The small difference

by J. Pelikan

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead;

traditionalism is the dead Faith of the living.”

From: Pelikan, Jaroslav (1971). The Christian Tradition

Praise of the dilettante

by E. Friedell

“As regards dilettantism, it should be borne in mind that vital energy dwells in any activities only so long as they are practised by amateurs.

It is the amateur, happily so named, who alone stands in a really human relation to his objects; only in amateurs do the man and his professions coincide. That is why an amateur can pour his own self into his activity, saturating it with the essence of his being; whereas things which are practised as a profession have invariably a touch of the worst sort lovingness, whether it takes the form of a particular one-sideness or limitation, of subjectivity or narrowness of outlook. The expert is too tightly wedged into his professional circle and is almost never in a position to bring about a real revolution. He has grown up with tradition and respects it in spite of himself. Also he knows too much of the detail of his subject to see things simply enough, and, losing that, he loses the first essential of intellectual fertility.”

From: Friedell, Egon (1930). A Cultural History of the Modern Age Vol. 1: Renaissance and Reformation 

The place, where we are right

by J. Amichai

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.
The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.
But doubts and love
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard
in the place
where the ruined house once stood.
From: Amichai, Jehuda (1963). Poems 19481962

The legendary way out – a parable

by S. Beckett

“Inside a cylinder fifty metres round and sixteen high. Only objects fifteen single ladders propped against the wall at irregular intervals. From time immemorial rumour has it or better still the notion is abroad that there exists a way out.

Those who no longer believe so are not immune from believing so again. Regarding the nature of this way out and its location two opinions divide without opposing all those still loyal to that old belief.

Bolt upright on the top rung of the great ladder fully extended and reared against the wall the tallest climbers can touch the edge of the ceiling with their fingertips. On the same ladder planted perpendicular at the centre of the floor the same bodies would gain half a metre and so be enabled to explore at leisure the fabulous zone decreed out of reach and which therefore in theory is in no wise so.

For such a recourse to the ladder is conceivable. All that is needed is a score of determined volunteers joining forces to keep it upright with the help if necessary of other ladders acting as stays or struts. An instant of fraternity. But outside their explosions of violence this sentiment is as foreign to them as to butterflies. And this owing not so much to want of heart or intelligence as to the ideal preying on one and all. So much for this invioble zenith where for amateurs of myth lies hidden a way out to earth and sky.”

From: Beckett, Samuel (1989). The Lost Ones 

In

by M. Buber

“Mendel said by and by: ‘Now I understand something which I never understood before.’

‘And what is that?’ asked the teacher. Mendel answered: ‘It is the words of Bileam: The Lord His God is with him and the shout of the King is among them.’ ‘And how do you interpret the words?’ asked the Yehudi. ‘God’, said Mendel, ‘is with us, wherever we are and however we are constituted. But the dawn of His kingdom can arise only among us, only in Israel, when and not before there exists this in, this place within us.’“

From: Buber, Martin (1978). Gog and Magog: A Novel

Decisions

by A. Miller

“An idol tells people exactly what to believe. God presents them with choices they have to make for themselves. 

The difference is far from insignificant; before the idol men remain dependent children, before God they are burdened and the same time liberated to participate in the decisions of endless creation.”

From: Miller, Arthur (1987). Timebends

The gamblers

by M. Buber

A Hasid complained to Rabbi Wolf that certain persons were turning night into day, playing cards.

“That is good”, said the Zaddik. “Like all people, they want to serve God and don't know how. But now they are learning to stay awake and persist in doing something. When they have become perfect in this, all they need to do is turn to God – and what excellent servants they will make for him then!”

From: Buber, Martin (1949). Tales of the Hasidim

A modern catholic's creed

by W. Percy

In his novel “Love in the Ruins – The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World” Walker Percy has his hero, a neurotic doctor and alcoholic, say:

“I, for example, am a Roman Catholic, albeit a bad one. I believe in the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church, in God the Father, in the election of the Jews, in Jesus Christ His Son our Lord, who founded the Church on Peter his first 

vicar, which will last until the end of the world. Some years ago, however, I stopped eating Christ in Communion, stopped going to mass, and have since fallen into a disorderly life. I believe in God and the whole business but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth, and my fellowman hardly at all. Generally I do as I please.”

From: Percy, Walker (1989). Love in the Ruins

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