My mind to me a kingdom is; Such perfect joy therein I find, As far exceeds all earthly bliss That God and Nature hath assigned.
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My mind to me a kingdom is; Such perfect joy therein I find, As far exceeds all earthly bliss That God and Nature hath assigned.

-William Byrd

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Do I, then, belong to the heavens?Why, if not so, should the heavensFix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare,Luring me on, and my mind, higherEver higher, up into the sky,Drawing me ceaselessly upTo heights far, far above the human?Why, when balance has been strictly studiedAnd flight calculated with the best of reasonTill no aberrant element should, by rights, remain-Why, still, should the lust for ascensionSeem, in itself, so close to madness?Nothing is that can satify me;Earthly novelty is too soon dulled;I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable,Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence.Why do these rays of reason destroy me?Villages below and meandering streamsGrow tolerable as our distance grows.Why do they plead, approve, lure meWith promise that I may love the humanIf only it is seen, thus, from afar-Although the goal could never have been love, Nor, had it been, could I ever haveBelonged to the heavens?I have not envied the bird its freedomNor have I longed for the ease of Nature,Driven by naught save this strange yearningFor the higher, and the closer, to plunge myselfInto the deep sky's blue, so contraryTo all organic joys, so farFrom pleasures of superiority But higher, and higher,Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescenceOf waxen wings.Or do I then Belong, after all, to the earth?Why, if not so, should the earthShow such swiftness to encompass my fall?Granting no space to think or feel,Why did the soft, indolent earth thusGreet me with the shock of steel plate?Did the soft earth thus turn to steelOnly to show me my own softness?That Nature might bring home to meThat to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things,More natural by far than that improbable passion?Is the blue of the sky then a dream?Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged,On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxicationAchieved for a moment by waxen wings?And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me?To punish me for not believing in myself Or for believing too much;Too earger to know where lay my allegianceOr vainly assuming that already I knew all;For wanting to fly offTo the unknownOr the known:Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?

-Yukio Mishima

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Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess — no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity — back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth — all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood -- knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young -- the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow?I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken — that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change — no power that cares for man.Is there a God?I do not know.Is man immortal?I do not know.One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.

-Robert G.

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You are to make up your mind whether it is to be God or man. Whether you are to be free or a slave. Whether it is to be progress or stagnation.As long as man loves a phantom in the sky more than he loves his fellow man, there will never be peace upon this earth; so long as man worships a Tyrant as the "Fatherhood of God," there will never be a "Brotherhood of Man."You must make the choice, you must come to the decision. Is it to be God or Man? Churches or Homes—preparation for death or happiness for the living?If ever man needed an example of the benefit of the one against the other, he need but read the pages of history for proof of how religion retarded progress and provoked hatred among the children of men.When theology ruled the world, man was a slave. The people lived in huts and hovels. They were clad in rags and skins; they devoured crusts and gnawed bones; the priests wore garments of silk and satin; carried mitres of gold and precious stones, robbed the poor and lived upon the fat of the land!Here and there a brave man appeared to question their authority. These martyrs to intellectual emancipation slowly and painfully broke the spell of superstition and ushered in the Age of Reason and the Dawn of Science.Man became the only god that man can know.He no longer fell upon his knees in fear.He began to enjoy the fruits of his own labor.He discovered a way to relieve himself from the drudgery of continuous toil; he began to enjoy a few comforts of life—and for the first time upon this earth he found a few moments for happiness. It is far more important to learn how to live than to learn how to pray.A new day and a new era dawned for him. His labors produced enormous dividends. He looked at the sky for the first time and saw that it was blue! He searched the heavens and found no God. He no longer feared the manifestations of nature.

-Joseph Lewis

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We owe all to Jesus crucified. What is your life, my brethren, but the cross? Whence comes the bread of your soul but from the cross? What is your joy but the cross? What is your delight, what is your heaven, but the Blessed One, once crucified for you, who ever liveth to make intercession for you? Cling to the cross, then, put both arms around it! Hold to the Crucified, and never let Him go. Come afresh to the cross at this moment, and rest there now and for ever! Then, with the power of God resting upon you, go forth and preach the cross! Tell out the story of the bleeding Lamb. Repeat the wondrous tale, and nothing else. Never mind how you do it, only proclaim that Jesus died for sinner.The cross held up by a babe’s hands is just as powerful as if a giant held it up. The power lies in the word itself, or rather in the Holy Spirit who works by it and with it. O glorious Christ, when I have had a vision of Thy cross, I have seen it at first like a common gibbet, and Thou wast hanging on it like a felon; but, as I have looked, I have seen it begin to rise, and tower aloft till it has reached the highest heaven, and by its mighty power has lifted up myriads to the throne of God. I have seen its arms extend and expand until they have embraced all the earth. I have seen the foot of it go down deep as our helpless miseries are; and what a vision I have had of Thy magnificence, O Thou crucified One! Brethren, believe in the power of the cross for the conversion of those around you. Do not say of any man that he cannot be saved. The blood of Jesus is omnipotent. Do not say of any district that it is too sunken, or of any class of men that they are too far gone: the word of the cross reclaims the lost. Believe it to be the power of God, and you shall find it so.Believe in Christ crucified, and preach boldly in His name, and you shall see great and gladsome things. Do not doubt the ultimate triumph of Christianity. Do not let a mistrust flit across your soul. The cross must conquer; it must blossom with a crown, a crown commensurate with the person of the Crucified, and the bitterness of His agony. His reward shall parallel His sorrows. Trust in God, and lift your banner high, and now with psalms and songs advance to battle, for the Lord of hosts is with us, the Son of the Highest leads our van. Onward, with blast of silver trumpet and shout of those that seize the spoil. Let no man’s heart fail him! Christ hath died! Atonement is complete! God is satisfied! Peace is proclaimed! Heaven glitters with proofs of mercy already bestowed upon ten thousand times ten thousand! Hell is trembling, heaven adoring, earth waiting. Advance, ye saints, to certain victory! You shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb.

-Charles H. Spurgeon

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Fireflies out on a warm summer's night, seeing the urgent, flashing, yellow-white phosphorescence below them, go crazy with desire; moths cast to the winds an enchantment potion that draws the opposite sex, wings beating hurriedly, from kilometers away; peacocks display a devastating corona of blue and green and the peahens are all aflutter; competing pollen grains extrude tiny tubes that race each other down the female flower's orifice to the waiting egg below; luminescent squid present rhapsodic light shows, altering the pattern, brightness and color radiated from their heads, tentacles, and eyeballs; a tapeworm diligently lays a hundred thousand fertilized eggs in a single day; a great whale rumbles through the ocean depths uttering plaintive cries that are understood hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, where another lonely behemoth is attentively listening; bacteria sidle up to one another and merge; cicadas chorus in a collective serenade of love; honeybee couples soar on matrimonial flights from which only one partner returns; male fish spray their spunk over a slimy clutch of eggs laid by God-knows-who; dogs, out cruising, sniff each other's nether parts, seeking erotic stimuli; flowers exude sultry perfumes and decorate their petals with garish ultraviolet advertisements for passing insects, birds, and bats; and men and women sing, dance, dress, adorn, paint, posture, self-mutilate, demand, coerce, dissemble, plead, succumb, and risk their lives. To say that love makes the world go around is to go too far. The Earth spins because it did so as it was formed and there has been nothing to stop it since. But the nearly maniacal devotion to sex and love by most of the plants, animals, and microbes with which we are familiar is a pervasive and striking aspect of life on Earth. It cries out for explanation. What is all this in aid of? What is the torrent of passion and obsession about? Why will organisms go without sleep, without food, gladly put themselves in mortal danger for sex? ... For more than half the history of life on Earth organisms seem to have done perfectly well without it. What good is sex?... Through 4 billion years of natural selection, instructions have been honed and fine-tuned...sequences of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, manuals written out in the alphabet of life in competition with other similar manuals published by other firms. The organisms become the means through which the instructions flow and copy themselves, by which new instructions are tried out, on which selection operates. 'The hen,' said Samuel Butler, 'is the egg's way of making another egg.' It is on this level that we must understand what sex is for. ... The sockeye salmon exhaust themselves swimming up the mighty Columbia River to spawn, heroically hurdling cataracts, in a single-minded effort that works to propagate their DNA sequences into future generation. The moment their work is done, they fall to pieces. Scales flake off, fins drop, and soon--often within hours of spawning--they are dead and becoming distinctly aromatic. They've served their purpose. Nature is unsentimental. Death is built in.

-Carl Sagan

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