Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School -- Part 12

Aphorisms 3 - Critical Thinking

Students also received aphorisms for extra credit and homework. In the assignment below, students reacted to any 10 aphorisms from each of the three featured authors by giving two reasons why they agreed or disagreed with each aphorism. I also asked students to say a few words about each author's outlook, limitations, and bias.

It's essential that seniors learn not only to support their opinions with specific reasons and generalize on the basis of concrete data, but also to get underneath the intangibles of what an author is saying and what that says about an author's mentality.

Too many students reach senior year without having learned these skills and skate over surfaces on facile clichés. Senior-year teachers are a school's last quality-control officers who must give students practice in learning these skills, which should be taught in freshman year and reinforced every year thereafter.

Albert Schweitzer
A good conscience is the invention of the devil.

No one has a right to say to another: Because we belong to each other as we do, I have a right to know all your thoughts.

Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others. That is hidden from us and must remain so, though we are often allowed to see some little fraction of it so that we may not lose courage.

Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll rocks out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it.

A man is ethical only when the life of plants and animals is as sacred to him as that of his fellowmen, and when he devotes himself to all life that is in need of help.

To the man who is truly ethical all life is sacred, including that which from the human point of view seems lower on the scale.

Reverence for life is the highest court of appeal.

Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.

Evil is what annihilates, hampers, or hinders life.

Search and see if there is not some place where you can invest your humanity.

The highest knowledge is to know that we are surrounded by mystery.

A man must not try to force his way into the personality of another.

To plunge your whole soul in Bach is exactly the same as doing theology.

Bach, like every lofty religious mind, belongs not to the church but to religious humanity, and... any room becomes a church in which his sacred works are performed and listened to with devotion.

The great men are not those who solved the problems, but those who discovered them.

Whenever any animal is forced into the service of man, the sufferings which it has to bear on that account are the concern of every one of us.

Have no fear of natural science - it brings us nearer to God.

All thinking must renounce the attempt to explain the universe. We cannot understand what happens in the universe. What is glorious in it is united with what is full of horror. What is full of meaning is united to what is senseless.

Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others. We must all carry our share of the misery which lies upon the world.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.
Do something wonderful. People may imitate you.

Example is leadership.

Seek always to do some good somewhere Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here, too.

I have always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.
There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside. He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.

Carl Gustav Jung
People will do anything, no matter how absurd in order to avoid facing their own soul.

Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being; too much culture makes a sick animal.

All religions are therapies for the sorrows and disorders of the soul.

One of the main functions of organized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.

Psychological and spiritual development requires a greater capacity for anxiety and ambiguity.
Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.

Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.

Man cannot endure a meaningless life.

Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable - perhaps everything.

Loneliness does not come from having no one about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding other views which others find inadmissible.

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.
The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed.

Where love rules, there is no will to power.

It depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.

The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.

It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.

I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life - that is to say, over 35 - there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.

We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest things without it.
In each of us is another whom we do not know.

If a path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.

The time is a critical one [being about 35 years old], for it marks the beginning of the second half of life, when a metanoia, a mental transformation, not infrequently occurs.

A doctor is effective only when he himself is affected. Only the wounded physician heals.

Life is a battlefield. It always has been and always will be; and if it weren't so, existence would come to an end.

Real liberation comes not from glossing over or repressing painful states of feeling, but only from experiencing them to the full.

You are what you do, not what you say you'll do.

Unless you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man doesn't know what a thing is, it is at least an increase of knowledge if he knows what it is not.

La Rochefoucauld
We all have sufficient strength to bear the misfortunes of others.

A refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice.

Excessive eagerness in paying off an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.

We think very few people sensible except those who are of our opinion.

We should often be ashamed of our noblest actions if all their motives were known.

In the adversity of our best friends we often find something which does not displease us.

Our virtues are most often merely vices in disguise.

Reconciliation with our enemies is only a desire of bettering our condition, a weariness of contest, and a fear of some disaster.

What we call liberality is most often only the vanity of giving, which we like better than the thing we give.

In jealousy there is more self-love than love.

What renders the vanity of others insupportable to us is that it wounds our own.

However much laziness and timidity keep us in the path of duty, virtue gets all the credit for it.

We are so used to disguising ourselves to others, that finally we disguise ourselves to ourselves.

Those who fancy they have merit take a pride in being unfortunate to persuade others and themselves that they are worthy to be the butt of fortune.

The pomp of funerals is more for the vanity of the living than for the honor of the dead.

The evil that we do does not attract to us so much persecution and hatred as our good qualities.

Self-interest, which is accused of all our crimes, often deserves to be praised for our good actions.

When our vices leave us, we flatter ourselves with the belief that it is we who have left them.

We weep to have the reputation of a tender heart; we weep to be pitied; we weep to be wept over; in short, we avoid the shame of not weeping.

We acknowledge little failings only to persuade ourselves that we have no great ones.

No one deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has the strength of character to be wicked. All other goodness is generally nothing but indolence and impotence of will.

If we conquer our passions it is more from their weakness than from our strength.

We would rather speak ill of ourselves than not talk of ourselves at all.