Choose Yourself by James Altucher

Amazon | Goodreads | Author bioAuthor website

This image is misleading. I read the book on my Kindle so there was never a moment when I was holding a hard copy of the book. Although technically I’m also not bald and my skin isn’t an interesting blue-green color and I have internal organs and wear clothes. So there’s all sorts of misleading information in this image.

This is why I refer to myself as a writer, not an artist. Why do I even draw these pictures?

Because it’s more fun that searching for a stock photo to use, I guess.

Also, James Altucher, I am sorry for drawing the most unflattering portrait of you ever. I am, like I said, not good at drawing.

Also, artists out there, how do you draw a mouth so it is both speaking AND smiling at the same time? I couldn’t figure it out.

Okay, on to the book.

  1. Get the book.
  2. Read the book.

I highlighted a lot of this book. 72 highlighted passages.

Here’s a highlighted passage:

Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.” The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it. They will smoke every drug lit by your fire. They will try to ignite their own fires. They will try to light up their own dark caves. The universe will bend to you. Every time you say yes to something you don’t want, your fire starts to go away. You will get burned out.

Altucher talks about how the economy/world is changing and already has changed.

But this reliance on others has to come to an end. It was always a myth. Everything we hoped for. The society that we were told would be here, waiting for us, is completely gone and is never coming back. You can either take the blue pill (become depressed about an artificial reality that is never going to return) or take the red pill (fully enter the Choose Yourself era and take advantage of its opportunities).

Then he talks about what won’t work anymore (don’t wait for the powers of the old economy to pick you and keep you safe, that doesn’t work anymore) and what will work (choose yourself, build a healthy life, take advantage of the opportunities around you, connect people, do good work, continual learning, take risks, don’t let rejection stop you, find new combinations…).

There are some themes he talks about that are ideas I think about a lot. Things like doing what you enjoy, not letting stress/anxiety own you, arranging your life so you are not at the mercy of one decision maker, being open and creative, being honest…

Dishonesty works…until it doesn’t. Everyone messes up. And when you are dishonest, you are given only one chance and then it’s over. You’re out of the game—at least until you get your act straight and you have to start from scratch with your tail between your legs. HONESTY COMPOUNDS. It compounds exponentially. No matter what happens in your bank account, in your career, in your promotions, in your startups. Honesty compounds exponentially, not over days or weeks, but years and decades. More people trust your word and spread the news that you are a person to be sought out, sought after, given opportunity, given help, or given money. This is what will build your empire.

And there are many other things he talks about that I haven’t really thought about, but they connect to the other things (that I do think about), so I like that. I like those expansions and connections.

Also, I try to cultivate friendships the way Superman cultivates friendships. He doesn’t hang out at the bar with Lex Luthor. Superman is only friends with the Superfriends: the Flash. Black Canary. Wonder Woman. Batman. They all have secret identities. They all see a world totally out of balance. They all have powers they use for good, and which they use to bring balance back to the world. All of my friends are superheroes, too. Each one of my friends has a different power. But they are all amazing powers and I’m blessed when I see those powers in action. And once someone joins the bad guys, they are no longer my friend. I’m busy saving lives. I don’t need bad friends.

I also like his very real voice and examples and attitude:

And when I say “everybody”, what I really mean is “me”. I don’t know anything about everybody. I only know what happened to me. And I was up to my neck in it.

I’m not going to quote anymore, because that’s enough to get an idea and decide that you want to read the book.

Book notes: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Amazon | Goodreads | Author bio

How did I make it through my entire, book-saturated childhood and never read this book?

I don’t know. It’s a complete travesty.

But I got it from the local library and was reading it and my 10 year old daughter picked it up and got interested and now I’ve finished reading it and she’s begun reading it so Yay! For! Reading! Childhood! Books! As! An! Adult!

Here are a few quotes:

“I never knew words could be so confusing,” Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog’s ear.

“Only when you use a lot to say a little,” answered Tock.

 

“But why do only unimportant things?” asked Milo, who suddenly remembered how much time he spent each day doing them.

“Think of all the trouble it saves,” the man explained, and his face looked as if he’d be grinning an evil grin–if he could grin at all. “If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won’t have the time. For there’s always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren’t for that dreadful magic staff, you’d never know how much time you were wasting.”

 

“It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.

“Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone–and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

 

Writing is a myth

Writing is a myth. No one’s writing. No one knows how. No one can get it right, ever. Writing is folklore, witchcraft, uncensored heart bleedings and all that. Nonsense. Trivia.

Writing comes from the blunt parts of things, the edges, the rough-cut, hand-sawn wood ends that get thrown into the reject pile. The scrap yard, that’s the place for writing. It’s a heap of fodder, a heap of refuse, a pile of twisted burning wreckage of humanity refusing to nub itself down into tidy piles of sawdust. Writing is a voice crying in the city, in the hillside, in the airplane, in the train, on the mountain, in the valley, in the White House, on the great walls, all of them, it is a great voice crying, crying, crying, crying.

Writing is collective, a voice of all ages, of all times. It passes down from an ancient hand to a future one. Writing never pauses for the present. It never waits, contented, for the future. It never lingers, silent, in the past. It is restless. It is NOW. It is bold. It is the river rushing. It carries the trees down the mountainside. This is me! I am here! It screams. It is not your grandmother. It is your grandmother before you knew her, when she was young and untethered and crazy with lust and possibility.

Writing hurts you. It hurts you to read like it hurts you to hear true things said. True things hurt you because they cut down the lies you like to hide behind. You don’t want to hear this nonsense. (Writing is nonsense, remember?) You don’t want this streaming voice to push down your matchstick house. Oh dear, oh dear, where will you live now? What will you do? Where will you go? You’re terrified. It’s okay. We all are. Just admit it. You can quit playing hide and seek when you realize none of us are seeking. All of us are hiding. Now we all know, so it’s safe. Let’s quit hiding from each other and start seeking something better together. Writing reminds us that we could do that, if we want. Writing says, Quit being a coward. Writing says, Lead the way. Writing says, Just try it.

Writing is a little heaven. Writing is a little hell. Writing is a little bit of earth, distilled, into a drop, so you can hold it and really look at it. Just for a moment, then you have to drop it. It burns. It boils. It dissipates into steam and goodbye, it’s gone. You can’t exist on writing that’s come and gone in your brain before. It comes. It goes. You need more. One word or sentence or story or paragraph wakes you up because you read it at the right time. That’s perfect. But it won’t be the one that wakes you up next time. You’ll need a new awakening and that can’t come from the same line in the same story. You can revisit that place. But if you want to move forward, find new things to read. Find more writing. Or write it yourself.

Because everyone can write. Writing is common. Writing is common ground. Writing is a shared skill. Writing is just talking to more than one person at a time. Oh wait. We call that “Speaking.” Or “giving speeches.” That’s why so many authors go on to spend most of their time being professional speakers. That’s why so many potential writers float toward that speaking genre instead of writing. Speaking is good, too, and giving speeches. Very motivational, stirring, encouraging. All of the beautiful things writing is, in many ways. But not quite writing. Why not? Because writing is you talking to many people but on their terms. They get to hear what you have to say when they want, as they want, alone. No crowd energy. No peer pressure. No social cues. Writing is cutting out the body language and tone of voice and jokesy tells and hey-buddy-we’re-all-together-in-this cues. Writing means you have to trust what you say has enough weight on its own to matter to someone who reads it. It might not. There’s a good chance it might not. If you want to write, that’s a chance you have to take. It’s not a big deal. It feels like one because we talk about writing as if it is Some Big Thing when it is, in fact, just Another Thing. It is important, sure, but so is talking and eating and copulating and we do those every day as if they are No Big Thing so surely we could wrap our minds around writing and do it as just Another Thing too.

Writing is just another thing. No capital letters needed. Writing is the socially awkward cousin you have to invite to your wedding. Writing is that one friend from high school who won’t forget you. Writing is the cough that keeps waking you up in the middle of the night. Writing is the weird sound your car makes on cold mornings. Writing is fucking annoying. It won’t leave you alone. You tell it to and it won’t, and that’s the whole problem with writing. It’s just another thing, not a big thing, but when you treat it like just another thing and say, Hey Writing, fuck off, you’re not a Big Thing, well. It won’t. It lurks and lingers and sneers and grimaces and flops on top of whatever you’re doing and sneezes in your face and Oh, that might be my cat, actually, but that is also precisely how writing is. That might explain why so many writers like cats.

Writing is like learning how to play the violin. When you are 5 years old and you start learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star you will sound like hell. But you will be so proud of yourself, and play for all the people and they will endure the screeching banshee-rattle music and clap politely (and with great relief) and you will feel as if you have done a thing well. You’ve been awful but you don’t know. This is how it is with writing a Single Thing. You will labor over it and with all that labor you will think it must be pretty good. It almost certainly isn’t. Some people will clap politely for you but most will find a way to be sick when you invite them to your second violin concert. But then you practice and practice and over the course of years and many painful concerts you learn what music is. And one day you are 27 years old and playing a beautiful song for a great many people and they are clapping genuinely and you think, Wow, I made so many mistakes, that could have been much better, I can’t believe they like it, I need to go practice more.

Writing is power. Writing is energy. Writing is connection. Writing is real people saying real things to each other. Writing is a community that can cross every barrier someone tries to put in place. That’s why writing scares people, big people and little people. It scares big people because of what it could damage. Writing can topple systems. Writing can end wars. Writing can open eyes. Writing can erase lies. Writing scares little people, like you and me, because it means responsibility. It means power, and we haven’t had that. What would we do with it. How would we use it. What would happen. Maybe the big people are right. Maybe we shouldn’t have this. Maybe we should just…

Be silent? Writing can’t be silent. It is never silent. It is always quiet. It is the rumble beneath the avalanche. It is the glowing ember beneath the wood. It is the sonic boom thousands of feet under the surface. You say a word and it drops, boom, and the energy goes out, quick and quiet, and you can’t stop it now. And people look around and think, Where did that come from. How did that happen. Didn’t see that coming.

Well. That’s just because they weren’t reading.

Reading lists

All books referenced on Gilmore Girls from Black, White & Read Books

100 Best Novels from Modern Library

100 Best Nonfiction from Modern Library

Both lists from Modern Library are actually two lists: the Board’s List and the Reader’s List. But there’s a lot of overlap. 

MA Reading List from The University of Arizona

The reading list for the MA is designed to develop students’ general knowledge of the history and diversity of literatures in English, encouraging a broad, structured understanding of the discipline while allowing candidates the opportunity for considerable choice to accommodate their individual interests. While acknowledging literary-historical traditions as an important ground of knowledge, the MA Reading List attends to the variety of individual preferences, the increasing diversity of canonical texts, and the changing nature of literary canonicity.

MFA Reading List [PDF] from University of North Carolina Wilmington

100 Books to read in a lifetime from the Amazon Books editors

Super convenient! Shop straight from the list! OMG!

An algorithmic The Greatest Books list compiled from a bunch of best-of book lists

This list is generated from 114 “best of” book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others.

Back to School Reading List from Literary Hub

As tens of thousands (millions?) of MFA students return to class, we decided to check in with their teachers and find out what books are being taught to the next generation of writers. Some of this crowd-sourced syllabus draws from the literary canon as we know it, but some of it doesn’t, and instead offers a look at what books might someday achieve the status of classic.

Essay and Opinion Reading List from Gotham Writers

Memoir Reading List from Gotham Writers

The 100 Greatest American Novels, 1893-1993 from Book Riot

So I decided to draw up a list–a list of major works that would serve as a starting point and overview of 20th Century American fiction. And then the trouble began. As you might imagine, there are all sorts of problems with any such list: what does important mean? are only American authors included? Are 1900 and 2000 meaningful start and end dates? Do you list multiple works from authors?

A Food Writing Book List from The Tart Little Piggy

Low-residency MFA program from Seattle Pacific University

Stephen King’s Reading List for Writers from Aerogramme Writers’ Studio

These are the best books I’ve read over the last three or four years, the period during which I wrote The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Hearts in Atlantis, On Writing, and the as-yet-unpublished From a Buick Eight. In some way or other, I suspect each book in the list had an influence on the books I wrote.

Ernest Hemingway’s Reading List for a Young Writer from Open Culture

Hemingway wrote down a list of two short stories and 14 books and handed it to Samuelson.

Reading List for English Majors from Elon University

This list is intended only as a general guide to significant works of literature and writings on composition, not a required reading list. Important selections or authors are highlighted in red. The selections are arranged by historical period and genre, not by the national origin of the authors.

Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books from NPR

Our panel of experts reviewed hundreds of the most popular nominations and tossed out those that didn’t fit the survey’s criteria (after — we assure you — much passionate, thoughtful, gleefully nerdy discussion).

President Obama’s Reading List from The New York Times

The Times’s chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, recently sat down with President Obama to ask him about his life as a reader. During the course of the interview, the president praised several books and authors. And he talked about books that he had given his daughter Malia, including “The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez and “The Woman Warrior” by Maxine Hong Kingston. Here are a few other authors he singled out, along with some of his words about them.

Tolstoy’s Reading List: Essential Books for Each Stage of Life from Brain Pickings

But despite his wide and prolific reading, Tolstoy did consider specific books especially important and influential in his development. At the age of sixty-three, in a letter to a friend, he compiled such a list of the books that had most impressed him over the course of his life.

33 Books on How to Live from Maria Popova of Brain Pickings

So, with the discomfort of that inescapable disclaimer, I approached my private, subjective, wholly non-exhaustive selection of thirty-three books to sustain modern civilization and the human spirit — books at the intersection of introspection and outrospection, art and science, self and society.Above all, books that help us (or, at least, have helped me) learn how to live — how to make sense of ourselves, our world, and our place in it.

David Bowie’s Formative Reading List of 75 Favorite Books from Brain Pickings

Although all but two of the books were published within Bowie’s lifetime — with the exceptions published within two years of his birth — he makes up for the presentism bias with an extraordinary diversity of disciplines, topics, and sensibilities, ranging from poetry to history to theory of mind, with plenty of fiction and a few magazines for good measure.

The 40 Books that Saved My Life from James Altucher

If I can remember the books, then it means they had some impact on me. If I can’t remember them, then why would I recommend them?

For each one of these books: either they made me a better person, or I felt, even as I was reading them, that my IQ was getting better. Or, in the case of fiction, I felt like my writing was getting better by reading the book.

Or I simply escaped to another world. I like to travel to other worlds. To pretend to be a character in someone else’s story.

I think if you can find even one takeaway in a book that you remember afterwards, then it’s a great book.

Lazy weekend morning

Start with coffee.

Take this free 40-Day Doodle Art Course. (You can do all 40 in one long Sunday. I believe in you.)

Read about topics and ideas that interest you.

Draw squiggle birds (thanks, Dave Gray).

Take a long bath.

Stare out the window at the trees.

Play around with IFTTT.

Observe clouds passing.

Rediscover Diigo (how could I have neglected such a great tool?) and love that it now has split screen mode for creating an outliner while reading something you’ve saved. DIIGO, YOU ARE MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.

Here’s my public library on Diigo.

More coffee.

Let the kids make their own lunch.

 

Advice on remembering what you read

One of the things I want to get better at is remembering more of what I read.

I read often, and I read quickly, which means that I can get through quite a lot of books in a given time. Cool.

I also like to read multiple books at once. Usually, I have anywhere from two to five nonfiction books in progress at any given time, and one or two fiction books. I don’t have an issue keeping the books sorted out mentally while I’m reading them.

But I’m not great at remembering what I read once I’ve finished (or quit reading) a book. I might remember the overall theme, or the main idea or lesson, or feeling, but I tend to get really fuzzy on the details (for fiction: character names, settings, plot points; for nonfiction: examples, applications, evidence/data, supporting points). That inability to remember is frustrating because what’s the good of reading if I’m not remembering? (I still think there’s good in it, but I’d rather capitalize on the remembering part, as well.)

So in light of this personal desire to remember more of what I read, I’ve collected some ideas and advice for how to do just that.

Mindful Reading | Patrick Rhone

I call it Mindful Reading (more slowly — the opposite of speed reading). The idea that my lack of speed actually allows me to be more present with each word and idea.

Also: write a short review of each book you read | Patrick Rhone

Impression/Association/Repetition | TRdH

A single one of these components can be enough to memorize anything. However, weaving the three components together is the most secure way to remember anything, once and for all.

Taking Notes | Jeremey DuVall

To truly benefit from the books we read, we have to read carefully, take notes, and try to apply what we’re reading to other areas of our life. Setting up a system for organizing and cataloguing what you read allows you to reflect back on the information later and get the most out of your library.

A reading, note-taking, and application system | Farnam Street

  • When you’re done the book, take out a blank sheet of paper and explain the core ideas/arguments of the book to yourself. Where you have problems, go back and review your notes. This is the Feynman Technique.
  • Put the book down for a week.
  • Pick the book back up, re-read all of your notes/highlights/marginalia/etc. Time is a good filter – what’s still important? Note this in the inside of the cover with a reference to the page number.
  • Put the notes that you want to keep in your common place book/resource.

Take it to first-hand experience | Psychotactics

Well, do what I do. I learn something. I write it down in a mindmap. I talk to my wife or clients about the concept. I write an article about it. I do an audio. And so it goes. A simple concept is never just learned. It needs to be discussed, talked, written, felt etc.

The Evernote Card System* | Sam Thomas Davies

So, three years ago, I started building a note-taking system in Evernote, one that would allow me to remember, organize and apply everything I ever read. [1]

I called it, “The Evernote Card System”.

This system has allowed me to maximize my creative output (my book summaries inspire many of my articles), identify recurring ideas from books I’ve read and most important: internalize what I’ve read.

*I’m not an Evernote user, so this system isn’t for me, but a) I like the idea of exporting Kindle highlights to a note/document you can review/revisit and b) the concept of creating a digitally based note system is good.

The Notecard System | Robert Greene, Ryan Holiday

I read a book and I take, as I’m reading it, I underline it and put notes on the side and then I go back and put them on notecards. And I can gauge a good book will generate 20 to 31 notecards. A bad book will generate two or three notecards and I will find themes in this book and I will take a book that’s maybe not organized very well and I will do the organizing. On page 30 you talk about this and you talk about it on page 180, you should have put those two together but I’m going to put those two together. And I find the themes in there and I break the book down into the gist of it, the heart of it.

Reading Journal | Joel Goldman

When you come across interesting passages and sections that leave a significant impression on you, it’s a good idea to pause and write your thoughts about it immediately. Your insights may change by the end of the book, or you may forget how that particular section made you feel. Write it down immediately. You don’t have to write formally – a sentence or two will usually suffice.

Reading Journal | SuburbanHierarchy

Coming up on the three year mark of when I began keeping track of what I was reading, I have been thinking a lot about how it has changed the way I read. As I read, I think about my impressions of the book almost as if I were constantly writing that one page review. If something catches my attention, I’ll jot it down in a notebook to put into my book journal later. My comprehension has improved dramatically, as well as the actual amount of material I have been reading. I can track when I begin to slow down, or where I did slow down in the past, and can actually keep myself on track for about a book every other week or so.

Mindmap and McDowell Grid | Josh Kaufmann

This method, which I’m dubbing the “McDowell Grid,” captures key points and personal reactions side-by-side, making it easy to quickly revisit a summary of the text and remember your thoughts about the key points at the same time.

The grid is simple: using any word processing software you like, make a table with two columns. In the first column, capture a summary of a key concept or idea from the text. In the second column, record your personal reactions, ideas, and plans to put the concept into practice.

SQ3R Technique | Northcentral University

Similar to the KWL method, the SQ3R technique also involves pre-reading and asking questions before jumping straight into the text. SQ3R stands for survey, question, read, recite and review.

7 Ways | Cameron Schaefer

Especially for some of the classics, reading the cliff notes before starting the book can provide all kids of insight into characters, themes, symbolism and author background. By reading these things beforehand you are helping ensure that you won’t miss them as you read the book. Another benefit of reading summaries is the mental debate you will have each time you reach a controversial section as you ask yourself whether you agree with the conventional interpretations.

The Question Book Method | Scott H. Young

Whenever you’re reading something that you want to remember, take notes. Except, don’t take notes which summarize the main points you want to recall. Instead, take notes which ask questions.

Absorb-Process-Review | Tammy Tseng

Immediate absorption (Step 1) has to do with input — storing what you just read or watched into your brain. Same-day processing (Step 2) deals with comprehension and analysis — reviewing the inventory and thinking more critically about why you chose to put it in storage.

Cornell Note-Taking System | Avil Beckford

In the right column of the Cornell Note-taking template, record your notes that contain key ideas from the book. In the left column, write down key words or cues, as well as any other questions you may have, insights and evaluations. At the bottom of the template, there is a third section of the template, which is where you summarize the book, reducing your notes to the most critical points.

Read – Notes – Review (Handling multiple books) | David Mansaray

Reviewing all notes before reading each chapter will do two things:  keep the information fresh in your brain and cement it  further into your mind.

I often feel as though I’ve read a book many times by the time I read the last page.

In my case, reviewing notes takes a maximum of fifteen minutes, a small price to pay for an incredible increased rate of recall.

Index of Notes and Ideas | Shawn Blanc

Shawn’s version of the “Popova Method,” or “Alternate Index.” You can hear Maria Popova and Tim Ferris discuss this in detail on this podcast episode (around the 40 minute mark).

It’s quite simple:

  1. As you’re reading a book and encounter a quote, phrase, statistic, or idea that stands out to you, then you highlight it.
  2. Now, think about the theme(s) or idea(s) that this highlight fits in to. How would you “tag” this highlight?
  3. Go to the back of the book where there will always be a few blank pages.
  4. Write down the name of the theme or idea.
  5. Write down the page number of your highlight.

Maria Popova says that “it’s an index based not on keywords, but on ideas.”

 

 

Natural Law in the Spiritual World by Henry Drummond

Amazon | Goodreads | Author bio

This is an interesting book. Drummond was an interesting fellow.

Basically, it was the late 1800s, Darwin had published On the Origin of Species about 20 years earlier, and everybody was freaking out.

“RELIGION!” VERSUS “SCIENCE!” in the showdown of thought, rationality, faith, and so on and so forth.

Drummond was both a biologist and evangelist, and found all the either/or a bit simplistic. So he wrote a book to explain that, 1) Religious people don’t need to be scared of Science and 2) Science is good and 3) Evolution isn’t bad and 4) Truth is truth and you can find it in Science and Religion.

I’m oversimplifying. I’m still reading the book, too. Maybe there’s a surprise ending!

It’s dated, of course, both in language and phrasing and in various assumptions and oversimplifications and such. Still, it’s full of bits and pieces that are timeless.

“His writings were too nicely adapted to the needs of his own day to justify the expectation that they would long survive it, but few men exercised more religious influence in their own generation, especially on young men.” [Source]

I’m always interested in the folks who, in the midst of yet another dramatic, dichotomized, and altogether unnecessary conflict, stand and wave as if to say, “Hey, guys, I think we need to all calm down and talk about this like adults.”

But gradually the wall of partition showed symptoms of giving way. The two fountains of knowledge also slowly began to overflow, and finally their waters met and mingled. The great change was in the compartment which held the Religion. It was not that the well there was dried; still less that the fermenting waters were washed away by the flood of Science. The actual contents remained the same. But the crystals of former doctrine were dissolved; and as they precipitated themselves once more in definite forms, I observed that the Crystalline System was changed. New channels also for outward expression opened, and some of the old closed up; and I found the truth running out to my audience on the Sundays by the week-day outlets. In other words, the subject-matter Religion had taken on the method of expression of Science, and I discovered myself enunciating Spiritual Law in the exact terms of Biology and Physics.


The Spiritual World as it stands is full of perplexity. One can escape doubt only by escaping thought. With regard to many important articles of religion perhaps the best and the worst course at present open to a doubter is simple credulity. Who is to answer for this state of things? It comes as a necessary tax for improvement on the age in which we live. The old ground of faith, Authority, is given up; the new, Science, has not yet taken its place. Men did not require to see truth before; they only needed to believe it. Truth, therefore, had not been put by Theology in a seeing form—which, however, was its original form. But now they ask to see it. And when it is shown them they start back in despair.


If the Natural Laws were run through the Spiritual World, they might see the great lines of religious truth as clearly and simply as the broad lines of science.


…the authority of Authority is waning. This is a plain fact. And it was inevitable. Authority—man’s Authority, that is—is for children. And there necessarily comes a time when they add to the question, What shall I do? or, What shall I believe? the adult’s interrogation—Why? Now this question is sacred, and must be answered.

Rel: Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

Rel: The Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Authoritarian Religion

Rel: The Dangerous Rise of American Authoritarianism

Rel: The Hidden History of Authoritarianism

Rel: Timeline of Knowledge: Authoritarianism


“How truly its central position is impregnable,” Herbert Spencer has well discerned, “religion has never adequately realized. In the devoutest faith, as we habitually see it, there lies hidden an innermost core of scepticism; and it is this scepticism which causes that dread of inquiry displayed by religion when face to face with science.”


Whence this dread when brought face to face with Science? It cannot be dread of scientific fact. No single fact in Science has ever discredited a fact in Religion. The theologian knows that, and admits that he has no fear of facts. What then has Science done to make Theology tremble? It is its method. It is its system. It is its Reign of Law. It is its harmony and continuity. The attack is not specific. No one point is assailed. It is the whole system which when compared with the other and weighed in its balance is found wanting. An eye which has looked at the first cannot look upon this. To do that, and rest in the contemplation, it has first to uncentury itself.


Revelation never volunteers anything that man could discover for himself—on the principle, probably, that it is only when he is capable of discovering it that he is capable of appreciating it. Besides, children do not need Laws, except Laws in the sense of commandments. They repose with simplicity on authority, and ask no questions. But there comes a time, as the world reaches its manhood, when they will ask questions, and stake, moreover, everything on the answers. That time is now. Hence we must exhibit our doctrines, not lying athwart the lines of the world’s thinking, in a place reserved, and therefore shunned, for the Great Exception; but in their kinship to all truth and in their Law-relation to the whole of Nature.

Rel: God of the gaps


The breaking up of the phenomena of the universe into carefully guarded groups, and the allocation of certain prominent Laws to each, it must never be forgotten, and however much Nature lends herself to it, are artificial.

Rel: Finland Scraps Subjects in School

Rel: The Social History of School Subjects

Rel: Educational Philosophies Definitions and Comparisons Chart


Evolution being found in so many different sciences, the likelihood is that it is a universal principle. And there is no presumption whatever against this Law and many others being excluded from the domain of the spiritual life. On the other hand, there are very convincing reasons why the Natural Laws should be continuous through the Spiritual Sphere—not changed in any way to meet the new circumstances, but continuous as they stand.