hatred, vengeance, or the desire to destroy his fellows? All the evil in man, one would think, should disappear in contact with Nature, the most spontaneous expression of beauty and goodness" (Leo Tolstoy, The Raid, 1853).

Over the past few days I finished the book of Tolstoy short stories given me by my favourite journalist. It gave rise to a fascinating exchange among the family about the realism of Christian anarchism as a way of life. He probably is over-optimistic about the possibility of goodness without redemption and inspiration, but I think he's right about the inherent sinfulness of human hierarchies, of which the tower of Babel is the archetype, to be reborn as Babylon. I liked the parable-like stories, especially The Two Old Men. His theme often seems to be "Faith without works is dead". 

What I like about my first quotation is John's positivity, which I shall try to emulate. And I agree with Tolstoy's view of the dissonance between the beauty of the natural world and the ugliness of much human behaviour. So I am going to try to avoid adding to that ugliness in my 2011 blogging. It seems to me that the blogosphere is where "feelings of hatred, vengeance and the desire to destroy one's fellow" run rampant. Although the results may not be physically so bloody as in The Raid, there's no doubt they are at least equally pernicious. And so I will avoid commenting on the so-called Top Gear Christmas Special, and try gratefully to recollect instead the number of good and helpful programmes the BBC put on specially for Christmas.,,9780140445060,00.html#


  1. My quote for the end of the year would be Dorothy Day (Pacifist): "It makes one unhappy to Judge people, and happy to love them" and I would greet the New Year with my dear old Dad's "There's so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the nest of us, that it ill becomes any one of us to criticise the rest of us". A Happy New Year to you and yours.

  2. That should of course be "the best of us".

  3. Amen to both quotes, Brian. And I'm hoping it's not too late to learn. A Happy New Year to Carol and you, and all yours.